Hard luck, buddy


When I see David again, I canít believe how bad he looks, a regular hobo with torn jeans, a dirty t-shirt and the stubble of a bear.

He hasnít shaved to the nub for years.

He pounces on me as I come out of my office, as if he knows my routine and waited for me to show.

He asks if I remember him.

At first, I donít, and even when he says his name, I canít believe it is the same guy I hung out with in school.

Back then, I was the nerd he felt sorry for, the boy with the pocket protector and eye glasses so thick people used to call me a soda bottle.

He was the suave kid all the girls wanted, always quick-witted enough to get anything he set his mind to.

They even wrote him in as the most likely to succeed in our year book, while these same people thought I would wind up running the movie projector at the local theater.

Maybe I envied him back then, even wishing I could get some of the girls he cast off.

I never did.

And while he let me hang around, it was only for laughs.

He and his boys needed someone to tease and that someone was me.

I suppose he liked me after a fashion Ė but only showed it when none of his hip friends were watching.

After high school, I lost track of him, though I though I hear he got accepted into some prestigious college.

I was stuck with technical school because it was all my dad could afford.

This, of course, was before computers caught on, so even my parents though I was nuts when I decided to take a career in that field.

No need to say I got lucky and later got to go to college, too, since by then, I had made a bundle and could afford to stack up a few additional degrees.

So looking at Dave outside my office on the street, I wonder what field he had taken since it clearly hadnít done as well as mine had.

He shrugs and tells me heís dabbled here and there.

He partied his way through college: lost of girls, booze and fooling around, but very little future.

After that he says it gets a little hazy as he went from job to job until the economy tanked and had to take jobs heís still too ashamed to talk about.

He says he still drinks more than he should, but doesnít get the girls like he used to.

But, he says, heís trying to turn his life around. All he needs in a little break.

I guess maybe I feel sorry for him the way he once felt sorry for me.

I tell him to go home, take a bath, put on some clean clothing and report to the main room in the morning.

Then, I climb into my limo and tell my driver to take me home.

Iím already late for the dinner party.


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