Influential People

Influence? Why is it that the people who influence us most influence us in ways that are not easily quantified?
Through her work with abused children, my mother has shown me the heroism of selfless dedication to a worthy
cause. By being an upstanding individual, my playwriting teacher in middle school acted as an inspiring male
role model at a time when I needed one most. By being approachable and interesting, my World History
teacher in my freshman year of high school opened my eyes to the connections between a society\'s culture and
its history and broadened my view of cultures and the world. While these influences mean much to me and have
contributed greatly to my development, they came too easily to mind.

The fact that I could sit down and write a list of how these people influenced me suggests that the influence did
not alter me in any profound way. These people are all my elders, and perhaps I feel distanced from them. The
person whose influence shook me to the deepest level is a person whose influence is nearly impossible to
describe. Mike, the best friend I\'ve ever had, changed me, and I changed him at one of the most crucial times
in our lives: the seventh grade. We developed our personalities, our senses of humor, and our love for girls at
the same time and in the same manner. It would cheapen his influence to quantify it; I am what I am because of
him; I cannot say that about anybody else.

Mike came to my school in the seventh grade, and we immediately clicked. Before he came, I didn\'t feel like an
outcast by any means, as I had my friends that I had known since first grade. However, until Mike, I never had
anyone my age to identify with completely. Mike made me feel confident in who I was; he reaffirmed my drives
and my thoughts and my inspirations. At this awkward stage in our lives, we found uncritical appreciation in
each other. We both were obsessed by movies and had a similar sense of humor. We had the same problems
and the same thoughts. That was all it took.

Halfway through that same year, Mike and I became inseparable. In fact, our yearbook had a section that lists
the names of students and what they were never seen without. Under Mike, it read: "Ted, " and under Ted:
"Mike." I became a staple at his house and he at mine. We no longer had to ask our parents if it was ok to have
a sleepover on weekends, they assumed we would. On weekdays, we usually walked over to his house, which
was near school, and hung out there till I had to go home. Our favorite past time on those long afternoons after
school was to walk to the nearby food mart and get a bag of chips and two 24 oz. Coca-Colas. Watching a
movie, we would sit on his couch with our chips and Coke and talk about our dreams of working together in the
movies. Mike wanted to be a director and actor, and I wanted to be an actor and a playwright/screenwriter. It
was the perfect combination. We even tried writing a few scripts together.

Of course, as two seventh grade boys, it wasn\'t all skips through the park either. We were extremely
competitive and would get into brutal fights for seemingly no reason at all. One time, I pulled out a chunk of his
hair, but I don\'t remember what started the fight. I think that our connection was so intense that we could not
have normal emotions toward each other. As friends, we were best friends, but in an argument, we wanted to
fight each other to the death. Still, the Wrestlemania days were rare; ordinarily, the intensity of that connection
was a good thing. I was pretty shy about girls, and when I did talk about them with guys, I would usually just say
a girl was "hot." With Mike, I could really talk about girls and who they were; with Mike, I didn\'t have to put on my
public "cool" fašade but could really say what I felt about a girl.

Then we went to separate high schools. We tried to maintain the friendship, and you might think we would have
been able to since we had been so