Tuesday, 16 October 2012

169: Ulysses

There’s something to be said for living up to a name.  Ulysses Anderson certainly believed his name warranted an owner who deserved such a moniker.

For a while he thought about joining the military, although by rights he would need to join the American forces.  Ulysses didn’t like the thought of being a marine or attending West Point, so he decided to stick to the British army.  And he planned to grow mutton chops whiskers, to lend an air of authority to his appearance.  After a distinguished career, he thought, a career in politics would surely await.  He would rise through the ranks of the party, the new darling, and eventually become leader then prime minister.

But when he signed up for the army, he found the basic training a terrible trial.  The marches were long, the food not to his taste and the sergeant major very mean and loud.  Then he couldn’t decide on a political party that he agreed with, as well as politics not being ‘cool’ with most of the girls he fancied.  So he abandoned his plan to be that Ulysses.

Then he decided to take a job in newspaper advertising in Dublin, where he would be able to roam the city, thinking about his interactions with people.  He would eat pub lunches, dodging biscuit tins and worrying about the fidelity of his wife.  He might diversify into writing and he felt sure he would pen a classic of international stature.

But his girlfriend said she didn’t want to move to Ireland because he mother was ill and the journey back to visit was too far.  He realized he didn’t have a flair for advertising and in fact despised the relentless opportunism of modern selling.  And writing didn’t really seem like his thing after all, as he struggled to compose even emails of more than four lines.  So he abandoned his plan to be that Ulysses.

Stuck for an inspirational role-model, Ulysses thought about what he was and what he did like.  He liked fishing and cooking.  He was loving, soft and affectionate.  He liked staying home by the fire but had a tendency to pounce on ideas without warning, sometimes shooting out at odd times of night.  His temperament could vary between supercilious and demanding attention.

“That makes sense,” said his mother when he turned to her for advice.  “We named you after Grandma’s cat.”

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