Warning: This is a sad story.How sad?
When I told it to SAI editor Jay Yarow yesterday, we were in the middle of a golf round. Before I told it to him, he was playing really well. The hole after I told it to him, he shot 5 over par. (That’s really bad. Sorry Jay.)
When I heard it, I was in Guatemala, at a hostel in the Volcano-made hills above its old capital, the Spanish colonial town Antigua.
I’d just finished dinner in the hostel’s main building, and was now standing around out back, nursing a tequila and watching some of the other guests – ex-pat bartenders from town, actually – smoke cigarettes and practice tossing liquor bottles around like the way Tom Cruise does in the movie Cocktail. (Turns out some of those bottles are made of really thick glass.)
The bartenders got around to talking about the saddest stories they’d ever heard on the job.
One of the stories was about a cofounder of a big 1990s dotcom that sold for hundreds of millions of dollars.
Here’s the way the bartender told it – between wobbly over-the-shoulder bottle tosses and long drags on a Rubio.
He was at his bar late on a Sunday and in walks a seriously sad sack. The guy sits down and starts ordering drinks. He keeps ordering drinks. Eventually, the bartender started pouring them out in a lineup and the guy would just knock them down one after the other.
The drinker finally tells his story.He tells the bartender he was supposed to have gotten married to a Guatemalan the day before – on Saturday.
But on Friday, he’d gotten a call from her.
Don’t come down here, she told him.
He came anyway, but it didn’t work, and here he was on Sunday, knocking them back.
Back at the hostel, those of us standing around in cigarette smoke behind the hostel tell the bartender: enough with this sad story – twirl the bottle around your neck again, though.
But that wasn’t the saddest part of it, the bartender said.
He said that apparently, this man at his bar had actually had a fiancé one time before – or had almost had one.
He’d been living in New York – working at that big dotcom you’ve heard of that he supposedly cofounded – and he’d been dating this one girl for a while.
He decided to ask her to marry him. To do it right (and impress here with some of that dotcom money) he decided to fly her whole family up to New York and propose to her with them all around during a lunchtime walk one day in Central Park.
It was going to be a big surprise. To make sure it was, this guy called his girlfriend’s boss – a friend of his – and asked him to make sure the girlfriend was told to come into work early that morning.
Here’s the sad part. Ready?
The year: 2001.
Her office: the World Trade centre.
After that horrible morning, this dotcom cofounder spent the next years of his life drowning in booze and drugs, until one day, way out in Hawaii, he met a Guatemalan woman who saved his life through love.
We all know how that ended up.
That it is the saddest f—king story we have ever heard!, we told the bartender.
He threw the bottle around his shoulder again, finally getting the hang of it.
We all decided not to pass on this sad story because like a virus it would infect all listeners with a deep melancholy.
Anyway, it’s OK, because back in the States now, I called up a source of mine this morning – one who actually was an early employee at that 1990s dotcom you’ve heard of – and asked him if it sounded familiar.
He said, “the cofounders were actually pretty wild when it came to women and whatnot, but I can say with 100% confidence that there’s no way that story is true.”
“But,” he said, “don’t let the facts get in the way of a good story.”
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