"...talking to Epstein on the phone, his happy wife and children making happy sounds in the background..."
In Joseph G. Peterson's Beautiful Piece, the narrator contrasts his two closest friends, Epstein (his ideal) and the Vet (his reality).
When I hung up the phone with Epstein - after calling me in the morning to see if I was still alive - I called the Vet to find out if he was still alive. I'd go from talking to Epstein on the phone, his happy wife and children making happy sounds in the background as they went about getting ready for the day, to talking to the Vet who lived above me in a dump very much like my own one-bedroom apartment, which was also a dump. I go from talking to my Mystic, whom I admired more than any person in the world, to the Vet, whom I was probably more alike than any other person in the world, though it gives me no pleasure to say so.
I just finished the book this morning. It was a very good but challenging read. I'm still collecting my thoughts and hope to have further commentary up on Goodreads soon.