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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Boldly Going Nowhere

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Guys Named Bill

According to The Name Book, by Pierre Le Rouzic, a person's character is defined by his or her given first name. The book contains over 9,000 names and places each of them into one of 79 distinct personality types.

The name Bill can be found in category 76, the Lone Soldier. Some of the characteristics include intelligent, strong willed, courageous, analytical, high sense of morality, mostly introverted but extroverted when required, carry grudges, slow to change, natural loner and risk taker. Basically, guys named Bill will get in your face.

I send my weekly column via e-mail to about three dozen friends. Four of them are guys named Bill.

1) Bill of Missouri -- I met Bill in the Army. In 1966 we were in the same battalion in basic training. We then served the remainder of our tour together in the Third Army Data Processing Company in Ft. McPherson, Ga.

In the early fall of 2004, I wrote several columns (leading up to the November 2004 presidential election) where I criticized the established two-party system of government and encouraged people to examine third parties and independent candidates. Bill apparently became upset with my unconventional political views (among other things) and promptly requested that I stop sending my column to him. We haven't spoken since.

2) Bill of Seattle -- I worked with Bill in California 30 years ago. When I became a consultant, he eventually took over my job as general manager. Later I did consulting work for him and even rented his house for a year.

In December of 2004 I wrote a column titled "Oil for Food" where I detailed many of the financial improprieties of the U.N. Oil for Food program. I also pointed out that, although we made mistakes along the way, our country was trying to do the honorable thing. Bill became livid over this column and accused me of being a flag-waving Bush supporter. Conversely, a woman in Texas sent me an e-mail concerning the same column whereby she criticized me for bashing Bush. Ironically, I never even mentioned Bush in the piece.

After a series of argumentative e-mails between us, Bill finally broke it off with "you're either with us or against us" (whoever "us" is) and told me to do something rather acrobatic to myself. We haven't spoken since.

3) Bill of Texas -- I've never met Bill. He discovered my column through a mutual friend. Bill is a retired engineer who once worked for Lockheed in California. Coincidentally, my ex-wife also worked for Lockheed.

In May of 2005, I wrote a column titled "Spitting on Jane Fonda" where I described the history of our conflict in Vietnam and how I didn't think it was appropriate to spit on Jane Fonda (a critic of the Vietnam War). Bill was upset that I appeared to equate courage with Fonda's actions. He and I exchanged four e-mails each, debating the issue. He insisted that courage required an honorable act, whereas I pointed out that burglary also required courage but there was no honor in it. Bill was always a gentleman and didn't find it necessary to blow a gasket.

4) Bill of Minneapolis -- I've known Bill since high school. We also went to college together and spent lots of time hanging out, mostly in pool halls. We've been friends for 45 years. He stayed in Minnesota. I wandered off.

Like anyone else who reads my columns, Bill has undoubtedly disagreed with some (or all) of my ramblings. Even though my psychic subconscious mind can hear his distance snickers whenever I send him a column, he chooses not to confront me with his illusion of the truth. We still keep in touch (so far anyway).

Although somewhat unscientific, certain obvious conclusions can be drawn.

* 100 percent of guys named Bill will judge some (or all) of your opinions to be objectionable.

* 75 percent of guys named Bill will bring their disapproval of your opinions to your attention.

* 67 percent of guys named Bill who bring their disapproval to your attention will sever the relationship.

* 50 percent of guys named Bill who sever relationships will suggest you become a contortionist.

So if you want to reduce your circle of friends to a manageable level get yourself a newspaper column and express an opinion. And if you know a guy named Bill, speak softly and carry a big stick.

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Bret Burquest is an award-winning columnist and author of four novels, which are available at Amazon.com. He can be contacted at bret@centurytel.net.