I’m a Big Shot. Not really now. Not any more. But once and for a considerable amount of time I was. I liked being a Big Shot and I especially enjoyed knowing that people thought that I was a big shot but I never acted the part. The truth is that I’ve always been rather shy and the second truth is that I forget people’s names and faces. So, while they thought of me as a big shot they also thought of me as being snobby which I was anything but. I took to smiling and nodding at people and as it turned out most were people I’d never met so the women thought I was coming on to them and a lot of the men thought the same. So I got another label.
What I didn’t need was another label ’cause I couldn’t live up to the first one. I gave to a lot of charities and causes and allowed myself to be photographed holding a five foot long check along with someone from the organization smiling for the camera knowing that it would be in the local paper. I could just hear the readers saying “Look. Here’s Mr. Big Shot again.”
I didn’t lose everything in the bankruptcy, but I lost a lot and it was public and there were people that came up to me and said, “So, Mr. Big Shot how does it feel to be one of us?” I passed small groups or saw people glancing at me in local restaurants and I knew what they were thinking and gossiping about.
I worked hard and made a business comeback but I couldn’t give to every charity anymore so people who solicited me and were turned down spread the word that I was too much of a big shot to help their small causes. I finally came up with a plan. Since I was a big shot in a town of fifteen thousand I decided to move to a smaller town one of three thousand or less and I have enough left over to be thought of as a big shot again.
My wife didn’t think that this was a good plan. She didn’t want to leave her friends and comfortable surroundings. She said I was making too much of nothing but then again she was never thought of as a Big Shot so she couldn’t know and she slowly began to sabotage me and my plans.
She joined the garden club and had her picture in the Local planting flowers in the town park. There was another picture when she became president of the Garden Club. She took on a leading role in Meals on Wheels and then she became the first woman volunteer fire fighter and the publicity was enormous. Pictures and more pictures. She told me that people said that I was too snobby to have my picture in the Local anymore.
She led a group knitting hats for soldiers and spent half a day a week at Hospice. She volunteered at the school library and marched with other volunteers in the Fourth of July Parade. The Local had her on the cover page as one of the towns Citizens of the Year and did a full page story with nary a mention of me.
Now we can’t move because my wife’s a Big Shot and she says the town needs her. But let me tell you this; when I was a Big Shot I was a Bigger Shot than she’ll ever be but I’m not jealous, not at all-just invisible.
Paul Beckman collects memories and punchboards. His new flash story collection, Peek from Big Table Publishing came out in Feb. 2015 weighing in at 65 stories and 117 pages.