Of all the lists and statistics we are inundated with this time of year, none are as beguiling and consistently depressing as the compilation of names of those we have "lost" in the previous year, a euphemism I have never quite reconciled to.
I offer this by way of introducing you to the waiter I met at the Christmas dinner I recently celebrated with my best friend.
His name was Antonio Llovet and among the distinctions he can claim in his all-too-short life is to be the first New Orleans murder victim of 2013.
Llovet was shot to death inside his home on New Year's Day, sitting on a couch in the living room, robbed of the money he took home from his final shift at the restaurant Bayona.
Upon his death, family, friends and co-workers have poured forth to remember a young man of great promise, personality and generosity – a college student moonlighting nights in a world-class restaurant.
His employer, the famed chef Susan Spicer, is no stranger to the vagaries of homicide; Llovet is her third employee to be murdered in the past two years.
Spicer summed it up this way: "It's like you can't go about your life. It's like you have no rights just to be a normal person... It's just senseless violence that we experience every single day that has affected everybody in this city."
Llovet's murder happens to be one of those rarities where the familiar and jading gang/turf/drug motive is removed from the narrative.
It's one of those stories that strike that unnerving chord: It could have been me.
Or could it have been?
It has to be somebody, apparently.
For a year to transpire in New Orleans, some 200 or so of us must take our place on that list, those who are irretrievably "lost."
Some will say it was a gun that killed Antonio Llovet; others will insist it was a person.
Smug in the satisfaction that your argument wins the gun control debate, the question is now: What do we do about it?
What do we do when somebody's "loss" is nobody's gain?
And the roulette wheel spins round and round, and the very best thing you can hope for as you take your seat at the table is that your number doesn't come up next.
Or after that.