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I borrowed a pair of cuff links from my DJ partner, Bengi, before last week’s wedding. Mine are missing, and after finding one of them on the floor of my classroom and not knowing how the hell it got there, I think the other one is gone for good.
Bengi agreed to lend me his cuff links under the agreement that I “promise not to lose them.” This seemed to be a reasonable request since I have been known to be careless with things in the past.

In my defense, I appear to be irresponsible only in the presence of Bengi.  Ask most of my friends and they’ll tell you that I’m a responsible, organized person, but around Bengi, I lose things, break things, and forget things almost constantly. A few months ago, I left my backpack behind after stopping for a burger with Bengi at a local McDonald’s. When I spoke to Elysha later that night and described the fifteen minutes of terror as I drove back to the restaurant, hoping to find the bag that contained my wallet, iPhone, camera, and more, she asked, “How could that happen?”

Bengi was there, I wanted to say.

In the presence of Bengi, I’ve left bologna on the living room floor overnight, broken the back window of his truck, dented his filing cabinet, broken his computer, lost my wallet (twice) and backed his truck into a sink. I’ve infected his network with a virus, lost my keys about half a dozen times, and once had a wedding guest walk off with my raincoat, pockets filled with money, phone and the CDs needed for the wedding.

My friends call it The Matty Factor. If something is going to go wrong, I will be involved.

Knowing this universal truth, I promised not to lose his cuff links but almost immediately realized how foolish it is to ask someone to promise to not lose something. Losing something is always an inadvertent act, an unintentional accident, so how can one honestly promise to avoid an inadvertent, unintentional, unknowable set of circumstances?

I promised anyway, knowing in my heart that as long as Bengi was around, there was a 50/50 chance of one of those cuff links falling off my sleeve during the course of the night. I know it wasn’t right to make a promise that I might not be able to keep, but I needed the cuff links.

Besides, Bengi has been my friend for almost twenty-five years.  He knew what he was getting into.