Amanda V: I am one of the women lucky enough to have dated Jos. As I am sure you would guess, he was always a perfect gentlemen and very attentive. Although we didn't date for very long, our relationship was a positive one -- playful and fun. I met Jos in the spring semester 1997 when I decided to take an introductory dance course at Pomona. The big joke at Pomona is that all the introverted Harvey Mudd students come down to Pomona to take this particular dance course in the hopes of finally meeting some girls. Judging from the huge pile of unicycles outside the ballroom door every Wednesday night, I would have to say that it is not far from the truth. So, naturally, someone as effervescent and gregarious as Jos completely outshone all the sweaty-palmed engineers. Factor in his height and his lack of coordination and he was quickly known among the girls as the crazy one. Jos is one of the most brilliant (and I mean that in every sense of the word) people I know. As everyone else has already said, Jos had the incredible ability to pick up any hobby in weeks. He was very well read and extremely articulate -- to the point where I would just introduce him to people for the sheer entertainment of watching their reactions as he started to work his famous charm.
But Jos could not dance.
He was good at faking it, but every time we were partners in dance class, I always ended up more confused than I started off. Then again, that could have been because of all the attention he was lavishing on me. Little did I know that I was one of his projects! At the time, he told me that he was taking ballroom dance to learn how to dance, but looking back, I can't help but suspect that he might have had more .... immediate social reasons.
Definitely the best Valentine's Day present I have ever received was the one Jos gave me that Spring Semester of 1997. I received a note in my mailbox that I had a package waiting for me at the dorm desk. What did I find but a knitted cap! I used it the very next day to go skiing and it has accompanied me on all my winter trips since. No one believes me when I tell them that a former boyfriend knitted it for me for Valentine's Day, but they all agree that he would definitely be worth dating.
That year, I finished all my exams early and since Jos, as a senior, had Senior Week before graduation, we decided to drive up to Eureka to check out job opportunities at the local paper mill. Or rather, he somehow persuaded me to drive him up there in my car. I had stayed up all the night before finishing a paper and was sick to boot, so I doubt I was the best travelling companion. But Jos made up for any lack of energy on my part. He babbled on about how great paper mills are and all the things he could learn working in one. I was skeptical, but didn't say anything because at the same time, I knew that if Jos did work for a paper mill, he would be bored by the first week and would start secretly alternating the procedure to produce revolutionary bubble gum flavored envelopes.
One day we decided to drive up to Humbolt, the town north of Eureka, where Humbolt University is located. While walking through a beautiful old redwood forest near the edge of town, we stumbled upon what appeared to be a convention of former hippies-now-turned-semi-bourgeois in the middle of a clearing. A band was playing music on a small stage and groups of families were scattered about on the ground in front of the stage. Nary a sneaker was in sight. It was sandals, socks, and bare feet as far as the eye could see. Mud-splattered children resembling mini barbarians with long straggly hair ran about, occasionally quenching their thirst with their parents' beers. And Jos and I wandered about this chaos, just staring at it all. Neither of us could figure out the source of the celebration. That is the only time I can think of that Jos didn't immediately start chatting up strangers and joining in the fun. I think the hippies surprised even him.
I think one of the things I found so amazing about Jos is that he worked at so many levels simultaneously. You never had simply a conversation with him. Talking to Jos was like four things at once:
As we were saying goodbye the day he left Pomona to drive back up to Stanford, I asked if we would we see each other again. He had just graduated and was tackling the Real World while I still had only two years left at Pomona and then I would probably return to the East Coast where I grew up. He just smiled and said, "Oh, I always manage to find people I care about." And I think even now he will still reach out to each of us to remind us to think positively, love fearlessly, and give generously because the rewards are immeasurable. I can only hope to live my life half as energetically and passionately as Jos did and I thank God that I was lucky enough to call him my friend.
p.s. I remember his Culture Wars site very well. While I would work on my papers in the computer lab, he would work on his website and occasionally update me on the latest news or his newest contact. He was very proud when Yahoo added his site to its search engine.
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