My version will probably be different than his.
His name is Jake. But back in June 2008 at an online anime forum, I knew him of a different name: boy_labo (Boy Labo), which is the Tagalog nickname of Slam Dunk’s Kiminobu Kogure. And he was there for a purpose different than most: he was one of the advance party sent to scout us locals there.
What was going on?
Jake’s mother forum was—and still is—Hero TV. But that year, there came rumors that it would be taken down. If that wasn’t bad enough, they were told to transfer to sister forum, ABS-CBN. Why is that bad? Some consider those from ABS-CBN to be commoners whilst those from Hero TV to be the elite. There were few who were vocal and would rather keep separate than mingle with the masses, as there were also those who took a chance. And Jake was one of them.
I exchanged Yahoo! Messenger account names with him. While we had the chat as well as the forum, nothing that was would catapult either of us to noteworthiness as our exchanges were far and few in between.
Until on the evening of October 25 that same year, which was when things took an interesting turn.
At first, I thought it was just a simple status. I asked him what was causing him to be sick. From that plain question, he began pouring his soul out to me. Surprisingly, it wasn’t just a physical ailment: he was nursing a broken heart. I did what I could to help. Distract him with songs, haircuts, and accidentally funny lines. From 10PM, we talked way past midnight. And from then on, we began talking for hours nightly. If that was what was what I could do as aid so he could get by, I never saw why I shouldn’t.
Because we talked so many times for so long, we began getting really close. And yet we had yet to meet each other in person. It wasn’t until November when I finally saw the man behind the name. We walked for a while and had burgers. He saw me off to the train and we parted.
It’s been years now since that first meeting. Jake and I have been through good and bad times, most of which are known only to the two of us. Despite online scandalous arguments, silent wars, deactivation, pushing each other away, and even unfriending, we’re still here as best friends. We calm down and talk it out, even if it takes a while. Then go out to have a bite and a laugh.
What I do with Jake are the stuff that I would’ve done, had I had younger brother. I believe this is God’s way of answering that particular prayer of mine.
Oh—and in case you’re reading this Jake, whose birthday happens to be today—I know I’m not that easy to get along with. I can be an unbelievably real pain, which is why I am eternally grateful for you. Thanks for staying and being a friend. You’re a good man, buddy.