Thursday, December 3, 2009

Earl Rodriquez

I owe a great deal to Earl Rodriquez. He was a kid I went to school with fifty years ago. He played a part of one of the most important learning experiences of my life.

When I was fourteen, I was so skinny that I was sure that if a girl saw me without a shirt, she would throw up. If I were lucky, she would only giggle, point, and never speak seriously to me again. There came a time, however, when I just had to know if I had to give up hope of a girlfriend and a married life.

So, one day, when the guys and girls were both scheduled to have PE together, I left my shirt in my locker. It was the first time I had ever done it, and needless to say, I was scared and terribly self-conscious when I walked into the gym. You can imagine how I felt when Earl Rodriquez, a kid in my class who was almost as skinny as I was, began to stare at me. I didn’t know whether to punch him in the nose or race back to the locker for my shirt before the girls arrived.

I decided to retreat. In fact, I was headed for my locker when, out of the corner of my eye, I saw Earl doing something. I turned my head for a better look, and then I stopped. He pulled his shirt over his head and threw it into a corner. He flashed me a lopsided grin. I found the courage to remain shirtless.

The girls didn’t point or giggle. I decided to rethink some of my notions about being the only one that looked funny, the only one that was afraid to be laughed at, the only one who was “different”. I even discovered that there were some girls who were as unsure of themselves as I was. It gave us something to talk about on dates.

Today, I’m as unsure about a lot of things as I was then. Help me out. Comment. I’ve taken my shirt off first.

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