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 Texas : Features : Columns : Spunky Flat and Beyond :

Puzzlement

by George Lester
George Lester
There seems to be no accounting for some things that happen in our lives. I was a member of the Union Grove High School band. We were on a bus one Friday, coming back from a concert. As we often did, we were playing games and singing to break the monotony. After several songs together, everyone stopped at once, and I was doing an unplanned solo. When I realized no one else was singing, I quit, too. Almost everyone on the bus asked me to please go on with the song. I was a bit embarrassed at first, but as I haltingly continued, my confidence grew, and I finished to the beautiful sound of applause. My fellow band members demanded more, and I willingly obliged, savoring every moment of it.

I had never experienced this kind of attention before, and it was intoxicating. I had always enjoyed singing, and my parents gave me their unbridled support. For the first time in my life, I was beginning to believe maybe I was talented after all. On the remainder of the trip, I received numerous compliments. All were abuzz about this newly discovered ability of mine. My head was spinning as we exited the bus and joined our parents for the short ride home. I could hardly contain myself as I told my mom and dad what had taken place. Fantasizing that I would become the most popular student at Union Grove High School, I couldn't wait to return to school the following Monday.

I first sensed something was amiss when I boarded the bus. No accolades came my way, only stony silence. I reasoned that it was because they were tired from their weekend, and besides, most of them weren't there when I was doing my ad lib concert a few nights ago. I began to worry, though, when this kind of treatment continued throughout the day. When it came time for band rehearsal, I figured I would be given the same celebrity status I had received the preceding Friday, but it was not to be. The feeling that I was invisible continued for the whole rehearsal. This kind of thing can be very damaging to a 14-year-old boy's ego. By the time I returned home from school, the feeling of gloom and doom had overwhelmed me. I wondered why I was lifted so high one moment and plummeted to the depths the next.

I know now that, on that exasperating day, my schoolmates had not acted any differently than they always had. I just expected them to act differently. Perhaps fate plays a game with us, telling us not to become too proud, for below the highest peak lies a deep valley. The trick is to try to level them. If you don't climb too high up the mountain, the trip to the valley is not so far.
George Lester
Spunky Flat and Beyond - A Memoir
- April 1, 2006 column

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