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Bill Brown

A complicated man.

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I got a Christmas card from my high school friend Steve Franson yesterday and it contained a bombshell that left Sandi and I speechless: my high school friend James Sorensen had died of liver failure.

Jimmy, as he'll always be known to me, was an amazing guy. The only time I saw him after high school was for my wedding, which immediately followed my freshman year in college. But the years in high school were filled with fond memories of him. He was easily the funniest guy in a group where humor was the conveyor of status. He was always up for anything, no matter how crazy. He was smart, but he always had to work for everything he achieved.

It was Jimmy who introduced me to the wonders of using background porn movie music to punctuate jokes. It was Jimmy who gave me the phrase, "Just rub some dirt in it." It was Jimmy who called my wedding "the buffet" and inquired as to the minimum amount he'd have to spend on a gift to attend. He had a beautiful sense of life.

At some point in high school, we got close because we both had an interest in Nazi Germany. I still have that fascination thanks to him and his encyclopedic knowledge of that subject. I can remember evenings spent in his room poring over books of German armaments and his collection of Naziana. We used to play racquetball together as well and he inevitably beat the socks off of me. I can remember at some point that we stopped hanging out together but I can't remember why. It's strange how an event like this brings back long-forgotten memories and disjointed snippets of reflection.

I know secondhand that his last few years have been filled with sadness and despair. I can only imagine the suffering he must have endured. I wish I could have been there for him; I wish I could have known Jimmy the adult. Now, sadly, I never can.