"Win or lose, I think what mattered most was the effort. The decision to go for it."
In the bathroom, I adjust the water to my liking. Before jumping in, I stare into the mirror. Thoughts of life, death and breakfast fill my head. Slowly, my face fades with the steam.
Once clean and dressed for success, I find myself in the kitchen having breakfast – microwave popcorn and a coke. As usual, I’m running late. I finish the corn, drink half the coke and fly out of the house, letting the screen door slam. I jog down the street to Mike’s house. He’s waiting for me in his ’69 Mustang.
Once at school, I sift through the kids roaming the halls. We’re like ants in an ant farm. Moments before the bell, I reach my locker. I grab my books and my unfinished report on Babe Ruth. Note to self: Finish report on the Babe. Before walking into class, I see her. Sarah is down the hall, talking to her friends. She is beautiful. And I am a wreck.
I first saw Sarah in summer band. I was playing trumpet and she was hitting the snare. She was cute, tan, and goofy. Her smile rocked my world and I was infatuated. On occasion, we would smile at each other and quietly flirt. I knew she was too good for me but I hoped for a chance. One chance to woo her. For her to fall for me.
As I walk into class, I give one last glance and she smiles. My heart leaps from my chest and I decide at that moment… today is the day! I will proclaim my love and conquer my fear. I decide to confront Sarah during lunch.
I finish my pizza and fries. In my mind, I replay the upcoming encounter again and again. My friends encourage me to stand up and seize the day! I walk to her table and clear my throat. Sarah turns to me as the cafeteria falls silent. I look into her warm, dark eyes and ask, "Will you go out with me?” She smiles with that impish smile and says, “Umm… I don’t think so.”
I stand there. Dead inside. I feel like John Cusack with a busted boom box. Laughter fills the air as I slowly walk away - down the long, dim hall to the restroom. Once inside, I repeatedly slam my head into the wall. While grabbing the sink I stare into the mirror. I
ask myself why? How will I be able to face Sarah, my friends or anyone else again?
It’s been 27 years since that day of reckoning. Did I ever get over that surreal experience? Yes… well maybe. That terrific moment was one of many that made me who I am today. My life has had its ups and downs. And boy was that a downer.
Looking back, I realize the importance of that day. Although a day of rejection and shame, it proved to be much more. It was the day I threw caution to the wind and went for it! Win or lose, I think what mattered most was the effort. The decision to go for it.
Later that fateful day, I finished my report on Babe Ruth. While adding quotes to the piece, I ran across something he said which made me smile.
“Never let the fear of striking out get in your way.”