I would have preferred to have seen my old friend Kristian under different circumstances. My dad was dying from cancer. Kristian’s dad Michael was an old friend and the two of them came to see dad at the hospice. Kristian drove. It was great to see both Kristian and Michael.
When I was growing up, advice Michael would bring his family to central Wisconsin to visit ours. The woods behind our house never looked better because Michael spent his vacation clearing brush, sales trimming trees and enjoying the occasional shower in the rain ;-)
Meanwhile, Kristian, his brother Emmanuel, my sisters and I would do all sorts of things. I remember an intense game of Monopoly that lasted for most of the week until I overturned the table after Emmanuel landed on Free Parking and scored a boatload of cash and properties. Yeah, we played with that custom rule.
Other times we invited all the local crew to join us for a mock war in the woods. Kristian always knew the best traps and enemy detection techniques. I found out later he had a pocket book of army guerrilla fighting tactics. He let me check it out, and I still remember some of the tricks to this day. I think that was the seed of an interest in prepper and survival techniques.
That’s why Kristian is one of my favorite people: there were all these things he introduced me to over the years. In those youthful days I wouldn’t have used the word mentor, but Kristian was definitely one for me. He introduced me to so many things that ended up being big influences in my life.
- One year, after we were supposed to have gone to bed, Kristian handed me the book he was reading. It was a compilation of three Stainless Steel Rat books. It was one of the first science fiction books I ever read. As I laid there on the aluminum-framed cot late into the night, I read those stories and couldn’t stop laughing at Harry Harrison’s humor. Kristian had introduced me to one of my favorite genres and authors.
- Another year I showed him Microsoft Flight Simulator, a game I had gotten a bootleg copy of on 5 1/4” floppy disk. I couldn’t figure out how to get the plane off the ground, though, as I didn’t have any instructions. Kristian took over and just started pressing random buttons. I thought for sure we’d get in trouble with my dad for doing that, but in 20 minutes nothing happened except Kristian produced a piece of paper with instructions on how to fly a plane. Kristian taught me not to be afraid of computers.
- Kristian showed up with something completely strange to me on summer. It was a worn, photocopied stack of paper containing a game called The Morrow Project. There was no board or pieces, and he explained it was a Role-Playing Game. I had no idea what it meant, but he explained it was like a story where you played one of the characters. I still didn’t get it – how do you play a character when the story doesn’t exist. Kristian was very patient and stuck with me until I got it. RPGs became a huge part of my teenage years. My other friends and I tried a variety of games and even tried inventing our own. In college, my roommates and I had a standing Monday night RPG game. Storytelling became a big love for me, in part because of Kristian introducing me to role-playing.
So for his friendship and all the things I learned all those summers long ago, I say Kristian is the Awesomesauce!