I have a friend. His name is Conrad. I have known Conrad for 13 years. I know EVERYTHING about Conrad.
We have the type of friendship that doesn’t require much cultivation. The roots are too deeply embedded at this point. I go weeks without seeing or talking to Conrad and then I receive one of his trademark phone calls, “What are you doing? You need to get your ass over here now.” “Conrad, it’s 1 am, I live 3 hours away from you, and I have class in the morning. I am NOT coming over.” Those are the easy ones. Other times I get the “hope your cell phone battery is fully charged” “write off the rest of your night” “find a comfortable seat” phone calls. These are a bit more common and all the more dreaded.
So far his life has played out like a noir fairytale. He was born out of wedlock to a middle class nutritionist mother and Syrian-born real estate tycoon father. Prior to moving out on his own he operated in two fundamentally opposite worlds. His mother epitomizes the traditional middle class vision with the little white picket fence enclosing a modest house sitting uninhabited from 9-5. His father has a different story. To put it bluntly, the man runs shit. Having immigrated to the United States at age 19, it is beyond me how this man came across the millions upon millions of dollars he is in control of. He resides at a far from modest Newport Beach mansion where he doesn’t appear to do much “work”. I guess that’s what being a mogul is all about. Others work for you. Your money works for you.
Don’t get me wrong, Conrad is a great guy and I value our conversations at times, but there is nothing scarier than an unsolicited dose of Conrad when you least expect it. I used to have a programmed ring tone for when he called, but found it to be redundant when, a few years ago, I noticed I could instinctually predict his calls. Thus far I may have inadvertently implied that these conversations are mutually participatory. HA! How foolish of me. Let’s just say that we could get the same thing accomplished if Conrad made a voice recording of what he had to say and then mailed it to me to listen to. Come to think of it, I need to get this guy a diary. That could solve everything. Anyway, you know how it goes, I throw in the periodic “oh yeah”, followed by a “wow”, or maybe a “really”. These three phrases coupled with half a dozen or so different tone fluctuations provide me with more than enough responses. In retrospect it wouldn’t be a bad idea for me to create a soundboard of me saying these three things. That way I would just have to play the appropriate response when he takes a breath and refuels for another rant.
Other times I actively listen to what he has to say. Usually he begins by updating me on new business ventures he’s pursuing ranging from investments in the stock of mining companies to the acquisition of real estate in underdeveloped regions of the country. Then he diverges, as if prompted, into a discussion on the intricacies of the Lakers’ triangle offense usually leading to his conclusion that Lamar Odom should get more touches in order to make them a legitimate playoff contender. During football season he sings the praises of the unstoppable Chargers’ tandem, LaDainian Tomlinson and Philip Rivers, with Antonio Gates being the x-factor to the team’s success. Typically he concludes with a brief summary of his actions during the past 48 hours. In any other context I would be tempted to classify them as debaucheries, but that would be irresponsible and clumsy of me after the lengthy discussion promulgated in class last week regarding the overuse of the word.
So that is the story of Conrad. I think I am going to call him now.