Monday, August 27, 2018

Without Expectations

There was a situation in my early adult life that flashes into my memory every once in a while.  And it shows something about me that I am proud of.  I’ll get to what I think it may be in just a bit.

The situation was that I was living with a beautiful brunette with cheesy dimples when a friend of hers came into town.  At that time, this friend, I’ll call her Kelly, still had the label of “best friend” to my lady.  They both came from the same mid-western state and shared a lot of their youth together.  I have no idea of what their relationship is now.  But my gal was very excited whenever Kelly used to come into town.

At the time, Kelly was living in San Diego and had married one of the four founding partners of a very large home VHS movie renting company.  Their stores were all over America, almost as plentiful as McDonald’s.  It really had become a blockbuster of a company.  Hint, hint.

Well, anyways, this very pretty woman came into town with her husband, and since my lady and I lived in Venice, we all had dinner at Charlie Brown’s, which was an upscale family restaurant in Marina Del Rey.  It is no longer there.  We all had a good time talking and visiting, and when the meal was done, the waiter brought the check over to the table, and I reflexively grabbed the bill folder, stashed my credit card into it as payment, and we all went on discussing whatever we were into.

A couple of days later, my woman told me that Kelly had called her and that after I had paid for the meal for the four of us and they were driving back to San Diego, Kelly’s husband had said how nice it had been that someone would offer to pay for their dinner.  This man had millions of dollars (I assume, being who he was), and what my girlfriend told me was that people almost without exception would expect for him to pay for dinner outings and such. 

I remember that when my lady told me this, it both surprised me and slightly disgusted me; the predicament that he apparently found himself in most of the time.  What I told my girlfriend was that I would never expect someone to pay for me just because of their individual financial situation, and, to boot, they had driven all the way up to Los Angeles from San Deigo that afternoon and were my guests for the evening. 

That sort of expectation is something that really turns me off.  Without getting political here, it’s a kind of socialist view of, “If you have a lot, then I expect you to take care of me tonight.”  Maybe not that pronounced, but somewhere in that kind of thinking are those dynamics.  And what I believe my willingness and pleasure in paying for our dinner said about me at the time was that I didn’t view any of it that way.  I saw his wealth as something that he achieved in whatever way he did, and that he owed me nothing just because of his own circumstances.  I am really glad that I felt that way even at age twenty-five. 

I’ve never forgotten that feedback that Kelly gave to my girlfriend about me.  And it’s always stuck with me. As the years have gone on, I have become very fortunate, and that same situation that he often found himself in have occurred to me many times as well.  I don’t make a thing of it because I want people to have a good evening and to enjoy themselves.  But I do recall in those instances how I instinctively acted with Kelly's husband, and that I would like people to offer the same generosity around me in similar situations without any expectations.  Funny how a tiny moment like that can stay with you for a lifetime.