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I could have been a contender

Barry Smith

I could have been Jack Kerouac. If you consider how many sperm Mr. Kerouac ejaculated on the night that Jack was conceived, and you’re willing to use a little imagination, it wouldn’t take much to believe that a different little swimmer could have made it to the egg, and that one could have been, you know … me.

I could have gone on the road and had all kinds of adventures, thumbed my way from coast to coast, met up with some weird characters, smoked some dope, made some chicks, hung out with Cassady. But when it came time to write it all down, would I have?

Probably not.

I probably would have just taken all those amphetamines and gone out drinking. Maybe built a bookshelf or something.

*****

I could have been Jimi Hendrix. If you’re willing to accept that sperm theory, that is. But when it came time to sit down and practice the guitar, would I have?

Probably not.

I probably would have strummed it a few times, gotten all frustrated, put it aside and taken an accounting class at the community college.

“Hi, you’ve reached the voice mail of Jimi Hendrix, CPA. I’m away from my desk right now, but please leave a groovy message and I’ll get back to you, man.”

*****

I could have been Cassius Clay. I mean, there was a greater chance of that than of winning the lottery. But when it came time to dedicate my life to becoming the heavyweight champion … the jogging and raw egg drinking and waking up at 5 in the morning … what do you think?

Probably not.

I don’t care much for being hit in the face, glove or no glove. I remember when I got punched in the fifth grade, I decided that I would do whatever it took to keep that from happening again. So you probably would not have found me in the gym hitting the speed bag or skipping rope or talking smack to Cossell. And as far as converting to Islam, forget it. I hear there’s an entire month where you don’t get to eat if you’re a Muslim.

I’d whither up and blow away. Besides, why would I want to change such a cool name?

“Cassius Clay’s Used Cars, Boats and RVs!

Twenty four hours, seven days,

Stop on in at Cassius Clay’s!”

Or maybe I’d have put my rhyming and dancing abilities towards singing telegrams.

*****

I could have been Betsy Ross. What’s a chromosome here or there? But when the guys all came to me and asked me to sew a special flag to represent a proud, new nation … would I have?

Probably not.

What am I, your freakin’ seamstress?

Oh, I’ll make you a little flag, all right, but if you think I’m gonna sit around all day sewing for you, you can go jump in a lake. Construction paper, some glue, maybe some glitter sprinkles … presto, here’s yer flag. You get a big circle in the middle of a square, maybe a few glitter swirls, the kind where you just squirt the glue all over the place and throw on handfuls of glitter. And if I’m feeling gracious, maybe I’ll cut out a few snowflakes. But forget all the stars and stripes and crap. Do you have any idea how complex that is?

What, do you think I don’t have better things to do than to make little doilies for you elitist, slave owning, wig wearing pigs?

*****

And speaking of slaves, I could have been Abe Lincoln. But when it came time to abolish slavery … would I have?

Probably not.

Cause really, wouldn’t having a few people around to do your bidding be pretty handy? Then again, I probably wouldn’t have even made it to president, what with my nervous breakdown and wife dying and all that. And as far as the whole log splitting personal appeal campaign goes, I’m really quite lazy. And do you really think I’d do my math homework with a piece of burnt wood and the back of a shovel? It was like pulling teeth to get me to do it with a calculator. And when it comes to an evening out, I’ll take a night at the bar over a play any day. Theaters tend to give me headaches … VT

Read more about Barry Smith on his blog, barrysmith.wordpress.com.


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