Category Archives: Friends

No Name Required

If you know me, then chances are good that you know the person I’m going to write about. If you don’t know me, or if you don’t know the person I’m writing about, than I hope that someday you get to meet him, or someone like him.

There are very few Good Men ™ in the world. There are a lot of liars and cheaters and bullies in the world, and a lot of assholes and a lot of know-it-alls. And there aren’t many who are as lucky as I am to be friends with one of those few. Right now, my friend — one of the true Good Men in the world — is going through a really tough time in his life. It’s testing his strength, his faith, his depth of feeling.

I’ve known him for close to eight years, and I consider myself blessed to have him for a friend. I’ve never known him to be dishonest or duplicitous or deceitful. In the time that I’ve known him he’s shown what a thoughtful, considerate, and selfless person he can be. I’ve seen him drop everything at a moment’s notice to help out a friend in need. I’ve seen him go to tremendous lengths to bring a moment of happiness to someone that he loves. I’ve seen his loyalty and his honesty. I’ve never known him to be two-faced at all, saying nice things to a person’s face and then badmouthing them behind their back.

I’ve seen the depths of his feelings. I’ve seen him so full of joy that he could barely speak, and it was so infectious that I couldn’t help but share it; and I’ve seen him so deep in despair that you know his heart is broken. Very few people can feel that deeply or share it so well.

He’s funny as hell; anyone who knows him knows that he can tell a story about buying socks at Wal-Mart and have you laughing til your sides split. He’s brilliant — one of the smartest people I’ve ever met, who can remember just about everything he’s read and apply it to whatever situation he’s currently in. And he’s probably the most creative person I’ve ever met, which is saying a lot: he has a gift for storytelling that I’ve haven’t seen matched in anyone else, and his capacity of world building is tremendous.

He’s had setbacks and letdowns. Who hasn’t? He has faults and shortcomings; on the other hand, I’ve seen him expend tremendous energy over the past year to overcome many of his own faults and his own shortcomings, and he’s demonstrated a tenacity that I can only stand in awe of.

And right now he’s in a lot of pain, probably feeling unloved and unworthy. All I can say about my friend is this: if I were to walk through the darkest depths of Hell, he is the only man I would want to walk beside me.

I Knew Him When…

I’m not quite the gamer geek that my friends Purplkat and Evilpheemy are, but I’ve done my share. I know dozens of gamer geeks: people who spend significant portions of their lives playing role-playing games and come up with campaigns and characters to play. Most of my close friends are gamer geeks to one degree or another.

Every now and then, a gamer geek crosses the line and actually gets paid to do their thing. And I’m oozing with pride to be able to say that one of my best friends, Evilpheemy, second only to Jennifer, is about to cross that line! I’ve always known Evilpheemy as one of the most intelligent and creative people I’ve ever met, and I’m thrilled that he’s going to get a chance to write a supplement for one of his favorite settings.

This is a big break for Evilpheemy. He’s worked hard for it, and he’s earned it. So, to Evilpheemy, I say: Right smeggin’ on, you deep indigo hearted bastard from Purgatory!

Ah, a very relevant link: Black-Clad Gaming. Formerly Formerly Why "Black Clad Gaming"? Well, thereby hangs a tale. Perhaps I’ll tell you sometime.

The Best Way to Experience Northern California

What can I say about Sunday that hasn’t been said here, here, and here? It was one of those days that you expect will start out one way, and ends up another. In this case, I had expected to have a miserable time, because I, personally, hate moving with a passion: there’s got to be a better way to spend an afternoon than lugging boxes and furniture around. Usually I help out if asked because the people moving are friends of mine, and they’ve promised either to feed me or to give me beer for my troubles. Those of you who know me already know that promising me good beer (not something like Michelob or Budweiser — contrary to what the advertisers would have you believe, most American produced beers are simply not beer; in fact, I’m certain that if you sent a pint of Miller Genuine Draft to a laboratory for analysis, the results would come back saying something like, "Your horse has diabetes." Guinness counts as beer; I like beer you can eat with a fork) is a good way to get me to do something. But in this case, the people moving were people I didn’t know, there was no mention of food, and nearly every single one of the people I was going to be with that day takes a perverse pride in declaring, "I just don’t drink beer". This is usually said with a haughty sniff, a tone reserved for the cultural elite who usually consider themselves above, say, Shakespeare or Thomas Pynchon, and who claim to have never heard of Star Trek.

So, why did I agree? Probably because Lisa IM’ed me and said, "Hey, Richard, can you help my friends move? Your girlfriend already said that she would."

Yep. Lisa blackmailed me into it. Pure and simple.

Okay, no, not really. But as I was lugging the umpteenth box of heavy hardback books (with lead covers, I presume) up the tortuously narrow — quite attractive — staircase, I found myself wishing that Lisa had blackmailed me into this. That way I could have said, "Hey! You made me do this!" And, I admit, my temper did get stretched a bit thin a couple of times.

But, you know, it really wasn’t that bad. My friends have mastered the fine art of amusing themselves under the most trying circumstances, and I like to think that I’m pretty good at it myself. Mishaps became adventures, and the day we spent in the rain moving perfect strangers ("Nobody’s perfect," my mother reminded me later that night) from Oakland to Berkeley is now the stuff of legends.

At one point, for example, Lisa’s new "housemate" (Lisa is very firm about this point), Michael, managed to vanish, just as we were about to try moving the couch upstairs. A search of the new apartment — small as it is, the apartment is riddled with dozens of hidden nooks and crannies, and it reminded me of something out of a Clive Barker novel — revealed that Michael was literally in the closet. He’d gone in to look at something, the door had shut behind him, and there was no handle inside. Apparently he’d been stuck for something like ten or fifteen minutes before he was finally rescued. After the inevitable joke about being "in the closet" had died down, Michael finally showed his face to us again, looking somehow wiser for his experience.

And I got to experience a moment of self-righteousness, which I always treasure. When a dolly full of books that I was leading down the ramp of the moving truck fell over onto the asphalt, and everyone else was still dry and safe in the truck laughing at me, I was able to say, "I’d just like to point out that while you’re all laughing at me, I’m the only one who’s actually moving anything at the moment." I live for opportunities to feel morally superior to other people, so I felt very pretentious and proud of myself as the laughter of the others simply increased in volume and derision. But at least I knew that I was in the right. Moral superiority is a lonely call, sometimes.

At the end of the day, some of us discovered that we had musical talent, or at least claimed to; between the wind instruments, the percussion, and the name of an ex-Beatles wife, we found that we could form the Yoko Ono Double-Oboe Bongo, Bones, and Whistle Band. Our first album, Can’t Get Enough Coffee (featuring "The Prig Song", which Lisa can’t get enough of), will be out sometime in the next fifty years. Our band sang loudly and proudly as we left Oakland for Mountain View, to indulge in some of the best sushi in Northern California, and then on the way down to San Jose to drop off Lisa and her new housemate.

Things became more sedate after that, as the new girlfriend and I decided to swing by and visit my parents (who live near Lisa) and my sister (who lives near my parents), discovered that various emotions can ooze out of one’s various orifices like various substances (pride, for example, oozes out like mint jelly), and had a quiet drive back from San Jose to Davis, thus completing our circuit of Northern California.

We had originally planned to go to San Francisco this past Sunday, to play and hang out. At one point during the move, while I was finding myself sprawled on the stairwell with a couch in my lap, I asked myself whether I would ever let Lisa plan another day in the Bay Area for us again. And looking up at all of my friends and feeling overcome with giddiness, I realized that I certainly would. Anytime.

Until the next time, I somehow manage to remain,

Note: For other perspectives on Sunday’s adventures, check out Thursday’s Child, Lisa’s Journal, and Jennifer’s Journal. Most of what they say is true. Most.