[dropcap]I[/dropcap] shouldn’t write this. Because what I’m about to tell you comes from eavesdropping. Which is admittedly wrong, and something my mother discouraged.
I found myself in the department store dressing room trying on jeans. In the cubicle next to mine was an eleven-year-old boy having a rough day. I’ll call him, Tyler.
Something you should know: the last thing eleven-year-old boys want is to go shopping with their mothers. Because mothers tug on your belt and say things like, “Come give momma a kiss, you special little handsome man.” Or worse, they’ll insult your fashion sensibilities.
Like Tyler’s mother.
“Tyler,” his mother henpecked. “Why on earth did you pick that god-awful shirt?”
To which Tyler responded in earnest, “I dunno.”
“Do you even like this shirt?”
Tyler decided to restate his faithful adage.
“Well, I won’t have you wearing that to school, or else we’ll be the laughing stock of town.”
And then, Tyler unwittingly dug his own grave. “But Mother, the popular boys wear these.”
“Tyler,” she answered. “Popularity is like whiskey. People tell you if you wear the right clothes, or say the right things, they’ll let you have a sip. Well, after a few swigs you’re sloppy drunk.”
Tyler and I both hung our heads.
“One day,” she said. “You’ll realize, the only people doing valuable things in life, are those who never sipped the Kool-Aid. I want you to be that kind of man. Helpful, kind, and humble.”
Tyler mumbled a, “Yes, ma’am.” And that was that.
Because he proabably wasn’t listening anyway. That’s how boys are. But I do hope Tyler understands how lucky he is to be his mother’s “special little handsome man.” Because the truth is, there is no Tyler.
Tyler is me.