Jealousy is only natural

   "Did you hear the news?" asked my friend, Simpson, when I picked up the phone last week.
   "No. What?"
   "Vladimir sold his business to that big conglomerate."
   I felt that familiar pang of uneasiness deep in the pit of my stomach. "How much?" I asked.
   "About $10 million."
   "Noooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!! $10 million!"
   "Something like that," said Simpson, enjoying his role as shockmeister.
   "$10 MILLION!" I stupidly repeated. Then I remembered the proper routine. Simpson and I had known Vladimir for a long time and had admired his business expertise. We also considered him a friend.
   "Good for Vladimir," I said.
   "Yeah, he works hard," added Simpson. "Iím happy for him."
   "Me, too."
   "Heís a lucky guy."
   "Had the right concept at the right time."
   "Yeah, fell right into it, face first."
   "$10 million. You gotta be happy for him."
   "I am. Happy. Good for Vladimir."
   "Think heíll blow it on something stupid?"
    "Hope so."
    Uh, oh. Our true feelings were creeping through. Time for a little capitalist analysis.
   "You jealous?" I asked.
Simpson paused. "Maybe a little. Are you?"
   "I think itís only natural."
   "I had two reactions when I first heard the news," said Simpson. "My initial response was total depression. Here I am working my butt off and crazy old Vladimir goes and sells his stinking business for $10 million. How do you catch up to something like that? Iíll probably never reach those heights."
   "Probably not," I said, agreeing a little too quickly. "What was your second reaction?"
   "The depression over my humble and meager business situation eventually turned to hope. The whining about Vladimirís good fortune slowly transformed into an inspiration. If Vladimir could do it, then, by golly, so could I."
   "Tally Ho, Simpson, tally ho," I cried. "Thatís commendable. So you really are happy for Vladimir?"
   "Not in the least. It should have been me. But Iím happy that he gave me hope it could be done."
   "How brutally honest of you. I felt the some way."
   "That it gave you hope?"
   "No, that it should have been me."
   "Exactly!" cried Simpson, giddily realizing I was every bit his equal when it came to being shallow and vindictive.
   "But I agree with you about the hope part, too," I continued. "I remembered my wise old father talking about how much it used to bother him to feel the stares of the street bums when he climbed into his fancy new sports car after work each day. Then he decided the stares werenít hateful. They were hopeful. Those bums were saying ĎSomeday Iíll be driving that car.í"
   "Your father sure has a gift for rationalizations," said Simpson.
   "Hey, the car was stolen a few months later," I said, quickly defending my family. "Maybe one of those bums did end up driving it."
   "And besides, youíre missing the point," I added. "Iím agreeing with you, but itís all relative. When it comes to Vladimir, weíre the bums and weíre self-centered enough to believe it can happen to us."
   "Darn right it can," said Simpson. "Vladimirís got nothing on either of us. Heís no smarter, no more hard-working, and no more ambitious."
   "Thatís right. He just got a little lucky."
   "Besides," added Simpson, "he isnít really getting $10 million. Heís going to get hit with a huge tax bill."
   "Thatís right." I agreed. "And donít forget that some of his employees get a piece of the action."
   "Heís probably paying some huge commissions, too."
   "I bet when all is said and done he only comes out with about $4 million in his pocket."
   "Maybe even less."
   "Feel better?"
   "A little. How about you?"
   "Getting there."



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