My Triple Threat

By , Hartland, WI
We look in the mirror together with beaming smiles on our faces. Holding back tears of laughter, Steve says, “Playboy?” Ten minutes later, we’re on the beach. I can feel the eyes piercing my skin, my self—esteem holding on by threads. I transfer the laser-like energy into a positive vibe as I strut by the sporadic crowd. The snickers come and go, but some people actually think we are for real. I welcome the spectators. The sun beats down on my unprotected thighs and shoulders, making me sweat more than I already am. We walk to the volleyball courts, pull up two lounge chairs, throw on the shades, and soak up the sun— we focus on getting perfect tan lines. Next thing I know, I’m in a photo shoot with three different cameras flashing at me. “We must look good,” I say to Steve. He responds with a seductive pose and a dramatic, “Smile with the eyes.” Two hours later, I hang my pink leopard print delight on the railing for everyone to see. I shower, change, and go back out to the hub of the hotel. I am no longer Michael—I am now sexy pink, leopard print Speedo Man. Humor. The white walls close on me, just like how my entire world collapses on me. The blank walls share the same expression as my mind. Blank. I don’t know what to think, what to do, what to say. I can’t cry. That would make me feel sorry for myself. I can’t scream. Nobody else did anything wrong. But me. And I can’t talk. I have no one to talk to. I hear the footsteps closing in on the door that separates me in my isolated box in hell, from the disappointed authorities that wait on the other side. The door opens. I walk through the light into what I know is my own funeral, but I own my actions and step forward. I turn into a conference room and swell up, even though I knew what was going to be in front of me. My mom’s tears don’t cleanse me like water does. The tears are sharp and painful. They pierce my skin and attack my heart. A police officer enters the room. “Have you been drinking alcohol tonight?” He interrogated. “Yes sir.” I cracked out. Minutes later, I blew double zeroes on the breathalyzer. I could have lied and been free from the trouble and the pain. But I chose the high road. Honesty. “Have you thought about schools, Mike?” I shrugged my shoulders. Judy, my boss, is sitting across from me at a table in a small Hartland coffee shop talking about my future. “All I know is what I want to go into.” She nods and leans back, her mind working. I sit and focus intently on every word, every gesture, and every facial expression. After all, she is my ticket to the next level. If I ever want to complete my dream of being an anchor and a writer for ESPN, she is going to get me there. After our meeting, I stop in the school parking lot and take out a notebook. I write everything down. Everything she said. I study the words on the paper and close my eyes and hear the faint ESPN jingle, “Deh neh neh, deh neh neh.” I hear the voice over say, “This is Sports Center.” And I hear my voice—“Hi, I’m Mike. Welcome to Sports Center.” Ambition. Humor. Honesty. Ambition. Humor helps keep me rolling through tough situations. Honesty keeps my conscience clean and helps me stay positive on a personal level with myself. And ambition gives me the drive to do the improbable. Humor. Honesty. Ambition. My triple threat





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