I sat in my recliner, watching the TV. Some stupid show about how aliens had visited Earth in the past, and shared science and technology with us, and that’s how we started advancing as humans. I’m sure it all made sense to some people, but to me, it was flat silly.
As I watched, I thought about everything. My job. My art. My life. I was old enough, the kids had grown up, and left the house. I wasn’t sure if I was proud of them standing on their own, as a sign I’d been a successful parent. Or if I was sad at the struggles they faced daily, a sign of my failures as a parent. It was one of those questions you ask yourself, but can never find an answer too. Always, you wonder how you did, and what that means about you, what that says about you.
I doodled. I did. I drew things on paper. Stupid things. Fairies with butterfly wings, bugs with big eyes and stupid grins. I even had this idea for a bug civilization, where big bugs were busses, with advertisements on the sides, and windows, filled with little bugs looking out. And bug traffic everywhere, with bug street races, and bug old people. I know. Silly, right? It wasn’t a serious thing, just something I did, something fun.
I must have had three dozen notebooks of doodles, sketches, drawings. It was a hobby for me. I’d never taken it seriously, never thought of selling any of my sketches. Hell, I’d never thought of finishing any of them, cleaning them up, making them worth looking at.
I doodled. That’s what it was. Something fun, something to pass the time, something to help me relax. It wasn’t real, after all, I wasn’t doing that for a living.
What I did for a living was work. Full time, like a grown up’s supposed to. Work a full-time job, be responsible, be grown up, be professional. All that stuff you learn in school. That’s what school was for, wasn’t it? You went to school to learn how to get a job, and earn a living. A decent living. Where you could buy a house, get married, have a family, send the kids to college. So they could do the same thing.
I suppose my work defined me. Or, you know, maybe I let my work define me. I let what I did at work define me. That old question, “And what do you do for a living?”
I worked. I worked for a good company. They paid me well, gave me medical insurance, two weeks of vacation every year, five days of sick leave if I needed them. It was good money, a good deal. We’d done well with my work, we had cars (three of them), a roomy house, and all the trappings. TVs everywhere, computers, smartphones. All that crap.
My reflection in the TV screen spoke volumes when I noticed it. And I tried not to notice it. The tubby, balding white guy sitting on his lazy ass, drinking a zillion calorie soda, eating peanut butter fudge cookies, watching some stupid TV show in the middle of the night. The old white guy at the end of his life.
I didn’t want to see that, didn’t like my reflection in the TV screen. I grabbed the remote, and started surfing the channels, mindlessly clicking through them, until I stopped at the music video channels. I figured I’d watch some of the women sing. You know, one of two of the girl bands, where they dress in skin-tight outfits, with barely present skirts, and push up tops that make their boobs look bigger than they are. And they shimmy their hips, and shake their boobs lots while they sing and dance around. That was always fun to watch, right?
But that night, it wasn’t. I kept thinking how I was probably older than their parents were, or at least as old as their parents. About how my daughter might be older than the girls in the group. How those girls dressed up, and shook it, for money. How they took advantage of the truth of men spending money to watch them, and have fantasies about them.
Hell, I hadn’t had any sex with anyone in ages. I couldn’t remember the last time I had, and it didn’t matter. I wasn’t really interested in that anymore. I was too tired, too old. I’d outgrown it, I supposed. But, it was everywhere on that music channel. The ads between the videos were for women’s sexy underwear, bras and panties, always lacy. And the models had big tits, and big asses. The kind of woman a twenty something guy wants to get naked with.
All those reminded me of was my daughter being older than the models.
I changed channels, and stopped at one where a guy in jeans was singing. Lots of scene changes, of course, it was a music video. But he was singing something about freedom. And that got me thinking.
Yeah, my reflection was still there, in the TV screen. My fat, lazy ass was still there, collecting dust. Hell, if I was a car, I’d have been a Junker in the back field somewhere, with weeds growing out of my front end, where my hood was gone, and the engine too.
That’s when I kept hearing that damn song echo in my head. That word, freedom.
I started drawing that night. And for once I finished a picture. Maybe that was where I’d find the freedom the guy in the song kept singing about. And that got me thinking. And thinking would change everything.