So this was it? Was this what people did
with their lives or had he missed something? Five days in the office followed
by two on the couch, watching insipid TV as the hours and his life slipped by.
Living with a woman that he did not love but would not leave. Surrounded by
routine, repetition and resignation it is easy to lose track of time as you
barrel down the hill towards middle age and mediocrity. The pub can still the
momentum for a while but as time goes by and friends move on, gradually you
realise that you drink alone more often than not and, as you drink, around you
cavorts youth and hope and possibility, as you sit, alone, surrounded by
nothing but cigarette smoke and ever-distant memories.
It had not always been so. He had grown up
convinced of his own unique standing in life, a future that promised nothing
concrete but quiet and assured greatness. What that was to be, he did not know,
but there had always been a feeling of entitlement. Perhaps it had something to
do with his late father who had always told him he was special simply because
he was his son. He had grown up believing it and the early years of his
adulthood had indicated that it was indeed true.
He had left school with top marks without
much effort; an honours degree had been secured without much attention to
attendance; he found himself running a nightclub at the age of 22, a position
secured with little outward effort. It all looked so rosy he felt he had
achieved quite a bit in 25 years with little input from himself. The world
surely was to be his oyster.
It was with this vain confidence that he
upped sticks and moved to the capital, sure that something would come
up. At first the lack of something did not trouble him
unduly. Time would take care of that. But as the time moved on, he found
himself standing still; nothing seemed to happen anymore. No longer surrounded
by indulgent friends, he found that his right to success was but a
mirage. One demeaning, low-paid job after another brought him lower to the
ground, towards his own reality. But still, it was only a small stumbling
block. Things would work out.
Eventually, he decided to actually take
some proactive steps towards securing the future that he felt was his right. An
expensive loan and masters degree later, he was back in the big smoke ready to
claim his place amongst the great and not-so good. At first it worked. He felt
good about himself for the first time in years. He felt important in his new
role in the City; sharp suits, sharp words. However, as the euphoria died down,
he realised that he was in the same position as before dull job, dull
surroundings, dull woman, dull friends. Even after he had actually made some
effort, things had become different but had remained the same in so many
And so he found himself back in the same
bar, avoiding the same questions he always asked of himself. He looked around
at the other drinkers as he sat at the bar. The phone vibrated in his pocket.
He looked at the name it was her. He sighed and put it back in his
pocket as it slowly vibrated and eventually died. He looked up again and saw
around him nothing but waste. Surely they couldnt all actually be happy
in their lives. Surely theirs was a false hope powered by drink. But at least
they still had the hope for a better future. All he felt was dejection and
waste; disappointment and atrophy. So this was it? Maybe he had expected too
much. Maybe some people just have to accept their lot. This idea struck a cold
fear into him. Was he really one of the rabble? Was he just to accept his lot?
He pondered the thought and ordered a large whisky. Downing it, he looked up at
the clock. It told him that time was soon to be called. He sank the whisky and
ordered another as it dawned on him that this really was it. This was as good
as it was going to get for him. He noticed a tear hit his newspaper. Wiping his
face clear, he paid for the whisky telling the young man behind the bar
get yourself one, and enjoy it. This may be as good as it gets.