Monday, August 5, 2013

Pick Me! Pick Me!

I'm sure you've seen it a million times on TV ... kids playing kickball or dodgeball, and as they pick their teams, the ONE kid always gets picked last. Here's one of my favorite examples from the movie Megamind ...

A little overdone?  A little too much melodrama added for just the right comedic effect?  Actually, they have it just about right. How do I know?  Because I was THAT kid.

My family moved during the summer right before my third grade year. I thought it was a perfect opportunity to have a fresh start in life, and for a few hours, it was all going my way. That first day of school, the teacher introduced the new kid ... that was me. The kids crowded around me. The girls winked at me, cooties and all. The boys talked about me coming over to play. It was a dream come true.

... and then came P. E.

First up was kickball. All the boys warmed up by kicking the ball straight up into the air, and catching it on the way down. It was all a big contest to see who could get it to go the highest. Then with great anticipation, they handed me the ball. I gave it a small toss and then the biggest kick I could muster. The ball went off to the side, and hit a girl in the head.

With that one kick, my elementary school career was ruined. When they chose teams that day, guess who got chosen last! And then the next day, and the next, and so on. The girls stopped winking at me. The boys also left me alone. Plus, because of alphabetical discrimination, I was always last in line.

Yeah. It sucked.

But just like Megamind in the clip above, I found my strengths. I knew what I was good at. I could make people laugh. For spelling exercises, I would create the funniest stories. Ask my friends about the one that ended with a girl and a boy kissing in the bathroom. (I didn't get to finish reading that story!)

If I couldn't be the super jock, at least I could be the class clown!

In fourth grade, the trend continued. I still got picked last. Everyone (even the outfielders) would scoot in when it was my time to kick, and I always got out.

Then there was Leroy. He was really good at the game, and he was usually one of the captains or one of the first ones chosen. And man, was I ever so jealous! He was a good kid and all that, but one day something happened. I can't remember the exact details, but I think I hit Leroy, and maybe he hit back.Or maybe one of us scattered the other boy's papers.

Whatever it was, the teacher had a long talk with us and determined what the real issue was. She decided to make me a captain for the week. Wouldn't you know it? It turned out to be a good experience. I played well that whole week. My team kept winning. I would kick the ball over the people who scooted up. I could dodge the ball when it was thrown at me. I scored runs.

It impressed all my classmates, and it also helped me gain greater appreciation for them ... especially Leroy.

But then the next week, everything went back to normal. My kicks went back to random duds. I went back to being picked last. I still reigned as class clown! The only difference was that I stopped resenting the whole situation.

Fast forward many years, and life happened. Now we're all grown up. I'm still friends with several of those kids. I'm still a clown. I'm actually better at kickball/softball ... especially when I play against the cub scouts. "Watch this home run, kids! And try not to cry so much!"

Now I'm fighting other kinds of captains. There are gatekeepers out there who have the power to choose people to publish. I feel that I'm being chosen last, only this time there are thousands of colleagues in the same situation as I am. The ones who actually get published are the same players ... big name authors who have credits out the wazoo.

But you know what? I already know how to play the game. Just keep trying, sit out on the sidelines, and yell, "Pick me! Pick me!" Because one day, I'll have my turn.

Until that happens, did you hear the one about ... ?

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