Monday, February 25, 2013

Leaving a legacy

I met Barry when we were both 15.

We were at a church camp and for some reason we were divided up into state delegations.There were about 15 kids from my church. Barry represented the rest of the Georgia contingent.

As it turns out, his aunt had been my freshman English teacher.

A few years later, we both ended up as students at Georgia Southern University. We ended up in the same campus organization. While we weren't best friends, we certainly hung out a lot, making random trips to the beach, playing video games, going to football games and plenty of late nights playing Risk with our friends.

Risk, for the uninitiated, is the game of global domination in which you roll dice and move armies across a map of the world, seeking to occupy every territory on the board. Attack to quickly and you'll end up spreading your army too thin. Wait too long and your opponents will become so powerful that there's not much you can do to to stop the ensuing onslaught.

So we must have played dozens of games of the course of the time we were in college. Over time, we learned the different strategies and patterns of everyone who played. I would end up being overly cautious, hoping to lay low while other players battled amongst themselves. Another friend would basically draw the game out a long as possible in an attempt to wear us down mentally as we got tired of waiting for him.

This brings us to Barry. Barry is what I imagine professional Risk players (an occupation I really hope exists, though I doubt it does) call a "wild card." Barry would seem to eventually grow restless and want something to happen, so he'd load up a country with as many armies as possible and then go on a marauding campaign that seemed to have no rhyme or reason. It was a military excursion for the sake of doing something. I'm not sure if there was ever a long-term plan associated with the attack or if it was just boredom.

Whatever the reason, if you were in the path of Barry’s destructive rampage, whatever plans you had were likely ruined. To make this post even more nerdy, it was like playing with a “chaotic neutral” character from Dungeons and Dragons. You weren’t sure what was going to happen, you just hoped you weren’t involved.

I graduated from college in 2001. I mention this because from time to time (including last weekend) some college buddies still get together to play Risk. We make the same jokes about the Ukraine being weak,  referring to Alaska as "The Fightin' Palins" and other geopolitical jokes that we all know are coming, but we laugh anyway. Barry lives about two hours from us, so he’s not among the players, but we still make references to someone “Pulling a Barry.” More than 13 years later, his legacy, or something like that, still lives on.

*Barry is currently a United Methodist minister so hopefully he’ll forgive me for giving away his Risk strategy to any of his new friends/parishioners who read this before his next Risk game.

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