New Friends

Dear Katrina,

Thanks for the story you sent me. I read it twice because it was so good. I especially liked the part about the magical princess falling in love with the NFL player. Love stories are the best.

From your letter, it sounds like this year has been hard on you. Not only did your parents get divorced, but you’ve relocated to a new state.

You asked me a question:

“I don’t have friends at my new school, how do I get everyone to like me?”

That’s a tough one, Katrina. I don’t really have an answer.

But, judging by your well-written letter, and your three-page story fairytale romance, this is not going to be difficult. You are a very bright ten-year-old with a unique talent.

I know this because in your story you used the word “exquisite” when you described your main character.

Most girls would’ve chosen a different word. They would’ve used the word “beautiful,” or worse: “pretty.” But not you. You went for the gold medal. That shows real smarts.

When I was your age, I also had an usual talent. I could memorize song lyrics after only hearing a tune once or twice.

My father thought this ability was wonderful. He would turn on a radio, let me listen to a song, then flip it off to see if I could remember the words.

Usually, I could sing almost every verse.

At school, however, I was an outsider. I wasn’t a natural athlete, I wasn’t a good student, I had an overbite, and I was chubby. I didn’t have many friends.

But that all changed one fateful day. Our class had an after-school party. I don’t remember what we were celebrating, but I remember cake.

The kids ate so much sugar it made them insane. Especially George Walborsky. And if you knew George Walborsky, like so many of us did, you knew he got mean when he ate sugar.

Soon, George was using a stapler as a lethal weapon. Benjamin Phillips tried to disable him by dumping a pitcher of Kool-Aid on his head, but this only led to a brawl.

Soon, kids were screaming, the teacher was shouting, the swat team was called, and the U.S. government declared martial law.

Our stressed-out teacher tried to gain control of the classroom by suggesting an impromptu show-and-tell time.

None of the students had prepared to “show” anything. Furthermore, no third-grader should ever be allowed to “tell” a tale by memory. An average eight-year-old can talk for nineteen hours about earthworms.

So the teacher asked me to sing for the class, since I sometimes led the National Anthem at assembly.

This was my big moment. Maybe my peers would finally notice me. I took the stage.

For my first number, I sang Wayne Newton’s “Danke Schoen,” holding a chalkboard eraser for a microphone.

I flipped up the collar on my shirt, I sauntered across the room, winking at my audience.

The class loved it. So I started taking requests.

My second tune was “Copacabana,” which is always a real crowd pleaser. I only knew the first verse, but that was enough to get a decent conga line going.

Next, I sang “Three Times a Lady.” My classmates howled when I took a knee and sang the last chorus directly to the teacher.

I sang “I Got You Babe.” Karen Jensen joined me on stage, singing backup like Cher Bono.

After a few minutes, we had a crowd. Mrs. Daniels’ fourth-grade class had gathered outside our door to see what the commotion was about. Fifth-graders, were lingering nearby. Even the principal was poking his head into our classroom.

Mrs. Reynolds, the school nurse, shouted, “Hey! Do you know ‘I Just Wanna be Your Everything?’”

Did I? I could sing it backwards, standing on my head. My cousin, Amanda, would sing this song at least eighty times per day to a poster of Andy Gibb on her bedroom wall.

I sang everything I knew, including “America the Beautiful,” “Night Fever,” “My Boogie Shoes,” “I Walk the Line,” and “Rhinestone Cowboy.”

When I finished, the class gave me a standing ovation. Then, a frenzied mob lifted me onto their shoulders, and shouted “Hip, hip! Hooray!” Outside on the school lawn were red-white-and-blue fireworks exploding in the sky.

Well, maybe I’m exaggerating about the fireworks. The truth is, I don’t remember what color they were.

Anyway, the next day at school, I had all sorts of new friends. People actually noticed me, and I felt like less of an outsider for the first time in my life. And I learned a valuable lesson that day.

Be yourself, Katrina, hold nothin back, and the right friends will magically find you. I don’t know how it works, but it does.

Let this world see how unique you are, and let them all know that you’re not just beautiful.

You’re exquisite.


  1. Sandi in FL. - February 15, 2019 7:33 am

    What an encouraging reply to a ten year old girl, or anyone at any age really. I do hope Katrina soon makes numerous new friends and also further develops her writing talent. You’re such a balcony person, Sean, because you always lift people up with your kind words.

  2. Elizabeth Edens - February 15, 2019 11:03 am

    Fabulous! Sean, fabulous!

  3. Betty Nix - February 15, 2019 11:54 am

    Sean, you are hilarious. Seriously funny and speak to so many of us. You make me laugh, cry, hurt in my heart and still have some hope for this world. But, that’s life. I read you everyday. I don’t know how you do it so consistently, but I’m glad you do. Thanks for being there for us! You’re the best!

  4. Dru - February 15, 2019 12:19 pm

    Precious story. I have to wonder how tall this tale actually is. ?

  5. Naomi - February 15, 2019 12:22 pm

    School is so hard for kids; it was for me also. First, I was a child of immigrants; my mother was born in Russia but grew up in Birmingham, AL; my father was born in Poland but grew up in New York City. So, evidently, I had a Southern, Yiddish, New York accent. Second, I had polio the summer that I turned 6 so I couldn’t start 1st grade until Jan. and I had to wear a brace on my right leg which was attached to ugly brown shoes. Third, thanks to my mother, my grandparents and one of my uncles, I was academically ahead of the other 1st graders so I skipped a year of elementary school and ended up being younger than all of the other kids. The girls who I thought were my friends were not at all happy that I got “double promoted” and the girls and boys in my new class were older than me and were dating and going steady and I was too young to date. Also, I grew up poor and didn’t have the pretty dresses and shoes that the other girls had. My 8th grade home economics teacher didn’t think that I was fit to help serve at a tea for the parents of the graduating class. I was the only girl left out. All I can say is that things changed after I graduated from HS. I evidently blossomed and had a lot of boys who were interested in my–not girls so much but, by then I didn’t care if the girls liked me. My first marriage failed after 11 years but after 6 years, I married a man I worked with. He is a retired Southern Baptist preacher and a retired AF Lt Col. This past Jan., we celebrated our 39th wedding anniversary. Oh, as far as my 8th grade home economics teacher goes, I would like to let her know, if she is still alive, that I have catered teas and weddings, including my daughter’s.

    • Sandi in FL. - February 15, 2019 3:32 pm

      Way to go, Naomi! I am sincerely delighted for you.

  6. LeAnne Martin - February 15, 2019 12:31 pm

    I love this, Sean. So good. Thank you.

  7. Marykay Evans - February 15, 2019 12:32 pm

    You’ve made this young at heart old lady ( today is my 74th birthday) smile. You always make my day!
    Thank you, Sean of the South.. Roll Tide !

    • theholtgirls - February 15, 2019 8:07 pm

      HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Marykay Evans! We’ve got a whole year to plan something special for your next birthday!

  8. Debbie Phillips Hughett - February 15, 2019 12:42 pm


  9. Beth Ann Chiles - February 15, 2019 1:17 pm

    Fabulous! Thank you for being the encourager of all –especially the underdog. You are the best!

  10. Martha Flemister - February 15, 2019 1:40 pm

    Enjoyed seeing and hearing from you last evening. Haven’t laughed that much in a while. Very nice evening with my sweetheart and friends. My friend Norma and I work together and we bought all seven of your books. Look forward to reading them. Appreciate your posts everyday and the fact you have the gift of encouragement and use it well. Say hello to Jamie. Feel as if I know her. I know you always praise her and that is rare in men I think. I appreciate you.

  11. Diana - February 15, 2019 2:25 pm


  12. Edna B. - February 15, 2019 2:36 pm

    I think this young lady will be just fine, and I love the advice you gave her. Each one of us is unique, so just being yourself will attract friends. Sean, you have a wonderful day, hugs, Edna B.

  13. Alice - February 15, 2019 3:01 pm

    What a great story Sean and I just want to say how blessed I am to have met you last night at the supper in Dothan it was an awesome show I am so glad I found out you were coming and was able to get ticket thank you God Bless love you❤️

  14. Norma Norton - February 15, 2019 3:06 pm

    Sean- one of our very best- true

  15. Shelton A. - February 15, 2019 3:41 pm

    Vey cool, Sean. She is exquisite and will make friends, friends she wants to be friends with. Do you know “Ina Godda Da Vida”?

  16. Gloria Knight - February 15, 2019 4:08 pm

    My best wishes to Katrina! I’m also going to need to make new friends since we’re moving to another state very soon. I’ve found a smile & quick hello sometimes opens the possibility of friendship.

  17. Janet Mary Lee - February 15, 2019 5:10 pm

    Really just perfect!! Once again!!

  18. Rhonda - February 15, 2019 5:26 pm

    Exactly the words needed. Hope she hears them loud and clear.

  19. muthahun - February 15, 2019 6:43 pm

    A delightful comment on the arts if ever I heard one!

  20. Chris W. Spencer - February 15, 2019 7:58 pm

    Ok, I want to see YouTube videos of you singing all those songs. If you sing as good as you write you should definitely make these videos because I know they would go viral!
    Love your stories. They remind me a lot of another old Southern boy who could tell a story pretty good, an old boy in Georgia by the name of Grizzard, and that is GRI-zzard, not gizzard lol. He’s in Heaven now and I’m sure he has a crowd around him as he tells his stories as only he could tell them, just as your stories are yours and only you know how to tell them.
    Take care and may God continue to bless you.
    An old Alabama boy.

  21. Jack Darnell - February 15, 2019 9:23 pm

    I ‘knowed’ you was a hero. Just guessing of course, but imma thinking you took a little literary arm room there. I don’t believe the Danke Shane song was sung…… Just sayin….
    Enjoyed the read of course.

  22. Chrissy - March 15, 2019 12:11 pm

    That was an exquisite reply to her question!

  23. Mickey - March 15, 2019 5:17 pm

    Great essay, and inspiring!

  24. Gloria Rumph - March 15, 2019 8:51 pm

    Loved this story!?

  25. Mignon craft watson - March 16, 2019 12:22 am

    Wonderful reply.


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