I have a best friend. He’s not a usual type of person but I guess that’s only understandable since I’m not either. His father was a professional man who was killed in a robbery attempt when he was 10 years old. The event changed his life in ways that even he is probably unable to understand. His childhood world was visited with perhaps the most feared event at that stage in someone’s life. The death of a parent. There is a period from about 6 years old to about 11, that the death of a parent is a particularly traumatic event in the life of a person. Walt Disney made a movie about it. It was called BAMBI and, when it was first released, parents took their children to see if their children would cry when Bambi’s mother is killed. My friend had this tragedy visited on him. But as Nietzsche said, “That which does not kill us makes us stronger”.
(I use the old comcs icon since it was based on him)
He is perhaps the most moral person I’ve ever known. I have never known him to lie. The idea of him stealing is unthinkable to me. I’ve never known him to be malicious to anyone. That isn’t the same as saying that I’ve never known him to kick some ass. He kicks a lot of ass, a lot, actually.
He lives in this great house but rarely has visitors. And even those rare guests seldom know about the downstairs area. It’s the real heart of his living space- far more representative of his true psyche than the above ground areas. Those few invited into the above ground space- the public area as little as the word public means- admire his taste, avariciously desire his wealth, but come away thinking they have discovered something about him when they only have seen what he wants them to see.
He has had a few close relationships with women, and dates quite a bit, but he disdains any close attachments. He’s too much of a loner. He’s too much of an iconoclast. Women are drawn to him but find him incomprehensible. The more they actually get to know him the more he unnerves them.
His parents are dead but he does have a sister though. Like most people, I don’t think she really understands him. He’s a little too smart, too disciplined, too aloof, and too sure of himself for most people to really “get” him. Not to say that he isn’t gregarious, he’s hard not to like but almost impossible to really get to know. His public face is very charming but he keeps a tight hold on who he really is.
He’s the best best friend a person could ever want. I have no doubt that if I were in trouble he would be right there for me. In fact, he’s proved it time and again. There was a time just a few short months ago when I thought I was going to die and asked him to take over for me. It went against his own personal dictates but he was willing to do it anyway. I’m sure we would see more of each other but we live in different cities and the busyness of our lives prevents us from socializing very often. Still, there is seldom a week in which we don’t talk at length. He is truly the one person on the planet that I go to for council when I am faced with a dilemma. I cannot express how much I trust him.
Part of this trust is because, just as I may know him better than any other person, he knows me better than anyone else. I have no secrets from him. He knows both the best and worst of me. My history is similar to his but different. I too have known the loss of a parent. But while he had someone to take care of him, I was a mystery to both the parents I grew up with. I was also different, though I was different from the start. Not through any real effort on my part. I was born different. I grew up being bigger, stronger, smarter than any of the other children around me, or even than most of the adults. At an early age I became enamored of space and spaceflight, which led me to a lifelong affair with science. But because so many things came so easy to me I never developed the discipline that my friend has. OTOH, I’m not nearly as guarded as he is. I too have a hyperactive moral compass but I think mine is more a product of my genetic heritage. As long as I’ve been self aware I had strong convictions about right and wrong. Part of why I admire his honesty so much is that I have no choice but to be honest to a fault. It isn’t that I’m morally superior, it’s just that I don’t lie worth a damn. I can’t lie well, so I don’t. He could, but doesn’t. I have a strong streak of the messianic in me. He is more rooted in the mundane day-to-day activities of the people around him. I sometimes put people off because I am alien to them. He puts people at ease so as to attain his goals. I find that often I don’t understand what other people do. He seems to have a far better understanding of what motivates others.
I too have a secret place where I go when I want to be left alone. But most of the time I’m on public display. My regular job causes me to interact with people on a more regular and intimate level. In some ways this allows me to have a different knowledge of what people really are. But it is the clinical viewpoint of someone who is always an outsider. I help them. I save their lives frequently (that doesn’t seem to be something that motivates my friend). They see me as everything from a servant to a savior. Him they see differently. It’s a strange dichotomy. A friendship borne on similarities as well as differences. In spite of his pragmatism, I find that he shies away from ultimate sanctions. I am more practical in this way. There are some things that I find so reprehensible that they should be countered with ultimate force. I try to use this force sparingly, but knowing that it’s there, ready whenever I need it, I am not averse to leveling the ultimate sanction. I consider it a necessary evil and to be used only for ultimate evil but there are individuals who are so dangerous that they require it. My friend thinks that use of ultimate force is unthinkable. I once talked to him just prior to leveling it. He talked me out of it in that instance and, as I have come to expect, he was proved right that time.
I wish everyone had a best friend like the one I have. A couple of times I’ve thought that my romantic interest could be a best friend. They were, but there is a gap of understanding that is doubled by being of a different gender. There are, of course, far greater advantages to having a member of the opposite sex as a “best friend”. I put the term in quotes because have come to learn that there is a definite difference in the term when applied to relationships involving sex that those which don’t. Not that I’m not equipped to have profitable sexual relations with either sex. It’s more that I’m only sexually attracted to one particular sexual situation. I’ve been devoted to my romances. But none of them, even that one that is more special than any other could ever be, is like the bond I have with him.
Diana might understand. Maybe. But I could never ask her. She always thought he was a rival and not something different. Anyway…
I’m just not good at this. I’m trying to explain something profound in simple terms. My business is explaining things. I write for a living. But I am a writer that can’t put their most innermost feelings down on paper. Every other writer either bares his soul of the souls of others. I am an objective observer of the souls of everyone around me, but I can’t tell them what I see because I know they can’t understand my perspective. A purely alien perspective. Alien but not unique. Your species has known the truth, many humans have told you before I landed on this world. But you don’t listen. You didn’t listen to them and I have no reason to think you will listen to me.
That’s why I need him. He lets me know the truth about the best and worst of your species. Because he is both and all. The most in control and the most I’ve ever met completely without control. The master of the minute while being the slave of the life. He has to be the way he is. It was a decision he made a long time ago, so long ago that the point where he was still able to affect it, was still able to be different, is long past him. Still, it’s hard to fault a man for deciding to be the best and all when he was a child and then doing it. In spite of everything that he’s dealt with since then. All the sorrow. All the pain.
Pain he would, of course, never admit.
Just like I don’t admit my pain. A lot of being bulletproof is not to let them know that even if they don’t kill you, they may be hurting you. One thing life teaches everyone is that you either stick out your chest out and take it, or you cover your head and run away because it hurts. At least I learned that lesson. He learned it too. One of his call signs on the net (of which he has many, do you think someone so alone would not gravitate to an anonymous medium?) it that it’s better to let go of your pains as quickly as possible because dwelling on them isn’t helpful. He’s right. Lamenting over lost parents is a dead end as much as lamenting over a lost world.
Shame that everyone is a product of their losses as much as their victories. Maybe that’s the gift I give him. He can’t afford to admit his failures and I’ve learned that you have to do that. You have to admit that people die and there's nothing you can do about it. But you have to greet the dawn every day, not the fall of night. I have known the night, far more than his brief experience with it.
He thinks he is alone. But, except for him, I am the one that is truly alone.