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ActiveRain Helps Develop Real Friendships! My Lunch with Paul Slaybaugh (and our families)

When I started on ActiveRain almost 16 months ago, I was surprised to find so many like-minded souls here.  One of the first friends I made was Paul Slaybaugh, and although we never met in person before this past week, I had already come to consider him one of my best friends. 



He's a good dad and dedicated husband, and he is one of the funniest people I know, with a crazy/wicked sense of humor.  My conference calls with him and Adam Waldman often devolve into the type of laughter that I remember from my junior-high days.  You know, when you have milk coming out of your nose?  That kind.



Needless to say, when I heard that he and his family were going to be in Houston, I was excited to finally meet him in person.  As it turned out, it was just after the RE Barcamp event in Houston, so I was able to spend several days in that area and meet many of my other AR friends, too.  Bonus!

As Paul put it on his comment on my post about Barcamp, "Not a bad looking warm-up band."

My wife Pam (who is pretty darn witty herself) couldn't help teasing me when we were on the way to Paul's grandparents' house to meet:

"Maybe you guys can run into each other's arms in slow motion across a meadow, with the sun dappling on the lens like in those 70's movies."  Thanks, honey.  Thanks a lot.  :)

Actually, it wasn't quite that dramatic - sorry if I let you down.  However, I did get a chance to meet FOUR GENERATIONS of Slaybaughs that day before we went to lunch.  Pam and I talked about this when we were driving to lunch, and we both agreed that we envied Paul for his super-nice and welcoming family, including his grandparents, dad, sister, and brother-in-law.  Very special people.  Then again, I guess they have to be pretty nice to keep Paul around, right?


Paul and I took our wives and children to the Rainforest Cafe in Katy, Texas.  Even though it was my idea (found it online), it turned out to be better than I expected.  It was the perfect place to have the kids along, because of the animatronic animals and the jungle theme.  The elephant was disturbingly realistic from a distance, but the giant butterfly with the 3-foot wingspan wasn't fooling any of us. 




There was a brief awkward moment at the restaurant when our arch-nemesis Johnny Carwash showed up, but he was greeted with these glares of doom, and he fled quickly:


We shared a good laugh at his expense after that:


Of course, I am kidding. 

This is an old inside joke.

Overall, we had a really nice afternoon, and Paul's wife, Brandi, was very cool indeed.  My son, Brandon, went sort of nuts and treated us to some great physical comedy, with terrific impressions of a gorilla and a somewhat nosy elephant who spent much of his time grabbing my hair with his "trunk".  I think he was also pretending to groom me for mites at one point.  Whatever.  He had a good time, and so did the rest of us. 

Truthfully, it was very much like seeing a friend from school that I hadn't been around for a few years, which was terrific. 

As my friend Amanda Hall explained during the conference we both attended one week ago, the connections and friendships made here on ActiveRain simply cannot be overestimated. 


I have shared struggles, triumphs, tips, family stories, funny nonsense, and much more with my friends here.  I am eternally grateful for having found this unique network in the first place.  The support and close-knit nature is difficult to explain to "outsiders". 

Paul - I look forward to our next get together!  

Maybe I need to plan a trip to Scottsdale sometime.

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