Some friends recently invited us to their home for dinner. Considerate hosts that they are — and knowing Anne and I are proud, shameless, and card-carrying omnivores — they planned the meal around filet mignon. Once their local butcher made them aware of the fact that the price per pound of filet mignon was equivalent to the annual economies of some third-world countries, our practical hosts opted, instead, for London Broil.

The evening came and went with the pleasure of the company exceeded only by the succulence of the meal … or so we thought. As it turns out, and as we learned later, our hosts were sorely disappointed with the beef, deeming it to be sub-standard in ways that needn’t be enumerated here. They weren’t at all pleased with their local butcher. Neither were they consoled in the slightest that Anne and I didn’t share their opinion of the repast.

The experience compelled me to contemplate the causal relationship between expectation and disappointment. And since I’m nothing if not compulsive, that contemplation compelled me to share it in this eminent milieu:

I once had a conversation with a former employer with whom I frequently engaged in all manner of philosophic colloquy. On the occasion in question, we happened to be discussing people’s myriad predispositions toward the world. She said, “We’re all victims of our own values.”

Au contraire,” quoth I. “More correctly, we’re victims of our own expectations. Without them, we’d suffer nary a blighted hope.”

“Why are you talking like that?” she inquired.

I ignored her and continued: “I may one day anon pen a treatise I shall entitle, I Thought Bananas Were Purple. In it, I shall put forth the premise that ’tis not what one thought that’s of any import or consequence. Rather, ’tis what one knows or has learned that should be granted countenance. Hence, should one have happened to imagine bananas as being purple, what becomes important is not one’s errant imagining. Nay. What then becomes of unimpeachable exigence is what one does on learning they are not.”

“You’re a moron,” she said.

“You’re welcome,” I replied. “And as long as you expect so, you’ll never be disappointed.”

The moral of the filet mignons is this: If you set your expectations unduly, the steaks will always be too high.

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