After spending 2 nights in Chicago this weekend for Angela’s 40th, I realized something (other than she’s turning 40):  I am in the middle of everything.

Five of us were there Friday night; Saturday around noon the other four arrived.  Five and nine, respectively.  We had a great time.  I met Devin Hester whose come-on and smile was met with, “Sorry, I’m a Browns fan.”  I met Bruce the homeless (?) guy who met my smile with, “Just one of those big bills would help me out.”  I met the masseur, a fellow Buckeye (two smiles) with extremely talented elbows.  I met super snotty women in the Nordstrom shoe section who didn’t smile at all.  And there were a slew of others with various kinds of smiles or not, for various reasons or not.

Middle seating position after eating the best Mexican food I’ve ever had

As I tend to do, I took every bit of it in.  People watching is a past time, sort of like an art form.  It’s all very interesting, what people do, why they purport to doing it, and how others around them react.  Mostly though, I find it saddening.  There are a lot of unhappy people.  A lot of people who are simply disingenuous no matter how hard they try to be otherwise.  Which somehow makes it even more obvious and painful.  If I had a tally sheet and walked around with a clipboard all weekend (as our buddy Barry did in the dicey joint known as The Hideout announcing to the very irritated bouncer-cover charge money taker-bartender-jack-of-all-trades-woman that he was on “the list”), the findings would have been entirely disproportionate.  True to themselves people are hard to come by these days.

This I know.  Whether I’m in the Windy City or back home in the Fort, there just aren’t many people who do what they say, say what they mean, or really even know the difference.  And if I try to discuss this with anyone of significance, that’ll just put me in the middle of an argument or a migraine.  I digress, but only slightly…

The middle.  I sat in the middle of two and four couples all weekend (wishing at times there was someone’s arm around me, both to keep me close and out of that position).  I am in the middle of a book, the middle of my last class, the middle of the pack when I run.  I’m in the middle of my life, live in the middle of my neighborhood located in the Midwest, and am in the political middle more often than the left or the right.

Even worse, I function middley (made up words are allowed when lamenting).  It’s always been this way – and I’ve always been kind of pissed about the whole thing really.  Am I goodish at most things?  Maybe.  Probably.  But not elite.  Not exceptional.  Just pretty proficient at whatever I try.  Golf – decent.  Tennis – decent.  Educational endeavors – decent.  Running – decent.  Work – decent.  Riding a motorcycle – decent.  Parenting – decent.  Cooking – bad example, but this whole annoying gist is sufficient anyway.

Yes, I am thankful for being able to pick up on most things quickly and easily.  But landing somewhere and totally excelling, I’ve never done.  Frankly, I think the whole thing is a curse.  I have a ton of interests.  I dabble in a multitude of things.  But what if I finally picked just one?  One sole focus.  Would being superb at one thing trump being pretty good at a bunch of things?

My neighbor, Phil, recently said, If you spent as much time golfing as you did running, you’d kick serious ass.  You’d be scratch.  But, do I really want to do that?  And of even more consequence, am I being true to myself when I can’t decide?  This question plagues me.  Almost as much as thinking about a sole non-Devin Hester with his arms around me again.

No matter, I guess.  I’m too busy being respectably average at too many things.  And anyway, someday if he ever does show up, maybe he’ll drive in the middle of the road. 

While he listens to me tell him what we’re going to go do.