P R O L O G U E
During that stretch of time where a short story of disjointed personal thoughts about life overflowed into a full-length manuscript of less-disjointed personal thoughts, friends and family often asked what I was writing about. Unable to verbalize a clearer reply, I would merely state that I was penning a universal biography - a 'mid-life crisis science fiction novel' of sorts.
"So, what am I writing about?," I'd often find myself saying, "what's the bottom line?"
I suppose a better answer would have been easy had I began composing with some clear thought or purpose in mind. But, because of the way the story just sort of 'happened', a possible explanation to what I may have scribed could be found in the following short observation.
The time is about 2:30 in the afternoon on January 25, 1990. I am seated in a lounge at the airport in Toronto...
We have all seen him at one time or another. He's hardly a rarity - not at all. We see him every day in one shape or form. What I am talking about here is the classic case. I'll just call him John this time.
John isn't hard to miss as he walks across the terminal to the lounge where I am killing time between flights. From his apparel, I estimate him to be a white-collar worker - many of them are. He is fortyish. His actions are rushed. The watch on his wrist occupies a lot of his time - he looks at it constantly. But, what gives John away in the end is that special look. You may have seen it in the mirror yourself.
I draw some conclusions from the way he thumbs through the newspaper - you can tell a lot about a person by the way they read a paper - and from his ruffled 'aura'. I am not suggesting he has an unearthly glow about his person or anything like that. He simply has that certain ambiance...or, let me try this, he's giving off those 'vibes'.
It would be safe to say that John is literally caught in the middle. He is a middle-class middle-manager in the midst of a mid-life crisis. In other words, he is getting it from all sides. Everyone, from the taxman to his dog, wants a piece of him but there isn't enough of him to go around.
Fairly average stuff, you say!...I believe that is exactly my point! John is average. He has a wife, 1.5 kids, a six-figure mortgage and all the baggage that goes with the territory. Lost in the shuffle, he is unable to see where he fits in. There are no statues in the park for him. He lives in the shadow of larger-than-life, big-screen heroes and strains unsuccessfully to relate to them in the rapidly changing world around him. His time is a precious commodity. It is consumed by the corporate ladder, his wife, his kids and his aging parents.
John, the reluctant 'patriarch', has read enough of the news to convince himself that things probably are not going to change for the better. I can freely say that because I recognize the 'nothing is certain except for death and taxes' look on his face.
He downs his scotch and asks for the bill. He slumps suddenly; he has forgotten his wallet. John curses his secretary for his bad luck and asks to use the phone for an emergency call to the office.
My flight is ready to board. I leave John behind to run the course of human nature...
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