As I've gotten older and hit various milestones in life, I've had to say farewell to a progression of childhood ambitions. When you're younger, it's not the toughest thing in the world. For instance, when I was 14, I gave up on my dream of being the youngest boy in history to qualify for the US Olympic team in a non-shooting sport (I thought I had a chance in bobsledding). And when I turned 21, I could no longer take out a bunch of cops in a drunken brawl instigated by my arrest for underage drinking.
But as you get older, the loss of these grandiose dreams begins to sting a little more. I started to lose my hair in my late 20's, and within a few years I realized I was never going to tag a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model. A few years after that, I had to admit it was really unlikely I'd make it to the baseball major leagues, or in fact, turn pro in any sport. And then I went to medical school, and said goodbye to a promising career in sculpting (well ... I'd thought about it).
But I still held out hope for a few things, even as I turned 40 and witnessed all my peers developing into sad, withered facsimiles of their former selves. The biggest one for me was always the English country gentleman scenario. I figured that once I'd put away a little legal tender, I'd retire to the English countryside and take up the ways and dress of a fancy chap. Wear lots of tweed, and subsist on a variety of savory puddings and trifles, and carry an uncocked shotgun across my forearm to blast away at any game birds I chanced across on my property, and merrily chase scantily-clad serving wenches across the moors.
Yesterday, however, on my way back to Mad City from a holiday vacation back east, I had a layover in Cleveland. There I was, eating a slice of Sbarro's pizza, checking fantasy football scores, and idly scratching at my groin when I suddenly saw myself as others do: loud, coarse, smelly, uncouth. And at that moment, I knew I was never going to be an English country gentleman. Not even close. Pfffffft! Another balloon deflated ...