Tom never did anything according to plan. He grew up in a factory town in the middle of Wisconsin dairy country but found small-town America suffocating, even odious. A champion wrestler and the lead player in the high school musical, Tom was at once a jock and a joker. For a young man in his position, the options for the future were anything but limitless: choose between two paths—working on the assembly line or managing the local burger joint, where he frequently hung out. If he were lucky, he might play guitar in a local band or relive his teenage passion by getting involved in the civic theater.
So it was quite a surprise when the guidance counselor called Tom down to his office for a discussion about his prospects. A ...