There are a million tales in the naked suburbs. One of them disrobed in front of me.

I get together with a friend I’ll call Bonnie about once a month. She comes from a humble background but married up. Her husband’s a down-to-earth guy who just happens to be good with numbers, and so pulls down seven figures a year. Bonnie puts on no airs, though.

Her kids? There’s the issue.

The older son is a doll. The kind everyone wants as their son’s buddy. Boy Scouts, acolyte, the whole deal.

The younger one? Not so much. At eight, he was into shoplifting. By ten, he was stealing mail out of people’s mailboxes (just for fun apparently). By twelve he was getting into trouble pretty regularly for cursing out his teachers.

Bonnie and her husband tried grounding, taking away privileges, forcing the kid to do extra chores. Nothing worked. So they shipped him off to a boarding school, one that advertises it will “help your son reach his potential.” (Translation: we’ll take the little monster off your hands).

The school cost $75,000 per year, which about gave me a heart attack. For them that’s not a lot of money, so they wrote the check and shipped him off.

Just before the end of the year Bonnie got a troubling phone call, and her husband had to fly up and retrieve their son. He was facing expulsion for smoking pot.

As you might imagine, schools that charge $75,000 to educate eighth graders want to keep their clients happy. They agreed to take him back this fall, provided the kid completes some sort of rehabilitation this summer.

So that brings me to my naked lunch. A bunch of us were at the pool a few weeks ago and Bonnie showed up. When someone asked how she was, she was honest. “My son’s in rehab. What’s new with you?”

Since then she has been expunged from our social circle. She called me today in tears. No one wants her at their parties. Her older son – the good kid! – is being left out of pool parties. Being the brother of “the drug dealer” (the younger boy has been elevated to “drug dealer” by neighborhood gossip) has gotten him blacklisted.

I’m having a cocktail party this weekend. Bonnie’s invited. She’s doing the best she can. That’s good enough for me.

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