I Am the Greatest

by Frank Thomas Smith

The greatest love of all
Is easy to achieve,
Learning to love yourself
It is the greatest love of all.

Whitney Houston song

I dreamed of being the greatest at something. Why? In order not to be a second fiddle or, worse, nothing. Who do we read about in the newspapers and drool at on TV and talk about at parties? Those who are the best at their chosen endeavors. We may of course also admire someone who is second or even third best, but not with the same ardor. We just nod: yeah, nice try, but no banana. I wanted to be talked about, admired, famous, maybe even star in a movie as Captain America.

When I realized that my goal in life was to be the greatest at something, I first had to decide what I could be best at, the greatest. The logical approach was to choose something I like and concentrate on perfecting that activity to the exclusion of all else.

I made a list: basketball – the only sport I was reasonably good at. But it's absurd to think that a five-foot-seven-inch white dwarf (by NBA standards) could become the world's greatest player. Ditto for other sports, for which I lacked the necessary physical endowments.

I wasn't bad a chess, but Bobby Fisher became the U.S. champion at fourteen, the age I learned the rules. The Russians begin in kindergarten. Writer? You should have seen this paper before my computer's spelling program took over. It found errors in my errors. I liked watching movies, but I'm not the hero type and I wouldn't like to play villains.

For a while I was stymied, until it came to me in a dream in which I saw myself at the pinnacle of success and fame doing what I do best.

I began to practice, an arduous process. It took three years to perfect my technique to the point where I was sure that I was the best in the world. I am listed by Guinness, countless magazine articles have been written about me, I appear on TV regularly, my you-tube video has broken all viewing records and my secretary dedicates three days a week just turning down proposals from women looking for the perfect lover.

My economic future is assured by an exclusive contract with the world's leading mattress company, for whom I make glowing endorsements. And my eulogies are genuine; their mattresses are the best, and I should know, for I am the world's greatest sleeper.

I sleep twenty-three hours a day, scientifically verified of course. I need the remaining hour for eating my one daily meal and other bodily functions. I remain awake one day a month in order to sign checks and contracts, grant interviews and other necessary trivia. I have considered the use of intravenous feeding, which would allow me to sleep without interruption, but decided that artificial support would taint my achievement.

Do I still dream? Why should I? I am the greatest.

One week later: This bio-tale was ready for publication when I had a dream after all. So even the world’s greatest sleeper cannot completely avoid dreams. I was asleep in the dream, alone in my king-size bed, fit for the greatest, when a figure suddenly appeared at the foot of the bed. At first I thought it must be an angel or a demon, but then I saw that it was me…of all people. I kept my eyes shut, pretending that I was still sleeping – in the dream, that is. But I – the figure in the dream – pulled the cover off and literally kicked me out of bed.

I said to me: What are you doing to us?

He answered: Get our ass out of bed, you lazy jerk, there’s stuff to do in the world.

What stuff? I asked me.

If I knew that, I’d tell us. So you’ll just have to wake the fuck up and find out.

I woke up when the summer sun brushed my eyes gently. Since then I am no longer the greatest at anything. But I am awake, which is more than can be said about most people, who don’t even realize they are asleep.