The Parable of the Shot Put
Michael Kun looked in disgust at his two friends who sat on the opposite side of the room. An evening that started out wonderfully had just turned terribly sour. Across from him, the well-built frame of Pat Fu was huddled over a drink, and Michael could see he was trying not to frown. Seated next to him on the couch was the sleek finance guru, Eric Sean. Normally, he admired the sharp dressing of Eric, his investment banker friend, but at the moment, the gators on Eric’s trousers seemed a bit too sharp, the shine of his hair seemed a bit too greasy. So how did it all go so wrong?
All was fine at the beginning of the conversation. They had all attended the same high school and Michael was currently working there as a secondary school teacher. Eric had gone into Finance, while Pat had become an elite athlete and pro wrestler. However, they had been really good friends in school and met no less than twice a year for drinks. . They were in Michael’s house chatting, eating spicy suya meat, downing cocktails and talking about everything, from sports to politics, secondary school to religion, when Michael had said: “Mehn, shot puts suck!” There was silence for a moment, and then, almost in unison, Pat and Eric had said, “No, they don’t!” Then they both burst out laughing. “But really, they do, guys! Come on!” “I think they are fun”, said Pat, “Actually…” “Well, I get that they are fun,” Michael cut in, “But when you think of the alternatives...” his voice trailed off. “In my humble opinion,” Eric started though there was nothing humble about his tone, “there may be some alternatives, but if you know what you are doing, they are actually fun!” “Puhlease! How can someone not know what they are doing in the first place?!” Michael said. “Hahahaha!” That was Pat laughing now “That is the kind of thinking that gets you in trouble!” “Exactly!”, said Eric, “We always make assumption about how easy this stuff is for everybody” “Totally, man!” Pat agreed.
Michael scratched his head in confusion, beginning to feel slightly irritated. Yes, they were both wealthier than he was, but that did not mean he was less intelligent. But they were both in agreement and it looked like he was the odd one. Then Pat spoke, irritating him even further. “Why are you looking confused, man. It’s not like we’re talking rocket science here”, he said jokingly with an annoying laugh. “Of course, it’s not rocket science!” Michael spat. “It is stating the obvious and I don’t get how you guys don’t get it” “Dude,” Eric came in, beginning to look upset himself, “What’s there to get? That what you find disgusting is just YOUR own point of view? What you find disgusting, others find pleasant!” “Exactly!” Pat said. “People live for that stuff, man! I am talking from experience!” “For goodness sakes,” Michael was getting to his feet now, “What bloody experience?! IF anyone should have experience, then as a secondary school teacher, I should know!” “That makes no sense, bro!” Eric cut in. “Don’t tell me I am not making sense!” Michael retorted. “Uhm, no one said you are not making sense” Pat said calmly. “We’re just saying we don’t agree with you. And to be honest, we all don’t have to agree about everything” “That’s just BS and know it!” Michael said, blood boiling. “If there’s anyone spilling BS, I’d say it is you, bro!” Eric retorted, also getting angry himself. “A person is not wrong because they don’t agree with you!” “Even if what you are saying is pretty obvious?! Dammit! What are you on about?!” “Mike, you do realise you’re screaming at us at the moment, right?” said Pat quietly. There was silence. Michael sat looking at his friends, hands almost shaking as rage surged through his being. The cheek of it. A cocktail of anger, confusion and a sense of inferiority shot through him. How dare they? Why did they think he was less than they were? What was so hard to get about what he was saying? It was so damn obvious. Across the room, Eric tried to hide his anger. Yes, Michael was the best student in class and was brilliant, he thought to himself, but that did not mean he knew everything, including subjects outside his domain. Not now that they were all older. “Hi guys,” It was Okmah, Michael’s wife, who just came into the room. There was a gentle smile on her face. One look at her and he knew she understood EXACTLY how he was feeling. “I couldn’t help overhearing your conversation” There was an uneasy laugh from the three friends. “I guess a little debate is good for the soul,”Pat said. “Well, that’s true,” Okmah said, “What wasn’t clear to me though was what you were arguing about” “Oh we were arguing about, well, shot puts” Michael said. “Ok. And what’s that?” Okmah said. Pat’s eyes widened in surprise. “You really don’t know the sport? When you chuck a heavy ball as far as you can?” Now Michael and Eric’s eyes widened in surprise. “That was NOT what I was thinking or talking about?!” said Mike. “Same here” said Eric. Mike looked at him in agreement, glad someone was finally on the same page with him. Okmah’s smile widened “So what were you thinking when you said “short put””? She asked, turning to Mike. “Well,” Mike began, a tad embarrassed “It’s a slang for when people poop into a bag and chuck it somewhere because they don’t want to use the public toilet. It was quite popular when we were in secondary school” “Wow!” Said Pat, laughing “No way!” Said Eric. Okmah turned to him, still smiling. “So, Eric, what were you thinking?” “I thought he was referring to a Short Put. It is an investment approach when you trade option contracts that are linked to stocks” “Wow!” Now, it was Mike and Pat exclaiming, embarrassed smiles on their faces. “Ok, I guess I should be on my way now” said Okmah with a chuckle, and with that she left the room. The three friends just stared in amused silence at each other as realisation dawned. Each of them had assumed they understood what the other was talking about. None of them had bothered to really TRY to understand the perspective of the other.
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