Friday 5/18/2007 11:29:00 PM

Stanley Sagemuffin was a man of mediocre proportions. Neither slim nor fat. Short nor tall. Strong nor weak. His physiology was such that most men ignored him and most women pitied him.

Born into the middle of a brood of children. Seven to be precise. His childhood was laced with trauma from both ends. Big brothers boasting and batting him about like their shuttlecock between their own matches. Little sisters painting his fingernails while he napped. Drawing smiles on his mostly smileless lips in Barbie brand lipstick.

Stanely David Sagemuffin had never been important as a child. Not a football star nor a chess club champion. Not beautiful or handsome. Lost in a sea of precocious and marketable siblings he simply floated away. He waded through the duties and rituals of youth like a prisoner laboring on a chain gang. He was an unremarkable child that seldom caused any trouble and all the years that had aged him since had done only that. Made him older, but no less mediocre. No less alone in a sea of people.

He went to community college. He studied business and had a job as the manager of the local electronics superstore before he'd even finished his courses. It was there he met his wife. A beautiful orgasm of a woman. The kind of woman that makes strangers gasp when she enters the room. Beautiful right down to her core. She fell in love with Stanley because he was everything she wasn't. Stanley Sagemuffin could stand in the center of a room screaming at the top of his lungs and still no one would notice him. And that was why his wife, his gorgeous wife, Denise had fallen in love with him.

Pity mostly.

As to why Stanley had fallen for Denise that was a bit more complex. He spent 13 through 19 hating girls like her. It didn't matter how nice they were underneath the supple cardigans and delicate mascara. If they were pretty he hated them. If they were, like his wife Denise, extraordinary, he despised them.

Stanley hated his parents for having so many children. Hating chance for placing him in the middle. But most of all he hated genetics for falling asleep on the job when they conceived him. In fact, the one and only thing that made Stanley Sagemuffin unique was the silent rage that lay like a dormant seed somewhere in the foul of his intestines. Waiting quietly. Still. For a stray drop of sunshine to find it and give it life.

Most people assumed Stanley hated himself. From the way he stared at his feet as he walked. The way he refused to socialize with anyone. For how much he was a satire of himself. A cartoon drawn over the life of a man. In splatters of anvil. And puffs of cliff. Looking down. Shocked that the ground is no longer beneath him. But Stanley didn't hate himself. He hated them. He hated them all. For perpetuating a world where unremarkable children become unremarkable men.

But most of all he hated his beautiful wife, Denise. For as unremarkable as Stanley had always been, she had made him something worse.

A father.

Stanley and Denise named their son after his eldest brother, Sean. She because he had died in a car accident during his sophomore year of college. The quintessential all American football star on scholarship. Drunk in an SUV full of friends fleeing the scene of a gang rape on a freshman whose IQ totalled more than all theirs combined. Stanley still remembers. Still pauses mid stride on certain Sundays. His gait choked by the flux of testosterone and grassy cleats. Slide rules snapping on fat, fat goal posts. Long skirts muffling slippery screams. The kick of the warm turf under frantic wheels like a barbecue fragrantly killing that which is already dead.

Stanley did so because he hoped given the right name heredity might be nudged in the proper direction. Had they only this one child. This one and only he would never be forgotten. Never be calculated against. The domino lost in the center of the cascade. Neither beginning nor end. One tiny penny dropped into an endless well of wishes.

Sean, as it turned out, was not at all like his father. He was an infinite child. Brimming with as many answers as he was questions. He was mercury. As ecstatic to be alive as the world was to have him.

Poor Stanley Sagemuffin, he found himself hating his own child. For making his wife happier than he ever could. For showing him what he might've been.

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