When Brian was young he was a quiet kid. He grew up in the mid-west in the 80s. Happy, unassuming, a little introverted. The Reagan years were pretty much boring for him but in retrospect he would recall that period as easy, even carefree.
He grew up in a small Midwest town with his parents, Frank and Georgine. He had an older brother Clark who was always leading the pack and Brian always looked up to him. Brian would come to realize that as time went on he unintentionally recalled the 80s with more and more nostalgia. He also realized that we all must grow up eventually and assume responsibility for everything.
Brian remembered fondly, as a young man, the cool summer nights chasing fire flies, the smell of cut grass, the long walks in the woods as a boy with his dog. He remembered all of it he thought. The fights with his brother, the fights his parents got into, how crappy school was, how crappy his teachers were. What he thought about his teachers then was one of the few things that didnt change. But he figured growing up makes you realize that in his teachers shoes, he wouldnt have done any better. He was just kind of a punk he now realized. But now he thinks hes got it all worked out. Hes got a decent job and a family. Lifes been pretty consistent for a while. Kind of boring he supposes, but easy enough.
Brian remembers advice that Frank and Georgine would give him, or he would absorb from their examples. He even from time to time realizes the lessons he must have picked up from Clark. Hes known for a long time that there were certain things to avoid from watching his brother stumble upon them blindly. After all these years Clark still stumbles over those same dilemmas from time to time. Brian used to chuckle to himself at the thought that Clark even got one pregnant a few times. But that has all ceased to be entertaining. No longer does Brian enjoy his brothers amusing stumbles. Cause were all too old for this he often thinks.
Brian remembers the times He and his brother would accompany Frank to the shop, where there always seemed to be something to get into. It was your average gas station in the early eighties. The gas pumps didnt pump themselves and everyone seemed to have a problem with Jimmy Carter. The shop was dirty and so were the men who worked there. It had a nice little goods department where Clark and Brian would slip into to raid the candy and chips from time to time. One of his fondest memories growing up was the soft-serve machine and all the delicious toppings. Later He would recall that that was perhaps the first time he ever heard someone say more is better! He realizes now reflecting back that it was around this time that beverages took on an unusually large dimension at the shop also. Sometime early in the eighties fountain drinks went from 16oz being a large all the way to like 64oz or bigger in some cases. He thought perhaps it was just bad luck that this coincided with his childhood. He now thinks to himself What the hell were we supposed to do with all that corn the Govt subsidized? Well, turn it into syrup and drink it! So drink it we all did.
Later he would see the more is better philosophy in action again. Like times when Franks friends would be over or they would all get together to bail hay for the summer. Like a bunch of drunken Amish hanging around for the day, they would put the hay up while consuming many a cold beer. More is better always seemed to get applied to beer he learned as a young man.
Brian has tried to recall other lessons that may have impacted his life more than that little phrase but to date, he never has. Looking back on life he wonders what life would have been like if he never would have learned that lesson. It was an impossible challenge to set up in front of a kid, he later deduced. When he learned that more is better he was almost immediately confronted with a dilemma. He realized that more wasnt always better. More bee stings for instance, not better. But applied to gravy on your mashed potatoes? Sure more was better. In fact it makes you feel better to be able to ladle lots of gravy on your mashed potatoes, it did for Brian anyways. Or like when you get a plate of fries at the fair and they only have those little ketchup packets? He had this idea once, that someone could have made a fortune with just a booth and a bottle of ketchup. There was always just something satisfying about pouring ketchup all over fries at the fair. And now with the plastic squeeze bottle? Forget about it.
So Brian grows thru his teen years with this lesson more is better buried deep in his subconscious. It would reappear from time to time without Brian even realizing it in fact. Well, most of the time Brian wouldnt realize it. Think back to the gravy. It wasnt just gravy. It was cans of soda, candy bars, jelly beans. He would later admit only half-jokingly that he developed a strong lust for candy bars as a young man. He would say that he was a chocoholic. The more he thought about it now, he realized something that just never crossed his mind. He realized that no one ever becomes a broccoli-holic for instance. He realized that the things he always applied his philosophy of more is better to were things like candy, girls and later booze, but never school or chores. Like chocolate, these things he developed an interest in were just things that he naturally enjoyed. So when he did things he enjoyed he would naturally feel good or better.
Later in life Brian developed other interest. But he would also even later realize most other interests would all lead back to the same basic desire to feel good or better. He would read a book because it satisfied him. Or he would take a hike cause it filled him with a sense of accomplishment. He would go down to the pub and have a brew for some companionship and a sense of belonging. And as the years progressed Brian had a real sense of satisfaction. He seemed to get the hang of all this grown up stuff. He fit right in most places. So what was there to worry about?
That was another big part of life that Brian became familiar with, worry. He worried himself all the time about some common things like death, love, taxes and life. He worried about choices hed made as a young man and whether or not he could have been President. He blamed his parents for that one. As he thought about this he realized thats what life has beenworry, and the things that makes us feel good or better. He immediately realized that less worry has the same effect of making us feel good or better but then he also realized it doesnt taste as good as a chocolate bar. So with this train of thought steaming down the tracks he sort of grew up realizing that to worry less went along with his more is better idea of life. He came to find that he worried less when he pursued his interest of feeling good or better.
So after a couple decades of life, real life, out on your own life, with nothing but your thoughts kind of life he finds himself alone in his living room one night. Its late, its dark, and hes up sleepless as has become his habit. In fact thinking about it now he comes to the idea that maybe he made more bad choices than he ever thought. That over the years something has worn away. Life no longer has that oomph it did when he was a kid. Things arent as nice as they used to be. Oh he knows that thats another sign youre getting old, when the younger generation just pisses you off for being young and dumb like you wish you were. But Hes not young anymore and he would never want to have to relive that experience again. He never thought it worth reliving. Its almost like chocolate lost its power eventually and then he was left unhappy and with tooth decay in the end. So here he sits all rotten teethed and broken down, unable to get it up for the chocolate anymore wondering if theyll ever make a pill that can cure that. In the back of his mind he knows they already have one waiting for him.
The new question he has been worrying about is when does more stop or cease being better? He really doesnt have the answer or he just doesnt have the energy to really care about it anymore. And as he sits there in his living room in the dark, in the glare of his TV, with his family asleep in the other rooms, staring into his bowl of cereal with his customary fourteen scoops of brown sugar he cant stop worrying When did it all go wrong.
Brian was dead within one year of this evening never having realized the answer to his question.