Friday, June 24, 2005


There is no one word that describes Eric. He is the most self-assured, intelligent, honorable and honest man I have ever known. In high school chemistry, I did a lab where a chemical was added to a milky white solution that broke apart the component molecules, forming a yellow sludge at the bottom, and a clear liquid on top. Eric has the same effect on any group of people he meets; he is either admired for his aforementioned qualities, or despised as an intellectual snob. For the latter Eric makes no apologies.

I met Eric when I was a senior in high school at a sophomore party. I didn't have senior friends, at least none that I wanted to be with. Something was missing from all my friendships, a sense of equality, brotherhood, and mutual respect. I was like the lonesome cowboy, always alone, even when surrounded by friends. The party was winding down, and the parents were out of town, so many were jockying for places to sleep. I was sitting on the couch, thinking about heading out when Eric approached me for the first time.

"Are you sleeping on that couch?" He asked with his trademark cocky swagger.

"No, I'm going home." I replied.

"Excellent," he said, "I won't have to wrestle you for the couch."

"Really," I replied with my mouth slightly opened, head cocked. "You're feeling pretty good about your chances, are you?"

"You never know," he said with false modesty that made me smile.

We didn't wrestle for the couch, which is probably a good thing because although I was strong enough, anybody with a basic understanding of the fundamentals could treat me like a crash test dummy.

Up to this point in life, my major influence came from a father whose reality suited the need. I lived in a trailer park with my third step mother in squalor, and could only look upon others that lived with their real parents in real houses with envy and yearning. Eric came from the world of my dreams, where my mother never left, and bore a mantle deserving of his station.

And for all this, Eric treated me like an equal when others would certainly look down. He saw the fights my parents had, how my dad treated me like the mentally challenged, the dilapidated, trashed out trailer I called home. He didn't feel sorry for me, but I think he understood the hill I had yet to climb. He had no mercy when my fathers' words came through me, never laughed at a joke that wasn't funny, or allowed me to foray into my fantasy world that previously had been my bastion.

Eric was, at the risk of sounding dramatic, my savior. He would guffaw at the suggestion, but then again, he never was any good at expressing affection.

Let's call this part one, the story of how I met my best and most enduring friend.

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