Once upon a time . . . there were three college students, all of whom left their families and homes to learn about the world.
For four years, they pursued their studies and their pleasures and roamed through the world playing games and having fun. None were happier than these three students, and they easily made friends with everyone. Wherever they went, they were given a warm welcome, but as graduation day approached, they realized that folk were drifting away from one another and preparing for their careers.
When autumn came and it began to grow cold, the three little students started to feel they needed jobs and homes of their own. Sadly, they realized that the part of their lives dedicated to fun was over now. They must set to work like all the others before them, or they'd be left to fend for themselves in the cold and rain, with no roof over their heads. They talked with each other about what kind of job to seek, but in the end, each decided for himself.
The laziest of the three, a political science major, said he'd become a politian. He enrolled in a political party and threw his hat into the ring to become the mayor of the town in which he'd settled. "It will be a fine profession,' he told his college friends. The others disagreed.
"It's too fragile," they said disapprovingly, but he refused to listen and after a hard-fought campaign, won the election.
Not quite so lazy, the second college graduate, with a degree in computer science, went in search of a job in industry. "It took him two weeks to find a job with an Internet startup. He worked sixty hour weeks, carried a laptop computer and a cell phone everywhere he went, and told the others "I have found my niche at last. The Internet will make me rich, you'll see."
"It's a fickle industry," the others warned, but he refused to listen and after a while, became CEO of the company.
"Those careers are too unstable," thought the third student, a philosophy and theology major, with a minor in business administration. "I will find a career for which there is unlimited demand."
The years went by, and the third college graduate's career took shape, slowly but surely. He became an best-selling author, then a sought-after self-help lecturer, and finally, a new age guru. He was invited to all the best talk shows, gave seminars in all the best locations, and had millions of devotees. He became very wealthy in the process.
From time to time, his college friends visited him. The first was now a Senator, considered a leading candidate for the next Presidential election. The second was now a CEO of an Internet venture capital firm. "Why are you working so hard? Why don't you come and fly to Tahiti with us for a vacation," they laughed. But the stubborn new age guru just said "no."
"I shall build my following first. It must be broad-based and loyal. And then I'll come and play!" he said. "I shall not be foolish like you!"
The polititian and the CEO went on vacation in Tahiti. They wrote a note to the new age guru saying "Having a wonderful time! You really should have come." Inside the envelope were pictures of both of the men, now married with families, cavorting in the surf with topless native girls.
The next Monday morning, the newspaper headlines screamed of scandal and chaos. A reporter for the Associated Press, a classmate of the three students who hadn't been invited to all the wonderful parties, had found out about the vacation in Tahiti and the photos of the girls. He'd leaked the story to the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal.
The Senate Ethics Committee ordered a hearing on the Senator's conduct, and he resigned in disgrace. His wife left him and took the children with her. The Senate launched an investigation into whether or not he'd taken bribes from the CEO.
The CEO's shareholders had demanded that his company's Board of Directors dismiss him. When his wife discovered what had happened, she sued him for divorce and had his assets frozen until the case could be decided. The IRS examined his records and called him in for a tax audit over his business deductions.
The Associated Press reporter scheduled an interview with the new age guru, whom he knew to be a classmate of the now disgraced Senator and CEO.
"So what do you have to say about your friends," the reporter asked slyly. "After all, you were friends with them. Surely you could have counseled them against these mistakes.
The new age guru smiled and replied calmly, "It is not for me to judge my friends. They lived their own lives and made their own decisions. I am sure they will find a way out of their dilemmas."
"Come on!" said the reporter, his mouth watering. "Surely you have more to say than that! These were your friends, after all. And I happen to know that they asked you to join them on this little escapade. Why didn't you warn them that they should have been more careful?"
"My friends are the masters of their own destinies," the guru answered serenely. "Whatever the universe has placed in their path, I'm sure they'll learn how to overcome the obstacles in time."
"Surely you have more to say than that," growled the reporter angrily, "and if you don't tell me about it I'll hound everyone you ever met until I find some dirt on you, too!"
The guru thanked the reporter for his interest and asked security to show him out. He called his friends and asked them if they would like to work for him. He hired the ex-politician as his lawyer and the ex-CEO as his business manager. His friends were grateful for the jobs.
The reporter, true to his word, hounded everyone who'd ever known the new-age guru. The guru had been nothing but kind and generous to all who'd known him. They told the reporter nothing.
He also visited the ex-politician and the ex-CEO, and implied to them that the guru had been delighted over their tragedies and had said they'd had it coming to them. The guru had told his new employees what the reporter had said to him, and they were still angry about what the reporter had done to them. They told the reporter nothing.
The reporter was livid. He fabricated a story about the guru's movement being a cult and a ruse to sleep with the teenaged sons of his followers. The guru refused to dignify the reporter's charges with a rebuttal, but his lawyer and business manager sued the reporter and his newspaper for millions of dollars.
An ex-girlfriend of the reporter testified under oath that the reporter bragged about how he'd made up the story to "get" the guru and his friends. The paper settled the suit out of court for an undisclosed sum.
With the money from the settlement, the guru built two new homes for his friends in his fabulous compound in the Hamptons, and he, his lawyer and his business manager partied every night with topless native girls and lived happily ever after.
Props to the CHPercolator list.
February 3, 2001