There once was a man– Ted– who was a good man. He was moral, principled, and really, an all around upstanding guy.
Ted liked to write. He wanted to be a poet. But he’s just turned twenty-six, and thinks that he should begin preparing for the rest of his life financially– his future wife, his future children, his future pets (though for some reason, animals seem just a little less adorable now that he realizes he has to pay for them)– so he takes a job with a real estate developer. “It’s just a small compromise,” Ted tells himself. When he’s secure he’ll go back to crafting free verses and haikus again.
Ted worked hard, and made money. He’s now thirty-three, and wants to buy a place to live. Ted grew up on a farm. Then he lived in the city when he went to school. He loved the space in the country, but he also loved the convenience that came with living downtown, that he never had to travel more than ten minutes to get anything he desired. So Ted split the difference and bought a place in the suburbs. He got his lawn, but he also got his convenience– albeit by car. As there was a Wal-Mart, a Wendy’s, and a Winners in a plaza five minutes away.
Ted never liked Wal-Mart. Having come from the country, he knows he should be getting his produce from, say, within the country he lived in as opposed to halfway around the world. But Ted also liked the idea that he could buy his hummus and underwear in the same place. So he told himself that essentially, he was saving gas and, therefore, saving the environment that way.
Ted has always loved the birds and the bees. His Prius, while nothing flashy, was always serviceable. But he’s forty now, and he’s doing well as a real estate developer, and he thinks it’s about time he got something that matched his status. His old neighbour drove an Escalade, and Ted has always envied him for owning one. So now that Ted can afford to buy one, he did. The admiring looks from bystanders were enough to make Ted forget about the amount of exhaust that was being spewed into the atmosphere.
Forty-seven and Ted is now married. Semi-happily. Nobody in Ted’s life thought Ted was going to marry Martha. Jennifer, they thought, was always going to be the one. Ted and Jennifer met in high school, fell in love in college, and have been together ever since. They’d go out every Saturday evening, to that (now defunct) drive-in on route 41. But then Ted got promoted to vice president in his real estate development company. Martha was the COO, and they each told themselves they really wanted to be with each other. So Ted fucked Martha a few times (once in the executive bathroom, once in the back of his Escalade, and once– he really felt horny that day– on the grave of his dead mother), and decided that sure, this was acceptable. And he dumped Jennifer and got hitched with Martha.
Does Ted love Martha? If by “love” you mean “able to co-habitate while feigning the occasional moments of affection”, then the answer is a resounding yes. To Ted, the absence of true love (not that he ever thought of it that way) wasn’t a huge problem. Martha was an able partner in the bedroom, and on days when Ted became a little bored, he could just close his eyes and think of anybody he wants. Lindsay Lohan, Jessica Alba, Megan Fox, Cindy Margolis, Betty White (like a fine wine), and once, when he was feeling sort of down, Jennifer.
All that fucking led to three children. Ted is now fifty-four and is beginning to take stock of his life. There is a tinge of regret that he never did pursue his dream of being a poet. But now that he has a wife and three kids, he says to himself, he has to be responsible. And throwing everything out the window at this point would just be reckless. To compensate for this tiny hole within him, Ted tried to write in his free time. And so he went out and got an Ipad. After watching all the commercials for it, he realized there was always an urge within him to get one (though he was never conscious of it til now). So he went out, got it (the white edition), fiddled around with it, bought all the apps, bought all the accessories, bought a Mac just to go with the Ipad. The only thing he forgot to do with it was write. But still, he felt happy. And when he didn’t, he just needed to take a drive to the Apple store.
At the ripe young age of sixty-one, Ted is finally promoted to President of the real estate development company. In recent years he was instrumental to the companies’ success in acquiring and developing farmlands. Ted’s biggest shining moment was shouting down a bunch of loosely organized protesters at one of the companies’ upcoming subdivisions. These loony fanatics were going on about the amount of animals being displaced and killed for more cookie cutter houses. In fact, Ted faced similiar, sparse opposition in internal meetings, to which he replied, “fuck ’em. Fuck ’em for shitting on my windshields. Fuck ’em for eating my garden flowers.” Being fully prepared for this, and having had this debate within himself to prepare for these wackos, Ted simply asked them two questions, repeatedly, “where else are these people going to live?” And, “it’s what they want, why can’t people get what they want?”
In his more introspective moments, Ted did emit some sympathy towards these creatures that he used to love, but he told himself that this was his job, and his job takes care of his family, and unfortunately for those damn creatures, that’s just the way it is. But little by little, Ted became less and less enamoured with animals. Mostly because of those damned cats who would, without fail, roam around on his lawn and occasionally use it as their litter box. Where he used to see cute little eyes, all he sees now are annoying pests wouldn’t get off his fucking property. And he finally did get them off his property, by buying a trap and firing three rubber bullets into the stomachs of each of those things. Hey, if they set foot on his property, they get fuckin’ shot. That’s just how the world works, right?
Ted begins to contemplate retirement at sixty-eight. Yes, he’s getting on in age, but Ted just wants to procure as much as he could for his family before he passes. Just one more deal– he promises after his company swallows up yet another smaller one (Ted essentially turned what was originally a local developer into a corporation with subsidiaries in two hundred cities around the world). After all, Ted tells himself, having Twenty million dollars in the bank isn’t necessarily enough when you have have three children and a wife. I mean, what if the kids get married, they get their houses, they have kids, their kids have grandkids, and they all get a house? Another five or six million, he thinks, may just be enough for them to live a comfortable life. But just enough.
When Ted eventually stepped down, he reflects back on his time with the company. He pats himself on the back for a job well done. Was there anything he regretted? Well, not regret, necessarily, but he wished he had handled his lawsuit better. Danielle, a secretary who used to work for Ted, filed a lawsuit alleging that he raped her during an overtime session at Ted’s mansion. The story was this: Ted asked Danielle to come over and help him organize his documents for a project that needed to completed urgently. Danielle, the loyal secretary that she was, rushed on over without changing out of her clubbing clothes, which she didn’t need anymore. As the clock pushed midnight, Ted and Danielle began drinking some of Ted’s finest wines to alleviate some of the pressure. At some point, Danielle winked at him (she swears that it was just a twitch), and Ted, realizing that Martha and the kids were away at the family cottage, pushed Danielle to the floor and fucked the holy trinity out of her. The lawsuit itself was settled, and Ted maintains his innocence– that it was consensual. Yes, he may have been a little rough, but no secretary would wear clothes like those and drink that much wine after hours with her boss without looking for some cock in her cunt.
On his deathbed at Seventy-five, Ted’s priest arrives to give him his last rites. To be fair, Ted was never a fully believing Catholic. In fact, he was an avowed atheist for most of his life. It’s just that, as death loomed closer, and being the shrewd businessman that he is, he figured that it was a smarter choice for him to hedge his bets. After all, if by compromising a little and pledging allegiance to a God you don’t believe in, you can possibly avoid an untimely death in this life, hellfire in the (possibly) next life, and lose nothing if you were wrong, well that just seemed an easy choice, right?
As Ted closed his eyes, he patted himself on the back one last time. “You did good,” he said, “you did good.”