“You want to see somebody dog-ass ugly?” said my grandfather. “Go look in the mirror.”
“Who, me?” I said.
“You’re green-ugly with jealousy. You should see yourself.”
Well, it was difficult not be envious. I had a friend who’d become famous overnight. In fact, I can’t even tell you who he is because you’d recognize him. Then, I’d turn all ugly again, and I just took a shower.
My friend started out as a rural boy, like me. He wore boots, fed chickens, climbed trees, and made slingshots from old cattle bones. Then, at age twelve he landed a role on television and skyrocketed to stardom. When that happened, I became jealous and thus — according to my grandaddy — uglier than a shaved raccoon’s ass.
“Grandaddy,” I whined. “I wish I were famous.”
“Why? Being famous doesn’t cure jealousy, and neither does having money. Jealousy is ugliness, and it’ll ruin you.”
Either way you cut it, it wasn’t fair. My friend was nice-looking, wealthy, and a star. Rumors claimed his mother bought two Mercedes Benzes. Yes, two. I’d only ever seen a Mercedes once, when a flashy preacher visited our church. We never heard the man’s sermon, we were all outside touching his car.
When my friend visited town, his mother brought him over to visit — driving her new Benz. We romped through the pastures like we used to. We threw rocks at the abandoned smokehouse, fished the creek, and even climbed trees.
“You know,” my friend remarked while dangling from a branch. “I wish things could go back to how they were before I left.”
“It’s true,” he said. “We used to play outside like this every day. I miss it. My life is so busy nowadays, I don’t have any time. I’m just jealous, I suppose.”
Well, I don’t care how covetous my friend was of my ordinary life. There was only one jealous-ugly boy that day.
And it was the fool in my mirror.