Life was hard for a fat kid. Nobody ever looked at you and said,
“Now there’s a great ball player.”
No, a fat kid always had to prove himself. It was like hanging a sign around your neck that read “Don’t pick me for anything except a pie eating contest.” The only thing that made it worse was having to wear glasses.
In 1963 glasses weren’t considered a cool fashion accessary—they were a curse. Mine were those dorky smoke-faded frames with cable temples that wrapped snugly around ones ears. They were awkward, uncomfortable, and ruined any chances of getting some really cool aviator shades.
I thought is was best to keep the glasses a secret from the other guys in town. There would be plenty of fat jokes waiting for me on the baseball diamond; I didn’t need to give them any more ammunition.
I’d hide the glasses in my pants pocket or tuck them away in the safest place I could think of—the grass along the first base line—nothing could possibly happen to them there.
After several frame repairs, Dad told me—in no uncertain terms—to keep the glasses on my face. But he couldn’t have expected me to wear them while playing football! Believing I was acting responsibly, I placed them out of harms way on the grating of the neighbor’s fire pit.
As I walked through our back door later that evening, Mom asked why I wasn’t wearing my glasses. Panic-stricken, I patted down my pants pockets—nothing! I turned and dashed back to the field.
The dark silhouette of a man hovering over the fire pit contrasted against the blue twilit sky. Orange flickering flames illuminated the face of Old Man Haas—he was burning his garbage.
My pounding heart clung to the hope that my glasses were still intact.
“Looking for these?” He asked as he slowly pulled them from his shirt pocket.
After that near disaster, I thought Dad had legally changed my name to Where’syourglasses. His constant reminder about taking responsibility for their care had me assuring him I’d learned my lesson.
But football called again. I wasn’t going to risk having them knocked off my face, and I surely wasn’t going to place them where they could be stepped on or incinerated. No, this time I used my head. Those handy cable ear temples gave me a great idea. I hung the glasses on the rear license plate of the neighbor’s family car—safe and sound!
The game was going great. I made several saving tackles and intercepted a pass, nearly running it back for a touchdown! That’s when I spotted the red Corvair wagon. It was motoring down the road with my glasses tail-boarding on the rear license plate like a firefighter hanging on to the back of his truck.
Frantically waving my hands in the air, I ran down the street yelling for Terry’s mom to stop. But good old “Mrs Magoo” seldom paid attention to where she was going—the chances of her looking in the rear view mirror were pretty slim.
As I watched the wagon disappear around the corner, the unsavory thought of explaining this one to Dad had me convinced that getting a paper route and moving into a place of my own would be less challenging. After all, in the words of Wally Conklin: “Even a rat can take care of itself.”
But my dad had a better thought:
Never let a bad day make you think you have a bad life.