Dreams of glory die quick death

   Fred, my commercial real estate agent, was coming by. He said he had some very exciting information for me. I could hardly wait.
   I was in the parking lot when he drove in. I remembered the same scene from eight years earlier, the glory days, when Fred drove up in his shiny new aqua-blue Porsche Carrera. He had been pocketing commissions left and right, including a few from me, and was eager to show off the new toy his clients had purchased for him.
   It was now eight years later, and much had changed. Except, of course, the car Ė he still has it. And itís still aqua-blue, I think. It was hard to tell under the dirt and dents.
   Poor Fred. The commissions that came so reguluarly in the glory days have disappeared. Never an easy business, commercial real estate has become an even bloodier battleground in recent years. Fred and his car have survived, but barely.
   He rattled to a stop and kicked open the door of his Porsche. Exchanging pleasantries, I escorted him to my office.
   "So, whatís this exciting news?" I asked.
   "I have a tremendous opportunity for you," Fred said. "Itís a sizable investment, but itís a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."
   There was that word again Ė opportunity. Iím a sucker for it. Carpe diem Ė seize the day. Reach out and take the opportunity before it passes you by.
   I was definitely interested. Just then, a little bird appeared on my shoulder. Whispering in my ear, it chirped, "Nick, you have no money."
   I reached and swatted it right out the window. I turned back to Fred. "Give me some details."
   I think I shocked him with my level of interest. His eyes brightened. He sat up a little straighter and brushed some lint off his suit.
   He finished reciting the key details of the opportunity, and I realized this was indeed a chance to fulfill a long-standing ambition. The bird flew back in the window but was scared back by my threatening look. "It sounds very interesting," I said. "Let me go take a look at the location and Iíll get back to you in a couple of days."
   I could see Fred was still a little stunned by my exuberance. Rubbing the nubs on his face where he had missed shaving, he solemnly asked me if I felt I had the financial wherewithal to put together the deal.
   The little bird was back, and it was twice the size. I still managed to slap it off my shoulder, right in mid-sentence.
   "It will be tough," I said. "But if the opportunity is what you say it is, Iíll find a way."
   After Fred left, I sat in my office envisioning the realization of this opportunity. I could see income pouring in, and I was the toast of the neighborhood following the tasteful remodeling.
   As my excitement grew, I felt a weight on my shoulder again. It was a pterodactyl. "You big dope," it cawed. "You have no money."
   With much effort, I unhinged its claws and shoved it out the window. This was no time for introspection.
   On my way home that evening, I dropped by the property. It was everything I had hoped it would be. It was indeed an opportunity that comes along ever so rarely.
   I walked around for quite some time, inspecting, planning, dreaming. Then I went back to my car, parked across the street, and fantasized some more.
   Eventually, my thoughts turned to financing. I had some ideas, obviously, and now it was time to explore them. I was having trouble concentrating, though, because there was an elephant on my shoulder.
   As it trumpeted rude comments about my economic condition into my ear, it was obvious this subconscious behemoth was here to stay. I slowly began to diffuse the dream, and by morning both the elephant and the opportunity were history.
   "Sorry, Fred," I said when I called with the bad news, "but I have no money."
   He wasnít surprised. In the old days, I might have found the money, but not anymore. "What about the great opportunity?" he asked half-heartedly.
   "As John D. Rockefeller said," I replied, "every opportunity implies an obligation."
   I think I heard Fred whimpering.

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