In response to his frantic call, I met him in his favorite booth at his neighborhood tavern. I don't drink anymore so I ordered an O'Douls. (Been there, done that, it ain't the same.) Oh, well, there are other highs in life. My close friend looked awful. Unshaven, dark circles under his eyes, his face dragged down with anxiety and fear. The man was in the throes of something bad.
After thanking me for coming, he spilled it all out. He was madly in love with his fiance of two years and she had just left him.He had begged her to stay but she professed to have fallen out of love. He could neither understand nor get over it. A wreck. How could this happen, what can I do?
As I listened to the details, I tried to formulate, in advance, what to say to him. Couldn't be critical, he's made of glass. I revisited the basic essentials of just who I was. My reservoir of info was my own life's experience. You learn as you live. The eyes tell it all. Having chosen my path, I tried to help.
"For every man, there's a potential right woman. Maybe even more than one. The trick is to meet her at the right time. The right woman at the wrong time won't work. The wrong woman at the right time won't work. It has to be the right woman at the right time, even the second time around. When that happens, you'll know it. Nobody will have to call it to your attention. The pieces will all fit together, on their own. When you hug her, it will feel right. Nothing's your fault. Wrong person or wrong time or both."
It was tough to read whether I had reached him. He seemed calmer, perhaps fatalistic. He was still a bit liquored up. I took the last swig of my dreck drink. "Go home and to sleep. Call no one but me. See how you feel tomorrow." I drove him home. He didn't say a word but his mood reflected a change of thought direction. He called the next day, by no means a mountain of mirth, but he was no longer a threat to put his head in a gas oven. The perfect storm had weakened.
I was confident in what I had said because, in truth, I was reliving a September-of-my-years glorious chapter of my own life. After all, aren't we what we have lived through?