It’s been said of John—46 years old and twice-divorced, living alone in a handsome townhouse off Wellington Road in Manchester, N.H.—that he “would sell you your own mother” without compunction, without a pang of shame. In fact, his own mother, April, who passed away from breast cancer shortly after John legally separated from his second wife would have condoned the sale, praised her son’s tenacity. Resolute and headstrong, April would’ve claimed her only child—who she raised on her own after a one-night stand with a bass player for a Boston rock band named The Gerald Ford Experiment in the early-70s—deserved the commission after growing up fatherless and part of the first generation of latchkey kids, no fault of John’s own.
And this was a message John internalized: Nothing in his life was any fault of his own; rather, John was a victim of circumstance as a child, the seed of a father he never saw or knew—although he still tells acquaintances that his mom suspects he was the child of Brad Delp, the guitarist and lead singer for the band Boston.
It beats the truth.
While he never grew up with the spoils or privileges enjoyed by his friends with nuclear families in the Reagan 80s, John used this indignation to motivate himself, reinforced by April’s overreach with teachers and overprotection from danger. John was a serious and ebullient student in high school, finishing in the Top Ten of his graduating Class of 1992 at Manchester Memorial High School, and attending Bowdoin College in Maine on a nearly-full ride and majoring in Marketing with a minor in microeconomics.
Following graduation, John took a job as salesman at the Maserati of New England dealership in Norwood, and quickly ascended in his field, earning sterling reviews accolades from his bosses and customers, alike, for his salesmanship. But John’s competitiveness with his coworkers, who he was convinced used nefarious means to steal sales from him, created a sometimes contentious workplace. When confronted by his supervisors about his surliness with coworkers, John blamed them—all of them—and cited his own impressive sales numbers and bottom line. Like his father’s abandonment, John never saw his volatility—or narcissistic tendencies (although he’d never use the term)—as a detriment to his career. It was quite the opposite: His selfishness only aided the sale.
After two tumultuous marriages—one of which ended following John’s indiscretion with a much younger coworker—he’s resigned himself to Tinder dates with no strings attached. He stays in good physical shape, working out at a private gym on the West Side four nights a week, and avoids recreational drugs and excesses of alcohol. His sole focus remains on his own financial portfolio as he eases into middle-age and eyes a possible retirement in late-50s and a move to the Florida Keys where he’ll continue to sell anything—cars, houses, land, mothers.
John is a more than competent salesman and manager, an expert pitchman with the slipperiness of an eloquent carnival barker. If only John would’ve stopped staring down his nose at his first wife Olivia and listened to what she tried to tell him—“John, this isn’t all about you”—perhaps he’d feel a vague pang of shame at the way he’s treated others; perhaps the hollowness in the cavernous crevices of self, something he feels but never acknowledges would abate; perhaps John’s talent and intelligence could finally find some emotional fulfillment to pad his bank account.
Perhaps, John can find the peace if he follows his apocryphal rock star father’s advice and “[closes his] eyes and [slips] away” to a place of self-actualization and real happiness.