Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Gray Sheep of the Family

The Complete and Total Loser likes to think he’s an original thinker, or at least someone who has an original idea or concept now and then. He’s not. Jokes have popped into his head, aphorisms, observations, turns of phrase, but at some point he comes across better versions of them, some predating his own by centuries.
Here’s his latest idea: The Gray Sheep. The phrase “the black sheep of the family” is well known to most for being synonymous with the family ne’er do well. They are the ones who get pregnant or get someone pregnant in their teenage years, do jail time, get addicted to drugs or alcohol and borrow money from relatives who never see it again. They shame their family name, sometimes publicly. How many Germans have the last name Hitler? How many Americans go by Oswald? Not many, probably.
Black sheep are, however, often colorful. They take risks, investing in mad people or ideas, pulling up stakes and heading for big cities, shedding the few worldly goods they may have for the life of a prophet. They are the funny uncle, the eccentric aunt, the kookie cousins of their family.
The Loser is not that. He is the gray sheep of his family. His wildest aspirations have been to goals average people consider mediocre. In the eyes of his family, his failures have taken him from the middle ground to the middle ground; they find no discernible difference. At his best and at his worst, his status and way of living never change. Own a house? Never. A car? Years ago, but an embarrassing junker he eventually sold for just $100. A girlfriend? Please.
When the Loser bumps into his parents' friends, the ask him what he's doing now. The Loser has two older brothers, successful, rich, happy, married, the sires of children and bosses of many. In the very few interactions the Loser has had with his brothers’ newer friends, even ones who are good social friends, they’ve expressed surprise at his existence. Here’s something pathetic: At first, this surprised the Loser. As much of a loser as he is, you see, he still has an ember of an ego, a cooling spark, burning deep below the gray crap he’s composed of.
Minutes from now, after publishing this in his virtually unread blog (80 hits in over a year) the Loser will put gray sheep of the family, in quotes, in Google. How much do you want to bet there are hundreds of hits?

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