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A man should know when he is lucky.
This was going to be one of the most important phone calls of the year. I had been working on this business deal for quite sometime and it all came down to this final presentation. It looked good, the signs were all there. In my mind there was no doubt that this was going to be it. Months of work and it all came down to this. In spite of the fact that this was going to be a telephone meeting I dressed up in my finest threads. This meeting represented a momentous occasion for my little company and I wanted to dress up for it. The minutes were passing by as I kept fidgeting around with paperwork checking and rechecking my figures. In my mind I kept rehearsing the presentation speech I had now perfected to a flawless rendition. It was all good.
The ringing of the telephone startled me briefly. “ The game is on” I murmured to myself. Took a quick look around to make sure nothing was missing, stared at the phone as it rang a second time. Then slowly and self assuredly I picked up the horn. “ Hello” I said. From the other side all four attendees, who had been patched on this conference call, quickly shouted their greeting as they checked in.
“Well Nick” said the president of the other company. “ We are all here to hear what you have to say. Please go on.”
It is a rare, in a man’s life to be given the opportunity to shine. There I stood all suited up in my best business suit and ready to do battle. This was my moment. In my heart I knew I could not have asked for anything better.
After many years in the same business, with a modest amount of success we all mature into a more confident role, at times like this , instincts start to take over and your mind starts to work at warp speed focused and attentive to every detailed. Whilst I was speaking ,weaving the masterful tapestry of my presentation ,a part of my brain started to listen to what I was saying, and I must tell you it sounded to me like pure magic. The more I said the more I liked it. What style, what delivery what perfect usage of the English language. Hey, not bad for a little boy from Palermo Sicily … if only my dad could see me know.
Finally, as I lawyer in an open court, I rested my case. The evidence was overwhelmingly, in my favor. Even though I could not see the faces of the jurors, it was obvious to me that there was only one verdict possible. In my mind this deal was done, ready and accounted for. Once my last syllables were spoken I stood there waiting for their response, proud and self assured.
There are moments in life in which even the little seconds move along as long interminable hours. Time as a whole shifts and it all seems to move in a slow, comfortable mode. I do not think that more than 15 seconds passed before I started to hear the company’s president response. But in my mind if felt a if it was forever.
I do not know when Napoleon Bonaparte realized what had actually happened to him at Waterloo, did he see it coming or did the devastating sense of defeat suddenly crushed upon him?
In a split instant things changed for me. First I heard my father’s words:” Don’t count your chickens until they are hatched” then I started to hear the words that were coming out the president’s mouth.
Whilst I can’t recall every word, one stood our clearly: “ NO!”. He was most elegant and respectful in his delivery yet, it was made clear to me, beyond any reasonable doubt, that this deal was not going to take place. Even if pleasantly wrapped in the most elegant wording the answer was a clear resounding “NO!”
We all exchanged pleasantries and well wishes. As quickly as it had stared it was all over. I stood there. Staring at the phone mumbling, trying to figure out what had gone wrong. After composing myself , I went downstairs to talk to my wife.
Nanci had been working in the garden all afternoon, even now in the early evening’s hours she still moved from bush to bush like a butterfly. Since we started work on this old home a few years ago, the garden has been her love and passion.
Before I went outside I poured myself a glass of fine red wine. Took a small sip, composed my thought then I stepped out to the back garden where she was.
The water in the fountain burbled softly splashing down the from the open mouth of the lions’ head. The bushes were in full bloom. Nanci was on her knees planting new flowers in the terracotta pots. Before I could call her name, she rose to her feet and hugged me. Then took my hand a led me along the crushed granite path on the side of the house. All the while she was talking and pointing to flowers and bushes and trees which were all around us. I found myself looking at her , while her words started to drift in the back ground as an ambiance noise. A few locks of her hair had come undone from the ponytail and they were now swinging free in front of her face. They were dangling ever so elegantly, curled up in front of the eyes. Every word was punctuated by a smile and her eyes shone with a brilliant light of joyful enthusiasm. There was a small patch of dry caked mud on the right side of her forehead. And her garden clothes were all disheveled in the most elegant way as if perfectly placed, just so.
There was talk of flying birds , flowers, fountains and butterflies, all accompanied by animated mimes, punctuated here and there by smiles and wide gestures.
“ A man should know when he is lucky” my father often used to say. Like many other things once heard in youth, the meaning of these words suddenly came upon me on this Summer evening with haunting clarity. There I stood before my home, a beautiful home which I love, holding the hand of my wife who in spite of caked mud on her face looked amazingly beautiful to my eyes. I can hear the birds and for the first time in a long while I am starting to look at this garden in a whole new light. Meanwhile our cat Felix(a.k.a. Filippo) winds down the paths to join us. As I am looking down at him he bunts my leg softly and meows as if to say : “ Nice to see you Nick!”.
The memories of my failed business deal started to chip off my shoulders, melted away by the warmth of my wife’s smile, carried away by the song of the birds and covered up by the soft rumble of the bubbling water in the fountain.
The hand of my wristwatch sweeps the seconds away, but I do not hear the clicking of time passing. I am living in this moment, tomorrow will come anyway. Tomorrow is very far away. This moment belong to me. My father had a point. A man should know when he is Lucky and on this balmy summer evening walking hand in hand with my wife along our garden followed by our cat, I know just how lucky I am.