I live in suburbia, Middleclassville, U.S.A. The price range of homes in the area: approx $100,000-$250,000. Since the real estate bubble burst in 2008, many homes are closer to the lower end of that.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about the fate of the men who live on my block. What do their lives come to? Who are these men living in the houses around me? And you know what? I don’t have any models of masculinity that make me pine for the future of my life as a middle class 9-5er. Let’s delve into some of the characters of my block who make me think that way. (Names changed, of course).
We have John. I knew John growing up as the guy who threw the best halloween party on the block. The guy was obsessed with decking out his residence with halloween decorations and inviting everyone over come october. John was about six feet tall, balding, in his fifties, and at least 300 lbs. I was away from my house for a couple of years, I found out that John committed suicide two years ago, at age 58. With a handgun. This is tragic, and obviously there was probably a lot going on behind the scenes there. Nevertheless, the tragedy made me think about how my life will be in the future. What drove him to do it? He seemed like a normal guy to me.
Then there is Ralph “The Rapper.” Ralph is about 70 years old, lives alone, and has earned his nickname on the block as Ralph “the Rapper” because he raps, or knocks rapidly, on his front window almost every night between the hours of midnight and 3 a.m. When it is hot out during the summer and our windows are open, Ralph has the ability to wake us up with his vigorous rapping. We have asked Ralph about this, and he denies doing the rapping. We have even caught him in the act. He still denies it. Ralph definitely has a screw or two loose. To me, this is an cry for attention, understandable in many ways.
Then there’s Mark, the beta-ized neighbor on the corner with the wife who runs the show.
There’s Jerry. He works long and hard hours to bring home the bacon for his 2 plump daughters and plump wife. Who are very nice people, by the way.
There’s Frank, a house down, who was the first man I saw die with my own eyes when he had a heart attack at the age of 59 and got taken away by an ambulance. Smoked a ton of cigarettes, watched a ton of cable TV is what I remember about him.
And then there is the bastion of hope. Josh, my neighbor across the street, who is married to a pretty cool and decently attractive lady, his high school sweetheart. He seems happy. He has a couple of kids, including a daughter my age, who was known as the town bicycle when I was in high school.
Then there’s my house, where my parent both leave the house at about 6 a.m. to go to work, and get back between 6 and 7 p.m.
I try to formulate a model for my own happiness from the men around me, but I cannot. Maybe I’m being overly cynical. I’m sure these men lived great lives at one time. Just now…they are settled down. Plus, what do I know about the personal lives of these men? Not enough to make broad accusastions. But…this is how I see their lives. I don’t desire to be like them.
I read a study one time that said the lower class vision of happiness is to enter the middle class. The middle class version of happiness is to enter the upper middle class. The upper middle class version of happiness is to enter in to the upper class. The Upper class want to become extremely rich. And the extremely rich?
…I don’t know, have an affair or two, have some plastic surgery and live like Gatsby? The Sweet Life, baby. Rock on, Frankie.