What is a life?

May 29, 2012
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My name is Sauli. At least, that’s what I think it is. How am I supposed to remember if I can’t even remember the last time I was called that? I guess you can call me what everyone else does. Let me start over. My name is rich kid, the famous people’s son, the great Tommy and stunning Madeline’s kid. Now let me tell you a little bit about myself. I am the son of a famous guitarist and a model. People say I have a pretty good life. I have a nice house, with a pool and a butler. That is it. My teachers would never dare give me detention or bad grades because of my parents. The last time I invited a kid over to my house, he cancelled because it was raining and he wouldn’t be able to go swimming. Who am I? I am a straight A student, but I fail every test. I am the most popular kid in school, but I have no friends. What kind of life is that?

Today is one of the days my parents actually spoke to me. They told me about a party we are having and I have to attend. Right now, I am standing outside the ballroom wearing a custom fit tuxedo, black as midnight. My hair is pulled back with enough gel to fill up a bath tub, and I look horrible. As soon as I enter the ballroom, my lungs are clouded with the stench of robust cologne and hair spray. Before I have a chance to catch my breath, I’m whisked away by a man dressed so similar to me, he could be my twin. I can’t even tell him apart from others in the crowd. A pure white grin is revealed as he opens his mouth to say whatever nonsense is on his mind.

“Hello, Son,” he articulates. “What a fine evening it is tonight. I hope you are enjoying this gathering.”

Without hesitating I answer with the same phrase I have used for seventeen years. “Yes, the weather is quite charming. Please enjoy your evening.”

From all my years practicing, I think I have actually mastered the phrase pretty well. I have to enunciate the last syllable of the word and pull the corners of my mouth into a half-grin at the same time. My eyes never leave his and to my delight he gracefully walks away.

The party—or gathering as one of them would say—is finally over. I don’t even know how many times I have said the same thing tonight; I lost track after thirty. Can people only talk about the weather? If so, I’m not talking to anyone. The last time my parents actually sat down and talked to me, they said that I have to decide what I am going to do for the rest of my life. I’m seventeen and this is my last year of school, I need to decide whether to go to college or take a direction in life. Don’t get me wrong though, I have hobbies; I’m just not very good at them. My dad tried to teach me how to play the guitar, but I broke all the strings on my first lesson. I can’t be a model either; yes I have perfectly blinding teeth, but I look nothing like my mom. They even hired a private vocal teacher, but the neighbors ended up filing a noise complaint, and that put an end to it. My parents also think I am a genius because of my grades, but I don’t bother to learn anymore because nobody will help me get better.

Part of the reason I hate school so much is probably because every day I am escorted in a limo. I am seventeen now, and I have a license, but even when I was little it has been this way. Every day the same thing happens. Kids of all ages run up to the limo and stare wide-eyed in amazement. I end up sneaking out quietly with my eyes never leaving the ground until I get inside. Today was the same thing. Adam, my driver came to pick me up from school and there was already a crowd waiting for me. I dash in and am relieved to hear the purr of the engine as the car begins to start. I have survived yet another day of school.

Today, Adam took a route that I had never been down before. I watched as the towering buildings and amazed looks of tourists in LA turned into a dark road reeking of mold and grime. We ride in further, and now I can see the weathered faces of people desperately in need of a bath. They sent piercing glares in our direction in disgust of my wealth. At this point in their lives, it was no longer a matter of jealousy, but a profound hate they had learned to accept. They had no idea who I was. All they knew was who I wasn’t.

As we drove on further, the gloom didn’t disappear, but on my right side I could see children playing in the filth they unfortunately call home. They didn’t seem to mind. Their eyes lit up like the moon on a hot summer night and they had smiles—real smiles—that spanned the entire width of their faces. Their teeth were crooked and yellowed, but yet something about their smiles were beautiful. Their smiles were more beautiful than any of the forced ones I had seen my whole life and I myself had learned to wear.
“Adam, stop the limo,” I command.
Before waiting for an answer, I open the door and leap out with the remains of my lunch dangling in my hand. I walk slowly to the children and hand them the lunch. The children don’t say anything yet I feel I can read their minds. The words thank you are spoken not through words, but by their eyes.
We are now in a cleaner part of LA, Adam drives up to the familiar driveway, and I walk up to the front door.
“Have a nice day, Sauli,” he calls from the driver seat.

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