6.14.2007

continuation of a short story

He read the words a fourth time, the penultimate time, noting that he’d forgotten the ending punctuation—a mere period—on the most unrealistic and practical request ever readied for the “Daily Gazette-Democrat.” He leaned forward nearly pressing his nose against the illuminated pixels, squinting—more so out of habit than necessity—thoroughly disappointed. He didn’t notice any misspellings, a sure sign that the ad was riddled with them. He picked up a red pen—more so out of habit than necessity—and stuck it directly between incisor and canine as he examined his would be masterpiece for the last time:

Average man seeks female companion.
Must be perfect.
Must exist.

His first line, if judged as anything less than perfect, was true. Genetics, God and the rest left him an inexorable commonality found more often in forgotten, yellowed paper or freshly erased chalk than a man of reason and lust. His life denoted the mean of all existence, the exact average of looks, wealth, ambition and intelligence. If asked to identify him in a crowd of three any person would fail a vast majority of the time; he is the epitome of normal, the pinnacle of plain, a nameless male. Having numerous times been asked, “Have we met before,” he decided, one afternoon, to respond with a snide if honest remark, “If you’ve ever been to a baseball game and looked at the Jumbotron just as the star player hits a record setting homerun into the drooling crowd, I was that guy with the nosebleed seats in the home team jersey holding a generic beer, biting into an overpriced hotdog, mitt in my lap staring in horror as the minority gentlemen next to me catches the ball—not because he’s a minority mind you, but because it was supposed to be mine: the ball, the fame, the money on eBay—and hands it to the kid in a wheelchair three rows down. I’m that guy, the guy that secretly wants to push the kid down some stairs, screaming, ‘Wheels don’t entitle you to any better life than mine,’ as I grab the ball from his fanny pack just to throw it at him when he hits the bottom. If anywhere, that’s probably where you’ve seen me.” As expected, his answer achieved the desired result: people stopped asking him.

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