Friday, April 28, 2006

Our Friend Bill

Last night, our esteemed Professor Goldstein referred to Papa Bill as a kind of Forrest Gump figure. In fact, the Prof said that Bill "seems to have more modern American history than the entire campus combined." Personally, I thought the Forrest Gump analogy was more apt. Books could be written on the vast amount of run-ins that Bill has had with historical figures. Of course, while Gump was an incredibly innocent bumbler, Bill is a (polite cough) not so innocent blitherer.

There are many thoughts I have about Papa Bill, but the one that is most prevalent in my mind is that he always surprises me. Every time I think I have the guy nailed down, he astounds me with another story about his life. Yesterday, at the bistro, he left R-dogg and I completely speechless. I always mentally prepare for my dinners with Bill, but I still wasn't ready for the stories that he told. Sometimes I feel as if Bill purposely readies stories to tell me on Thursdays just to see the look on my face.

There's an interesting lesson to be learned from Bill. Last night he finally let us in on his vast secret of being a charming person. He looked over at a young female college student, and wondered out loud what would happen if he sat down next to her and started talking to her. He looked over at me, his eyes turning sharp and determined and said "You know what would happen Brett? For about a minute she would act very uncomfortable, pretending like she was scared of me. But I wouldn't hit on her, just talk to her and gradually she would become more comfortable and her fright would turn to flattery. That's how it always works."

He didn't do it though, primarily because he was focused on the conversation he was having with R-dogg and I. But the immense secret with Papa Bill isn't that he has any more charm or better looks or anything of that nature. It's that when he's talking to you, he makes you feel like he genuinely cares about what you are saying, even if he doesn't know you. That is a unique trait that is lost on so many people. The way we show people we care about what they are telling us is the way we form strong friendships. Bill just happens to do it with everyone he meets. They are always the most important person in the world to him.

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