Tuesday, February 17, 2009

If Old Flames Aren't Hot, Can They Still Burn You?

Last summer Commish and I were wandering around a street fair when I ran into a sort-of ex from college. It was pretty surprising because (a) she lives in NY (or so I thought - she had just moved to the Midwest) and (b) I had neither seen nor thought about her in at least 10 years. We exchanged small talk for about five minutes and went our separate ways. A few Thursdays later Commish asks "If you run into an ex-girlfriend, do you tell your spouse?"

Doc asked "Alright Commish, which one of your many exes was it?"

"Wasn't me - it was TNH Guy. And before we ask him if he did tell his wife, I want to know what you guys would do."

T.S. went first. "I need some more details before I answer. You guys only talked for a few minutes. Exchange digits? Did you make plans to get together for lunch or something like that?

"Nope. Well I got her cell number. She didn't get mine, we didn't make plans and to tell you the truth I didn't even think about it until Commish brought it up tonight."

"I can't believe you didn't make plans to get together," T.S. offered.

Commish interrupted, "That's another issue. But to the first one. Nap, you run into an old flame you haven't seen in 10 years. Do you tell your spouse?"

"Nope," Nap replied. "Why go there? You had your moment to play catch up. Leave it that."

T.S. spoke up again. "I'd say its a definite maybe. I don't think I'd bring it up out of the blue, but if for some reason it made sense in some conversation, yeah, I'd tell my wife I ran into her."

Doc chimed in. "I'll keep this progression moving. I'd tell my wife. What the hell? I don't think she'd be pissed. It would be an interesting conversation."

Nap: "It would be interesting alright. You'd end up on the couch."

"Why? It's not like I did something wrong," replied Doc.

"Did you run into your old flame?"


"Then you did something wrong. Next time run into your handyman."

Commish cracked up. "Okay TNH Guy, it happened to you. Did you tell your wife?"

"Sort of. I mentioned that I ran into a woman I went to college with and hadn't seen in ten years, but left it at that. We weren't that serious in school. Besides, I'm with Nap. Why go down that road?"

"But," said T.S., "let's get to the real issue. Did you make plans to get together?"

"Nope. I thought about it, but don't see what good it would do to spark up an old flame. It can't really go anywhere good."

"I don't know," responded Commish. "If I once had feelings for this girl - like she was my first real love - I'd sure be interested in reconnecting and finding out what happened to her."

"I guess that kind of happened enough in that 5 minute conversation," I replied. "Besides, she wasn't the one that got away.  In fact, she hardly happened at all, at least not enough for this college junior! Anyway, T.S., you brought it up, what would you do."

"I'm with you Commish. I'm not sure where its going, but I'd be interested in reconnecting. In fact, last year I ran into this girl from high school who I had a pretty big crush on back in the day. We grabbed a bite to eat, found out what was what and who was who. It was fun for an hour or two. Wasn't much interest in staying connected after that. But I'd probably do it again should I run into one of my numerous other lady friends running around out there."

Well, I never called her again; haven't really thought about her since then. As for the other guys, I'm pretty sure they all went home and googled their college exes that night. Would you have told your spouse if you ran into an ex?

Sunday, February 8, 2009

To Dine or Not to Dine

A buddy of mine lost his decent paying white collar job recently. This is, unfortunately, hardly news these days, though (as far as I knew) this was the first buddy of any of the TNH guys to get laid off. This buddy, "Mike", got a job as a waiter to have some sort of income to help tide his family over. My wife and I had plans to go out to dinner and thought about going to the restaurant where he worked, to show some support for him. Then we thought about it some more and decided to get some TNH input.

Nap spoke first. "Going over there is a bad call. Your buddy took this job to make ends meet, not because he always wanted to be a waiter. I think showing up there will embarrass him, despite your good intentions." 

"I don't know about that," said El Guapo. "If this guy is your buddy, I think he'll appreciate you showing some support. Shows that what he does for a living has zero impact on the friendship."

"But don't you think there are other ways to let your friend know you support him?" said Nails.  "Invite them over to your house for dinner or find something to do just to hang out that won't cost anything."

Commish spoke up. "I need a little more info. Is this restaurant nearby? On the other side of town? Let's say he took a job at a place way on the other side of town when there's a similar one much closer. That says to me he really doesn't want to be seen by people he knows. I'd also want to know what his state of mind about it is. If he's talking about it, he's clearly not trying to hide it."

Mr. X joined in after listening for a while. "Good points. Also - and while its different for everybody - if this was a few years ago, when nobody was losing their job, I could see feeling embarrassed, even if there was no reason to. But today, given everybody's uncertain job status, we all know that could be any one of us. If he's open with it, I think showing up is a nice way to show Mike you're thinking of him."

"Guys, I hear you, but I'm going to have to disagree with you on this one." Bubbles spoke up for the first time that night. "Even if he's pretty open about it, does that mean he's really comfortable with the reality of it, and wants to showcase his new position for all to see? Its not like I go to your jobs to see you in action.  Its one thing to talk about it, its another to serve your friends. Why take a chance?"

Commish agreed. "At the very least, wait a little bit, until you get a sense that he's really cool with the reality of it. Plus, I actually think it raises more issues, even if he's totally okay with it. What if you don't get seated in his section? Then you're just observing him. That's weird. What kind of tip do you leave? Potentially even more awkward. I say leave it alone and follow Nails' advice and have him and his family over for dinner or brunch or something."

Getting the last word in, El Guapo added "All good points fellas, but if its me I'm still going out there to show some support for my buddy. Hell, we'll make sure we all have a good time - him included!"

And that's where we left it. My wife and I ended up not going to the restaurant where Mike worked, and the more I thought about it, the more I think we made the right choice. Vote on the right and let us know what you'd do.