"The problem with being told that everyone suffers from their own moments of doubt and self-worth is that it has all of the warmth of hug from Dick Cheney". Thus begins the first line of an essay called "He Felt Like a Failure" that I was assigned to write.
It is the sort of line that my high school English teacher Mrs. Spaner would have yelled at me for. She would have told me that it wasn't descriptive enough and that no one really knows if Cheney has a heart or not, he might actually be warm and cuddly. And then she would have stood over me and waited for me to offer a better line.
Of course Mrs. Spaner was about four foot nothing in height so standing over me worked as long as I was seated with my head bent over the desk. If I stood up I'd find myself looking down at a mop of curly hair and dark eyes staring back at me. I remember one time watching her and another teacher Miriam Mansilve engaged in a discussion that could only have been about who was taller. Mansilve was another teacher who was vertically challenged.
You're probably wondering why I even remember this so I'll tell you. I was heading towards my locker and noticed them standing in front of the teacher's lounge. Mansilve had removed a pair of brown suede shoes that had small heels on them and was trying to subtly stand next to Spaner. I don't know why they didn't do it inside or if they really thought that by not standing back to back they thought they were fooling anyone.
All I know is that when I got within ten feet I shouted "Mrs. Spaner is taller" and in return received a sheepish grin from Spaner and a glare from Mansilve. I should add that Mansilve once tripped and fell in front of me so I think that she harbored some latent anger over embarrassing herself that way. I probably should add that I was guilty of laughing about it.
None of that really explains why I am writing this essay or for who. So let me introduce myself, My name is David Hill. I am 45 years-old and in the middle of a crisis. I am taking a creative writing class at the local community college. Our teacher or professor (I don't really know what to call him) is named Jason Diane.
Some guy named Harry tried to make a crack about him being some sort of crazy hippie liberal that had taken his wife's name as his own. No one laughed and Jason just gave sort of a pained look. Later on in the class I asked Harry what he did for a living and he told me that he ran a sporting goods store. I told him that he should stick to selling footballs and not try his hand at comedy. He didn't appreciate the comment. I got the feeling that if we were still in high school he would have come looking for me after class. Or maybe not, I wasn't some little scrawny kid.
There were about 17 or students in the class. A little to the left of me was some guy named Noah. He was one of those guys that had to comment about everything anyone said because he knew more or had done more than everyone. I didn't ingratiate myself to him when I told him that I was going to call him Forrest Gump. But I really didn't care.
Like I said, I am 45 years-old and I am unfulfilled, unhappy, unsatisfied and on the verge becoming a bitter old man. Unfortunately, I am not one of those guys who has a middle age crisis that involves a cool sportscar and a beautiful young girlfriend. You know the one I am talking about. The women all bitch about how he is sleeping with a girl that is much too young for him and the guys all want to know if she is incredible in bed as she looks.
Nah, I am the guy that drives a car that is ten years old but in good condition. It is not a junker, but it is not exactly exciting either. It is a reliable car to match my reliable job and reliable life. Those aren't the three "R's" people read about or even the ones that I wish for.
I am not dumb enough to say that I wish I was a spy or that I was some sort of sport's star. I am not looking to go back in time either. Sure, I can find any number of examples of moments in my life that were a lot of fun. I can pick out good times and bad times. Want to hear a random rememberance? Ok, here is one for you.
My college girlfriend took me to meet her parents. We stayed at her folk's house in two separate rooms. On the first night we were there I waited until a little after ten and snuck into her bedroom and climbed into bed with her. We giggled about it being like high school and then let nature take its course.
I was lying on my back. My eyes were closed and I was enjoying the moment when all of a sudden the bedroom door opened. I froze in place and stared out at the doorway. There stood her mother with an expression that I can't even describe.
"Oh, I see that you're busy," was all she said and then she walked away.
I'd like to think that she didn't see anything, but let's face it. I was naked and she was... Well it may be years later but I don't think that you need any more details. A man should try and be a gentleman, shouldn't he.
See, that is a funny story. That was a good time in my life. Didn't marry the girlfriend, which is probably a good thing. There are some things that you don't want your mother-in-law to know about and that was one of them.
Ok, maybe I lied. Maybe I would like to go back in time or maybe I just want to figure out why I don't have funny stories like that to tell anymore. Maybe I want to figure out why my stories today seem to be limited to talking about how I can hardly pay my bills or the job bores me to tears. Maybe I am tired about waking up and feeling like a rat chasing the cheese.
Or maybe the problem is that the difference between me and the rat is that I feel like I don't have a shot in hell at actually getting a hold of that cheese. And so we come back to the start of an essay I am writing about myself called "He Felt Like a Failure."