The year was 2065. Bob Smith turned 90 years old and he stared out the window of his Manhattan apartment to the streets below. On the desk in front of him was a birthday cake, with a row of candles on it.
He was alone in the world…but still, he had reasons to be thankful. When he was a young man he had great parents, as well as two loving sisters. They all cared deeply for him. And he was blessed with excellent health; he rarely went to the doctor in 90 years. But still, even with all that luck, there was a nagging pain in his heart—something that bothered him.
“If I only had a family,” he whispered under his breath. “That’s my only regret…that I never had a wife and child!”
Bob thought back to his youth…when he was in his 20s and 30s. He was in his prime. It was a time when—like most men—he was trying to start a family. For Bob Smith, those years were between 2000 and 2020. It seemed like another lifetime. What happened? Why did he not start a family? His memories were fading in his old age, and he struggled to remember. But then the images came flooding back, one by one. Little thoughts, like pieces of a puzzle being connected.
He remembered back to when he was 20. He had a girlfriend and she became pregnant. Something inside of him, deep in the pit of his soul, told him to keep the child. But he had just watched a TV show on teenage pregnancy. He learned that pregnant women had a “right to choose” and that he—as the father of the child—had no decision in the matter. So when his girlfriend told him that she was getting an abortion, he just nodded—he believed that it was the right thing to do.
Then, there was that incident when he was 25. He was forced to take a Women’s Studies class at college. There he learned (from an obese teacher named Ms. Manley) that women did not need him. He also learned that men were guilty of countless crimes against women. He noted a rising hostility from the girls in the class, many of whom were now openly calling themselves feminists. He considered asking one of the girls in class out on a date, but he was too intimidated.
He moved to Colorado when he was 28. There was a growing movement to legalize marijuana, and Colorado was being applauded for leading the charge. He began smoking weed, hoping that it would help him with women. Instead, it had the reverse effect. He ended up staying home at night, eating pizza, and playing video games. One day he considered asking the neighbor down the hall, a pretty girl with sausage curls, if she’d like to go to the movies. Instead, he went to his apartment, smoked a joint, and masturbated to online pornography.
When he turned 30, he moved out to Santa Barbara, California. He worked near the campus of UCSB, and there were a lot of pretty girls in the area. He was excited about his prospects! However, shortly after he arrived, he was forced to take a Sexual Harassment class at his job. He learned that California had a new law entitled “No Means No.” Under the law, he could be convicted of rape if he didn’t prove—in writing—that a woman had agreed to have sex with him. Several times after that session, he considered approaching women. However, he was overcome with fear when he contemplated the risk. The idea of going to jail frightened him, so he decided that it was better to avoid women altogether.
By the time Bob Smith was 40, he had given up. There was still part of him that wanted a wife and child, but years of frustration had killed his confidence. He spent the next fifty years “checked out,” just going through the motions of life: driving in traffic to work, putting money in his 401k, watching the Super Bowl every year, and paying his taxes on time.
So now Bob was here, alone on his 90th birthday. A thought came into his mind and he paused. He wondered what it would be like—sharing this moment with a wife that adored him…with children that idolized him.
“I’d tell them that I love them,” he said, with passion. “I’d give them everything I have!”
He felt a tear welling up in his eye, threatening to cascade itself downward. But the moment was interrupted by the sound of honking horns, and the cars that rushed by on the busy street below.
Bob Smith blew out the candles on his birthday cake. Then he rose from his chair, shuffled to his bed, and—like he done he so many times before—he laid his tired body down.