I had not heard him in 35 years but I instantly recognized Bob Wicker's voice when out of the blue he called me a few months back.
He was my first city editor, giving an inexperienced soldier an unearned shot to work at the Stars and Stripes daily, which was mainly staffed by civilians.
Man, was I in way over my head. But he stuck by me and I learned to swim or at least tread water.
I publicly thank him for taking that chance on me.
Privately, I wish his memory were poorer. He remembered details of my Stars and Stripes years that are pretty embarrassing today.
One thing he forgot that I remembered well was the night I played poker with him and his buddies at the press club. I went where my fellow soldiers dared to tread.
With good reason.
I lasted three hands.
But for a mere $60 I learned a life lesson that may have saved me millions of dollars, and that lesson is that I am not a good poker player.
Which places me one step above the president, who keeps playing poker with Speaker of the House John Boehner and keeps being taken to the cleaners.
Obama should have learned in August 2011, when they played their cards in the debt ceiling showdown.
He did so poorly that President Clinton had to finish his press conference after the defeat.
The next Obama-Boehner confrontation was December's fiscal cliff showdown.
Boehner should have lost. Republicans were spanked in the election and only through the grace of redistricting did Boehner hang on to his job.
Obama wanted to raise taxes on the rich, which happened, but at a very steep price - and he got only half of the increase he wanted.