RULES: Once you’ve been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it’s because I want to know more about you. (I was tagged by Kimberly Nightingale, publisher of the Saint Paul Almanac.)
1. The first thing I ever laid eyes on in Saint Paul was the used-car lot with the ski-chalet-looking office on University Avenue, in the early 1970s. While it’s no longer there, I think it was on the avenue’s north side, opposite the SuperTarget.
2. My second earliest memory of Saint Paul is waiting for the 16 bus to Minneapolis when it transferred from the White Bear Lake bus, coming back from college during the dismal winter of 1980. While standing at the corner of Sixth and St. Peter, I thought: “Saint Paul. What a dump.”
3. By 1990, nearly all my friends were living in Saint Paul. So, I moved there on December 7, 1992. By 1999, all my friends had left.
4. I rented a room in a crappy old mansion on Summit Avenue owned by crazy people.
5. Saint Paul is “Grandpa in his garage.” Grandpa doesn’t want you touching his tools or cleaning up his garage—Grandpa doesn’t want you messing around with his garage. Grandpa would prefer that you just go the hell back to Minneapolis, you with your hoity-toity ways, brown leather jackets, and moonshine over F. Scott Fitzgerald’s birthplace.
6. I was an extra in A Prairie Home Companion; greeted John C. Reilly at the door, and was serenaded by Meryl Streep, whose affections I stole from some lurching tall guy in red tennis shoes.
7. I made the acquaintance of a tall, beautiful cottonwood tree in the back alley of the block bordering Milton and Chatsworth, Lincoln and Goodrich. Man, can that old girl sing!
8. Back when The Muddy Pig was Cognac McCarthy’s, I attended a memorial service for the late poet John Engman. Between our tears and laughter, it was an unforgettable night.
9. I temped at Unity Unitarian Church under the late Rev. Roy Phillips, who constantly struggled with column deadlines for the church bulletin.
10. The best burger in Saint Paul (maybe the entire five-state area) is at Casper & Runyon’s Nook on Hamline. Good luck getting a table or spot at the bar. And call your cardiologist first.
11. I once was offered a joint in Irvine Park.
12. Lenny Russo has transformed Highland Park with his wonderful Heartland restaurant. I still miss Merriam Park’s Table of Contents.
13. Yes, I’ve been up the Highland Park Water Tower. You can see Minneapolis from there.
14. Every time I walk by St. Paul Academy and Summit School’s spacious playground on Goodrich, I think of The Zombies’ song “Beechwood Park.”
15. Summit Avenue haunts me. A confluence of past, present, and future, it wends like an arrow toward the Mississippi, attended by tree giants who whisper of age and death and parting sad lovers who take final lunches under their shade.
16. I was a dramaturgy intern at the Great American History Theatre (now History Theatre) under Lynn Lohr and Lance S. Belville in 1991.
17. After six months of living in a one-bedroom behind the Chatterbox (now Costello’s), hearing gang-related gunfire, and receiving infrequent freelance assignments, I moved from Cathedral Hill to Merriam Park, closer to Minneapolis.
18. I once ran into Paul Wellstone at the Hungry Mind. “What’s the news from Washington, Senator?” “Good! Good!” he barked with a grin.
19. My friends Sheldon and Perin live on the East Side. We like to grill their garden veggies, drink Spanish wine, and play bocce in the back yard.
20. On the block where I now live, two blocks south of Grand Avenue, WCCO reporter Pat Kessler often stops to chat while he’s walking his dogs, Shelby and Rupert.
21. I almost bought a co-worker’s condo and moved to downtown Minneapolis.
22. If it came down to either Izzy’s or Grand Ole Creamery, I’m sorry. The prize goes to Izzy’s.
23. I have washed my clothes at the Laundromat on East Selby Avenue.
24. In 2008 I met an amazing woman, just across the courtyard from my place. She loves Saint Paul and seems to like me.
25. Think I’ll stick around awhile longer.
Michael Maupin is a former educator, writer, and managing editor of Minnesota Law & Politics magazine. He has lived in Indianapolis, Washington, DC, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Iowa City, London, and Glasgow, but he calls Saint Paul home.