The Competitor

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We returned earlier this afternoon from Dewey Beach.   I noticed the pretence of certain middle-aged men.  The command style.   The uniform of course, the better the sandal the more prepared he is for battle.  The stereotype is a guy about 48-55 or even older.  He’s just starting to worry about old age or consumed by it.  I saw one Jew looking emaciated and almost Gandhi-like: he’s lost a hundred pounds and was finally doing penance for his sins.   He was so well tanned and golden.  He once had great promise but had a heart attack.  Now he jogs at midday in the sun in the crowd.  The old flab bounces oily in the direct light and it’s almost like the sun was doing an X-Ray of his skeleton as he passed me gassing and huffing.  I think he imagined applause.

This tall and serious man likes to be noticed as someone if not famous, at least noticed.  The jogger?  He could have been Arab or Italian.  A Mediterranean look.  He does well and his riches are more than modest but he’s a middling character, one who started humble and worked his way systematically up the class ladder.  

My tentative and frightened middle age man believes he did better than his father but doubts sometimes if he really did in terms of his parents’ love and interaction with him and his sibs.  He worked and provided but ignored his children sometimes.  He was worried.  He awoke some nights questioning his sanity.  At least he remains guilt-ridden.  That was engrained.   But in Cracker Barrel he feels superior and goes into a mental breakdown of what a Cracker Barrel is.  That’s how neurotic he can be.

I simply observe and describe.   

The waitress didn’t know frick from frat.  Two others laughed and declared it a fine question.  How clever that man!  The cashier thought it an interesting question. 

Once in a room he scans the crowd for rivals, that is, any couple appearing more fashionable than himself and his black wife.  He knows that goes up a lot of asses and had a few words with the liquor clerk who treated his wife rudely.  That’s a sub-type of genius of the man I describe.  Most are married to gray fat women.  He appears ashamed of this but would never tell. He saw a fine-assed girl of eighteen with an heroic ass on the boards and filed that in “Something Special.”  That’s how crass he can be.  He hangs with the guys, they play golf and talk trivia.   He learned to loosen up in his maturity.  The sense of childish humor begins to reemerge and this scares him.  He remembers how crazy his father got before death. 

His shorts are pressed but a little mussy.  A tee shirt with a very small Nike logo seems appropriate.  He despises men who wear outrageous shirts, especially Tees with words or messages.  One on a fat fuck father of two with a chubby wife had on his back, “The Liver is Bad; Poison it.”  Christ!  But the type of personality I am describing is getting long in the tooth.  He’s clean-shaven although a very well trimmed beard will do.  Being in shape is a plus but better to look superior.   The wireless glasses of the prick you are to your inferiors.  If the light reflects on one lens it gives another kind of superior look, the cold and all-noticing manager.  I notice this demographic on the boardwalk, in the various outlet stores, on the beach, where the typical one retreats under an umbrella, curses the hot sand and takes one heroic walk to the ocean to cleanse his feet unless one’s clone is nearby.  

Our image of the successful man with the special intellect and wide experience never wears his thick crop of advanced balding hair in any manner to be noticed.  He has a long curly black grayish wrap of it starting behind the ears and flowing back to the neck a little longish but it gives him a daring-do quality.  He likes that but worries if the mane is too ridiculous.  He calms at the fact he hasn’t a comb-over like his father, who thought looking like Ike was the ideal.  At least he doesn’t sport a ridiculous greasy ponytail.  Christ again! 

His toes are clean and the nails good but not a manicure job.  His hands are soft but the nails a little too long.  He thinks he’ll cut them tonight. 

He’s cute with the waitress treating her paternalistically but this is all unconscious.   His words to the server are mostly curt and condescending if she/he is even aware of him.  He is cavalier with his wife assisting her choices and making cleaver banter, although it is vocalized normally and he certainly doesn’t want to be noticed.  If indulging his children and grandchildren, he appears paterfamilias but worries a little about the credit card.  He thinks himself sophisticated and in the Japanese, called Sokitumi he’ll order outrageously huge amounts of fare, each item a very attractive colorful item because he’s too ignorant to admit he’s totally out of his league there.  Better that than that college professor look-a-like across the floor who is envying me sees me as himself.

Why this involvement?  The very subject is laughable.   Me…. noticing such bullshit? What’s that say?


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