Iterations of Ivan

Variations on an original short story, by Benjamin Pritchard

Originally Written October, 2019

Part 1

The unwavering high ideals of Ivan, a man who lived in a sewer

Thought deformed, blind in one eye, and having a severe hunchback, the man some called Ivan definitely considered himself someone who knew what beauty was.

How long he’d lived in the sewers was anyone’s guess, and exactly what he did down there in his vile existence is probably best left unexplained. But all the same, it surely is no secret that he spent most of his time peering out of the storm drains at passer-byes on the streets.

And peer at them he did!

As a matter of fact, Ivan did so for hours at a time. And although the ignorant or the unimaginative might think Ivan could see only their feet from his subterranean vantage point, such was most definitely not the case: even despite having only one eye, Ivan could still clearly see the people walking by, from the tips of their head, all the way down to the shoes on their feet.

But it is true that the shoes normally is what alerted Ivan to a good candidate. And what is a good candidate in this context, you ask?

That is in fact easy to answer: a good candidate was a pretty girl, not too young, not too old, wearing beautiful clothes, and most definitely beautiful shoes. Long hair was nice, as was a sophisticated gate, but Ivan could overlook such things, if the face was pretty enough.

So Ivan continued to watch, peering out from the storm gates… always anticipating the day when he would see the perfect girl, a stunning beauty who whose feminine charm would be enough to finally arouse in him the desire to leave the sewers once and all, and give her the chance to fall in love with him.

Thus life went on, for many months. Until one day, it finally happened.

Ivan saw a tall, and slender beauty with long blond hair, and sparkling blue eyes, who was dressed to the 9’s: beautiful shoes, beautiful dress.

 “Finally,” thought Ivan, “a woman so lovely that she surely she deserves the opportunity to meet me!”

And so he did it: just like that, Ivan emerged from the sewer and ran straight to the girl to introduce himself.  

And in a fair world, maybe the story would have ended there, with a beautiful happy-ever-after type ending. But alas it was not so. Instead, upon seeing the woman up close, Ivan was stunned to notice that she had a small mole on the side of her lip, thus rending her much less beautiful than he first believed.

Disgusted by this, Ivan ran away in terror, climbing back into the sewer from whence he came… to continue his quest, to spot the perfect woman.

Part 2

Prince Ivan

Prince Ivan lived in the lap of luxury his entire life. Being the only male heir to a dynasty going back thousands of years had its advantages, after-all.

From the day he was born, until the day this story takes place – on the eve of his 21st birthday, as it turns out – Ivan wanted for nothing. Opulent dinners… constant attention… private tutors… hunting trips… fancy clothes… the list goes on and on.

But deep down Ivan was not happy. Life seemed fake to him somehow.

How could he ever know what people really thought of him? His money, his position, his royalty… such things didn’t exactly lend themselves to authentic human interaction.

And occasionally Ivan wondered: what would it be like to live a simpler, more authentic life?

A monk perhaps?

Or something even lower? Occasionally Ivan fantasized of being a cripple. A hunch-back maybe?

Blind in one eye?

And – get this – living in a sewer, not a palace.

What would it be like? Would living like that force people to see Ivan the man, instead of just Ivan the prince?

But Ivan would never know.

Because alas his private fantasy of living in the sewer never came to pass, because when it came right down to it, living in the lap of luxury wasn’t really something Ivan would ever be willing to give up.

Even for a sewer.

Part 3

Despite being thirty-five years old, unemployed, living in his mother’s basement, and being 45 pound overweight, the man called Ivan still had very high standards when it came to women.

Although he usually slept all day, Ivan was very much active at night, watching TV and browsing pornography on the internet.

Occassionally, however, he took time out of his busy life to also surf dating websites.

But it was not only to the hottest and youngest women that he sent messages.

As a matter of fact, he also had a habit of sending messages to overweight and somewhat homely women…

informing them in no uncertain terms that someone like him would never be interested in someone like them.