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JANUARY 30, 2009 – I DO GIVE A DAMN ABOUT MY REPUTATION

“Good name in man and woman, dear my lord,
Is the immediate jewel of their souls.
Who steals my purse steals trash; ’tis something,
nothing;

‘Twas mine, ’tis his, and has been slave to thousands;
But he that filches from me my good name
Robs me of that which not enriches him
And makes me poor indeed.”

I know; I just blew your mind. Believe it or not, I didn’t come up with that pretty talk. That, my friend, was from Othello (III, iii, 155-164), a little yarn supposedly penned by William Shakespeare. Maybe you have heard of him.

You may recall that I dated an actress back in college. Actresses by nature are a little nutty, but this one was a mad as a hatter: a nose-ringed, cry-at-the-drop-of-a-dime actress. She was also smokin’ hot. I forget her name. Anyway, she was playing Othello’s wife, Des-something, in a spring production. I used to sit in at practice and help her run lines and try to figure out what the hell he was saying.

(The sword fights were ridiculous, by the way. These jokers would have never made it out in the real olde-time world. You could see the strikes coming from a mile away and they couldn’t tell a rapier from Viking battle axe to save their lives.)

At any rate, I sat through hour after torturous hour of this gobbledy-gook, watching these future cocktail waitresses and car salesmen play dress up (I mentioned that she was smokin’ hot, right?) and I got to know the play pretty well.

Now, despite the fact that Iago, one of literature’s greatest psychopathic criminal minds speaks the above lines, they are nonetheless true. My grandfather taught me that all a man has when he checks out of this world is his reputation, either intact or in shatters. (When I was ten, he also taught me how to make a wicked Old Fashioned using bacon-infused bourbon, but that’s another blog).

I have spent my entire career painstakingly building a name for myself. It’s how I became the youngest head detective in the history of the department and why I am continually asked to speak at middle school Career Days all over the county. I’m like my own Reputation Contractor, except I always return my calls and show up when I say I will. That’s the funny thing about a reputation, it’s all yours, you create it, you protect it like a mother grizzly and it can be destroyed with a whisper. One malicious invention dropped into the right ear can blow it all away like the big bad wolf.

I’m not talking about reputation self-destructions, your Bill Clintons or Rob Blagojevichs or John Edwards. These are men who traded in a lifetime of construction for their own selfish greed or gratification. No, I’m talking about those dark times when the fates have a bug up their ass for you. When, through circumstances no fault of your own, you find a wrecking ball headed straight for everything you hold near and dear.

Fortunately, you can buy insurance for such a crisis, it’s called friends. And you tend to find them in the most unlikely places. So I guess Grandpa was wrong about a few things. You leave this world with more than just your reputation. You also leave it with the people you count on to have your back. That, and the fact that even though it sounds delicious, bacon-infused bourbon is kind of gross.

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