Envy is a cancer. And to compound matters, it is blatantly ignorant.
My first brush with the affliction came when I was a teenager, a lower middle class college kid, with two bucks in my wallet and a rusted out $75 Chevy to match.
I met a beautiful live wire of a girl at a bar near school, asked her out and was on my way to pick her up in this way-out-of-my-league-community of grand homes and rolling lawns. Out of nowhere, a cop rolled up, lights flashing, as he pulled me over. He never said why I was being questioned but I knew. I was clearly out of my element. I looked too poor, perhaps dangerously so, to be permitted to cruise through those environs without a close inspection, investigation and a strong dose of intimidation.
I made it past the checkpoint and rolled up to the girl’s imposing Tudor mansion, feeling as if I had been transformed into the world of the Social Register. As I was ushered in to meet the parents–looks of disdain painted on their faces–I absorbed all of the splendor around me and wished, immediately, that I could live in such grand style. And simultaneously, I promised myself that I would never let my date nor her royal entourage see my squalid living conditions.
Ironically, the girl from the galaxies and I hit it off, fell in love and became inseparable. An ugly fact of life (to them) that her parents had to accept. I became a fixture at the mansion and as my fascination with their wealth began to diminish, it was replaced by an increasing realization that they acted out in a twisted masquerade party designed to conceal their utter dysfunctionality.
The parents detested each other. The father inherited his money and was a talentless boor. The mother hated everything in life except jewelry and drank herself into a daily stupor. My date\girlfriend\lover was loved only by me and viewed the mansion as a cold and foreboding cave where she was considered no more than a beauty pageant competitor by her mother.
In time, the girl and I broke up and went our separate ways, she to Paris to pursue a career as a model. What became of her I have no idea. But I do know that our summer love led to an epiphany that has guided me all of my adult life. In fact, a set of epiphanies:
- You never really know what anyone else has.
- It never matters.
- What other people think of you is meaningless.
- Life is short. Be grateful for your time and relish every second.
- Envy is the affliction of the ignorant.
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