Click here for the story: "Fat & Thin," by Anton Chekhov
The fat and thin man know each other from their school days. They meet accidentally. Not having seen each other since they were boys, they begin trying to catch up.
The thin man loves to talk -- mostly about himself. He tells the fat man all about his family and work. And then the bomb drops. The thin man is a head clerk in the civil service but the fat man is now a privy councilor, an even higher official.
The news is too much to digest for the thin man. All he can do is compliment the fat man and stoke his ego.
The thin man now feels like a failure. He is comparing his accomplishments with the fat man and there's not much meat on the bone. What we get with the thin man is a lot of superficiality. He is not very deep. His whole life it seems is mainly show and the inner happiness and satisfaction is not well-developed. His body is thin and so is his soul.
The fat man is proud to be a privy councilor but he doesn't stand on his rank. He prefers for his old friend to treat him as an equal. You get the sense that he is a decent man and well-rounded (no pun intended :-). In fact, the fat man never brags about his accomplishments and only tells the thin man he is a privy councilor when asked.
The fat man is more content. He has achieved more in the civil service. Maybe his personality helped him move forward or possibly his success has given him comfort. Either way, he is now in the position of being charitable to those less fortunate.
The thin man might have wanted to get ahead too much, and like an overzealous salesman turned people off with his runaway ambition. Not attaining his goals has left him bitter and jealous of those who have 'made it'.
The fat man could've helped the thin man if the thin man was honest. The thin man's fawning obsequiousness was too much for the fat man to deal with -- so instead he walks away leaving the thin man with the stress of failure. Or his 'apparent' failure.
Apparent? Yeah, because, meanwhile, the thin man undervalues his greatest possession, his ace in the hole, something which the fat man may be missing -- a family.
Who wins the 'game', the fat man or the thin man?
All the more reason to shoot your TV and go play with your kids...