He came from Middle America. That place where little boys grow up to be like their daddies, and it’s not a bad thing. Sure, it’s a dreary life filled with coal mines, steel mills, and snow, but they work for their money. They help run this country. We built it on their backs. He was one of them. Another Johnny, Bob, Dick, Jim. Another soot covered man who went home to his table-waiting wife. His name was Joe. His wife was Jane. Because why wouldn’t those be their names in this faceless part of the country.

Everyday Jane put Joe’s lunch in his lunch pail and sent him off to work. Every night when he came home, dinner would be sitting on the table. Sometimes he would go out with the boys for drinks, but that was only on payday. He had a family to support. It wasn’t a family he had wanted. Rather, it was a family that happened because of lack of birth control. He wanted to bang his wife, they just weren’t too smart about it. Maybe having four kids was not in the plan, but he loved them anyway. He loved them the way you love left over puppies when your dog delivers a litter and not all are given away. At first you wonder what you are going to do and how you are going to feed so many mouths, then everything just seems to fall into place.

When Joe was younger and Jane’s ass wasn’t so saggy, they had been a beautiful couple. They would lay in bed talking about their dreams and how they were going to get out of this town. Joe wanted to work in sports. He knew more about football than the Creator himself. And Jane was a brilliant artist. She had dreams of opening a gallery in New York City. Then life happened. Joe got Jane pregnant. She waited tables until the bundle of joy arrived, and Joe did what all men in his coal mining town did. He went to the corner store, bought some chewing tobacco and a small bottle of cheap tequila, he got himself a union card, and he got on the elevator down the mines, taking his hopes and dreams with him.

Joe still watches football every Sunday and roots for his team like every game is the last. Jane finger paints with her kids sometimes and creates construction paper masterpieces. That’s how it is in middle America. You are born into a life, and no matter how talented you are, you may never make it out, so you make the most of it.


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