Eventually, even the darkest secret will be revealed. Last weekend I met A (not her real initial) for a cheesecake-fueled grading fest at a big-box bookstore in Nashua, NH: our usual meeting place for conversation not involving beer and burritos. When I arrived about 15 minutes early, I overheard one bookstore worker talking to another about a silly dress with a hoop; since the speaker was a tall, skinny guy, I assumed he was telling a friend about his girlfriend’s prom dress. And when another worker handed the tall skinny guy a fresh-from-the-sink backpack hydration unit, I simply assumed that Mr. Tall and Skinny was headed home on a bike.

About 15 minutes later when Hello Kitty made “her” grand entrance before an adoring audience of rapt little girls, I put two and two together: under that silly hoop dress, Hello Kitty is a well-hydrated guy. A and I have this remarkable and completely unintentional tendency to schedule our non-beer-and-burrito conversations on afternoons when this particular big-box bookstore is hosting colorful events in its cafe. Some months ago, for example, A and I giggled–more cattily, I’ll admit, than Hello Kitty “herself”–at the outfits involved in a Red Hat Society book-signing…and last weekend it was Hello Kitty attended by throngs of adoring ankle-huggers and their often-embarrassed older siblings.

Don’t feel too bad about the guy under the Hello Kitty costume, for s/he quickly got into the spirit, at one point leading a Pied-Piper line of children out into the parking lot where s/he posed for outdoor photos and flagged down several passing cars for more Hello Kitty fun. Although most of Hello Kitty’s fans are under 10, there were several college-aged devotees in tight-fitting Hello Kitty tee-shirts who were probably surprised at how tightly the Pink One hugged them during the requisite posing for photos.

And don’t feel bad for two college profs stuck with a sunny weekend’s worth of end-term grading, for we fortified ourselves with double chocolate cheesecake, caffeinated beverages, and a fresh bottle of generic acetaminophen. As any teacher will tell you, if you don’t have a headache, you aren’t really grading, and a combination of double chocolate cheesecake, caffeine, and acetaminophen will remedy your head if not your students’ pain-inducing papers.