GCSPrank Is Here

For people who spend the day saying and writing things that others accept, while thinking things that are infinitely more interesting.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Polymath Pal

pol•y•math n. A person of great or varied learning.

I wasn’t impressed when I met him. He was distant, which caught my eye, but not isolated, which made me curious. We walked out of the meeting room together and ended up walking over to the Student Union. I don’t know why, but I was angry at him. Later I realized it was that ability of his, already noticeable, of connecting with people without giving anything away, as if he were some sort of holographic chameleon with the integrity of an ideal Jesuit priest. I was jealous of it.

It took me but an hour to wipe away my lack of impression and incipient jealousy. Don could talk about anything with wit, depth and ease. Not only could he open a new subject, making connections that were almost beyond me, he could also take my leaps of creativity and improve them. With that much talent and brainpower flashing about, we naturally turned this motherlode to…humor.

I blame college for that.

The next few days, I made it a point to hook up with Don as often as possible, delighting in his company as if I’d found an alter-ego. Pardon my self-centeredness: it’s all I had back then. That Don was much more than that was never in doubt.

Don made me laugh. Often. His sense of timing and the absurd were uncanny. (Still are.) I prided myself on being a dead-still poker face in almost any situation. Don cracked me up until I no longer tried too hard to dead-pan anyone.

Don could draw. His doodles were filled with personality, odd quirks that brought them to life and gave them a depth few others could match. Interesting to note, he drew GCSPrank as a blank-faced character, hiding his expression behind eyeglasses. I guess he saw me dead-panning fairly often. I’ve been known to not see myself accurately.

If Don had a flaw it was his insistence on being an Engineering major. I’m a little pained to admit that I rode him hard for wasting his time getting poor grades when he was so obviously brilliant. I may have crossed the line more than once, but I think—I believe—he grasped that my insistence was from caring, not belligerence.

Finally, and thanks more to his then-future wife than to me, he went ahead and followed his heart. Three Masters degrees later, Don continues to grow in mind and heart. He steadied my road in college, again as an adult and if I had more sense I’d confer with him weekly.

My grandmother met him once, at my wedding. A few months before her death, out of the blue, she sat me down and looked into my eyes for long seconds. Then she said “The fact that you have a friend like Don means you are very special.” I froze. She went past my malaise and hit on a truth so strong I simply couldn’t ignore it. It was a long road back from that much darkness, but the day I took the first step to truly heal myself is very clear to me.

I thanked my grandmother, in life and death. Now I thank you, Don.


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