Fair to Middlin’

I remember playing soldier with my brothers when we were very young. We would line up, Dan, the oldest, then me, the middle brother in the middle of course and end with Tim close behind me. We would march across the yard once or twice before we’d get sidetracked and do something else. I remember complaining once to Dan that I didn’t want to be in the middle anymore and he logically explained to me that I had to be in the middle because I was the middle child. I didn’t know what you called it back then but I also had an awareness of claustrophobia and being sandwiched between two close brothers drove me crazy.The claustrophobia would get worse whenever our entire family would pile into the cab of Dad’s pickup truck (this was before mandatory seatbelt laws, of course). It seems like somebody was always sitting on my legs and/or arms and not being able to move was very excruciating. I was always relieved to get where ever we were going and I never wanted to get back in to go home. My parents thought I enjoyed being wherever it was we went and didn’t want the good times to end, but I just didn’t want to be smashed back into the pickup seat.

Stuck between brothers with no place to go.
Stuck between brothers with no place to go.
But, ignoring my claustrophobia for now I would like exposit about being the middle child. Technically, Tim, my younger brother is also a middle child since we have a younger sister, Anna. For better or worse I’ve been stuck in the middle most of my life with Dan ahead of me and Tim behind me, narrowing my scope of marching positions and it seemed other possibilities in life.Dan was a year ahead of me in school and Tim was the year after me. Dan got to choose friends from among his class and those older and Tim had friends in his class and younger and I always felt my friends had to be in my class and nowhere else. Maybe that’s why some of my friends were the way they were.Dan loved to read about astronomy and would memorize the constellations. Tim loved trains and earth bound things and set up a model train in the basement. I on the other hand, developed a love of airplanes and flying. Maybe, I once thought, because the sky is in between space and the earth. Dan graduated high school and went on to a state college and leaned left in political ideas. Tim went to a Christian college after high school and leaned towards a conservative world view. I wavered between the two and never finished college at all. It took me several years to even develop my own political views, but in my early adult years I was a moderate, middle of the road kind of guy.Oh and when I drive on those six lane highways through big Midwestern cities (I’m a Midwesterner you know) I like driving in the middle lane. The left lane is full of fast movers who seem to know exactly where they are going and what they are doing, but the right lane is full of people timidly getting on and off and people like me don’t want to go too fast and get a ticket or be bothered by slow moving newcomers. So we drive in the middle lane at a moderate speed and ignore the fear-frozen drivers in the right lane.Even when we lived outside St. Louis during our high school years Dan had his favorite FM stereo hard rock station that was low on the FM dial. Tim liked the pop station which was further to the right on the FM dial. Luckily for me there was a middle of the road station that played my kind of music that was right in the middle of the hard rock station to the left and the pop station to the right. Ironically, that is the station on which I first heard Stealers Wheel’s song, “Stuck in the Middle with You”.I don’t like to sit in the middle, though. I guess that’s because of my claustrophobia. I don’t like sitting in the middle in cars, or on airplanes or in restaurants or in the movies or in church. I like an aisle seat so I can get up and get away if need be. But I don’t like to sit too close to the stage or screen or whatever it is, nor too far away. I guess I’m still stuck in the middle one way or another. And if people ask me how I’m doing I don’t like to say that I’m terrible, even if I am because they’ll want to know why. But I don’t like to say ‘great!’ either. I don’t like to attract attention and if people hear you say you’re doing great they may think you won the lottery or something. No, when people ask me how I’m doing I tend to just say, ‘fair to middlin’.’ That way I’m being true to myself and as friendly as I can be while not attracting a lot of attention. I don’t like a lot of attention; I think that gives me claustrophobia.
Always in the middle.
Always in the middle.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *