Hey, Todd! Wow, it is just so good to see you again! I can’t believe how long it’s been since we last spoke.

Sorry I’ve been out of pocket for what feels like forever. I’ve just been really busy with a whole bunch of stuff and purposefully avoiding any opportunities for a meaningful conversation with you until I could be sure that most if not all aspects of my life were going better than yours.

But, hey, let’s not let all those years where we didn’t communicate, apart from me occasionally using incognito mode to look at your social media profiles and seethe every time I saw you had accomplished something, get in the way of today, especially since I’m reasonably sure that today marks the first time when my accomplishments have started to outweigh yours by most traditional metrics.

You know what they say: you can’t live in the past, when all of my achievements paled in comparison to yours, and if you try, I will find an excuse to end this brunch immediately.

So, how do you want to do this? Maybe I should ask you the questions I want to answer about our careers and personal lives, listen patiently to your anodyne responses, and then assume you’ll feel obligated to ask me the same questions, at which point I can finally act on the real reason why I was so aggressive about making sure this meet-up happened after years of silence? That way we can still maintain the illusion that this is just a fun conversation between two old friends rather than an attempt by me to put to rest some demons I’ve been dealing with for years that are for some reason very related to you.

Maybe it’s because you were always better at baseball than I was growing up? I did occasionally think about doing some serious self-reflection to try and pin down the source of all this insecurity, but then I got a promotion, and dealing with it this way seemed like a lot more fun.

So, yeah, how’s work going? Uh-huh. Uh-huh. Oh, and now you want to know how work is going for me? Wow, what a surprising and unexpected question!

Well, it’s going great, if you must know. In fact, based on my promotion and all of the research I’ve been doing about median salaries in our respective job fields, I’m pretty sure I now make more money than you do, even after you factor in the higher cost of living in my city compared to your city, which I of course did before arranging this get together!

And your personal life? How’s that going? Uh-huh. Uh-huh. Well, I can see you’re about to make a “p” expression with your lips, so I assume you’re going to ask me about my personal life now, which is also going great, if you must know! I’m dating someone, and you’re not, which by law makes me happier and more fulfilled than you are. Here are 7,000 photos of us.

Sorry again for not returning any of your calls or responding to any of your messages or acknowledging that we know each other and are both still alive for so long. It was nothing personal, unless you count an all-consuming desire to avoid engaging with any of your accomplishments as personal. I’m pretty sure that’s not what personal means, but I’ve been so busy with my great new job and relationship that I haven’t had time to look up the definition.

And don’t worry at all about the little rough patch you’re going through. Sure, things might seem bleak now, but the important things to remember about rough patches are that they eventually end and that mine ended three months, one week and six days ago.

What do you mean, “what little rough patch?” Wait, are you still largely content with how your life is going? And is there a reason you didn’t make that perfectly clear before I agreed to this stupid brunch?

Ugh, what a waste of time. Please, don’t try to get in touch with me again until you’re sad.