I’ve been at a low point for the last few months. At the beginning of May I learned that my dad has lung cancer. So far as I know, he never smoked a day in his life. It was one of those way out of left field sicknesses that seem to be so tragically common to our fragile species.

So far the treatments have been working, and since they caught it rather early in its development there’s a good chance my dad will pull through. Still; as a barely twenty-something, I’m not quite prepared for the inevitable deaths of my parents. I’m also in a panic about my own fate: am I destined to get cancer too? My dad is fairly young (in his mid 40s) and lived a relatively healthy life. Is it genetic? If I have kids, will they also inherent that curse? Was the cancer caused by all the electronic junk and heavily processed food we consume nowadays? If it was, am I going to get it even sooner than my dad did?

Needless to say, I signed up for every test to check myself out. I had my first experience of a doctor’s wiggling finger up my ass (Pro: it was a woman … Con: it was a fat, unattractive one). Although I’ve checked clear for everything I was tested for, the paranoia remains. I took a few weeks off work when I heard the news, and went back home to visit my folks. Still, the rat race stops for none of us schmucks, and after nearly a month home I had to make my way back out into the Canadian west to continue the drudgery of my blue collar job.

After a nearly fourteen hour workday of tiny spaces, sweat, dirt and electrical zaps from dumb shits forgetting to flip a switch off before I stripped a wire, me and my partner of the day packed up our work truck and headed back to the mid-sized city I currently call home. It has a nice view of the mountains and that’s about it, though there’s a mid-tier university there so there’s at least a large pool of young, bangable girls to make it semi-bearable.

Near the city limits, a black Ford 4×4 pulled out from a gravel road onto the highway ahead of us. Since we were going roughly the same speed, I got a good view of the people in the truck. Inside, I could see a girl was sitting in the middle of the seat, her head tipped onto the shoulder of the driver. His arm was around her, and as if to accentuate the whole lovey dovey scene, the sun was setting perfectly against the mountains, silhouetting the couple.

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As I drove the last few kilometres into the city behind the truck, staring at the two of them, I felt an intense whirlwind of depressing emotions welling up inside me: jealousy, anger, despair. There I was, filthy and exhausted, driving a shitty old work truck that perpetually smelled like coffee, dust, cigarettes and fast food farts, while listening to a fifty-year-old high school drop out with a beer gut and a bright red nose of burst capillaries bitch and moan about having to pay alimony to his two ex-wives. All I had to look forward to at home (a rented house shared with two roommates) was a quick shower, a quicker (and non-filling) supper of a Salmon Fillet, some marble cheese and an apple, and then two hours of grunting at the gym, putting further stress on my already aching joints in order to build and keep the muscles which enable me to attract women who aren’t morbidly obese or shovel faces.

And as for my romantic options for after the gym? At that moment I had two women on the go: a university student who asked me to finger her in the taxi cab to the university dorms four hours after I first met her; and a suicide girl type whom I had hit up after a buddy of mine had finished his fling with her. I was (and still am) disgusted that I was sleeping with a girl who took the jizz of a man whom I personally know, but I console myself with the fact that the majority of women in my millenial generation are whores anyways, and whether I know who railed her before me is irrelevant in the big picture. There’s little point about fretting over her sexual past. It’s not like I’m going to marry her. Most of the time this reasoning works. Sometimes, like that night, I hate myself for giving them even the slightest bit of pleasure at the expense of both my dignity and my romantic soul.

Essentially, I had nothing to look forward to. Even as I write this, I am still going through the same routine; killing myself with long, hard work days to accumulate a bunch of money that does not even matter to me… I am not a consumer, there’s no toys I want to buy and I am too much of a nomad to purchase a house (not that I could find a decent woman to share it with in the first place), all while giving 38% of my pay-cheque over to taxes. Depending on the day of the week, after work I’m either sprinting with a weighted vest or lifting heavy shit and putting it back down, just to add a barely noticeable extra bit of mass to my muscles in order to attract slightly prettier whores than the ones I fool around with now. Then I have to basically beg said whores (who secretly disgust me) through texts to come over and give me some fleeting physical pleasure. Add to that my current fatalism due to my dad getting cancer and it’s not hard to see why I am in a low spot.

I couldn’t get these facts out of my head as I drove behind that truck. I just stared at that girl’s head on that guy’s shoulder, his arm around her. I wondered what their lives were like. Was the guy blue collar like me? His truck was fairly new, with an auxiliary fuel tank visible in the back, so it was a fair guess that he was either in construction or a farmer. What did she do? Were they married? Just dating? Was she the girl next door? Had they fallen in love in high school or only just recently? Did they have a house? Did she do the chores, waiting anxiously for him to pull up in his truck? Did she smile when he did? Did he smile when he saw her?

from friends to lovers

I began to daydream about a life like that. I imagined how much better everything could be, if only I could meet a decent woman. I managed to push away those nagging red pill thoughts that there are very few women in the whole world who met the four basic qualities I seek (sexually attractive to me, not a bitch, not promiscuous, loyal) and that the odds of me finding one are up there with winning the lottery. How much more tolerable would all the shit I go through be if only I could have what those two in the truck in front of me surely had?

Like most men, I have a lot of acquaintances, a few friends, and no truly good friend: therefore, I have no one with whom I can talk frankly with about the bad stuff in my life. I imagined just lying in bed with a loving woman, the crickets chirping in the night time lawn outside our big country house, and just being able to talk freely without having to worry that I’m creeping her out or scaring her off because my human vulnerable made her see me as weak. I fantasized about coming home, filthy and exhausted, and finding dinner already set out for me… not because it was her wifely duty, but because she loves me and appreciates me and just wants to show she cares. There would be kids, finally something I could spend all my money on. There would be a lot of love, and of course there would be some bad times and some fights. But at the end, looking back with my woman on our lives when we were old and wrinkled, I could smile knowing we made it. She’d put her head on my shoulder, I, my arm around her, and we’d just sit there on our porch, watching the sunset.

“Stop at Timmies bud,” my partner said, snapping me out of my Beta Daydream.

We had entered city limits, and the truck with the couple was still in front of us. Every Canadian blue collar worker knows where every Tim Hortons coffee shop within a five hundred kilometre radius is, and I automatically drove to the closest one without thinking about it. Surprisingly, the truck with the couple led the way. It seemed that they were going on a little coffee date, or maybe they were just getting some doughnuts. They pulled into a parking space just beside the front door of the coffee shop, and since the guy I was with is a fat, lazy bastard who would bitch like the world was ending if I made him walk more than fifteen feet, I jammed the work truck into the small open space beside the Ford on its passenger side.

I wanted to see the couple. In the twenty minutes I had ridden behind them, I had become obsessed with how I envisioned their life to be. I wanted to look left and see two pretty young things who had bucked the majority trend of my generation and actually created a worthwhile relationship. I wanted some positive affirmation. Using my skillful creep vision, I turned my head ever so slightly, staring at them out of the corner of my eyes.

When I saw her, I snapped my head away before she could see me.

“You want something?” my partner asked. I um’d and ah’d until I saw the couple had entered the store, then told him nothing. He went inside and took his place in line just behind the couple, who got some drinks to go. When they came back out I pretended to be engrossed with something on the seat beside me. I’m not sure if the girl saw me, but she hasn’t texted me since then so I assume she never did.

The plot twists that real life drops on us are often so contrived and implausible that we would roll our eyes and boo if it was in a movie. This was one of those twists, and even looking back at it right now I can’t help but laugh and imagine how many of you reading this are unbelievably shaking your heads and rolling your eyes at such an obvious and surely fabricated outcome. If I had not been so depressed when I saw her, I know I would have burst out laughing.

We had been fuck buddies back in February. She was a university student who I had met through another FB of mine. I had spent nearly three weeks frosting her face like a Toaster Strudel before I grew tired of her vapid bitchiness and ghosted her with a complete communications blackout. Plus, toward the end of our brief winter romance, there had been a lot of evidence that she had been taking on another guy on the side so I wanted to be the one to end it. I doubt the third wheel who had joined our temporary trist back then was the same man who was now laughing at something she had said in the truck beside me.

The truck and the couple pulled away. I didn’t look to see if they were smiling, or if he had thrown his arm back around her shoulder. My partner came out and crawled back into the work truck, I drove us back to the shop. Then I went home and scarfed my bachelor chow down. I went to the gym, nearly hurt my legs with some bad form during a 345 squat, texted my current skanks and got no reply, so my night ended with thirty seconds of masturbation and a hefty deposit of my potential children into a sweaty gym sock.

I woke up at 5:30 am the next day to do it all over again. I also called my dad and asked how his chemo a few days before had gone.

Read More: An American Beta Male Story