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Outgrowing awkwardness

February 16, 2014
James P. Whipple , Shepherdstown Chronicle

Once upon a time long ago, I was young. Most of the world was still a mystery to me. Love was just between my parents and me. Then the world was bright and full of colors and each day a new lesion was learned. My world was my home, school and the street in front of our house.

In school I was just one of 20 or 25 kids in my class. I was shy and not being out going I was sort of a class loner. At recess time, I would just sit in the corner and watch my fellow classmates play. When it came to sports I was always chosen last. There were two reasons for this. First I was small even for my age and second, because I was shy I was not a very good player when it came to sports. Lucky for me as I got older I got bolder and taller and I became good at sports. But in the second grade I was still a loner and happy with being a loner.

The first crack in my little world came at Christmas. All of the second graders were to do a small play about Christmas. I did not get a speaking part but was chosen to carry a large poster that was attached to a broom stick across the stage. In practice the teacher told me to slow down so the people in the audience could read the card. The day of the play I was worried that I would trip or that the sign would fall off the stick that held it and the audience would see me.

Well when it came time for me to walk the poster across the stage, I literally ran. As I got to the other side of the stage I tripped and fell. For a second or two I looked like I was flying. My legs and feet were still running as part of me was on stage and the other off. I could hear the people in the audience laughing. For the rest of the time before the Christmas break I got kidded. The girls would say "Nice legs, but your feet are too small," and the boys called me Mister Klutz.

Valentine's Day came on a school day. In the class I was in, we were to have a little party. The teacher brought in a record player and there was a dance with refreshments and then were to pass our valentine cards to the teacher she in turn would randomly pass the cards around, between the boys and the girls. The kids who got the cards would be matched up for a dance. With my luck the girl who got my card was even more shy then I was. When we went to dance she stood stiffly away and kept looking over my shoulder. I, being just as shy, kept looking over her shoulder.

The teacher was trying to teach an old style dance called the Fox Trot, which went one two three four and one two three four. We would walk the steps in a box. The dance seemed to go on forever. I can still see her looking past me and I still have a picture of what her left shoulder looked like. When the dance was over she looked at the top of my head and said "Thank you." I just nodded.

As the year went on, I did make friends. The little girl whose name I never got or found out was gone by the next school year.

So in the second grade I had my first brush with interacting with my peers, both boys and girls. Those awkward days of my youth come back every now and then and I smile at that little fellow taking his first foot steps in that long road we call life.

 
 

 

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