Let me ask you one simple question. How do you define normal?
I mean, what we deem as socially acceptable behavior changes over time. What we consider illegal, immoral, what’s only frowned upon.
Back in the early twenties, drinking alcohol was considered a crime. Now you’ve just got to be of legal age.
A mere century ago, cocaine was hailed as some sort of wonder drug, capable of curing headaches, alcoholism, you name it.
LSD was used back in the fifties and sixties in psychiatry. Methamphetamine was used to cure narcolepsy and certain depressive states.
A hundred years ago, having a tattoo might have caused some people to think of you as a criminal. Now it just means that one third of the population might not sleep with you.
I’ve got one. A tattoo, I mean. It’s a quote from Frank Herbert’s Dune. “Fear is the mind killer.” What do you think about that? About fear assassinating the rational mind?
I tell you, it’s true. Fear kills everything in its path – makes you want to hide away in a dark corner and crouch and wait for the world to end.
The only thing I’ve always wanted was to have a normal life. To be average. I never wanted to stand out in any way. Especially for an American, this is strange. We are taught that we’re all capable of great feats, that we can all become immortal through our actions. We are taught that only by aspiring for greatness do we deserve the right to name ourselves Americans.
Nothing is impossible.
But I’ve just wanted to be normal, whatever normal means. I’ve always wanted to live for as long as possible and then die. Nothing more, nothing less. But I’ve never known how.
I tried googling it. You know, “a step by step guide to living a normal life.” Something that would go like this:
- Go to school. Study your ass off.
- Find a job. Work your ass off.
- Get married. Work your ass off even more.
- Buy a home. Work your ass off twice as much as before, because you’ve got to pay the mortgage on time.
- Make some babies. A girl and a boy, just so you can feel as if your life has a purpose.
- Take care of your kids, save money to pay for college. Get a second job. A second mortgage on your house. Never have the time or money for that cruise around the Caribbean you’ve always wanted.
- Teach your kids about good and wrong. Tell them that this world is fair and just and that everything eventually works out. Lie to tell. Call yourself an idealist. Believe life to be wonderful.
- Grow old. Get a divorce. Buy a sports car. Find a girlfriend that’s twenty years younger than you. Make love to her until you can’t make love anymore. The kids visit you only on holidays. They rarely call you.
Because I believed whole-heartedly in this “guide” I decided to get a job, get a wife, and grow old. Maybe have some kids. Or a dog. Maybe a few cats. Live on a farm, somewhere on the outskirts of this wonderful town.
So I found a job. In a newspaper, like most people do.
I took a job as a driver for Sebastian Shaw, the most famous guy ever to set foot in Rubicon, North Carolina.