Larry was not a man you would give a second look to, except for one thing, what he wore probably cost more than most of us pay in rent.
I met Larry in July 2007. We hung out at the same cigar shop.
His nickname was, The Penguin. He was rather short…5′ 4″, about 65 years old. He weighed all of 260 pounds, and bore a strange resemblance to Oswald Cobblepot. When he talked, he sounded eerily like the Penguin as well.
His attitude was that everyone he knew wanted something from him. This was justified, because everyone he knew wanted something from him.
But, after meeting me, he saw something different. Before I knew he had money, I was a friend to him. I gave of myself for his needs and asked nothing in response. Slowly, after about six months, he learned to trust me.
I was the only one he trusted to help him straighten his apartment. His place had lots of valuable things that one could pocket and Larry would never realize it was gone. Gold jewelry, rare figurines, stacks of cash, rare coins, and other such things were strewn about. But, never did my fingers touch anything, except to help clean the place.
Then, in February 2008, he went to the hospital, complaining of chest pains.
What was supposed to be a checkup turned bad. He was admitted to the hospital when while doing a stress test, he went into a coma. I visited him each day, and each day, the doctors would say, “Get ready, he could die tomorrow.”
I found out only myself and another cigar buddy visited Larry. The other man, who until he says it is ok to name, shall remain nameless. But, the other guy, closer in age, knew how to deal with the docs, and had connections, and ensured that they did all they could to keep Larry alive.
In May, he came out of the coma.
That summer, he spent his time with me, teaching me how to appreciate the finer things of life. He showed me how to enjoy better food at fancy restaurants. He taught me where to buy the highest quality clothing at the cheapest prices. He taught me how to play a game called Tonk.
One thing he really taught me is that when doing something enjoyable, quality always beats quantity. The old saying is, “If something is worth doing, it is worth doing well.” He applied this by saying, “If you are going to do something fun, buy quality equipment, and if funds are short, forego the fluff. If you cannot afford the best, save until you can.”
He chided me for buying low quality suits. My next paycheck, he took me shopping. On my own, I bought 5 suits. When he took me, I could only buy 2 for the same amount. But, those 5 suits got me totally different reactions from others than the 2 he helped me buy. The 2 suits got looks from women and men treated me with respect. The 5 suits caused me to be overlooked and ignored.
Those 5 suits, lasted maybe a year. I still have the 2 suits.
Once I learned this lesson, I have enjoyed my extra-curricular activities more. And, in some things, I am much safer.
One interest that made me safer was in my new skill of scuba diving. Instead of buying lots of bells and whistles, I bought higher quality basics.
At my cert tests, the Master Diver commented that of the newbies qualifying, I was the one whose equipment did not suffer a failure. And, when you are 60 feet below the surface, the last thing you want is an equipment failure.
My fins…split fins that rival Alphas. All of my equipment is this way. The best I can buy. And, when the choice is quality or extras, I go with quality.
Poor quality equipment takes away from the fun when it does not fit well, or comes loose, or breaks.
If you are doing something for fun, buy the best equipment you can buy. If you cannot afford much, buy quality with fewer extras.