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Hooked on a Feeling

Boxers have left hooks and right crosses. Or is it left crosses and right hooks? Anyway, for me, there will only be one kind of hook, and that’s Charlie Taggart’s right hook.

Charlie had an iron hook, the result of a boyhood flirtation with dynamite that almost blew him off the map.

I will always be indebted to Charlie for introducing me to my wife. Matchmaking was his hobby – Charlie maintained massive Rolodex files of people he thought should know each other.

In Charlie’s senior year at Brigham Young University, the couples he introduced (and who married each other) presented him with a scroll. There were the names of over 200 couples on that scroll. During his all-too-short life, my friend Charlie was responsible for over 1,000 marriages.

Bill was also a friend, probably one of the most successful entrepreneurs I’ve ever met, the confidant of presidents and kings. Bill married Robin. Of the 10 best smiles in the world, she has two or three of them. (I borrowed that last line from William Goldman.)

Through the years, Bill and Charlie introduced me to many powerful and famous people, so it was my great pleasure to finally introduce Bill and Charlie to each other.

When you met Charlie he would hold out his “metal hand” and see what your reaction was to shaking his steel paw.

Bill’s reaction was awful. Bill said that he was not going to shake a steel claw and dressed Charlie down for offering it.

And so, what could have been a beautiful friendship ended up a disaster. It was sad, because the two men had many things in common.

They were charming. Both had been missionaries in faraway counties for the Mormon Church. Both lived for the deal and made millions. Either man could have ended up as CEO for IBM or Coca-Cola. Bill divorced Robin and soon became embroiled in a bitter custody battle for their delightful children. Several acrimonious years tumbled by and then one day, Robin phoned me and said she was ready to get on with her life. She asked me if I knew anyone she might date. I called Charlie Taggart for a suggestion.

Within minutes, the extraordinary matchmaker had lined up Robin with Jack. They fell in love and a few months later they got married.

Jack, a brilliant attorney, seemed perfect for Robin. He was soon helping his new wife take on Bill in their continuing court battles. Bill fought like a wild man; however, he quickly discovered that if your ex-wife is married to an attorney, she has a decided advantage in court. Bill went from driving a classic Mercedes and controlling a financial empire to rock bottom. He blamed his ex-wife and her new husband for much of his fall from grace.

Charlie died in the middle of Bill and Robin’s ongoing court battles. Just before Charlie departed this world, he said he was sorry to hear about Bill’s misfortune. Then the matchmaker smiled and added, “Bill should have shaken my hook. That shabby guy.”

When I saw Bill the other day, his fortune gone and his pension decimated, I thought of Charlie. Even after death, his right hook still packed one hell of an impact.

The moral? I’m not sure, except that the next time some guy offers you an iron hook in friendship, take it.

Then smile and count your blessings.

bittersweet

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