I have said before that friends really mean a lot to me. I have a Facebook page where I purged my list of friends to the people that I actually talk to and care about. I had about 100 acquaintances that, although there may have been a time in my life I could call them friends, they had grown to become just people I knew at one time or another in my life.
Then there are those that you have talked to for years but have never met. As some of you may know I play a game called World of Warcraft. I started playing that game after my accounts in another game, Knights Online, were hacked and I lost years of virtual items that cost over time, thousands of dollars to acquire. (Personally it is my opinion that the personnel at K2 stole my items, but that is my personal opinion.) Regardless, they know who stole the items, they know from IP addresses but refused to do anything to restore my accounts, so my Clan, the Regulators decided to move to WOW run by Blizzard Entertainment.
Now I mention the Clan from KO for a reason. We have all been playing together for ~5 years. I use a private Vent, from Ventrilo, which allows us to talk to people all over the world in real time. I use this in the game which allows us all to talk to each other rather than having to type. Over the years Jan and I have had the pleasure of meeting some amazing people. Friends from Germany, Sweden, Australia, and Holland to name a few. Not to mention all the friends throughout the United States. People that I personally include in my closest friends status.
On Saturday May 12, Jan and I drove to Atlanta, GA and picked up a friend we have never met except though our vent. Candy has been a member of our Guild and a part of our lives for ~5 years now. We had 2 of the nicest weeks with Candy here in our home. We spend many days fishing and just enjoyed getting to know each other better. The funny part of the story was Candy's grandmother kept telling Candy that we could be serial killers. We took her to Pete's Meats and took a picture of her there with one of his Tee-shirts. Needless to say it drove some in her family nuts.
Fast forward to today. We drove Candy back over to Atlanta and reluctantly said goodbye. On the way home I passed through Heflin, Alabama and drove past an old loves house, and then we went through Anniston to look at a house my ex, still owns there. It was all in all a great trip.
On the way out of Anniston, I went west on 202 and started looking for the business of an old friend. This guy was a true friend when I really needed some guidance in my life, and someone whom I have truly missed over the years. As I drove through this area it had changed over the past 15 years and I actually drove past his business when it dawned on me what a sign read on the front of the building that I passed..
Que Time Cafe & Billiards. I got excited and did a U-turn and drove up to the front of the building. Jan said "Damn baby he is closed on Sunday." I said if my friend Emil Donda still owns this place he will be inside this building even if it is closed. I went up and started pounding on the door. All of a sudden here came a leaner, more healthy looking Emil Donda. I could barely contain my excitement when he opened the door. It took about 5 seconds but then recognition lit up his face.
Emil and his wife Lori run one of the most awesome, unusual businesses in Calhoun County. Emil and Lori had the billiard hall which they wanted to be for the kids and families in the area. They never sold alcohol and they don't allow it now. They also make some of the most awesome hamburgers you will ever eat. One pound burgers to be more exact, including the buns and condiments, and hot dogs that you cannot eat by picking them up.
He has added a few other businesses but Emil was never one to sit back and allow opportunity to pass him by. At 75 years of age he is one of the best Chess players I have had to pleasure to play against, and he will wipe most people's ass out on a billiards table.
This is just two examples of the people I call my friends. One I had never met before, and one that I got to see again after 15 years, yet we picked right back up where we left off back then. I am truly a lucky man that values the friendships I have. Some friends may get upset with me for decisions I make, but sometimes I make decisions that are meant to protect the friendships that I love and cherish the most. This may cause the loss of a few people whom I felt were my friends but for the most part, I only lose those that were not as good a friend to me, as I was to them.