the clothes unmake the man

There's a gazillionaire in my circle. I have no idea how much he's actually worth, but he's in six-car garage territory, that garage being filled with a Mercedes, Porsche, Lotus, and Ferarri. Those are the four cars I've seen, anyway. I assume there's a gold-plated Rolls with spinning rims in there somewhere, too.

He's a nice guy. A sweetheart, really. The combination of his kind disposition and fat wallet leads him to being abused by the riff-raff. When they're turned down for a mortgage, he's the first person they call. And they expect him to pick up every check. Perhaps I'm projecting, but I think he finds it wearying.

Two weeks ago, three of us went out for drinks. He left our gathering first, so he handed me $40 to cover his tab. "Your money's no good here, Rod," I said, handing him his money back. He protested politely, but I waved him off. "The universe says you're due."

He thanked me and departed. In the intervening time, he's pestered me to allow him to reciprocate. The texts got more intense. He clearly detests feeling like he's in anyone's debt. It's like watching a man implode in text form. I get it. I hate feeling indebted, too. Naturally, I canceled on him twice.

Finally, last night, I relented and let him take me to an expensive restaurant, where he promptly picked up my $200 tab. He was extraordinaily satisfied, like the island castaway who finally gets to take a shower. "Have you ever had a steak that good before?" he asked chipperly. I told him I'd had that exact steak a few weeks ago. He was surprised.

It was then that I realized he thought I couldn't afford to eat at this restaurant without his benevolence. I don't blame him for thinking that, really. Everyone else in our circle is broke. And then there's the confusing matter of presentation.

"I only dress like a homeless person," I explained.

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