The Last Tango

Just recently, a good friend of mine celebrated his 60th birthday. While I browsed a bookstore looking for a nice intelligent book to pamper him with, I came across the book “About the Really Important Things” by Dr. Haim Shapira.  Dr. Shapira is a highly sought after lecturer in the field of game theory.  “Well, at the age of 60,” I said to myself, “my friend should give some thoughts to the really important things.”

Standing in line to pay for the book, I leafed through; it seemed interesting, so I pampered myself as well, with the same book. Listen to this cute story taken from the book; it will surely remind you of some of the people you know:

There are people who think that the fact that they constantly complain about everything that they see or hear makes them look smart. One day, my wife and I and another couple were travelling in Italy and stopped for 2 days to tour Venice. I soon noticed that our trip companion was a ‘wise guy’ since quite soon, while touring the alleys, he started to share his wisdom with us.

He updated us that Venice is crumbling and within 34 years – max – it will vanish. After he had crumbled Venice he made it very clear that the sewage system in this beautiful canal city was built completely wrong (I hope that none of you is really occupied with the quality of the Venetian sewage system…).  Our friend didn’t stop there, and soon enough he informed us that the wine that we had ordered in the restaurant the day before was not really from a 1997 vintage, as was stated in the menu, but from a 2003 vintage… and so he kept on drilling and drilling into our brains, insisting to gradually ruin all the beautiful moments of our trip.

What the man didn’t know is that I also knew most of the facts, but fortunately enough I usually try to see everything in a lighter, brighter and more pleasant light. I too know that Venice is crumbling, but isn’t it the secret of its charm?  ”New Venices”, that are not crumbling, were built in Vegas and Macao – are they as charming?

The sewage isn’t constructed correctly? Well… it has been functioning for 800 years already… give it some credit. When was the last time you bought a product with an 800 year warranty? And yes, it is possible that we had been cheated with the wine, but I will not let the little things ruin all those beautiful moments that are so difficult to collect. At the end of the day, these small moments in our memory albums are almost all that will be left.

Since that trip this friend calls me occasionally to check when and where we will travel together next. Every time he calls he gets the same answer: “Ooops… we just came back from a trip.”

This was our last tango.

(From “About the Really Important Things” by Dr. Haim Shapira)

Certainly many of us have bumped into friends like this when we traveled, not to mention (to be perfectly honest) that sometimes it reflects the way we ourselves act. I mean, complaining about each little detail, telling our travel partners how our other trips had been so much nicer, trying to save and being picky and, of course, acting like  ’smart guys’.

It reminded me of an old story about a guy that borrowed $100 from a friend promising to pay it back within a week – max.  After a week they met again. The guy asked his friend to remind him how much he owes him. The friend said: “well, I gave you $100”.
“Do me a favor,” said the guy “give me another $100 and next week – max – I’ll pay it all back.”
After another week they met again. “Remind me how much I owe you?” said the guy.
“Well, you owe me $200.”
“My apology,” said the guy “please give me another $100 and next week – max – I’ll pay you the $300.” The generous friend gave him another $100.
The following week they met again. “Just remind me, how much I owe you?” the guy asked again. The friend, lead now by his past experience, said:
“You owe me nothing. I don’t recall that you owe me something. Thanks…bye…” and he walked away…

 So… should we take from these stories that we should keep distance from people who suck energy out of us, or should we absorb something and improve ourselves?  

Fireworks (70)
Shuka, from Madrid Spain
Thursday, December 16, 2010

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