Sticky situations are best when they happen around you

A guy I grew up with has been having family trouble. Not that he didn’t bring it on himself. He and his wife had been growing apart for years. That’s how stuff like this happens, a little at a time until something breaks.

Anyway, neither of them had been paying more attention to each other than necessary when a knockout at church asked to be introduced to him and gazed up into his eyes admiringly. He noticed that it had been a long time since anybody had done that, especially his family.

So here he is with a girlfriend—he likes calling her his mistress, which I completely understand—and a wife who’s managed to accept the other woman as reality, a pretty good trick. His wife and his mistress talk on the phone and go for walks and visit each other. For real.

Still, the craziness of his situation is driving him crazy. His wife told his girlfriend, “You stole my husband!” He says he’d actually been out on the curb for weeks, and thievery had nothing to do with it.

Then there are his teenage children. His son used to stay up all night studying and got stellar grades. He was driven, mostly by my friend, who rode him hard making sure he did everything that was asked of him at school and more. Close to the eve of his high school graduation, his son failed to take some test and wasn’t allowed to graduate. His son said he forgot. Take that, Dad.

His 16-year-old daughter stays out all night and steals from him and her mother. His daughter once left her key at home, and said later that she thought it perfectly reasonable to put a brick through the glass beside their front door to get in, so she did. At some point she apparently stole my friend’s rifle and pellet pistol. She says she’s in a gang. Her mother came home in the middle of the day not long ago and found some young guy coming out of the shower. At least he was clean.

Then my friend got fired from his job, which has happened many times before. This time his employer is contesting his unemployment, and things have gotten fairly lean at home.

My friend invested the money he had in a restaurant for his older son, who’s over 40 now. This son had a lot of experience in food, fast and otherwise. Sometime after the restaurant opened and well before it netted a dime, his son just didn’t show up anymore. My friend didn’t say why, although I’m sure he knows. A few months ago my friend hurt his back, and now he gets around with difficulty. All this was in the last two years. Whew.

I don’t like hearing stories like his although I appreciate them because they—like hugely fat people—remind me how good things are for me and I feel better, and that’s about the best I can do with that.