I grew up watching all the old black and white TV shows like ‘Leave it to Beaver.’ They were all so wholesome, and there were always lessons learned on each episode.
Beaver’s older brother was named Wally. Well, my older brother is named Wylie, so some people, not a lot, but some people along the way would call me Beaver or “The Beave.” Makes sense because “The Beave” was always learning things the hard way, while the older brother seemed to always take the better path.
Some things you just never get over — you just never forget. You know, like the loss of a loved one or a pet, for example. They really matter. Other things shouldn’t matter so much, but they do. Losing a baseball match in the final quarter isn’t easily dismissed.
Mistakes from long ago sometimes continue to haunt us up to the present day. Sometimes, they aren’t so bad if lessons are learned. Sometimes, they aren’t so bad period. They’re just embarrassing. The first part is something some of you may be familiar with.
I saw a dead beaver on the side of the road this morning, and it reminded me of a time I ran over a beaver and threw it into a cooler. I wrote about this years ago. For those of you who didn’t read that and to make a long story short, I ran it over, went home, got a trash bag, went back and got it, took it home, threw it into a cooler, left it in the Alabama heat for two weeks in the middle of July and just forgot about it.
You know, just your typical dead beaver story. I’d planned on getting it mounted, but that never happened.
That, however, is me. I was a foolish 19-year-old kid just trying to find his way. These days, I’m a 47-year-old kid at heart still trying to find his way.
Several years before that, when I was in junior high, I was at a football game. I was standing near a crowd of folks — the popular crowd — and one of the boys had a look that all the girls liked.
When he smiled, he closed his eyes and did a peculiar thing with his mouth. He stuck out his top teeth and covered his bottom teeth with his bottom lip. The chicks ate it up. They though he was so cute. In hindsight, I realize he just had an overbite. Hey, it worked for him.
I had no game. Zero. None. Zilch. So, I wanted to be like him. I wanted to look like him. I started to smile like him, at least for a few minutes at the football game.
And I did. Man, I was in full idiot mode. I was smiling like there was no tomorrow, and I left it all on the field…or at least on the side of the field. I thought to myself, “Man, I look good. Look at this smile. Oh, and while you’re at it, check out the popped collar.” We’re talking 1985, folks.
I think my friend Officer Jackie Smith or another one of Opelika’s finest came over and broke up our little gaggle. We were apparently blocking pedestrian movement along the walkway, and by using the word “apparently” I’m pretty sure we were.
A few minutes later, I ran into my buddy Michael who was with us in that group. He’d walked off with one of the girls.
“Wh-wh-what’d she say?” I eagerly asked.
Surely, she thought I was dreamy.
“She said you looked like a beaver.”
Oh, my esteem fell like a tree. How embarrassing! It served me right, though, and it was a lesson learned. I never should have tried to be someone else. I should have been just fine being me. There was nothing wrong with my smile. There was nothing wrong with me.
While it’s an embarrassing event that I’ll never forget, I don’t recall who the girls were. My prayer is that they don’t remember who the boy was. Maybe they think it was Lumpy Rutherford or Eddie Haskell.