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Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Summer of Sam

Some time ago I had a friend tell me, hey, Sigmund, you need to meet this interesting guy, “Sam…”

I hear a lot of referrals like that, but this was different. For one thing, this friend was only the latest in a series of distinct and unconnected people who were giving me the same interesting guy. And a second thing: this “Sam” person was touted as being frequently mistaken for me; words like “clone,” “twin,” or “long-lost brother” were often used.

So with an introduction like that, there seemed to be no downside in meeting the guy: if those people who claimed he was my Xerox copy were wrong I could revel in pointing out all the differences those people missed; on the other hand if they were right I could enjoy the company of such an erudite, winsome personality. A win-win situation!

Oh, of course there was the scheduling dance: it took over a year for us to finally connect. In scheduling complexity he already showed some homology to myself.

After my first meeting I couldn’t see what people were getting so excited about. Once you got past the superficial similarities: the Asian heritage, the approximately same height, weight and haircut, the analytical approach, the argumentative personality, the financial success, the arrogance, the early graduation, the East-coast schooling, the advanced degrees, the disciplinary authority issues, and the international travel schedule… well, really, what was the big deal? I was clearly older, wiser, more distinguished, more suave, better balanced, and undoubtedly more self-effacing than this Sam-I-am. Seeing him was like looking at myself in a funhouse mirror, nay, not a true image of myself, rather an unfinished distortion, a caricature lacking substance and depth, the product of a reflection from an imperfect veneer coating cheap and shallow glass.

So into the Rolodex he went and was largely forgotten.

Until a particular deal came up that took me to Tokyo  and a celebratory party at a well-known venue, fulsome with moneyed men and beautiful women. It was a hot and sticky summer evening, but the venue was delightfully air conditioned and comfortable. I was enjoying the very welcome climate change when…

Lo and behold, holding court at his own table was this Sam fellow and, to add insult to injury, he was entertaining “Yu,” the woman (and ex-porn actress, but that’s another story) who was usually my regular drink partner at this particular venue. He was also sitting with my old friend Lau.

I haughtily took my own table and ignored the Sam table, beckoning over the manager. The manager was clearly flustered by her having assigned my partner to Sam, but I preempted her apologies and instructed her to send a bottle of my own Johnny Walker King Georges V whisky to the Sam table. This whisky came out of a private cache I kept at a few places; ordinarily the best whisky available was Blue, a vastly inferior product. So I had put Sam at a disadvantage, somewhat publically, since he could not reciprocate with a similar quality offering.

With nary a delay, Sam pulled a move that made me realize that he was more than met the eye: he sent Yu over to my table, apologizing for monopolizing her time and claiming that he hadn’t known she was my partner.

Ha.

She told me, conspiratorially, that Sam was so much like me in my younger days, that he was experimenting with relationships, and that I really ought to “show him the ropes.” Mentally reviewing my mastery of hangman knots, I decided, what the hell, and invited his party over to my table to discuss his experiences and mine.

And that’s how it all started.

I don’t know if there is anybody who still reads this blog. If there is, you know that I’ve been notoriously absent. Writing about monogamy is, well, quite challenging. Some things don’t seem worth writing about, and other things seem inappropriate to share. But overall, something changes. Something about happiness and contentment is rewired in the brain and is different. At least so far. I’m not saying it’s easy or without hurdles, temptations, and failures, but…

Anyhow, I decided to turn over this blog to Sam. He has more energy. He’s still single. He is on a quest not too dissimilar from my old quest – he doesn’t know what he seeks, but he knows there is something behind his adventures and experiences. He has the advantage that he gets to learn from my experiences (though he will write about some of his historical learnings, I presume) and go to the next step. I’ll try to drop in from time to time, and he and I do correspond fairly regularly.

The next chapters will be his. To start off, I’ll let him introduce himself in his own words.

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