A rich couple comes to the house of a poor couple and begin to flaunt their wealth. In a moment they receive a very important life lesson.
Steven and Helen Kershaw were visiting their old friends, Brian and Nina Maxwell. The two men had become close friends in college and 12 years later they were still close though the two couples seldom socialized.
The Kershaws had dodged several invitations from the Maxwells, but this time there was no escape. The Kershaws parked in front of the Maxwells' modest home. Helen sighed. She could just tell it was going to be one of those unbearable nights!
A modest house | Source: Shutterstock
Helen's expression was sour, and Steven nudged her. "Smile!" he hissed, as Gary opened the door with a delighted grinned at the sight of his old friend. "Hey! Steve, Helen! SO great to see you both! Come on in?"
Helen forced a smile as she walked in and cast a doubtful look around the Maxwells' living room. It was easy to see that Nina had done her own decorating. It was awful!
Then Nina walked in smiling and carrying a tray filled with tiny snacks and appetizers. "Helen! Steve! You look wonderful!" Nina said. And set down her tray to give Helen a hug.
Helen noted with a wince that even though Nina was her age she looked much older. Her once trim figure had spread, and there were webs of lines at the corners of her eyes and her mouth.
A dinner celebration | Source: Pixabay
Steve and Gary immediately started talking about a mutual friend and their weekly tennis match, while Nina urged Helen to try a snack and asked what she'd like to drink.
"I'll have a Pinot Grigio, please," said Helen, and eyed the proffered tray of goodies doubtfully. "What are these?" she asked.
Gary said proudly "These are all Nina's own recipes, and they are absolutely delicious! Try them!"
Helen picked up one little pastry stuffed with herbs and cheese. "Home-made? Really? Oh my God! I always call a caterer when I have people over!" She popped the pastry into her mouth and chewed.
"Not bad..." she said grudgingly and Nina blushed embarrassed. Gary was discussing a recent event when Helen jumped in. "So Gary, did you get back into finance after the crash?"
Woman serving snacks | Source: Unsplash
Gary flushed and Steve made a quick warning gesture with his hands which Helen ignored. "No, unfortunately not. I'm working in maintenance now. It's different but rewarding."
Nina looked at Gary and said quietly: "You've nothing to be ashamed of Gary, you do good honest work." She turned to Helen and explained: "Gary works as a janitor in a large company downtown."
"Oh!" gasped Helen, "That must be such a letdown, after all, you have an MBA from Yale!"
Steve quickly stepped into the conversation: "Well, Helen," he said in a sharp tone, "Gary gets to spend more time at home than I do. And that's important since he has children!"
Pretty plus-sized woman with a man | Source: Unsplash
Nina immediately noticed Helen's eyes fill with tears and cried: "Helen, you always look so amazing I love your clothes! I couldn't get my hair to look decent today, so why don't you give me a hand?"
And she took Helen's hand and led her into the master bedroom. Gary and Steve watched them go. Steve sighed. "Damn," he said, "Nina was such a beautiful woman!"
Gary stared at him: "She still is, Steve."
"Come on, Gary! She looks old, man, and that body! I remember when she turned heads just by crossing a room! Don't tell me you like her like this -- fat and worn out!"
Real love is not based on looks or perfect figures.
Beautiful woman in a leather jacket | Source: Pexels
"No," said Gary sharply. "I don't like her like this, I love her. Nina has stood by me through this and thin over the last 20 years when other women would have tossed me over as a loser. She's the mother of my children and my best friend."
"Listen..." Steve said, "I didn't mean..."
"Yes, you did, Steve," Gary said. "Yes, Nina has put on some weight after her pregnancies, but guess what? So have I! If she looks older and tired it's because she works so hard to help me support our family, and I love every line on her face. She's the most beautiful woman I know."
Steve lowered his head, embarrassed. "I'm sorry, man, I didn't mean to hurt you. You're right, she is beautiful. I must tell you I've always envied the way you two have stayed in love. Things between Helen and I aren't so good..."
Man with pregnant woman holding a scan | Source: Unsplash
In the bedroom, Helen was busy teasing Nina's dark hair into a froth of pretty curls. Nina sighed. "You're so good at that! I'm all thumbs. And I wish I had half your fashion sense! I envy you!"
Helen's eyes filled with tears again and she whispered: "No, don't envy me! I'm so unhappy! All I have is this." she gestured at her elegant, expensively clad body. "The doctor told me today...I can't have children."
"Oh no," gasped Nina, quickly getting up and hugging Helen, "Listen, there are other ways! Surrogacy, adoption...What does Steve say?"
"I haven't told him," Helen said, "We fight all the time, I don't think he loves me anymore..."
Couple holding hands in a car | Source: Unsplash
Nina comforted Helen as best as she could, and a little later the women called their husbands into dinner. Steve and Helen were quiet and watched Gary and Nina closely, throwing each other occasional glances.
Later that night, as they were driving to their luxurious home in their expensive car, Steve said suddenly: "Helen, why can't we be happy, like they are?"
Helen looked at him with sad eyes. "I think maybe we are so surrounded by things we stopped looking at each other a long time ago. But maybe, maybe there's still time."
Steve reached over and took Helen's hand in his tenderly, the way he used to when they were dating. "Yes," he agreed, smiling, "Maybe there's still time."
What can we learn from this story?
1. Real love is not based on looks or perfect figures. Gary loved his wife for her kindness, her generosity, her strength, and her sweetness, and to him, she was always beautiful.
2. Money doesn't buy happiness. Despite their material comforts, Steve and Helen had stopped working on their relationship and had allowed life to divide them.
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