Man In The Middle

John Smith looked down at his bowl of cornflakes and scowled. John was not a happy camper. He did a mental assessment of his life. He was thirty-five years old, married, two children, one boy, one girl, he lived in a split-level three bedroom ranch house on a quarter acre section in the suburbs, owned more by the bank than by himself, he drove a Ford Festiva, he went bowling on Wednesday nights with his friends, he drank Budweiser, he had a B.A. in business management, he wore either plain or striped ties, nothing too loud, and brown shoes.

John Smith was a plain man. Worse, John Smith was in the middle. Smack dab in the middle. Even his name was in middle. John Smith put his spoon down and crossed his arms and jutted his lower jaw. His wife, Jane Smith looked up from her newspaper and gave him a quizzical look. John Smith ignored her. Jane was not used to being ignored. In fact, she resented it.

“John, what’s the matter? You’re not eating your breakfast.”

“It’s cornflakes, Jane.”

“Yes it is John. Your point is…?”

“Cornflakes are in the middle Jane.”

Jane frowned. It was too soon for him to be having a midlife crisis. “In the middle of what John?”

John stood up. “I’m going to work now Jane. Kids, have a good day at school.”

John went to the garage and got into his Festiva and headed for the city. On his way he resolved to change his life. He didn’t want to be in the middle anymore. He thought about buying a Harley. Nobody in the middle drove a Harley. Then he thought about what his wife would say. The noise, the danger. He thought about taking skydiving lessons. The expense, the danger. He thought about taking up Karate. Jane would not approve.

Perhaps Jane was the problem. Maybe he should get a divorce. The expense, the loneliness, the loss of assets, the children. By the time he got to work he was more depressed than ever. He couldn’t concentrate on his work but he was adept at looking busy so it didn’t matter.

The rest of the week went by unnoticed by John Smith. That weekend, however, John made up his mind. He had thought it all through logically and sensibly. Thus it was that he went to a local sporting goods store on Sunday and bought himself a hang glider. On the way home he went to a hardware store and bought a can of spray paint.

Jane had noticed that John was not himself. She had tried to find out what was bothering him but he was like a clam. She gave it up for a lost cause until Sunday afternoon when he arrived home from his outing looking like a man with a plan.

“John,” she said to him, “You look like a man with a plan. Want to share?”

John smiled and kissed her on the forehead and went to the kitchen for a beer. He sat down and turned on the television and that was that. Jane shook her head and went to the kitchen to start dinner.

On Monday morning John refused the bowl of cornflakes Jane had poured for him and announced to all and sundry that he needed to get an early start. He told Jane he wouldn’t be home for dinner and kissed both of his children and then his wife and headed out the door. Jane looked on with confusion as he went out the door.

John drove to the harbour bridge and parked his car on the verve. He got out his new hang glider and the can of paint and proceeded along the walkway to the first tower. He commenced climbing. No small feat carrying a hang glider but John Smith was a man with a plan.

He made it to the top. Several people had noticed his illegal climb, it being rush hour, and the police were advised. John knew this would happen. John did not give a toss. When he got to the top he stripped off his clothes and took out the can of fluorescent orange paint and sprayed his entire body. He then proceeded to put together the hang glider.

John Smith was a depressed man. He was tired of being in the middle. He could see no way forward. John Smith dived off the tower into the oncoming rush hour traffic. He would not be in the middle anymore. He would be the lead story on the six o’clock news.

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