I'm going to take advantage of the (relative) anonymity of the Internets to share (vent) a tragic/ironic/infuriating/funny situation I've been involved with. Last friday, I got a call from a friend of mine's mother, to let me know her son's girlfriend had been taken to the hospital, and had undergone emergency brain surgery. As it transpired, this poor woman, who was only 49 years old, had suffered a massive aneurism. The hospital staff did everything they could, but by Monday it was pretty clear that the lady was brain dead, and that by Thursday of this week, they'd be removing her from life support (ie. respirator) and that she will suffer clinical death shortly thereafter. "Bill" (names are altered) has been a friend of mine for more than thirty years. He'd been dating "Debbie" for about eight, since shortly after his divorce from his first wife was finalized. Like many couples they'd had their ups and downs. A lot of them seemingly centered on the lady's daughter ("Kelly") who, for various reasons, didn't much care for my friend "Bill." As I'd remarked to a mutual friend, "Bill" had room for only one child in his relationships, and he was it. "Bill" isn't dealing well with this situation. On the one hand, he seems to be getting far too involved in this woman's affairs. He seems not to understand he has no legal standing in the proceedings whatsoever; and that by managing to alienate most of "Debby's" relatives (mother, daughter, sister) - mainly by dint of his selfishness and bad temper - he'd forfeited much moral right too. On the other hand, his personal behavior over the past few days has struck me as, well, odd. Upon being informed that his girlfriend had been taken to the hospital in obviously critical condition, he decided to work out the rest of his shift - at a part-time retail job. Granted - he couldn't have done much at the hospital. But if the most important person in my life was literally fighting for hers a few blocks away - I think I could tear myself away from selling XXXX for a couple of hours to be there for her. I ought also to mention that in the four days since "Debby" was taken to the hospital, "Bill" has managed to find time to go to no less than four major league baseball games. On the one hand, one could say that such distractions might not be a bad thing at a time of personal tragedy. But on the other, I am reminded that his mother called me - as his best friend - to ask that I be available to spend time with her son in his time of need. Naturally, I've been more than willing to do so. But I can't somehow totally reconcile that with being told by "Bill" that he's "too busy" to see me and his other friends right now. A prediction: Six months from now, "Bill" might need the personal friends he has. But he's too self-involved and short-sighted, to say nothing of being such a poor manager of other human beings, to see how he might have exhausted whatever stock of goodwill among his friends. The crowning achievement came this evening. "Bill" called me to tell me that he'd "offered" to go to "Debby's" house after her death, to help her mother and sister empty out her personal possessions. "Bill" told me there were some items he wanted "as keepsakes" - and that as "Debby's" mother was 76 years old, only he was in a physical condition to help her. Let me put a couple of things in perspective: "Bill" is about the last person in the world I would want to help with such a task. He's disorganized; aggressive; insensitive; and frankly incompetent at most physical tasks. I've seen him scream at his mother for moving some old newspapers in his house. The thought of him imposing himself into such a family tragedy frankly sickens me. He mentioned he had an interest in "Debby's" dishwasher. "Bill" has - for the past seven years - not found the energy or time to repair the peeling wallpaper that makes his kitchen look like something found in a crack den. How he thinks he's going to have built the necessary cabinetry, plumbing, and electrical work to install a second-hand dishwasher is totally beyond me. At best this plundered dishwasher is going to join the rest of the junk that makes his house look like an episode of "Hoarders." I could go on: How disgusted I was with his crude boasting about his sexual appeal (IMHO clearly imaginary) to the fifty-something divorcees that he met at his parents Florida home. The exploitation of this tragedy to call up his former wife (a woman who's done everything short of a restraining order to let him know not to bother her.) A death like "Debby's" is a real tragedy. A woman with a daughter who will now be left orphaned. A mother and a sister who will be left to bury a woman who died far before her time. But its also an opportunity to stand up, and be a real man. To show concern for other people. To put the needs of others, who might be suffering even more than you first. Too bad my friend "Bill" is being such a jerk. I feel nothing but guilt and shame merely by association.