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“I’ve Never Been Happier” – Deleted Scene #6

This deleted scene was originally in Chapter 12 "How to Have a Negative Net and Self-Worth" in "How to Fail."  The scene would have begun at the bottom on page 313 or so of the paperback edition.  This is unedited and unadulterated from the day it was nixed from the book.

What went wrong in my life?  I surely wasn't in as bad of shape as the people around me, but I'd surely begun life with a head start over them.  Wealthier, healthier, more provided for, better education, opportunities, everything.

Nothing went wrong with them.  They just did what was expected of them.  Failure.

But something did go wrong with me.  I wasn't supposed to fail.  I wasn't supposed to necessarily wildly succeed but I wasn't supposed to fail.  What went wrong?

Is it that I didn't take the "normal" way to do things?  Should I have just been satisfied to live a normal life?  Actually attend those career fairs at school.  Become a businessman.  If I wanted to write, do that on weekends, lunch break, after work.  Instead of hitting happy hour, watching reality shows.

Meet a nice girl, not try to fuck anything that moves.

Always be making connections, updating my Rolodex, acquiring lifelong associates.

Not burning bridges.

Not drinking too much, most all the bad decisions of your life have been made drunk.  I've made plenty brilliant ones drunk too I devil advocated.

Be honest, with others and with yourself.

What else went wrong?

It's my fucking mental makeup.  I'm lazy, I don't like to do things.  I don't like to do, I don't like to suck it up, I don't like to suck up, I have a defeatist attitude.  I think the world is pretty damn stupid and unquestionably worthy of my scorn.

I'm arrogant, I think I'm great, I think I'm special.

Fame and fortune should just be handed to me.  Can't you see I'm a genius?

That a confederacy of dunces is against me?!

Would I have been happier if I'd just taken the normal route?

Let's see, I'd have gone straight from college graduation in May 2001 to working for, not just any man, but THE man, in June.  Entry level position.  I'm smart, a fast learner, and in this case I'd be a hardworker and a buttkisser so I'd move up the corporate ladder.  Not overly quickly or nothing, but at a slightly faster than "correct" pace.

I wouldn't have scorn for my coworkers and I'd actually be friends with them.  Go to happy hours with them, lunches, befriend the fat secretary and join her at happy hour since she always asks, play on the company coed softball team and not even try to break up double-plays with a hard slide into the shortstop.  At the office Christmas party I'd meet a great girl who works in HR.

"How have I never seen you around the office before?"

"Oh, I work in the midtown branch."

"Then you must know, Doug!"

"Yeah, I know Doug!"

"Great guy that Doug!"

And I'd actually be sober enough to remember this all because, despite the open bar of topshelf booze, I'd exercise good judgment and have a judicious two or three glasses of egg nog, heavy on the nog, light on the grog.  One an hour, offset by plenty of glasses of water and finger foods (which I eat with silverware) to offset the intoxicating effects.

We'd begin dating, of course, first OKing things with HR just because we're the kinds of people that do thing by the book.  Always by the book.  We own several copies of the book in both hardcover and soft, even a limited edition coffee table one with stunning photographs, and we often refer to it.

On our first official date we'd go to a nice but trite French restaurant near Union Square.  Afterward, we'd see a trite movie at the nearby mega-theatre.  After that, we wouldn't want to call it an evening just yet even though it would be getting late (11:05!) so we'd stroll around the park, taking lap after lap, as we discussed our hopes, dreams, fears, plans for the future, and thoughts on "weirder" ethnic foods.  They will be copacetic.  We will not realize that they are so ambiguous and non-risky that of course they will jibe.  Kinda like how horoscopes literally describe everyone.

The night will end with a ten second kiss.  No tongue.

Date 2 would end with a tongue kiss.

Date 3 would end with me being invited upstairs for some heavy petting of her and some mild petting of her cat Mr. Pretty.

Date 4 would be the first date we sleep together but not "sleep" together.

Date 5 would be the first time we see each other fully naked in dim lighting.  I am  more conservative than John Quincy Adam and like that she clearly does not have her pubic region professionally sheared.  That would make me uncomfortable.  The thought that some illegal immigrant handles her lady parts on a monthly basis.

Date 6 would be the first date I come.  Via her hand.  Nothing like being twenty-four and getting a handy.

Date 7 would be the first date I come via her mouth.  She sprints to her bathroom to spit it out.  I am not offended like most men would be that think a woman should love their spunk.  I wouldn't want that in my mouth either.

Date 8 she asks what date we're on.  "You don't know?" I say, "I thought girls obsessively track that kinda stuff?"  "Oh I know.  I was just testing you."  "8!" we both say at the same time before making a lame joke about jinxes and owing each other a Coke even though I prefer Diet Coke and she likes seltzer.

Date 9 she says, "Screw my ten dates rules" and we finally screw.

We are officially in love.  We change over our Facebook statuses.  We get a lot of congratulatory wall posts from friends and family.

Meanwhile, we're both flourishing in our jobs.  She gets promoted to Assistant _______, I get contacted by a headhunter who gets me hired as a Vice-______ with a pay bump of $__,000 per.

After two months of dating we say, "I love you," like that's a big thing, like I'm Chandler Bing.  We meet each other's parents.  I'm not even annoyed by her father who thinks he's a badass.

After six months we're spending every night together.  After eight we decide to move in together and begin syncing our expiring leases up.

We quit seeing any of our friends that aren't couples.  We go to nice restaurants that are well reviewed.  We drink wine that is discussed in "Wine Spectator."  We wear sweaters.  We talk about politics.  We discuss marriage.

I use the calculator function on my phone to see how much two month's salary is for me because I'm highly influenced by DeBeer's.  A part of me wonders if their corporate honchos ever went:  "Did you see how easy it was to get them to buy this 'two months' BS?!  We coulda pressed for three!!!!"  Thank God they only went with two, though, as that comes to nearly $18,000 before taxes.  For the first time I realize I'm making a lot of money.  By God, am I rich?

I take a friend in the know to the diamond district and I buy a flawless $17,850 after taxes "G" coloring marquis cut 2.5 caret ring from some yarmulked-clad, sidelocked old man.  I keep it hidden in my sock drawer next to the condoms I've quit using ever since she went on the pill.  It has made her fatter, more acne-riddled, and crazily hormonal, but I don't care because I'm a sensitive guy and I love her.

We plan our two-year anniversary vacation to the Bahamas.  One week before we leave, I ask her father out to brunch.  He razzes me that brunch is "gay" and Manhattan has made me soft.

Even though this is American in the 21st century and not India in the 17th, even though I will most likely not get a dowry, even though I find it an odd custom that we act as if fathers own their daughter's vaginas, I ask for his permission to marry her.
He grants it.  He also picks up our chicken salad triple-deckers and Heinekens.  Perhaps a small part of my dowry?

On Paradise Island, during an "authentic" Bahaman luau, we sneak off and I put my sunburned knee in the sand.  She accepts.  I spend the next six hours smoking fat Auerbachian cigars and drinking minibar Scotch on our hotel room's balcony while my now-fiancee makes countless tears-of-joy phone calls to literally every single person she knows, all the while admiring her ring.  I try to calculate how much all this international calling from the hotel landline will cost us.  Probably more than that $19.99 PPV porn "Firehose Facials" she wouldn't let me order the previous night while I was trying to spice up our dwindling sex life.

Back in America, my life becomes dedicated to yes-ing or no-ing countless invitation samples, flower displays, cake makers, reception halls, etc.  You can really spend a lot of money on a lot of completely pointless stuff when you're getting married.  I think this but don't say this.

Now, she decides my career path isn't quite good enough for her future husband.  She forces me to agree to go to get my MBA at night.  That sounds like a lot of unnecessary work but I agree.

On our three year anniversary we marry.

We are pulling in a combined income of $350,000 per.

We move to the suburbs.  Opt for Westchester over CT, Jersey, or Long Island.

We own cars for the first time since our senior year of college.

We are now commuters.  We wake up at 5 AM to drive to a parking lot and then take the Metro North south.  We leave Grand Central together in the evenings on the 6:17 except on Tuesdays and Thursdays when I have B school.

We pay lots of money for an organic catering company to drop off a week's worth of ready-to-eat, just-needs-to-be-heated-up meals on Mondays.  I find them rather bland and can't believe how much they cost.  But what choice do we have?  Neither of us has time to cook and all the "quaint" local restaurants (all owned by Jews no matter the cuisine) are closed by 8.

On weekends we travel to other suburbs to visit other friends living the same life we are.  These people weren't either of our friends when we were cool, single, and living in Manhattan, but now they are our besties, simply due to the fact that they too are married, have a big mortgage, and a backyard that needs to be mowed.  The same Mexican crew mows all our lawns and does a bang up job on the edging.

I begin going bald.  Getting a beer belly despite the fact I rarely get to drink beer any more.  What kind of cosmic practical joke is that?  I rarely exercise.

The only real fun I ever have is on the three weeks a year we go on vacation.  Sometimes to Europe, sometimes The Tropics, occassionally back to the Bahamas where our current life started.  These vacations bleed our bank account and force me to pose for hundreds of similar pictures.  But it's still better than the other forty-nine weeks of my year.

We hang with our collective parents for every and I mean every holiday.  Christmas, Arbor Day, President's Day, Dr. Seuss's doesn't matter.  If we get a Friday or a Monday off from work we make a quick jaunt to visit one set of parents, always on an alternating basis.  I've never seen my parents so much.  But this is what I'm told you're supposed to do.

Upon visiting our relatives and in-laws, we are constantly hectored with the same question:

"Are you guys trying?"

As in "trying" to have kids.

Which in effect means we are being asked by our parents if we're fucking each other a lot sans condom.  Rawdogging it as the rappers say.  Barebacking it as the gays say.

And we actually are.  We've hit a dead end in life and kids are the key to opening up the road.  At least I'm finally getting laid again, though we aren't allowed to fuck in positions like doggy-style or reverse cowgirl because my wife says she doesn't want to conceive in a "gross" way.  "The kid will be guaranteed to be born a pervert!" she thinks.

On nights I know we're going to "try," I secretly keep my hot laptop on my testicles for a few hours straight, hoping to sabotage our efforts by killing my sperm, allowing me to get a ton of sex for a little longer.

Alas, it doesn't matter because somewhere between try #9 and #15 I impregnate her.  I suspect she has secretly been on fertility drugs.

She balloons fast.  Everywhere we go people give us kudos like we're the first people ever to create life.  Like we're gods!  We begin thinking that same thought ourselves, constantly bragging, flooding our friends' inboxes with the most minute updates ("We just painted our office baby blue in anticipation," "We just bought the most darling crib," "We just sold off all of our firearms," etc), photos, and ultrasound results (it's twins!).

We read baby name books because apparently three decades of living on planet earth just isn't enough research to give us any ideas ourselves on the topic.

Baby Dylan and Grace are born healthily, somewhere between five and seventeen pounds if I'm eyeballing things.  My wife will never work again until she takes a volunteer job at age fifty-two.  She will also never be thin again.  Now I'm the sole breadwinner.  Luckily, going to business school worked and I am earning $250,000 a year with performance bonuses that can go anywhere from $25K to a whole $200K more per year.  Lump sum.  I dream of a flat tax, wish I could go back in time and vote for Steve Forbes.

My wife buys the babies the most expensive and best of anything, even though all of it is only useable for maybe two months due to the rapidity of a youth's growth.

She spends all day at places like the playground, the park, and Kiddie Gym with other moms, pushing their state-of-the-art strollers around and being yentas.  Her IQ drops rapidly as the only workout her brain gets is in calculating for how many minutes long the twins have sucked her teets dry.

I'm now working sixty hours a week.  We have a third kid.  Another boy this time.  We consider naming him Ringo but settle on Paul.  Better name for a future businessman.

We think about moving even farther out into the suburbs, to a bigger house, near better schools.  We decide private is better than public because it costs more.  We make most of our decisions based on that standard.

Later that year I return home from a Saturday golf outing with a neighbor I don't much like to find my backyard set up with tiki torches, decorations, a full spread of food, and good wine.  And my friends are there.  Friends I haven't seen since...well, since my wedding come to think of it.  I can't believe they traveled from the city all the way to the suburbs.  They all look so much younger than me.

My wife has arranged it all.  A surprise birthday party.

I have just turned thirty.

I look at my friends, the same age as me, but single.  They probably get laid a lot.  The probably still get to stay out til 5 AM, do a lot of drugs and drink.  Sleep in late on the weekends.  Eat at great restaurants.  They look so happy and successful.  I compare their lives to mine.

An old chum rubs my bald head, another pats my fat belly.  "So how ya' been?"

I consider things.  I try to smile.

"I've never been happier..."


I actually really liked that passage, but, as Faulkner said, sometimes you have to kill your "darlings" and this section needed to be nixed from the book.  Oh well, at least I got to share it here.  It kind of works as a short story in and of itself.

Check out these other Director's Commentary and Deleted Scenes:

#1 -- "FUCK YOUS" (dedication page)
#2 -- "QUOTING BIGGIE SMALLS" (including famous quotes)
#3 -- "BLURBS" (cover blurbs)
#4 -- "CHAPTER ONE" (genesis of HTF idea)
#5 -- "THE FAILURE INTERVENTION" (deleted scene)

Also, if you’ve read "How to Fail" and haven’t yet left an Amazon review, please take 30 seconds to do so here and keep spreading the good word!

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