Copyright© Arthur Shadwe, 2005
Dave often joked that if they were to write a book about his life, he would appear in it as a supporting character. If they made a movie about him, that for his part they'd cast an actor that everyone recognizes, but no one can remember. His joke was far closer to the truth than he wanted to accept, but Dave admitted that he had lived on the periphery of life. He was often brutally honest about himself.
He was marginalized in life to the point where even being in the presence of greatness had been denied him. Not once had he seen a famous person in real life, much less met one. He was suffering from food poisoning the day President Reagan made a surprise visit to his company during a re-election campaign. Everyone in his department got to shake the President's hand while Dave was at home throwing up in the toilet. It was his first absence from work in ten years.
It was impossible to count the number of times that he had learned just how close he had come to a celebrity. It was a common occurrence that ten minutes after he left a place for some famous person to visit it. That was only exceeded by the number of times where he showed up at a place ten minutes after a famous person had left. And these were very famous people who he would have loved to meet -- people like Sophia Loren, John Wayne, and Bob Hope when they were at the height of their careers.
His entire life was spent as a non-entity. His picture wasn't in his high school yearbook. It had been left out by accident. Even in college Dave was a nobody. After twenty-nine years, he still remembered his GPA, 3.33. Exactly one third of his grades were A's and two thirds were B's. He had tried to join a couple of student organizations, but they had folded after two or three meetings. Two years after graduating, not one classmate or professor remembered him. There was nothing about his college career to distinguish him from his fellow students that would enable him to land a great job upon graduation.
After college, he had gotten a mediocre position in a bottling plant. After seven years of hard work, he was promoted to manager over a handful of people. It was a promotion based on seniority rather than recognition of a job well done. Twenty-two years later he still had the exact same job. It was a remarkably unremarkable career, but it had paid the bills and there were plenty of them.
A year after getting his job, he married Ellen after dating her for four months. Someone had once remarked when they were dating that she was pretty, but not pretty enough to be beautiful. Privately, he agreed with that assessment of her recognizing that much the same could be said about him. He loved her dearly, but often harbored the suspicion that they had settled for each other after giving up on finding their perfect mate.
Over the course of the marriage, Dave and Ellen had two kids. He couldn't manage the extra half of a child that would have made it an average family. His son, Roger, became an accountant in a firm of modest size. He was a plain individual much like his father and tended to blend into the background. His daughter, Rachel, had gone off to college and earned a Mrs. Degree without graduating. She looked a lot like her mother had at that age.
It would be inaccurate to say that Dave was dissatisfied with his life. He wasn't a man who had big dreams. Being average was a perfectly satisfactory state of affairs for him. Like anyone else, he would have enjoyed a little more attention than what he received. A bigger house and a better job would have been nice, but he didn't care enough to try to acquire them.
Being satisfied didn't create much of a drive to adopt self- destructive habits. He didn't drink except for an occasional glass of wine with dinner. He had smoked when he was younger at a time when people didn't consider it unhealthy. While it was a socially acceptable thing to do, he smoked. He quit when people started campaigning against it.
When Dave married Ellen, he had vowed to her that he wouldn't have sex with another woman without her permission. It might seem like a strange thing to promise, but he had shared his one big dream with Ellen before he married her. Ever since he had his first erection, the only thing that Dave wanted was to experience a threesome. He wanted to make love to two women at the same time. Just once, that's all he wanted. He didn't think it was that much to ask for in life. Others had threesomes, why couldn't he? Ellen had agreed to help him realize that dream, so he had made the vow feeling that it gave her the final word on the selection of the other woman.
He kept his word throughout his marriage, but it turned out that his wife never had any intention of helping him realize his dream of a threesome. Before they wed, she said they'd do it after they were married. After they were married, she claimed that she would do it after he took her to Paris, France. Paris had been a nice trip, but she didn't keep her word upon their return.
After years of reminding her of her promise, she had arranged an evening with a friend of hers. Dave had been overjoyed at the prospect. However, before the time came for intimacy, the other woman claimed to be feeling ill and left. He was disappointed, but believed there would be another chance on some other occasion. Dave was crushed when he learned that his wife and her friend had planned the evening to turn out that way. The whole thing had been set up so that he would stop talking about threesomes. She wanted to claim that he'd had his chance and it didn't work out.
After twenty-eight years of marriage, he still loved his wife although he couldn't have explained why. He also hated her for having lied to him. Most of the time, his love for her won out over the hate. Having contradictory feelings for her did have an effect on their relationship. Their sex life died shortly after their twentieth anniversary. He had come home from work one day and, in one of those moments that changes forever how a person perceives another, realized that she had become her mother. That thought killed all normal sexual desire for her on his part.
Dave continued living the same old lifestyle for the next eight years. It was just too comfortable to abandon. Five days a week, he went off to work while she took care of the house. A hot supper was usually on the table when he came home. Weekends were spent working in the lawn and playing golf. During the day, he went through the motions of living. At night, he dreamed of making love to two women at the same time.
After his fifty-second birthday, Dave went to the doctor because his hip had started hurting for no apparent reason. Within a week, the cause had been found. Dave had cancer and it had spread to his bones. He was going to die. Of course, the doctor didn't say that he was going to die. Doctors never tell the patient that they are going to die, but Dave knew the truth.
Everything changed for Dave the day he heard the diagnosis. He did all of the normal things that a person in his position would do. He went on disability, updated his will, called the handful of friends he had, and basically prepared to die. To almost everyone, it seemed as though Dave hadn't changed and was dealing with his illness in very calm manner.