As we sat together, he kept asking me probing questions.
“What does your product pipeline look like?”
“What is your three year revenue plan?”
“Who are your biggest clients, and what prospect are in your pipeline to close in the next two quarters?”
I answered all of his questions.
He took notes. He filled up 3 pages in his notebook -- of my confidential plans.
As he left, we shook hands, and said he would be touch. I liked him, and he seemed genuinely interested in Lotame.
“Andy, I love your business --- lets try to find a way to work together, I will be in touch shortly.”
2 weeks later, as I was sitting at my desk, drinking my morning coffee – I was skimming the news, and reading industry updates.
The guy who I gave all the information to, just 2 weeks prior had his picture plastered in front of me……
He led a large venture capital round with my biggest competitor. The guy who asked me the probing questions, about my business – led a $20 million dollar round in a competing company. The guy who took 3 pages of copious, detailed notes about my business…….
I was crushed. I blamed myself, and vowed not to let it happen again.
As the car pulled up the to front of the roller rink, I slide out of the back of our family's cream colored station wagon…..and into Carolier Roller Rink…..
Carolier Roller Rink was the hip joint in East Brunswick in 1980. It was the place that 12 year olds could act cool, skate around, play video games -- and be independent.
What was cooler than roller skating on Saturday afternoons in the winter months? (When there was no team sports going on)
Drop off at 1pm, pick up at 4pm, and all for less than $10 dollars.
As you walked into the roller rink, the eyes had to adjust – from bright daylight, to darkness.
The only illumination on the roller rink, was the glare and glitter of the disco ball, in the middle of the large, expansive room.
One girl was the best skater and the prettiest. Her name was Suzy.
I had a crush on her.
I was always afraid, always hesitant to ask Suzy to skate with me during the “couples only” skate. I was shy, and deathly afraid of rejection.
I told my friend at the rink, as the couple's only skate time was about to be announced....I proclaimed to him.....
“I would give anything to skate with Suzy, I’m just too embarrassed to ask her to skate with me.”
Skating in the couples only session, required the holding of hands. A real, genuine deal breaker for a shy 12 yr old, with sweaty palms.
I think it might have been Donna Summer, or it could have been Peaches and Herb playing during the couples skate…..
I cant remember.
Going to get a stale pretzel during the couples skate that I wasn’t participating in was typical of me – in order to kill time – until FREE SKATE was opened back up for the shy folks, unwilling to stick out their necks, guys like me -- afraid of asking Suzy to skate…….
My friend who I told about my affection and crush on Suzy, was skating with her. Holding hands --- going in circles around the rink.
I was crushed. I was burning with jealousy – I wanted to punch his lights out.
“How could you, how could you ask Suzy when you knew I liked her – when you knew….?”
He replied, “Because, because you were too chicken, and I knew I could, and you wouldn’t.”
I never EVER trusted him again. We remained friends for many years, but I never forgot the feeling of hurt, disappointment, and rage – that I felt that Saturday afternoon in 1980.
And yet, I see my kids going through challenges, dealing with rejection, and dealing with similar situations – like the one that I faced at Carolier Roller Rink. Tension amongst peers, jealously, embarrassment, and deep feelings of hurt.
I want to help.
I want to tell them it will be OK.
I want to tell them that, “hurt, failure and despair” are all a part of the journey – and it is how you deal with it that matters the most……
But, I cant.
I want them to experience it all for themselves. I don’t want to lecture, minimize, or tell them that --- “this too shall pass.”
The hurt, the shame and the embarrassment are a constant in life.
I’ve failed, and felt the pain…..too many times to count.
Its better to feel the sting of it early. Its better to understand -- the depths of hurt and anguish – as you see Suzy holding hands with your friend, as they skate to The Knack, or SuperTramp --- in an endless Couples Skate, while you eat a salty pretzel.
Spicy mustard makes it go down easier.