I've never liked the phrase "Being a Third Wheel." It's always bothered me, the image of a third wheel being viewed so poorly. The third wheel is often as important, if not more so, as the other two...
Watch a child, young, unsure, as they begin their mobility on a simple tricycle. Would you dare call any of those three wheels unnecessary, unneeded? Or do they help to ready this young life for more intricate and complicated means of transportation later in life?
See an animal, marred by injury, that only stands upon three limbs... do you call that third leg meaningless, a burden? Or do you see that animal as fortunate to still have three of it's appendages, being limited, but still strong and able?
For the aged and infirm, do you view their cane as a nuisance, a badge of dishonor? Or does that simple mechanism serve as their new-found chance at life, the pillar by which their once strong legs may now once again take them out into the world, rather than life bound by their physical limitations?
No, so often, the "Third Wheel" is more a "life-safer" than "deal-breaker"... As the tripod allows an artist to capture their target with confidence, that third wheel brings strength and stability to that which it is attached...
But, a "Fifth Wheel"... that is the one which must shoulder the mantle of mediocrity.
For a simple automobile, you see only the four tires, the ones propelling it forward to it's destination. And hidden, within the trunk or the undercarriage, sits the "Fifth Wheel", the one that serves no purpose until one of those four fails. Then, for a short while, the Fifth finds meaning.
It is never as strong, or as beautiful as the others, nor is it meant to last for too long... it is but a means to survive until the broken one is renewed, or a new wheel arrives to take it's place... Then, the Fifth returns to it's quiet hovel, to wait for another chance to be needed.
Fifth wheels take many shapes: The lone single man in a group of couples; the young, untested newcomer to a group of older, wiser minds; the support player, resting on the bench for the team.
The Fifth knows that theirs is not the life of glamor or glory, but of quiet obscurity, and endless patience. A true Fifth Wheel knows their role, and waits for that fleeting moment of stardom, knowing that it will never last long enough to fulfill.
So, know this, First, Second, Third And Fourth Wheels: yours is the honor. Your faithful Fifth will always be there, waiting for your call to action, ready to hold the moment, until you return to your rightful place in the front.
Never spiteful, never jealous, and never satisfied, but ready none the less, the Fifth awaits....
--- A piece by Kenny G.