"Did you hear the
news?" asked my friend, Simpson, when I picked up the phone last
"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."
"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."
"Heís a lucky guy."
"Had the right concept at the
"Yeah, fell right into it, face
"$10 million. You gotta be happy
"I am. Happy. Good for
"Think heíll blow it on
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
"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
"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
"Exactly!" cried Simpson,
giddily realizing I was every bit his equal when it came to being shallow
"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
"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
"Heís probably paying some huge
"I bet when all is said and done
he only comes out with about $4 million in his pocket."
"Maybe even less."
"A little. How about you?"