‘Chipmunk: Modern Warrior’

I’ve been sitting on this one for some time, but I was recently reminded of a friend of mine who has quietly been one of the more influential figures during some of my formative years. I first made Cherokee Kaine’s (a.k.a. Chipmunk) acquaintance on a shuttle-bus traveling from Osaka to island of Shikoku, Japan.  That I was even on the bus was due to me being roped into another one my buddy Greg’s schemes.  This particular one would find me as an extra in the Japanese movie…..playing a German prisoner of war.  It was pretty early in the morning when we left Osaka and the bus was very quiet, aside from Greg that is. As per usual, with me as his trusty sidekick, Greg began making small talk with a rather reserved looking gentleman seated behind me. Cherokee and I have been friends ever since.

The nickname Chipmunk was born when I was living with my friend Ackie.  Ackie had this beautiful, high-rise apartment in downtown Osaka and he was rarely home.  I used to joke that he was half vampire, half robot, because the man never seemed to sleep.  In his absence I took full advantage of the place, which often entailed dipping into his wine collection, making short work of his stockpile of ice cream sandwiches and cozying up to his piano by the window, where I would sit, try to play something relaxing and sip wine as I looked out over the city lights.  It remains a fond memory.

Anyway, the point was that Ackie had a lot of goodies most guys like me did not.  We rarely had real food in the house due to Ackie never being there and me being too lazy to cook, but one of the things Ackie always seemed to have on hand was one of those gigantic, Costco sized containers of mixed nuts.  Well, on one of Cherokee’s visits, we were sitting around playing video football on Ackie’s television and Cherokee says he’s hungry.  Soon thereafter he began helping himself to the nuts, and every time I glanced his way, he seemed to have another large handful of them in his cheeks.  Not long after that, the container was empty!  And that, folks, is where the nickname Chipmunk comes from.

Silliness aside, I have an incredible amount of respect for the man.  At first sight, you’d think Chipmunk was a bit of a barbarian (he’ll likely take this as a compliment).  He stands 6’4, has a number of tattoos and isn’t the most chatty person when you first meet him.  He is intensely loyal, intelligent and one of the more interesting friends I have.  He’s introduced me to things I would likely never have come across…things that have helped shape some of the philosophies I adhere to today.

Just the other day I sent my old friend an update, as we hadn’t spoken in a while, and he has always been one of my more spirited supporters.  Chipmunk is one of those friends that is unapologetically individualistic and honest with me, which I appreciate.  He is a firm believer that we should each follow our own path in life and not allow others to dictate our choices.  He has, and continues to do just that.

Currently living in Japan, where he has been for well over 10 years, he is now a husband and a loving father of two cute kids.  Due to logistics, we haven’t had a chance to hang out in a couple of years, but I hope he knows that while he continues to forge his own path in this life, he is simultaneously inspiring me to do the same with mine.  Chipmunk, this one is for you!

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