If my friend Jack somehow manages to marry Maggie then he will officially have the life I want. I will shake his hand and wish him every happiness. Inside I will be seething.
My friend Jack is Jack Tame. He's the United States correspondent on the telly. Maggie is Maggie Gyllenhaal. She's a rather attractive Hollywood actress who has somehow evaded my affections for quite some years. Jack and Maggie both live in America but so do 300 million others. I'm confident they won't hook up but you never know. Jack is brilliant at his job and quite a catch. It wouldn't surprise me if he gets the girl of my dreams.
I used to sit beside Jack in the newsroom at TVNZ. He's at least 10 years younger than me and already a better broadcaster than I will ever be. I marvel at what he's done in such a short time. He's covered cyclones in New York, an American election, Commonwealth Games and a Rugby World Cup. He's got a column and now his own radio show. He's already got a lifetime of experiences to tell his grandkids about and he doesn't even have a grey hair yet.
When I was his age, I was also in radio. I was working for the local station in New Plymouth covering local body politics and club rugby. I wasn't even allowed on air because my boss hated my Southland accent. It pays not to compare your progress with Jack Tame.
A few years back, I spent about eight minutes envying Jack before going back to my default position of marvelling at him. In broadcast journalism, envy can be a little bit of an occupational hazard. It's mainly because our jobs have no six-monthly performance review. We are judged every night at six o'clock against the crowd from the other channel. It can be quite an emotional rollercoaster.
Once you've been doing it a little while, you learn not to worry about the competition. Some nights you win, some nights you lose, sometimes it's a draw. No one's actually keeping score and it's a bit the same in life. You really are racing only yourself.
I remember going for the European correspondent's job at TVNZ and my bosses deciding to give it to someone else. I sent an email to the bloke who got it congratulating him. He sent me a note back telling me about all the jobs he'd missed over the years. It made me feel better and I really appreciated his self-deprecation in his moment of glory.
I sent another email this week, congratulating Jack on his radio show. I just hope he recalls the guy who used to sit beside him.
This week I took time out from marvelling at Jack to realise I'm also doing OK. I have a wife who tolerates my domestic failings, crazy little children who think I'm ace and I get to travel the country telling stories about all sorts of wonderful people. I also have nice editors at this newspaper who actually publish whatever random thoughts spew out my head. The boy from New Plymouth who rolled his Rs too much would tell me I'm living the dream.
So this summer, go easy on yourself. You are doing OK. With this in mind, I'm going to let Jack and Maggie get married and live my perfect life. I'll survive.
And besides, I'll bet Maggie is high maintenance. All those Hollywood actresses are, a women's magazine told me so.
Hadyn Jones is aware Maggie Gyllenhaal is married already. It doesn't mean he can't still hope. He writes a fortnightly column.
- The Dominion Post