Dear Sean

The problem for me was, of course, my mother believed in the Gospel According to Khakis. She ironed my slacks with so much starch the creases could slice cantaloupes.


How do I get a girl to like me? I am a 7th-grader who goes to (blank) Middle School and I really want her to think I am cool even though I’m not one of the cool kids… I am a little chunky, but I’m really nice.

Please write me back with advice,


Let’s take a look at “coolness.” First, when I was your age, coolness was dependent upon a surprisingly short list of criteria.

1. Did the child in question own, or have sufficient access to, and was thereby able to use at will, without administrative or parental restriction, a Sony Walkman radio?

Secondly: Did this kid wear dorky khaki pants?

It was that easy.

The problem for me was, of course, my mother believed in the Gospel According to Khakis. She ironed my slacks with so much starch the creases could slice cantaloupes.

Thus, while other kids wore blue jeans, I wore khakis that had been—and this is very hard for me to say—purchased from Sears.


These were not just pants. They were “Husky” pants. You might not know what that is. They were pants designed for boys who loved church potlucks.

I looked like a khaki-colored Butterball ham.

So anyway, there was this girl. Her name was—never mind, it doesn’t matter. I thought she was wonderful. She was one of the “cool” kids. I wanted her to notice me.

More importantly, I wanted her to notice me AT THE ROLLER RINK.

Now, I know what a kid from your generation might be thinking: “What’s a roller rink?”

I’m glad you asked. Long ago, after the dawn of the electric lightbulb, we had big buildings that were dimly lit and smelled like body odor. We would skate for hours to such unforgettable hits like: “Do the Hustle,” “Love Train,” and “Tico Tico.”

If you were worth your salt, you asked a girl to couple skate. And if you were “cool” she would give you her hand. You would skate in circles until you agreed to get married and eventually invest in real estate.

If you were an athlete or a champion spear fisherman, girls would couple skate with you. But, if your lot in life was to stand with fellas who frequently quoted lines from Star Trek and ate their own lukewarm boogers, you were “uncool.”

So, in a desperate effort to win this girl’s attention, I asked my mother how I could be cool.

My mother said, “You already ARE cool, sweetheart.”

“No I’m not,” I reminded her. “I am a dork.”

My mother looked at me long and hard and offered a few words. They didn’t strike me as wise words at first, but they were:

“Be yourself,” she said. “The right people will love the real you.”

Then, in a sacred moment that can only be described as divine, she said, “Take off your pants, they need ironing.”

At the skating rink, I saw the girl I told you about. She was standing beside the soda machine. There were two “very cool,” nicer-looking boys standing beside her.

I didn’t have a chance in a hailstorm.

Even so, I thought about what my mother said. And somehow, I worked up enough courage. I tightened the belt on my Sears khakis and waltzed straight to her.

And it hit me. I knew what I would do. I would tell a joke! Of course! That’s what the real me would do!

Humor was my thing. Chubby kids, you see, have a distinct advantage in the area of comedy. Chubby boys can say almost anything and people snicker. A boy my size, for instance, could recite the Apostles Creed and bring the house down.

So, I looked straight at this girl and said, “Do you believe in love at first sight, or should I walk by you again?”

She laughed.

I decided to go for the gold.

“I’m NOT asking you to couple skate,” I said. “But… Would you hold my hand while I solo skate?”

What happened next is a blur. She actually gave me her hand. And I remember “Unchained Melody” playing overhead. And I vaguely remember breaking my tailbone to a chorus of laughter. That’s all. Roll the credits.

Now here’s the part you knew was coming: you’re beautiful, brother. Truly beautiful. There are pieces of you so bright they can only be seen from outer space. You can’t see them. And this is good, or else the glimmer would blind you..

So I’m going to tell you what my mother once said:

“Be yourself, the right people will love the real you.”

And here’s one from me: avoid khakis.


  1. Glenda Hulbert - September 12, 2018 9:19 am

    I love you, I really do.

  2. Kelly - September 12, 2018 10:52 am

    This got some memories flowing this morning – the Congo line that would start when “Love Train” came on and this line of fearless teenagers whipping around the rink holding on to each other for dear life! Thank you!

  3. Terri C Boykin - September 12, 2018 11:58 am

    Love you much, Sean.

  4. Amy - September 12, 2018 12:03 pm

    Love. All. Of. This.

  5. Jack Darnell - September 12, 2018 12:14 pm

    Good advice from your mother. Keep them Khakis pressed, you coulda been a Marine! Sharp creases REQUIRED!
    But it is good advice to the kid, be yourself. Funny how tough that is for many people.

  6. Geneva Chandler - September 12, 2018 12:22 pm

    Love, love a man in khakis. Thanks Sean.

  7. Starr - September 12, 2018 12:35 pm

    Love this ! Love you ! And will always always love the uncool kids !!!!

  8. Carol - September 12, 2018 12:53 pm

    It’s so hard for kids. And today is even worse. Because there’s the have and the have nots!!
    Such good advice your mama gave you ! And I say to him , keep on you don’t know what’s just around that corner and it’s a new day every day!!
    Love to him !
    Love ya!

  9. Patsy - September 12, 2018 1:58 pm

    This one is priceless!! Love everything about it!

  10. Brad Campbell - September 12, 2018 2:31 pm

    Sean, I love this one on so many levels and for so many reasons. You are an inspiration. Thank you!

  11. Sandra Smith - September 12, 2018 2:42 pm

    Hummm…good one !
    Guess I shouldn’t order those khakis I set aside for my husband to wear to my son’s wedding next month. Both of them would be embarrassed !
    Thanks for that,

  12. Jack Quanstrum - September 12, 2018 3:02 pm

    Great story and good advice. Be yourself! I 3rd that motion!

  13. Edna B. - September 12, 2018 3:43 pm

    That was great advice from your Mom. As a teenager, I spent many hours every day at the local roller skating rinks. It was good clean fun, and all us kids had a great time there. My Dad and my brother wore khakis. I’ve always thought they look super nice. Sean, you have a wonderful day. Hugs, Edna B.

  14. Jones - September 12, 2018 5:07 pm

    Another excellent writing!!??

  15. Nancy Thomaston Rogers - September 13, 2018 9:34 am

    Good advice Sean (for all of us!)

  16. perry5360 - September 13, 2018 10:07 pm

    Your mama is a gem!

  17. unkle Kenny - November 8, 2018 2:20 pm

    i heard this on on a radio show the other day , great read , greater to listen to it told . uk


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