I am meant to be on a quest. I should be lost, off the map, in near-constant danger, surviving by my wits. There should be murderous natives, treacherous allies, beautiful women, and motorcycles.
I should be trapped within a labyrinth, seeking treasure and trying to avoid the minotaur. I should be fending off hungry carnivores and wicked men.
My kung fu skills ought to be tested. Can I hit a moving target from the side of an out-of-control locomotive with a .45? Can I land a helicopter after the pilot’s been inconveniently decapitated?
Some skills, only experience will teach you.
I should be in formal wear for a dinner party with thieves and madmen and poets.
I should be vanquishing enemies and charming the ladies and making friends with worldly-wise street urchins. I should be dining with kings and beggars alike. I should be riding through the desert on the back of a stinking, unruly camel.
I should have a bag full of diamonds dangling from my hip, a knife in my boot, poison in my rucksack.
And of course, I should be recording my travels and adventures in amazing detail, almost daily, so that after my untimely death — by misadventure — tales of both my heroics and my failings can be published in a series of volumes for all to read.
I should be famous — or at least, in certain circles, infamous.
I should be driving fancy high performance vehicles on long European highways, in pursuit or being pursued. Some of those vehicles should be mine.
I should have a collection of keepsakes — a shabti from some Egyptian pyramid, Shanghai jade, a black and white photo of a cabaret singer in Berlin.
I should be infiltrating fifth columns, spending nights in an asylum, flirting with ambassadors’ wives, rising with the Angels, wandering with the gypsies.
I should be a man who never sleeps, a man who knows his whiskey, a card player and lock picker, a servant and a master.
I should be in disguise.
I should be familiar with the underground of Paris, New York, and Tokyo. There should be a statue of me in Rome, songs about me in Senegal, myths in Haiti, and a broken-hearted tango dancer in Argentina waking up in the middle of every night calling my name.
I should be a man of action. A man of letters. A man of mystery. A man of the world.
I should have friends on both sides of every conflict.
But I can have none of these things, because I’m still — still — waiting in line at the Department of Motor Vehicles.
I should be free.
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