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Let's Not Do

by Stephen Lautens


December 7, 2001

I must have been out of my mind.

A month of so ago I saw the name of an old friend advertised as a speaker at a conference. It was a name I hadn't thought about in a long time. Fifteen years ago I worked for him in a big law office. He was distinguished by the fact he didn't treat me like the inexperienced goof I no doubt was.

So I was happy to come across his name and made a point of looking him up.

As often seems to happen, we had a heck of a time trying to get together. He's a busy, successful lawyer and I'm Well, he's a busy, successful lawyer. Not surprisingly he's very much in demand, and in his business time is literally money. Other people's money.

I kept suggesting we get together for lunch. Lunch is a great meal for friends. You can choose from a wide variety of foods, you can linger or even have a beer if you have a lot to catch up on. If it turns out your lunch partner is a bit of a dud, trying to borrow money or wants to spend the whole time sharing a religious awakening with you, you can always say you have a pile of work at the office that needs your immediate attention and skip out.

As it turns out, lunch with my friend got rescheduled three times. It clearly wasn't going to happen in spite of our best efforts. That's when my friend said those three words that send a chill down my spine: "How about breakfast?"

I have two things against breakfast. First, I don't eat it. My stomach gets up about an hour and a half after I do, and every day I leave the house with nary a cornflake inside to get me through to lunch.

The second complaint I have is that business people who want to have breakfast with you always want to have it at an ungodly hour. While you can carve a good long lunch out of the middle of the day, breakfast has to be over by the time the morning work whistle blows. That means in by seven and out by eight ­ eight-thirty at the latest - so everyone can be at their desk by nine. Just so you can have a mumbling, bleary-eyed business meeting that no one will remember later.

To be anywhere by 7 am means getting up before 6 and hopping around a dark room on one foot trying to figure out if a sock is black or blue while trying to not wake your spouse. I feel the same way about dawn as the bad guys in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

And business breakfast food is nothing to write home about. You can either pucker your stomach with cups of caustic coffee, or sip an $8 thimble full of orange juice to wash down your muffin and eggs.

In spite of my reservations, my friend and I set a day and time for breakfast. Of course on the appointed day I woke up at 7 and realized I only had a hour to shower, shave, dress and get downtown (in that order). I made it with a minute to spare.

Except no sign of my friend. When I asked, the waiter informed me that my friend had been there an hour before and was already back at his desk. I had got the time wrong.

I felt badly, but at least it taught him a lesson.

And a week later we had a very nice lunch.

© Stephen Lautens 2001

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