To catch you up:
- Last week we celebrated teachers (music, science, English, literature, and Suzuki parenting)
- This week we’re taking a look at students. A story per day. Yesterday was the Great HIgh School Schism (set off by a McDonald’s game piece)
And today, we feature Object # 17 – The Shirts and Skins. The story is about what happens when a single girl plays in an all boys’ league – one that routinely divides up and goes shirts-and-skins. I was her coach; what she told me was a total surprise. But there are many layers of shame going on before we even get to that:
The night before I’d played in front of a few hundred screaming fans. We had won in overtime, a thrilling game, and an indelible moment for every kid who wanted to be me, just as I had once sat in those stands and wanted to be the guys who preceded me on the court. Those guys were not beautiful either, but they were rugged, and athletic, and charismatic, and above all teenagers: when I was Dougie’s age, I’d never have dreamed of disrespecting them, my heroes, with such a comment.
And now here I was, getting myself out of bed early the morning after this triumph to come and coach these little kids for free. No, I doubted he’d repeat it: he needed me and my approval a lot more than I needed him. I had ninety-nine other kids to worship me or at least show me a little respect. He had one me.
“A what, Dougie? What did you just call me?”
“A zitso!” he said, laughing now. Laughing right in my face.
Well, that stung, and Dougie gets punished, but none of it turned out quite the way I expected. Ah, interlocking shame: is there any better kind?