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TAN COLORED GYM SHORTS



"Kiser, The Dean's Office wants you to report to them right away," said Mr. Danpier, my Landon High School science teacher.

I collected my books, my notebook and my gym towel and I headed down the hallway to the front office. When I arrived I was told to have a seat until the Dean finished with the daily disciplinary reports. I sat there wondering what I could have possibly done to be sent to the Office. Several minutes later I was called into the Dean's Office and told to sit down.

"Kiser, the coach has asked me to have a talk with you about the possibility of you joining the Junior Varsity Football Squad," he said.

"I ain't never played no football before," I told him.

"I think what the coach is really interested in is your running ability. You are one of the fastest runners in the school," he continued.

"I really don't wanna play no ball. Really I don't," I told him.

I sat there silently waiting for him to tell me that I could go back to class.

The orphanage where I lived would not even buy me a pair of tan shorts for gym class. I could not count the times that I had begged them, each and every time only to be turned down. I could not count the days that the coach had chewed me out in front of the entire class because I had only dark brown gym clothes to wear.

‘Why would the orphanage let me play ball on a football team? That would cost a lot of money,’ I thought.

"It would be a good opportunity for you," he went on.

I just sat there biting my lip and shaking my head, slowly back and forth.

"Can you tell me why you don't want to play football?" He asked.

"I'm just not very good at playing ball,"

I wasn't even sure if the Dean knew that I lived at the Children's Home Society Orphanage. All I wanted was for him to stop questioning me. It was just too embarrassing for me to tell anyone that the orphanage would not allow us to play any school sports.

’There is just too much work for us kids to do everyday when we got back to the orphanage. We were not allowed to attend any of the school dances or other school functions. Not even any of the pep rallies. So why would they let me play football,’ I thought to myself.

”Let me get your file and I'll talk it over with your parents," he said, as me he got up from his chair.

"Please don't call. Please don't. I'll get into bad trouble if you call and ask," I said, as I began waiving waving my hand at him.

He just stood there with a puzzled look on his face.

"Why would you get into trouble?"

"PLEASE, I don't want to play no football. Really I don't."

"Something’s just not right here," said the Dean, as he reached up and scratched his bald head.

I stood up from my chair and I said "I live at the orphanage home over on Spring Park Road. And I'll get into a lot of bad trouble if I do anything that will cost some money.

"It won't cost you anything to play on the football team," he stated.

"You don't understand. I have lots of work to do everyday when I get home. If I don't do all my work I'll get into real bad trouble. Real bad trouble," I told him, as I raised my eye-brows as high as they would go.

"Sit back down and wait until I get back."

He walked into the office and asks asked the school secretary to page Coach Granger. About five minutes later he and the coach returned.

"Let me see your towel," said the coach.

I handed him my rolled up towel which had my gym shorts inside. He unrolled the towel and he shook out the dark brown gym shorts.

"These don't look tan to me."

"That's all that I can get. Honest it is. I really tried. I really did. We ain't got any tan kind of clothes at the orphanage.”

The coach took the shorts and he walked back out into the office. Several minutes later he walked in carrying a large cardboard box.

"Here, hold these up to you and see if these will fit you," he said, as he threw me a pair of tan colored gum gym shorts.

"They look like they fit well," I said, as I held the shorts up to my waist.

"We have several pairs that were left here from last year.”

"Thank you for the right gym shorts. That really makes me feel good to have the right ones now," I told him.

"Something’s not right here, Boy. I don't know what it is and I am not even sure if you know what it is. But I am going to get to the bottom of this," he stated.

I said not a word. I just stood there. "If you need gym shorts you come and see me. You understand that?" He said.

"Yes Sir."

"Do I have to play football?" I asked, as I walked toward the office door.

"Don't worry about it," he said, as he placed his hand on my shoulder.

As I look back at my life I like to remember the FEW kind things that were done for me when I was a boy. Most kids went through high school never having a worry in the world. I had to fight every inch of the way. Not once did I ever have a new set of clothes to wear to school. Never once did I ever feel good about myself. What a joyous day it was the day that Coach Granger gave me that pair of tan colored gym shorts. How wonderful it was to wear those tan colored shorts out onto the track and to just melt away into the hundreds of other tan colored shorts. That was all that I ever wanted as a child, to just melt away and not to be seen by anyone.



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