The Fall And Rise Of The Roman Epstein

I’m not one to laugh at other people’s suffering. Unless that person is stupid enough to send it to Las Angeles California for a ridiculous TV show. If this happens, it’s open season. I’ll laugh at anyone’s pain if they’re going to post it in the national media, in the hopes of making a thousand bucks. I’m not talking about social media. Folks on Facebook and Twitter have gotten way to camera-happy and post stuff without permission. How do I know this? Look at all the cat videos. I’ve known many cats. I’m even owned by one. Wait a second. What did I say? Well one of us owns the other and that’s the important point. If I’ve learned anything it’s that cats don’t like to be made fool of. They would never have given so many humans permission to post so many of them falling and slipping.

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There is actually a lawyer in Seattle who is trying to start a class action lawsuit on behalf of cats for this very reason. He is suing for a billion pounds of cat food to be distributed to all the felines who have suffered mental anguish as their humans posted all these atrocities. Sadly, he’s run into a couple of problems. First, cats are more into revenge. They would rather tear up the drapes or sofa than deal with the American Justice System. Can you blame them? Second, according to a noted cat whisperer, the animals were unaware they were owned. Nevertheless, they do, sometimes allow their staff a few indulgences. Lastly, there is also the issue that he was laughed out of every judge’s office he took the suit to.

Wow, I have drifted away from the point. Sorry about that. All I really wanted to say was; You shouldn’t laugh at other people’s misery, and that I’m about to do just that. I’ll state right now, I am doing this because the statute of limitations is long over. This happened when I was ten or eleven, and when Roman Epstein was my casual friend. Casual friend can be defined as the true-blue guy you hang out with when all your good friends are busy. As a ten-year-old, a friend like this is absolutely necessary. Roman was that guy for a lot of us. Don’t feel sorry for him, he was filling a niche, and made himself an important part of our society.

Roman was a round little kid built like a pear. He wore glasses, and his mother insisted he wear a sweater-vest and a tie to school every day. Why do mothers do that? I mean the surest way to get your kid beat up in middle school is to have him wear a tie. When you add the fact his name was Roman, several folks were surprised he made it through with no injuries. As I look back on him, I see how smart he was creating his little friend system. At some point all the guys needed him so he was never hassled.

Either way, I am about to talk about Roman’s accident. This might not be inappropriate for small children, please use parental discretion. Boy I never thought I’d live to say that. It makes your tongue tingle like something evil is about to happen. It’s not all that evil, but kids are impressionable and might try some of the crap we did. Just because we survived doesn’t mean they should try it. But it was fun! Enough about that and here’s the story.

January is cold where I live and the school parking lot had a large low spot by the woods. This spot filled with water every year and froze over. We were not allowed anywhere near it. Therefore, we turned it into our illegal skating pond. No skates allowed. One very cold afternoon, my buddy Paul and I were having fun sliding across the ice. It was after school let out so we weren’t looking for teachers.

At the time Roman was always the last one out of the building. Well, he overheard Principal Williams say he saw us out the window and was going to give us detentions. Roman ran out of the building toward the ice trying to warn us to get away. You can see where this is going, can’t you? Roman hit the ice, did a complete one-eighty-with-a-twist, landed hard on his side almost knocking the wind out of himself, and slid into the woods, smacking into a tree. Paul and I laughed, loud and hard. Even as Roman screamed in pain we were rolling on the ground. I recovered first and walked over to see if he was all right. He shrieked, “Williams is coming.” Paul and I looked up and ran out of there, leaving Roman in a snow drift, but quietly thanking him for saving our skins.

Next day, we told the whole school about Roman’s acrobatics, and the story got bigger every time we told it. By lunch everyone was laughing, and most couldn’t wait to see Roman just so they could laugh in his face. Children are cruel. The thing is he wasn’t in school that day, or the next for that matter. The longer it took for his return the louder the laughter got.

Roman returned the following Monday, in a wheelchair, his head bandaged, and a cast on his left arm and leg. You’d think the raucous laughter would have subsided but it didn’t. The only two who slowed were Paul and I. When we saw kids laughing at him, we started feeling bad. After two days we got up the nerve to apologize, and Roman asked, “Why?”

He was easily the happiest kid in school. The casts prevented him from wearing vests and he wore a T-shirt to school for the first time ever. He left every class early. Then when he heard the laughing, he proudly bowed in his chair and laughed along. Students and teachers brought him gifts and baked goods. Roman was a celebrity. Within a week, kids were actively trying to break their legs and get the attention. Unfortunately, no one could claim the gymnastics he performed. Paul and I built him up into a star and didn’t even get the twenty percent agent’s fee. I was able to scam a cupcake once when he got too much stuff and couldn’t eat it all, but if I had negotiated better, I could have gained ten pounds.

Six weeks later, when the casts came off, we figured everything would go back to normal. No such luck. Roman was now popular. He was even seen walking in the halls with Debbie Blanski, easily the prettiest girl in fifth grade. I have never seen anyone rise up from back-up friend so quickly.

I saw Roman the other day, and he owns an internet company. His net worth is about two million and he actually married a fashion model. We had a nice time together, and I made him buy me an expensive coffee and scone. Then it hit me. I’m changing my name to Julius Ohh!, because I am responsible for the great Roman Empire.

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