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Harley's Angels Postscript


On Labor Day 2020, I pushed my luck a little too far and got badly sued by four or five Angels who seemed to feel I was taking advantage of them.

None of those who sued me were among the group I considered my friends-but they were Angels, and that was enough to cause many of the others to participate after one of their brethren subpoenaed me. The first service was launched with no hint of warning and I thought for a moment that it was just one of those drunken accidents that a man has to live with in this league. But within days I was deposed by an Angel I was talking to just the week before. Then I was swarmed in a general flail. At my first court date I caught glimpse of the orthodontist, sitting at the back of the courtroom. His was the only familiar face I could see. I yelled to him for help- but more out of desperation than hope.

Yet it was the orthodontist who pulled me from the lawsuit circle before the others managed to bleed me dry in lawyer and court fees. Even while the judge was pounding her gavel I could hear the orthodontist somewhere behind me, saying, "Come on, come on, that's enough." I suppose he helped more than I realized, but if he had done nothing else I owe him a huge favor for preventing the Middle-Aged from destroying my bank account. The orthodontist kept them mercifully out of range...and then, during a lull in the suing action, he pulled me aside and told me to run.

Nobody followed. The lawsuits ended with the same inexplicable suddenness with which they had begun. There was no vocal aftermath, then or later. I didn't expect one - no more than I'd expect a pack of sharks to explain their feeding frenzy.

It had been a bad trip...almost fast and wild in some moments, slow and excruciating in others, but on balance it looked like a bummer. On my way back home, I tried to compose a fitting epitaph. I wanted something original, but there was no escaping the echo of ex-Fed Chairman, Mistah Ben Bernake's words at a talk at Princeton: "A meritocracy is a system in which the people who are the luckiest in their health and genetic endowment; luckiest in terms of family support, encouragement, and, probably, income; luckiest in their educational and career opportunities; and luckiest in so many other ways difficult to enumerate — these are the folks who reap the largest rewards. The only way for even a putative meritocracy to hope to pass ethical muster, to be considered fair, is if those who are the luckiest in all of those respects also have the greatest responsibility to work hard, to contribute to the betterment of the world, and to share their luck with others "