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Контент 18+ Курение вредит Вашему здоровью. You know, I have always wanted to be the Best at something. I mean, ANYTHING. The best in the world, hopefully. If not that, the best in town. Or the village. OK, goddammit, the best on my street. And because I am an exceptionally devoted humanitarian, I would prefer to be the best at something which would benefit the human race. I would like to be the guy who grew the highest cornstalks or donated the most blood or freed the most slaves. If not that, then the arm-wrestling champ. The guy who could spit the furthest. The chap who could throw the most cards into a hat from a certain distance. Even the one who could let the loudest farts. or the smelliest.
Champion of the World.

The fact that this lust to a limited extent prevails even today perhaps reflects no more than a lingering residue of my still extant American mentality. Or maybe it is indicative or something at once more powerful and more desperate -- a bird-on-the-wire obsession with uniqueness, and that uniqueness, in turn, expressing a kind of immortality. I was here, you see! Behold me again! It is why lovers used to carve their names into the bark of trees (this was before spray paint came along and with it the expedient of splattering municipal walls with often startling revelations rendered in flamboyant graffiti.) It is why we sign the register at places we have spent the night or museums visited, drop coins into the water at the Piazza di Spagna and other such venues that witness the endless trudge and trek of anonymous humanity, and put up marking stones in the places where we bury the dead.

I was here. I am sure it explains why the world has always had its share of martyrs and mass murderers. Joan of Arc. Thomas Beckett. Jesus. Presumably the good guys. But also Chikatilo, Ted Bundy, even John Hinckley -- remember him? He's the guy who killed John Lennon. It's why the pop art genius Andy Warhol came up with the idea that in the future everyone would have his 15 minutes of fame. It's why we have reality TV and other television shows where people are willing to subject themselves to total humiliation. They are happy that someone out there is looking at them. Sad world. But enough, very often, to make you laugh like hell at its lugubrious antics, right?

But, seriously, I have tried many times and in many ways to separate myself from the crowd. The famous Welsh poet Dylan Thomas once declared himself to be "the drunkest man in the world." Well, maybe that gives you some idea of the lengths I have been prepared to go to simply to avoid the stigma of being flung into an unmarked hole in the ground at the end of my day.

My problem is, as my step-father once pointed out, I am a guy with "a champagne thirst and a six-pack of beer wallet." I wanted to be a famous athlete but couldn't make the first team in Junior High School. Would like to have been heavyweight champion of the world but needed a few drinks before taking on the neighborhood bully. Would have enjoyed being a porn star, but...

I tried salsa dancing to please my truly awesome Italian girlfriend of some years back. It looked easy enough and awfully sexy. But NO! I could not coordinate my body in the right way. The idea apparently is to keep your upper torso still and just move your hips and legs. I danced the salsa like a guy who couldn't swim and had just fallen in a lake. Flailing like a MOFO and going down for the third time. Same, actually, WITH swimming (I can do it). Other men and women, even boys and girls, glide through the water, partings current like dolphins. I swim like I am being corn-holed by a gorilla.

Mechanics? I can start a car, and that's about it. Computers? Huh? Technology? Are you kidding? I am a Neanderthal at these things. Maybe I would qualify for being, overall, the dumbest bastard in the universe.
I think that somehow or other it all has to do with being in harmony with cosmic forces far greater and infinitely more inexplicable than ourselves. Sometimes, mysteriously, it all kicks in, and who knows why? In basketball, they call it " being in the zone" It means you enter a crazy hot streak where everything you throw up just goes into the hoop and through the net. It lasts for a while and then leaves you, and you return to mediocrity. I remember once running all the balls in a game of pool. This was especially remarkable because I am extremely terrible at games like billiards and ping pong. I mean, I really suck. But one night, long ago, after a couple beers and a few tokes on a joint of 'weed'' I simply (effortlessly) ran the table. Everything just kicked in and, for about 20 minutes I was king of the world. Then it disappeared, and I was a chump again...

Why? Where did it come from and where did it go?
I write about these things because writing is what I do best. How good? It is for others to decide but so far no one has mistaken me for Stephen King or William Shakespeare. I guess I am pretty good, though.
Girls over the years have told me I was the best in bed, but I am sure they told all their boyfriends that, one after the other.
Better was the night, way back in 1970 when I was returning, first to Sweden and then to England, from a couple of days in Finland. I was all set to sleep in a hammock out on the deck (cheapest accommodation) but there was bar and dance floor inside, and I managed to get a dance out of a beautiful young woman wearing all blue denims. Turned out she worked on the ship and that night it was her birthday. She had her own room on-board, and, well, I ended up sleeping with her.

The boat docked early the next morning and I had to get up and go, blessed hangover and all. She slept on, but as I was leaving, she opened her eyes and murmured, "I wish I could take you back to Helsinki."

Wow. She must have been about 21, which was my age. I don't remember her name, nor even, sorry to say, her face. But she was perfect, trust me. Now she would be in her late 60s, if she is even alive.
But she wanted to take me back to Helsinki because, evidently, for one night I was the best. Better than all the Rest. It's still sweet after all these years.

===Eric Richard Leroy===

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