Although he has been my best friend for the past 20 years, we didn't immediately click. There were a lot of reasons for it, but certainly much of it had to do with my own special blend of social awkwardness. However, it didn't help that when we met, we initially formed part of a group of 7-8 people that acted as a circle of friends during the first few months of our freshman year. In any circle, there's bound to be some friendships that form more readily than others, and some relationships that never really jell at all. However, it didn't help that our group contained only one woman -- a product of the ridiculous female-male ratio at Drexel at that time -- and that most of the men in our quickly dysfunctional clique harbored some sort of romantic feelings for her.
(A quick aside for a true story: as part of orientation, one of the bonding exercises for each group of 25-30 incoming freshman randomly thrown together for the event was everyone taking a moment to introduce themselves using an adjective that shared the same letter as his/her first name. By the time it was my turn, I was the fourth or fifth "M." At this point, I couldn't come up with anything other than "Morbid," which is wrong in all sort of ways. Thankfully, keith89's was almost as bad, but out of respect for him, I won't share it.)
In retrospect, it's rather obvious that the group was doomed to split apart quickly, but the one thing that eventually came out of it was that I got to know keith89 better (it helped that we had a mutual friend or two outside of that group), and within in a year, he was my best friend at college. In the time since then, we've gotten drunk together more times than we can count, gone to science fiction conventions and strip clubs, watched plenty of crappy movies together, shared our interest of SF, bonded over really stupid things ("Hillbilly Happy Smash" immediately comes to mind), sung badly together (yes, alcohol was involved), mocked each other's taste in music,* and have shared more stories than I can remember. He has always been there for me when I've needed him (occasionally, to his own detriment), and when it was time, there no hesitation at all when I decided to ask him to be the best man at my wedding.
In short, he's been everything you could ask for from a best friend.
(Another true story: About a year after we met, the two of us went to a party where I drank WAY too much alcohol. So much that I blacked out and don't remember much of the evening. During that period, I apparently got it in my head that I needed to head back to my dorm room and sleep it off. However, seeing that I was in no state to make the walk back (escorted or not), keith89 decided to sober me up and walk me back to my room once I could clearly handle it. That in of itself was the type of thing you want a friend to do. But, he did more than that. At the moment he noticed my utter lack of coordination -- actually, the entire party noticed it when I decided that it would be easier to slide down a flight of stairs on my ass rather than walk down them -- he was getting to know pretty well a young woman he met for the first time at that party. In the act of taking care of me, he gave up on where ever it was that his evening with her was headed. Yes, I still owe him. Big. Forever.)
So this weekend, keith89 and I will together to celebrate 20 years of friendship. For me, this is more important than a 20-year high school reunion, and though we may not be getting the exact date right, it doesn't matter. I'm just happy to have met him when I did, and look forward to the next 20 years of having him as my best friend.
And, hopefully, I won't do anything nearly as stupid as some of the stuff he witnessed over the past 20.
* Actually, now that I think of it, I've never mocked his favorite music even though he has made repeated fun of my love of BNL. But that's okay, given his taste in music is probably better than mine. Besides, I've mocked him for other things for which there was no analog.