“You know that red button you can buy? The one for five bucks? When you press it, it says “That was easy!”
“Yeah, uh I think so,” I replied.
“Well, I got one marked down! Only two fifty!”
“Sweet, I think.”
“I’m going to get another one.”
“So, things will be twice as easy?”
There he went, back in line at Staples. Couldn’t resist a deal. Then he was pressing those buttons all the way home until I was sick of it.
“What are you doing now?”
“Every time something is easy at work, I’ll use it there too.”
“You can’t be serious!”
“Way serious dude!”
“But you’re an obstetrician! What is easy about that?”
“Nothing. But there’s always hope!”
And so it went with my best friend until he had the inevitable nervous breakdown. That wasn’t easy.
I should have seen the signs. Too hard a life can make you get a prescription. Easy buttons are unbeatable. Until they aren’t. But I digress. The real problems started so long ago. He had everything, much more than I did. Rich parents. College tuition, and rich friends. Hey, parachuting for $300.00 a pop was like nothing for him. I’d sit at the aerodrome café and watch him fall out of the sky. Too far sometimes. It was the rush, no one wanted to jump with him. I certainly said no. Not my cup of tea, er coffee.
But that was his life. He lived it, everything easy.
Marriage was easy. Meet the right special someone who always makes you feel good. I mean always. I think his favorite song was, “Yer the cream in my coffee!” by the Whozits. Well I think he didn’t know the name of the band, he just called them that.
And his favorite hobbies were all easy. This guy would never learn to paint if he had a camera! He wouldn’t play basketball if a foosball table was handy. Skiing? Nah! He could afford Aspen easily, but the plane trip was too far. Staring down a mountain made him sick. “Do I have to wear a helmet?” he’d ask. They would say yes, of course. Then he’d lose interest. Maybe his head was too big. I don’t know.
But I was still his friend through thick and thin. Well mostly thin. I had to be an easy friend. Don’t ask me what that meant…Oh ok, I’ll tell you. Misery. Well not for him, obviously. He’d call me up when he felt like it. Two AM? Sure, why not. It would go like this:
“She left me again!”
“You know, Two AM means I AM not available! Capeesh?”
“Yeah, but she left me again!”
“What? Are you at the hospital working late or something?”
“Yeah. What does that have to do with it?”
“Everything. Get her some flowers, roses, and a nice card.”
“You know, show some interest! Breakfast in bed or something.”
“I don’t like roses. I don’t like the smell.” I hung up and turned my phone off.
Just like that. Clueless. Everything easy.
And my friend had beliefs about everything. I mean he would tell you things about what he believed in. Sheesh! And the way he would tell you what he believed in was so over the top. He discovered meditation, and it was the living end. He knew a new way to do it. I’m not making this up! Fifteen minutes meditating until he fell asleep, keeled over, face on the floor. Oneness with the universe had to be easy. But it was never enough that it wasn’t working for him. Everyone had to try it.
“You should try it!”
“How do you try being one with the universe?”
“No, no that’s ok, really!”
“Just give it a second!”
“Fifteen minutes you said!”
“It’s not like you are being graded on it!”
I wish he was being graded on everything. That was the feedback he could accept. Except that he never got any.
So about that nervous breakdown, the one that changed him completely. I have to say, it was not the best thing that ever happened to him. Not by a long shot. Life pulls you up short like that, what do you have to fall back on? Is a whole life full of easy stuff going to get you through things like that? No way, not going to happen.
I visited him daily in the hospital, not the one he worked at. That wouldn’t be easy, having his colleagues always drop by. Well, there was this other hospital that he was at. Only for a few days. He was complaining and complaining. They wanted him to do group therapy. But he hated listening to other people’s problems. Not easy to do that. And the few times he saw a psychiatrist, it was just to get that prescription I was telling you about. Well, that’s not fair. The psychiatrist tried to do therapy, but my friend didn’t like the couch. Lights were too bright when you lie down, and that psychiatrist had mighty stale breath sitting up close and asking questions all the time. So, he left that place quickly because no one can commit you these days. I never knew that. I guess I have seen too many old movies.
We threw a big party for him when he came home. He was a changed man. Look Ma! No therapy! Happy for the first time. I asked him his secret. He said he read a book and the first three words written were these, “Life is hard.” Amazing! Whose life gets changed with just three words? His, I guess.
We drifted apart over the years after his nervous breakdown. He moved away and got serious about things I didn't care too much about. Did he get back with his wife? Nope. Did he lose his job? Well, not in the way that you think. He lost his job as in got rid of it. Told it to take a hike. Good for him I thought. Wake up in your forties and realize you’ve been sleeping your whole life!
But life can be like that. If things don't go to plan, just smell the roses and say that life is hard, and don't wake up your friends at 2 AM!