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Page 28

Rule number one was this: When you see a person in a public area, that you know, never go up to him or her and say hello. Always wait for them to come to you. Make them come into your territory. Let them be the one to show the need for your companionship. Let them be the ones who are opening themselves up for compromiseÖnot you.

Rule number two: Donít drink to get drunk. Drink to drink. In retrospect I have no idea what this rule means, but it sounded good when I was inebriated.

Whatever abuses, Pat and I mutually subjected our bodies to and whatever repercussions it had upon our health Ė especially mine, our regular forays into besotted bliss had a bonding affect on our friendship. We had become friends in a strange sort of way. Our relationship started out with me always hating him. My first impressions of him were that he was annoying, a jerk and a pinhead. In all fairness, he probably had a similar impression of me.

Whether intentional or not, Pat projected a condescending attitude, as though he were slightly more intelligent than the rest of us unfortunates. At the same time he seemed very ingratiating, but one wondered if he were sincere- because it all seemed so over the top. He also had certain chauvinist attitudes about the place of women in the world. After my broken relationship with Heather, I came to appreciate this facet of his personality, and it became a piece of common ground on which we could commiserate.

For many years, though, we tolerated each other because of similar interests that we had. We both enjoyed tactical wargames, role playing games, paintball and often hung out with each other while pursuing these hobbies. Pat had a way of insulting people in sort of a back handed fashion that he became an expert at, and people really disliked him because of it. I, on the other hand, had a way of insulting people to their face and my brash, take-no-crap, personae also had a way of alienating people. This may have been another reason that we found solace in each otherís companionship.

However, sometimes, Patís mannerisms would rub my nerves raw and I would practice my verbal assaults on him. At one gaming convention I found a plugged in microphone unattended. I flipped the on/off switch on the side of the mike and cleared my throat.

"Excuse me, everyone! Can I have your attention?"

Two hundred pair of eyes turned and focused on me in the center of the hall as they ceased rolling dice, and moving their miniature army men across their terrain covered boards.

"Iíd like to introduce you all to Pat Delford."

A couple of tables away, Pat looked up wearing a quizzical expression. He tentatively raised his hand to acknowledge the introduction.

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