For my first few years at MIT, I didn't really get to directly interact with Noam. But at various times over those years, I could swear that Noam was staring at me from a distance. I would be sitting by the whiteboard in the 8th floor lounge talking to a friend, and he'd be by the elevators, for example, and I'd have that feeling you get when someone's gaze is fixated on you, where your hairs stand end. A couple of times I even mentioned it to friends, but they dismissed it: "Why would he do that?" and "Nothing like that has ever happened to me, you're probably just imagining it." Which is, of course, a perfectly plausible explanation, after all.
Then one day we were riding together in the elevator. I was going down from the 9th floor of the Stata Center, and he joined on the 8th. No one else was there. And he turned to me and said: "You may have noticed me looking at you from time to time. If you have, it's simply because you remind me of my granddaughter." To which I believe that I gave the eloquent reply: "Oh!". We then reached the first floor, and the conversation was over. A few months later, I ran into Noam in the elevator again –– this time, with his granddaughter. He introduced us to each other and mentioned again that he thought we looked similar. We both laughingly agreed that he was wrong.
But, ever since that time, being noticed by Noam became a pleasant experience –– both in class and outside of it. So, thank you, Noam, for sharing this personal moment with me, and for confirming that it wasn't all in my head! You may not even remember all of this, but your presence in the department was absolutely influential for me, even if our interactions were not as many as they could have been. Happy birthday!