“Just say what you want to say.” Arnold proclaimed.
“It’s not that big of a deal, just something I noticed, but probably not my place” Jim responded.
“Come on man, how long we been friends? 10 years! Nothing you can say about me is going to hurt me. We all need constructive criticism once in a while to keep on the straight and narrow, right?” said Arnold.
“So just spit it out my friend. I can take it.” Arnold said confidently
“OK. If you’re sure.” Arnold nodded affirmatively. “Since you left the firm, you have really let yourself go. You were always looking sharp, working out, really on top of your game. But now, well…..not so much. You OK?”
“Umm….yeah. I’m fine. Guess I might have put on a few pounds.” Arnold looks down at his protruding belly and rubs it a little.
“And your hair.” Jim continued, “looks like you haven’t cut it in months. And did you get new deodorant or something? You smell. . . umm. . . .different.” Jim ended with a scrunched up nose as he said the last part.
“Well. . .I guess I haven’t been paying as much attention to myself as I used to. Been a little rough since the firm and I parted ways.”
“I’m sorry man, I sho…” Jim started to say but was cut off by Arnold
“Nope. You’re right. I need to get my shit together again. Need to start over, get back on the horse. Thanks Jim, I really appreciate your candor. Most people would have never said a word to my face, but maybe that is what I needed to get going again.”
“OK. Man, it really doesn’t matter to me what you look like, we’re friends, right?” Jim asked
“Yeah….of course. Gonna get going now” Arnold looks down at his belly, patting it gently and smiling “Gots to go take care of this.”
Jim walked away wondering if he should have said anything to Arnold, but if a friend can’t be honest with a friend, then who can. Dropping subtle hints over the past few weeks sure did not seem to help. Arnold’s wife had asked Patty if Jim could talk to him because she was worried about Arnold being depressed. Against Jim’s better judgment, he agreed to talk to him. Patty encouraged Jim to just be brutally honest, “pussyfooting around the issues doesn’t help.”
By the time Jim got home, he was feeling pretty good about his conversation with Arnold. Maybe getting involved wasn’t such a bad thing, maybe the girls were right. Better coming from him than someone else who didn’t care about Arnold.
“I’m home” he proclaimed as he walked into the kitchen.
Patty sat at the kitchen table talking on the phone, holding a finger up in the air, indicating that she needed him to stay there and wait for her conversation to end. Jim stood and leaned against the kitchen counter as his wife listened intently to whoever it was on the line. Finally she placed the phone down on the table and just shook her head.
“What’s up?” Jim asked
“What the hell did you say to Arnold?”
“Did you tell him that he smelled?” she asked
“Seriously? Why would you do that?”
“You asked me to. You and Patty sat right there and listed all of the things that were wrong with Arnold and asked me to talk to him before he had completely let himself go.” Jim responded.
“But you weren’t supposed to tell him what we were saying, it was supposed to come from you. Guy to guy, man to man.” she said.
“But. . . ”
And now Arnold is all pissed off and feeling sorry for himself, bought a gallon of ice cream and some bon bons and has locked himself in the basement.”
“Bon Bons?” Jim snorted as he tried to subdue laughter.
“It is not funny. You really screwed up on this one. Asked you to do one simple thing and you just made it worse. Thanks for nothing!” she fumed as she stormed out of the kitchen.
Jim just stood there with an incredulous look on his face. “And this is why I don’t get involved…..”