When I was in High School, I was a Belle City Bronco. There was a certain pride that went with playing football, basketball and track for the mighty Columbia Blue and White. We went to the state tournament in basketball in 1973. I was sort of a part of that team. I sat the bench anyway. I got to start a couple of games at defensive end in football. It was a stand-up containment position, like an outside linebacker. Playing the Britt Eagles, a team that would go on to be undefeated and state champions in 2A; I met my Waterloo in the form of Fullback Bob Swearings. He rolled over me. The tight end hit me under the chin with his cast, and I didn’t know where I was when the coach pulled me off the field. Big Randy Bannerman took my place on the field, and I spent the majority of the next two weeks in the hospital. The doctor never diagnosed what was wrong with me, but I never got to play in any sport again for the rest of high school. I never earned the letter I was so hoping to get.
Things went better for beautiful Alicia Stewart, the apple of my eye. She was elected as a cheerleader in our freshman year and was a cheerleader continually in both football and basketball. She got the letter for cheerleading that eluded me in athletics. Don’t think, though, that I envied her. I pined for her. I worshipped her. But, goddess that she was, I never let myself lust for her. She was too pure and beautiful for me ever to ask her out on a date. I was not worthy to meet her eyes. I thought that if I could be an athlete and earn the respect of my classmates, I might make myself worthy, but I never did. I was a lost cause. My talent at catching a football and playing outfield in baseball were never known to the people of Belle City. I was a gifted after-school playground athlete. I amazed a few of my friends, but I never proved anything to anyone. I was a loser.
If you know me in real life, you know that I don’t use real names in these stories. Alicia was not her real name. The town is not even called Belle City. But the facts and the feelings are real. The details and the themes are there to be recognized. If you know me you can probably figure out who everyone really is. But fiction is for the purpose of defining yourself by your own perceptions, not those of others. Alicia never knew how I felt about her. She may have suspected, but if so, she never let on that she knew. My life as a loser has been no one’s doing but my own. I defined my goals that were missed and my successes that were lost. I am the author of my own tale. The gawky teenager, who tried so hard, only to be swatted down by Bad Bob on the Britt Eagles’ home field, is only me because I made him so. I may yet redefine myself as a winner. Time will tell, and I will tell the story. I may draw the picture too, as I did here. By the way, it doesn’t look like Alicia, either. It is just an anime-style toon.