I stared in judgemental disbelief with a very visible grimace.
There – in front me, was the floor staff at Nike – shouting their morning mantra in unison.
The manager, or who I assumed was the manager, was way too over enthusiastic in her salute to the sports line, she even included a passionate fist pump. The rest of the expressionless staff, were a combination of kiss asses and college students – which made for a very unenthusiastic cheer.
“I could never work here…” I muttered under my breath – the place was a temple of forced team work and minimum wage.
The store smelled like my fifth grade gym class – it reeked of rubber and despair.
Suddenly, I was transported to every game of dodgeball I ever played.
It was always the same. The all star gym heroes would nobly perform god-like acts to catch balls and save the team – only to usually be brutally slammed in the face with these projectile weapons. They would rush back to the line, slamming their sweaty palms in a high five with the beaming coach. They would proceed to encourage their team mates to catch something so they could return to the game and fulfill the crucial role of winning for the team.
This never appealed to me – I would typically huddle in the corner for protection. Fortunately, my tiny height, ridiculously hairy legs, and quiet persona ensured that nothing approached me.
Until of course, I was the last one standing. My team would split between the optimists and the realists.
The realists would always stomp and groan – understanding full well that there was no way in hell I would be able to catch the ball.
The optimists would silently pray to Yeezus in hopes for a miracle – like some huge sports god to penetrate my body and catch the ball.
I would look nervously at the unanimous 15 or so children who had absolutely no faith in my athletic abilities – then I would stare towards my impending doom. I could feel a full on anxiety attack approaching.
Nine balls would come crashing down on me like a shower of pellets from the sky.
My team would scream in agony. The athletic gym heroes would fall to their knees cursing their 12 year old dexterity – blaming themselves for letting the whole team down by letting me be the last one up.
I would walk home with my head hanging low, kicking at invisible stones around my feet. Once I got there, I would beeline for the carbs (usually chips) and dramatically flop on the couch.
Mom would greet me with the obligatory, “Hello!.”
“Mom!” I would wail, “I didn’t catch the ball at Gym and I made my team lose.”
My mom would replace my chips with a carrot and would direct me to my room to finish my homework. Life events like these, were inconsequential to her. She was a woman with her gaze firmly planted on the long term. And to her, this was nothing in the grand scheme of things.
She would always say the same thing,
“Who cares about today – 15 years from now you wont even remember this.”
I still remember mom.
The woman at the cash register woke me from my reverie. I took the bag of athletic gear and with the same dejected manner of 12 year old me – I walked to the car.
Staring at the steering wheel, I scolded myself for being so insecure and superficial. I mean beauty – like weight, must be in the eye of the beholder, right?
I was here because of that damn video.
There I was, reading one of my pieces at a story slam – and all I could focus on was the mean muffin top I was sporting and my massive thunder thighs.
It was time to put the cupcakes down and do something about it.
I marched in the rain towards the massive generic gym with the generic slogan. I repeated my sets of speaking the word “Awesome!” then signed my million and one page contract.
And here I am now, enjoying my last supper of chocolate, pizza, and ice cream.
Here I am – eating all of this, and thinking with a goofy grin on my face.
Sometimes you’ve got to get out of your comfort zone and do something crazy – something new.
And a few days ago.
I did just that.
I read a piece at my very first Story Slam – and I didn’t do as bad as I thought I would – because you were with me.
And while I was nervously reading, stuttering, and body swaying like a totem in the wind – not once did I think of dodgeball.
And it felt pretty awesome.
Sweet Dreams World.