"I think it's more of a mood than an actual event," an amiable amputee tells me about life

as we sit on the curb of 34thAvenue near Lake Washington where he is selling fresh

strawberries in yellow cardboard boxes on the 4th of July.

*

His legal name is Jesus, but he's introduced himself as Tofu since 1982, when he was five

years old and decided he had an appetite for tasteless coagulated cuisines of Oriental

origin. "The more tasteless the better," he answered when I asked

*

why he so favored the dish. "That way you can spice it up however you want." But then

I wondered, Why the strawberries? "Because it's more of a mood than an actual

taste," he explained around a particularly amorphous chunk

*

of strawberry, red juice squirting slightly out of his mouth and dripping down his chin.

"And natural tastes are best derived from the least contrived moods—and since

contrived moods very rarely consume strawberries, I sell them... "

*

And so, sitting on the curb of 34thAvenue near Lake Washington on the 4th of July with

an amputee named Tofu, I started eating strawberries. As we watched fireworks,

I was finally in the mood for fireworks.