Some are middle-aged, some are old. Most are teenage girls.
The girls are tall. Some tower over their mothers and grandmothers by a whole foot. The girls wear long-sleeved jerseys with numbers. One carries a volleyball.
They laugh teenage-sounding laughs. Unrestrained, face-wrinkling laughter.
The world could learn a lot from teenagers.
They are horseplaying. Their mothers are fussing. One girl trips. She nearly face-plants into where I’m sitting. My life flashes before my eyes. She almost breaks my nose. She spills my coffee.
It’s a minor disaster, but if she would’ve landed a few inches closer, my nose would be bleeding all over the sports page.
“OHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGOD,” says the girl. “I’MSOSORRY.”
“Don’t be,” I say. “It was lousy coffee.”
The girls eventually calm down. After a few moments, they sit on gym bags and start singing.
The lobby fills with voices. Everyone nearby stops to listen. People on the third, fourth, and fifth-level balconies lean over railings.
One woman says to me, “These girls love to sing on the bus, it keeps’em entertained.”
Another woman adds, “It’s a lot better than when they hock spit on cars during traffic.”
The song finishes. A mother instructs them to sing “This Little Light of Mine.”
The girls do a slow rendition. It’s touching music. They sound like cherubs. Very, very tall, aggressive, undefeated cherubs.
Their voices rise upward toward the ceiling. These are America’s girls. They come in all shapes, sizes, heights, body-fat-percentages, and colors.
“This is our theme song,” says one coach. “We let ANY girl on our team, we’ll teach any girl to be confident, even if she feels fat, or not pretty enough. We want girls to shine.”
Shining is easier said than done. This world is one big advertisement. Everywhere you look is another glowing billboard with perfect abdominals.
Another day, another TV spokesperson tells you what to think, how to feel, who to hate, and what kind of perfume to buy for Christmas.
Popstars, tell girls how to dress, and what size their waistlines should be. Supermodels advertise plastic hindparts.
The entertainment industry is a joke.
When the team finishes singing, everyone in the lobby claps. Even maids applaud.
The girl who assaulted me says, “Sorry about your coffee.”
She’s at least four inches taller than I.
Then, the girls leave. They board a bus with bags over shoulders. They are kids. And even though I don’t know them, these girls make me proud.
I wish you could see them. Tall, short, broad, narrow, big, small, skinny, un-skinny, black, white, brown, curly-haired, and redhead.
The fate of our society is in their hands, whether they know it or not. One day, they’ll be running this world. And I believe they’ll do a better job than we have done.
Either way, I wish all girls knew how to be themselves. I wish no woman felt like hiding under a bushel. I wish every girl, lady, and granny had the audacity to let her light shine.
I didn’t care for that coffee, anyway.
Good luck at your game, girls.
Barbara Jones - September 28, 2017 1:53 pm
Yes ! Celebrate life with all of our differences and our sameness…youth is life before the world tries to categorize us. Take every chance you get to love and encourage a child to love himself just the way God made him.
Connie - September 28, 2017 1:59 pm
Thank you. Again.
Pat - September 28, 2017 2:49 pm
Sure gotta agree with you about the entertainment industry being a joke.
Linda Akers - September 28, 2017 2:49 pm
I used to wonder how you always ran into people to write about. Then it hit me. You get the story out of everyone you meet…..everyone has one. God gave you the talent to not only know that, but you get them to talk and the talent to write it. You are loved!
Virginia - September 28, 2017 2:50 pm
Darn it, tears again.
Jack Quanstrum - September 28, 2017 2:57 pm
Perfect Story! Love it. Your story hit the spot for everyone. The media makes me sick also. Great counter punch to those who think
they know it all. Be yourself, it’s the greatest thing you can be. Keep those stories coming. They are enlightening and inspiring. Peace be with you!
Melodie - September 28, 2017 4:09 pm
What a wonderful, inspiring story. I’ve battled weight all my life, and being an entertainer, on the road, was constantly reminded by agents and patrons alike, how one should look in my business. Back then, if you didn’t look like Twiggy, or to the other extreme, perhaps, like Mama Cass, then, you just needed to be perfect in the eyes of those who knew better.
Go Team, Go! You make me proud, too. ♥
Jan - September 28, 2017 4:49 pm
You paint such a beautiful picture … I can just see them … and it brings me to tears … tears of joy. As an older woman / grandmother of the ‘imperfect type’, I do hope they can overcome the pressure to look a certain way, be a certain way, think a certain way and just be themselves!
Barb Aira - September 28, 2017 5:32 pm
Thank you for seeing the world through the lens that God gave you. Your writings bring good nostalgia & provoking thoughts to the forefront of my day. I am grateful and delighted that my friends, Steve & Jo Ann, suggested I subscribe and gave me a couple of shining examples to read that confirmed “why.” Now I am sharing you with my son and some other friends so they, too, can jump start their day with a smile. Hope you continue sharing the way you see the world for a long time. God Bless You.
Pamela McEachern - September 28, 2017 6:05 pm
I love the way you celebrate women. It is so hard to be in this world of perfection. You are a class act Sir and I am proud you share your loving generous spirit. Peace and Love from Birmingham
Kim O Washington - September 28, 2017 8:15 pm
As always beautifully said.
CaroG87 - September 29, 2017 1:36 am
Nothing but love love love for this!!! I hope they win out!
muthahun - September 29, 2017 2:33 am
Oh man… you take me back. My daughter and 3 or 4 friends sang at the Lincoln Center in NYC. Well, they were standing outside on the plaza, and their friends were dropping money in a hat for them. Field trip, years ago. Your lips to God’s ears on your girls running the world and making it a better place. I despair at the current situation.
Kathy Phillips - September 29, 2017 11:57 am
Some people are scared to let others know how they feel. I’ve always been that way. Now you know.
Jayne Holland - September 29, 2017 1:08 pm
Why why do your stories always make me cry? But I love them anyway.
George - September 30, 2017 1:20 pm
Love your writings. Will see you in Bay Minette.
Diane - September 30, 2017 8:15 pm
Love your stories. This one, well as a parent, I was more part of my kids life and games and extra curricular. But as a grandparent I have sat in restaurants and at games and clearly watched how these incredible ‘kids’ act as they have fun. I have said your exact words that they will change the world in a wonderful way! Thank you.
Lori - November 8, 2017 12:06 pm
I needed this today. Thank you!
Beverly - November 8, 2017 1:04 pm
I have a volleyball playing daughter and I’ve been that mom in the lobby “fussing” many times. Thank you for your insight and inspiration.
Carolyn Stoner - November 8, 2017 2:22 pm
Well done Sean – someone has said -“be yourself, everybody else is taken.”
Gage Durbin - September 24, 2018 2:51 pm
i know a few teen girls in my class who would love to read this!!!