Thursday, January 2, 2014

Thomas Torregrossa, RIP

Friend and working colleague Thomas Torregrossa died of a heart attack on New Year's Eve. He was younger than I. Tom was a memorably and notoriously talented comic and mimic--Citibank's answer to Robin Williams. I met Tom when we were both working the night shift. Tom had married a woman from Mexico, and I appreciated his telling me about her family and the differences from American customs, like mariachi music and the togetherness of family. Tom was well known for having taught himself to speak Spanish like a native Mexican. At work, when dealing with colleagues from Mexico or other Central American countries, in order to avoid inter-regional misunderstandings, Spanish speakers from other areas always asked Tom to be the intermediary. He was that good. At the time we met, I had recently married a woman from Hong Kong. From age 10, Tom had a stepmother from Hong Kong. Tom and I knew the same (few) Cantonese words and expressions. We shared many common, humorous experiences about encountering certain Chinese foods for the first time, like chicken feet and thousand-year-old eggs. We had an acquired, shared love of juk/jo (congee) and other specific Chinese foods. We also had the same experiences of being required to drink extremely foul smelling/looking homemade herbal concoctions whenever we got sick! We were both lost and confused by hot/cold body systems and hot/cold foods. Also memorable were the times we went out for lunch together to Wo Hops's in Chinatown at 03:00 A.M.  Tom informed me that the reason Wo Hop was opened 24x7 was because if they ever closed it for a few hours the place would be invaded by rats, and they 'd never be able to get rid of them.  Tom was a plus for humanity and for anyone who knew him. I am greatly saddened by his death but even more saddened for his wife and children.

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