Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Law of Average

The Law of Average

Nope, that was not a typo. The title of this little story-let is "The Law of Average" and it may be the next thing I expand upon. But it may be way too close to home to really work on much. Anyway, 1067 words for today!

Jaime stood at the edge of the precipice, his unruly hair ruffled in the breeze. Tears squeezed out past the clenched eyelids and traced lines through the grime on his face. His torn shirt flapped listlessly in the breeze, but Jaime didn’t even notice. His arms were stretched out to his sides, and his face was up, feeling the last feeble rays of the sun as it set behind the western mountains. He stood there, statuesque waiting for the last of the sun to disappear. He imagined that he would know exactly when, even with his eyes closed. His haggard mind had finally released whatever tenuous grip it might once have had on reality, and was completely immersed in its own world now.
Suddenly, some internal signal told him that the time had come. The tears stopped, as if on command. Jaime leaned back even farther, as if gathering strength and flexed his knees. He hovered there, for a second, and then all at once leaned forward and hurled himself forward into the void. In his fevered mind, he took wing and soared high into the grey twilight. Finally free of the trials and tribulations of this world, he gloried in his new-found power. Then, an explosion of light and pain, and he knew no more.

Jaime was an average high-school kid. However, that was the main problem. He wanted to be more than average, but time and again throughout his school career, he had come up undeniably and unchangeably average. Perhaps it was a lack of natural ability. Yet his teachers throughout the years had constantly reminded him that he was not working up to his potential. Surely this indicated that there was something more, some deeper reason he remained so intractably average? What if he tried harder? This would work for short intervals. He would complete assignments, practice harder on the football field, and he would feel, for a short time at least some measure of success. Inevitably there would come along a reminder, some sort of setback, to put him firmly back in his place. Sometimes it was only an annoyance, something small that kept him from achieving more. Other times it was a violent and painful slap in the face that would shove him rudely back to the middle where he belonged.
At the beginning of his senior year, Jaime thought he had finally broken through. Selected for the first string offensive line, he was confident that he had finally arrived. He had reached some sort of dominance, and was now to be looked up to and admired. He played well in the first game of the season, and his team won easily against a larger school. Then, about halfway through the second game, he felt a twinge of pain in his back. By the time the team came out to play the second half, Jaime could hardly breathe for the gripping pain between his shoulder blades. He signaled to the coach that he needed to come out. The medic came over and asked a few questions about the pain, and figuring that it was nothing horribly urgent, left Jaime sitting alone on the sidelines. Jaime found that the only way to sit comfortably was to lean back on his hands and lean his head all the way back. This position had the added discomfort of allowing the drizzling rain to fall directly on his face.
Two weeks later, when the doctor decreed that his sprained back had healed sufficiently, Jaime returned to practice. However, his first-string spot had been filled, and he would spend the rest of the year watching from the sidelines. Bitter disappointment filled his mind each time game day approached, and he saw the small cardboard circle that represented him on the position board remain solidly in the #2 slot. Average, once again.
If Jaime was only average at sports, his love life was definitely below average. He had never had a girlfriend, had never been kissed, and found himself feeling stupid and slow anytime a girl he was even moderately attracted to came near him. He had no idea how the girls in school really felt about him, since he was to nervous to breach the subject. He was friends with many of them, occasionally took someone to a dance, but had no real relationships to speak of. It seemed as if as soon as he developed serious feelings about someone, and finally worked up the courage to do something about it, the law of average would catch up to him again, and they would find another boyfriend, or move, or make it clear that he was of no interest to them.

The law of average. That was how Jaime began to think about this apparent law of nature. Nothing he could do would allow him to poke his head through this apparent glass ceiling and excel. It was a frustrating way to live life, but in an odd way it was quite comfortable as well. Being average also meant that the serious problems of life passed him by as well. Not only was he immune from the great achievements of life, he also seemed to be immune from the great suffering that was also possible. No great tragedies befell him, nothing that would set him apart from his peers. He had never spent the night in a hospital, had never had surgery or a serious illness. Cauliflower ear from wrestling, the sprained back from football and a severe flu were the worst health problems he had to worry about. While he never made the honor roll, neither did he ever fail any classes. Whenever he would receive a failing notice in a class, he would improve his performance just enough to get back into passing range, and there his motivation seemed to end. The work was not difficult, the challenge was to keep his mind in it.

Finally, while the law of average kept him from finding what he truly wanted: a serious relationship with a girl, it also protected him from the horrible heartbreak that such a relationship could incur.

Wednesday October 18, 2006 - 10:04am (EDT)
© 2006 Tyler Willson. All rights reserved

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