This is the first of a series containing thoughts, musings, ideas, observations, opinions, vignettes
The force that good things happen to you by chance and not as a result of your own efforts or abilities.
By Babette Hughes
I had dinner with an old college friend last night — I’ll call her Angela. I didn’t recognize her until she approached me in the lobby. Her blond hair had gone grey and looked unkempt. Her clothes were wrinkled. There were deep circles under her eyes. She was as pale as a corpse at a Wake. We greeted each other with a hug — it was like embracing a bag of bones.
After we were seated at a table and ordered drinks (a martini for Angela; chardonnay for me) she looked around like a fugitive from justice, leaned forward, and whispered, “It was his secretary.”
“His secretary?” I asked, puzzled.
“I heard him on the extension, the dummy. She wears tight sweaters and short skirts to work, the bitch.”
“Angela, would you please tell me what you’re talking about?”
“So he said — you know the line — ‘she meant nothing, it was just sex, he loved only me bla bla bla’.”
“Oh, he was sleeping with her.”
“I can’t eat, I can’t sleep…. I want to leave him …….I don’t want to leave him. … I don’t know how to be alone… nothing helps not cocaine or sleeping pills or alcohol……I don’t know what to do and I’m falling apart.” She waved her now-empty martini glass it in the air for a refill.
“I know of an excellent therapist — “
“ — Hay, he’s the crazy one, not me! He should go.”
The waiter brought our dinners — we both had ordered the salmon and asparagus with new parsley potatoes. She stared down at the plate in front of her as if it was something alive.
I watched her in silence as she moved the asparagus around on her plate. She was in no shape to hear the truth from me. Her problem wasn’t her husband’s infidelity. It was that years of good luck had rendered her helpless in the face of adversity. Her beauty, her supportive, adoring parents, her marriage to the catch of the year, the young, good looking scion of a well-known shipbuilding fortune, not to mention her career as a consultant to designers arranged by her uncle, a department store mogul. While the rest of us were struggling with money worries, kid worries, relationship worries, she was traveling the four-star world, going to prestigious balls and A-list dinner parties. Her luck even extended to her children, a son and daughter, both of whom graduated from Harvard Law and were successful attorneys.
We pray for luck; we wish on stars and in wishing wells; we buy lottery tickets,; play blackjack and the slots n casinos. We think it will save us.
But we don’t know — or don’t want to know — that luck is a fickle lover who sooner or later will betray us, disappearing without a word, leaving people like Angela without the coping tools necessary for the inevitable problems of life.
Sudha Chandran lost one of her legs to infection and became one of the most acclaimed dancers in the world.
John Hockenberry is a journalist with a spinal cord injury who works from a wheel chair. He is also a four time Emmy winner and three time Peabody.
Stephen Hawking can only speak with a computer. His book, A Brief History of Time was on the Sunday New York Times bestseller list for 147 weeks.
Be careful what you wish for.