|I'm including examples of their work, just to break up my rambling words!|
If you've followed this blog for any length of time, you'll have heard them mentioned in passing as Little Barrera and Bigger Barrera - the irony is I really should have dubbed them 'Bigger' Barrera and 'Older' Barrera...
...since Little Barrera is freaking huge these days! Huge is only intimidating when the adjective describes someone mean... or someone who finds homo-erotic humor endlessly entertaining.
And really, who doesn't?
The funeral was for LB and BB's older brother, a dedicated Harley man with a love for computers and heavy metal music. It made for a fantastic send off, with the man being led to his rest by an entourage of bikers decked out in leathers.
Very cool. Very appropriate.
But it's not why I'm writing. The human condition is vast and ambiguous, and sometimes contradictory, so that even while I was feeling for the family in their grief I was considering my place in the world. Specifically, the events that led me to a seat at the funeral.
My link in the chain of human connection.
My father was military and chose to retire here, in Wichita Falls, Texas. I spent my life moving from one military community to another, so when I was transplanted in the middle of my junior year of high school I expected to get on okay.
That didn't happen. Problem is, this isn't a military community but rather a community with a military base in it. I started a new semester in a class where practically every person knew each other from kindergarten.
Outsiders weren't welcome. It was what I'd call today an entrenched system. A kid like me, a year younger, still small, and with a wide variety of disparate interests, simply wasn't welcome.
I was miserable, and those six months of the latter half of my junior year were among the worst of my life.
That summer was better. I caught a ride to a local game shop (something they didn't have in England, by the by; this was still the early days of Citadel, and I'd purchased my models from a corner store) called Brian's Legacy. To make a long story shorter, I met the wargamers there, many of whom I still know now.
Particularly, I met Bigger Barrera and his younger brother, Little Barrera. (Yea, I'm avoiding proper names.) They were very close, despite one being in college and the other soon to be starting high school. I was two years older than LB, but still significantly younger than the other guys at the store.
My point is if it hadn't been for these two I probably wouldn't have been welcome. Bigger Barrera's acceptance of me got me a space at the table and introduced me to Rogue Trader.
Little Barrera didn't really accept anything, back in those days. I was to immature myself to recognize the crap some of those older guys tried to make LB swallow. Why? Because they saw him as someone's little brother, and it didn't help he was already painting at a high level and kicking the shit out of everyone over the board.
I have a vivid memory of playing LB over the board at his brother's house; I was winning and I guess I made some off the cuff, cocky statement... or maybe it was nothing at all - who remembers? Regardless, LB got pissed and we were soon yelling at each other over the board; it ended right before he was about to clear the table to get at me - Bigger literally lifted him off the ground by his shirt collar...
...no mean feat, even back then...
...and gave him crap for acting out in front of a guest. Good timing: a minute more and he would probably have to give him crap for beating a guest senseless.
We were both kids with a fair bit of growing up left to do. Looking back, we probably both wore on people's nerves, but it's the nature of the young to do that. It's the responsibility of the older to let it slide. Bigger Barrera did that for us...
...but I've never forgotten he didn't have to do it for me. He was the first friend I made in Texas, and certainly one of the most important. He is literally the best person I know, and it's a shame he lives so far away these days.
Little Barrera left his temper behind before he ever graduated. It took me longer to appreciate the man he became because it happened when I wasn't looking. He's one of those rare tough guys who simply isn't mean unless pushed to it, and it's impossible to get him there without ample, friendly warning that you're making a mistake. He makes nice a virtue to be emulated.
It's the nature of the job I do to break down people, to try and understand them. Most of us are shades of gray, neither all good nor all bad - and yea, I count myself in that, too. That's not a critic, you understand, just my opinion of We The People. We should all be thankful friendship isn't predicated on our virtues...
...because most of us would probably come up short.
I attended the funeral to pay my respects to a family that so obviously did something right. The Barreras are ichiban, and while I am very sorry for their loss, I remain profoundly, selfishly grateful to count them as friends.