“Nobody likes me, I’m a loser,” claims my friend’s son, Billy.
That’s a sad word, coming from nice-looking Billy. Today, he’s as blue as a twelve-year-old can be. I asked his daddy where Billy got this ludicrous notion.
“Group of boys,” he said. “Middle-school cliques, you remember how it was.”
In middle school they elected me president of the Mouth-Breathers Association of America. I still have my tiara somewhere. So unpopular did I become, I approached my forgetful grandfather for advice one day. My grandaddy pulled me aside and he left me there.
Billy, listen up, I want to tell you about my friend, Murphy. Murphy sought popularity, too. When Murph was seventeen, he wanted to fit in with the athletes—who all had tiny eagle tattoos above their left nipples. We tried to talk him out of it, but Murph had a will of iron.
So, a carful of us drove two hours into the bad part of town. After Murph worked up a whiskey-glow, he stumbled into a parlor and proclaimed, “Hey, I wanna tatermy misshongreat sallerwacky.”
They knew what he meant.
We boys waited outside, watching various folks dressed in leather walk by. One woman in heavy makeup asked my cousin Lonnie, “Hey John-boy, you looking for a good time?”
Lonnie couldn’t believe his luck, he was a highly acclaimed fun-lover. In fact, he was such a patron of good times, he frequently organized lawn-mower races in his backyard.
But before Lonnie could answer, Murph came strutting out.
In hindsight, we should’ve taken Murph bowling.
Anyway, Billy, take it from me, the people you want to imitate aren’t popular. I know you don’t want to hear that, but it’s true. The world doesn’t need more fame-seekers.
What we need are people with jumper cables, men unafraid to open doors for girls, and Samaritans—who don’t give a blessed hallelujah about money. Good people, who don’t use foul language except in heavy traffic.
We need those who listen more than talk, who believe in old folks and babies. Who insist on doing dishes. Those who don’t worry about the in-crowd, but about the underprivileged.
We need less winners; more people who’re good at failing.
Listen, I can’t tell you how to live your life, Billy. But you have a real chance here. You can even change the cotton-picking world if you really want. It’s just not going to make you popular.
And well, if that makes you a loser.
Sign me up.