Thanks to: Dowyd, Dragonsweb & DuffieDawg
They were the best of friends and the absolute worst of rivals.
Sounds like something from Charles Dickens but it was true. Robert and Martin (here after called Rob and Marty) had been the tightest of close friends since they meet at college. Both were big football heroes at their alma mater (a big SEC school that shall remain nameless) and just barely missed getting a National Championship. Rob was a Heisman nominated quarterback in his junior year before he tore his knee up for good at the start of his senior year. Marty broke every receiving record for tight ends that same season during his senior year and was also a potential finalist for the Heisman. His hope for professional pigskin glory fell to injury also when during the second to last game of the regular season he jumped up to catch an overthrown ball and was creamed hard by two opposing linebackers. He broke several bones and received some minor but permanent spinal damage.
The friends and teammates competed for everything, awards, trophies and getting the hottest girls on campus but the biggest prize of all, a fat NFL contract, was now permanently lost forever for both of them. Even after years of physical rehabilitation and therapy, neither could ever pass a medical physical to ever play professionally again.
Both remained intensely bitter about it. It hung like an ugly shadow over everything that they had done since and all their future successes seemed to pale against this one great failure.
Rob and Marty had both come from families with both money and good genetics for smarts. They both avoid the usual easy jock classes and graduated with honors; Rob with an electrical engineering degree and Marty was near the top of his law school class. Both then proceeded to go out and make money like gangbusters. Their careers took them apart for awhile but make no mistake, they were both watching with an eagle eye everything the other was doing - and keeping some sort of internal score.
Rob went into the computer business and had two extremely successful startup companies that he built from the ground up until their IPO's (Initial Public Offering of the stock) and was now starting on his third. Typical Rob, he enjoys creating something new but becomes bored very quickly when faced with only mundane and routine work. I'm not sure exactly how much loot Rob had stashed away in the bank but it had to be at least a metric crapload. If the new IPO is even half as successfully as the previous ones, then Rob might become one of the youngest guys ever to make his first billion all entirely on his own.
Marty refused to surrender the race however. He made partner of a major law firm within a few years of the start of his law career and when he left to start his own law firm a few years later, he took half of the lawyers and staff of the old firm (and 90% of its clients) with him. A few years later he had branches of his law firm in nearly every major US city. Marty even steps into the courtroom himself on occasion charging the highest per hour fees ever heard of for any attorney and still has way more business than he can personally handle.
At the age of 32, when they both moved to San Francisco, the race for supremacy was still a virtual dead heat. They rekindled their friendship and their rivalry to new levels. They became near constant companions once more, always together again, playing golf twice a week, sailing in San Francisco Bay, hunting big game in Colorado or Montana and pursuing the most dangerous game (attractive young females) together every weekend. And always keeping some sort of 'score'.
This is about where I enter the story. My name is James and I've worked for Rob these last five years, starting off first as a contract programmer during the late days of his first IPO. I didn't get any of that gold from the pot at the end of that rainbow, but I was in at the ground floor for the second one and got enough of a nest egg to buy a decent house with a nice Pacific Ocean view in San Francisco. This third IPO should set me up for good and I'll probably never have to work again — but I'll probably keep doing so anyway. I just like to stay busy.
Currently I'm Rob's Director of Planning and Operations, which is a glorified way of saying that I'm Rob's external 'voice of reason'. Rob does 99% of all of the planning and operations management by himself and has never learned how to delegate a single bloody thing. Nearly everyone else in management who has ever worked for him in the past left after the last IPO. They made their money and were all sick and tired of being micro-managed and second-guessed by Rob. I can't say that I blame them. I got a big pay and title increase to stay on with him, not to mention an obscene stock package. Most days though I feel like I've earned every penny of it and I'm not sure I could handle doing yet another future start-up company with Rob, so I'm done too after this one!
Really, my main job is to provide some sort of an anchor to his boundless enthusiasm. To tell him if something can't be realistically done before he promises the impossible to a potential client. I've got a talent for finding that hidden dark cloud hiding behind every silver lining — Murphy's Law and I are old friends. Rob will examine a new idea with the goal of finding out what the best possible result could be — I attack the same idea from the reverse end to figure out what new problems we will be likely to encounter.
I also like to think that I'm the resident 'Jiminy Cricket', "have conscience — will travel." Sometimes ... once in a great while, he even listens to me!
In short, Rob is an endless optimist and I'm an eternal pessimist. We're polar opposites but we do work well together. We've become cautious, but fairly good friends outside of work but don't think for a moment I'm even in the same ballpark with his friendship with Marty. I'm simply a second string benchwarmer as far as that one goes. Ask Marty's friend Donald, he and I share the same boat pretty much.
Donald (Don) makes up the last member of our golf foursome and 'Four Musketeers' Friday night panty-raiding group. He has worked for Marty for about seven years now as his head accountant and is the biggest single gearhead and geek I've ever met. Easily the smartest man in the room no matter where he's at, but frankly he doesn't have a lick of common sense and his 'people skills' are rather limited. If you want to know how to fix a problem with your iPhone or Blackberry, or how to build a perfect Victorian style 'SteamPunk' computer, or you absolutely need a Star Trek trivia question answered, ask Don. He's not quite a forty year-old virgin ... but he sure acts like one.
We had been running together, the four of us, for about six months when we met 'our wives'. We had all been very single and enjoying ourselves very much, thank you. None of us had ever hooked a fish that we had even remotely considered a keeper before. This was now about to change.
We had gone to a really nice Italian restaurant on North Beach to semi-celebrate. Rob had finally set a date to file our IPO and Marty's firm was handling all of the underwriting. Things were looking like a slam dunk after our final meeting that Friday evening and we all wanted a nice dinner with some good wine to wash it down. Two bottles of an especially nice northern Italian Cabernet that cost more than most of my suits later, we noticed that a nicely attired group of four young ladies were enjoying their own dinner with a distinctly inferior domestic Chianti. Marty, who was an incorrigible wine snob, rode over to their rescue and had a couple of more bottles of what we were drinking sent over to their table.
One thing lead to another and a few minutes later both parties moved together to a larger table where we spent the next three hours in happy conversation. Since each of these ladies has an important contribution to make for the remainder of this story, now would probably be the best time to give them a proper introduction.
There is a joke that in all groups of women friends' the ladies themselves invariable fall into one of three categories: there is the good looking one, the smart one, and then there is the 'slut'. It didn't take me long at all to figure out in this group which one was which.
Karin was, at least to my eyes, the prettiest. She wore the least amount of makeup and was casual but tastefully conservative about her clothes and hair. She didn't have the biggest tits and didn't display them to their fullest advantage, but still she had something that set her apart from other women. She just had a natural glowing beauty that shown through everything. This was a lily that required no gilding. She was a departmental sales manager for a large Union Square department store, and driven to succeed. In ten years she would likely be on their board of directors. I fell for her hard nearly at once but she appeared to have very little (if any) interest in me.
Sandra (Sandy) was the smart one and she had the naughty librarian look down to a 'T' and dressed the role perfectly. She wore her skirts short, her blouses unbuttoned nearly to her skimpy black bra and her hair invariably put up into a tight bun. Even her glasses screamed sexy. It was really all an act though, she was all look and no show — probably the shyest person I've ever met. She was, true to her form, a librarian in the Special Collections department of the downtown Main Library. For most of our first meeting however, she never seemed to take her eyes off of Don. Ah, the wonders of 'geek love'.
.... There is more of this story ...