bruce and i

  I don't know about the rest of you out there, but there are very few people I can point to and say "I remember the very moment we first met."

For me, Bruce Masao Ige is one of those few.


I was a freshman in highschool, working as part of the stage crew on the school's Spring musical, Camelot. There was a dress-rehersal in progress, and I was backstage exchanging mindless chatter with Frank Kessler, the young man playing the part of Mordred.

"You know," I told him as other people milled around us, "you should feel honored. Roddy McDowall played Mordred in the original, Broadway production."

Frank blinked, a vacant expression on his face.

As I was saying this, a little Japanese guy who was stepping by behind Frank stopped dead in his tracks, squinting suspiciously at me.

Before I could say anything else, Frank's cue came from the stage and he excused himself, straightened his tunic, and walked away. Which left me staring at this other fellow who, I now noticed, was carrying part of the lighting board in his arms. He was still eyeing me with a rather distrustful look on his face.

"What," he spoke in a soft, gentle voice, "did you say?"

"I was just telling Frank that when Camelot was originally on Broadway, Roddy McDowall played the part of Mordred."

His eyes narrowed. "What do you know about Roddy McDowall?" he looked me up and down and I began to wonder if I had my shirt on backwards or something.

But I couldn't let the challenge go unanswered. Drawing myself up from the slouch I had been maintaining, I proclaimed, "I know everything there is to know about Roddy McDowall."

He smirked and then the smirk turned into a grin, his eyes glinting a tad.

"Okay," I admitted, suddenly feeling like I'd either said the most wrong thing possible or the most right thing, "almost everything."

Taking a step towards me, but still looking suspicious, he asked, "How many of the Planet of the Apes films was McDowall in?"

"All but one: Beneath. Counting the television series, he's played three different Apes characters: Cornelius, Ceasar, and Galen."

Just then, someone "shush"ed at us and both seemed to remember where we were and that we had work to do. As we started off in our separate directions, he turned back to me, tucked the light board under one arm, and held out his hand. "My name's Bruce."

I shook the offered hand and returned the eager smile, "Roxanne."

And thus began one of the most wonderful friendships I have ever had the priviledge of sharing. Bruce had never known another McDowall fan, and neither had I; together we filled that void with laughter and giggles and trivia and speculation and warm summer afternoons in the park. We had little else in common, and there is no doubt in my mind that if it were not for this mutual appreciation of McDowall Bruce and I might never have met and certainly would never have become the close friends we did.