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Monday, February 25, 2013

Best Friend’s Dark Secret

Best Friend’s Dark Secret

My best friend Joe L. and I belonged to the Mutual Admiration Society.  I am positive that we both had our faults, but we both chose to concentrate on the positive.  He once told me jokingly: man, you don’t smoke, you don’t drink, and you don’t chase women, you may as well be dead, you are no good to no one!  As old fashion and gruff as he was I appreciated his sense of humor, and most of all his sincerity.  There is no one I would rather have watching my best interest than Joe.  Joe had a great retirement income with two pensions and Social Security coming in monthly.  He was also happily married to a loving professional woman who was a very successful Registered Nurse at a major hospital.  They lived in a very nice waterfront home, and enjoyed a very social life.
He probably enjoyed my friendship because he was reliving his younger years through me by maintaining his involvement in the community and State politics.  He had a lot more influence than he gave himself credit for.  The problem with influence is that to work it correctly, you have to use it for the benefit of others, and not for yourself.  I know that I and everything I did was the direct beneficiary of his influence.  I always maintained a post office mailbox for the business, and one day out of the blue, Joe asked if he could receive mail at the postal box. Because it was Joe asking, I didn’t think to ask why, and I approved his request. In hindsight, I probably thought he just wanted to feel closer to the organization.

As it turned out my friend wanted to keep some of his activities from his wife.  Joe’s one major weakness, was the horse race track (Emerald downs would bring him more grief than wins).  Joe was in hog heaven at a time when credit cards were arriving in the mail daily, and Joe was accepting most of them.  It didn’t take long for Joe to dig a hole in excess of 80k deep.  He always knew that a big win was just around the corner, and he would be able to cover all his losses and walk away a winner.

Joe got deep enough that pretty soon all he could do was make the minimum payments on his quickly growing gambling debt.  The balancing act was working out perfectly even if it was likely to outlive him.  The one thing Joe didn’t count on was an unexpected illness.  Not a death bed situation but a lengthy recovery of over two weeks in the hospital was just as bad.  Even I his best friend I was not in on the secret, so I couldn’t help cover for him.  One day when I visited him in the hospital, he told me the whole story, and how deep he had gotten into debt.

He asked me to open all the mail that we had been holding for him in my office and to please make the minimum payments, to try and maintain his secret.  While I was shocked (about the intrigue and debt) I knew that what he was asking me to do was no less than what he would gladly do for me.  On part two of this post, Joe’s wife will leave him and I will get caught in the middle.  Stay tuned the best is yet to come….


  1. Wow, how sad... . On another note, it's been a long time since I heard about that dear 'ole Mutual Admiration Society. :) BMM

  2. I guess it was also known as the Mutual Respect Society. Not to be confused with the Good Old Boys Club.

    1. The Mutual Admiration Society was a good thing. I'd just forgotten about that expression.