I, on the other hand, really have no excuse for not being here for months. >_> Sorry, everyone. I'll try to be less of a vaporous presence in future. Lemme make up for it by trying to answer this topic thingy of Wonnykins's, here.
What is YOUR opinion on what Ash and Gary's childhoods were like? It's known through manga that Gary's parents are dead, but was never touched on in the anime, and Ash's own dad is missing. What do YOU think would be shown in the anime of the three of them, and how would they be portrayed, (i.e. some think Ash's father was a trainer and left to do more training, some think he died, etc.)? And, most importantly, do you think Ash and Gary were actually friends when they were younger, like the games and manga suggest, and if so, what do you think made them friends to begin with?
Hmm...Well, as far as Gary's family goes, I think his sister may have met the same fate as his parents, which is why we never see her in the anime either. Maybe it was a car accident, maybe something more sinister. Whatever the case, I don't think Gary himself even knows the truth, being as he was very young at the time...
I do remember reading in an edition of the Pokemon Deluxe Handbook that Gary had been learning about Pokemon since the day he was born. So, even before what happened that caused him to live with his grandfather, his knowledge was quite extensive. And while he may have been able to impress just about any adult he came across, it was probably different with most kids his age. Maybe all the other children were so intimidated by the fact that he knew so much more than they did that they ostracised him rather than look up to him. And this is where Ash - the sole exception - comes in.
Maybe they bonded at first simply because neither of them had fathers in their lives. Gary mentions he's been raised by his grandpa, but Ash doesn' think to ask him who his grandpa is. In fact, Gary himself doesn't realize just who his grandfather is until a little later. Then he gets the idea that, 'hey, this guy is famous. People look up to him. And I'm related to him'. So he starts using his status as the Grandson of the Great Professor Oak to get more popular, and since that's the way the grand mentality works, it's a huge success. Or at least it appears to be. And it's around this point he decides he's going to be the world's greatest Pokemon Trainer, because really, what more fitting goal is there to have?
But then comes Ash, back into the picture. And suddenly, deep down, Gary gets nervous. Why? Because in the years that they've been friends, it seemed to him that his dear old grandpa always paid particularly special attention to Ash. Never mind that the same can be said for Delia in Gary's case; that doesn't matter. Suddenly he sees Ash as dangerous, someone who could potentially steal everything away from him. So he gloats when it appears that Ash is too late to recieve any starters from the professor, because it means Ash won't have the chance to take the goal that Gary believes rightfully belongs to him. That self-satisfaction vanishes, however, as soon as he calls his grandfather to talk about his progress and learns that, yet again, Ash had "the rules" bent for him just so he could start his journey.
And the rest as they say, is history.
(No, I really have no idea what might have happened to Ash's father. I haven't done much thinking in that particular area ^^;)