“By the way, why did you give up on your dreams?”

 

At some point in our lives, we will be at the receiving end of off-the-cuff comments that may linger on with us for quite a bit. Say, you are discussing career choices with your brother, and he says, “Or I could be like you: someone who gave up on his dreams,” as happened to a stand-up comedian who worked as an executive for a global corporation in Cincinnati. This kind of remarks are not necessarily swipes. They are not intended to offend. Long before plunging into the wear and grind of adulthood, this writer, at the age of nine in the last century, was turning the pages of a richly illustrated astronomy book at school. We all marveled at a picture of a gigantic, glowing cloud of stars. “What is it?” everybody was exclaiming. “A nebula,” your correspondent ventured. “He reads really fast,” came the comment of a classmate, whose eyes had just rested on the caption that this writer had not seen, and so he passed for a cheat. Eventually, he got over it, kind of. But then again, he has inflicted these kind of comments on others too. “How did you know that I would love this?” asked him a woman he had been courting for a time years ago, after she was presented with a little Celtic motif necklace brought for her from Scotland. “Oh well,” came the gallant reply, “you are so predictable.” The rest of the story was predictable, too.

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