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Giraffe This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   "You've got to try, Eliza," my dad urges for the millionth time. "To be a good tennis player, you've got to try."

Sighing, I roll my eyes and tune him out. To rid myself of guilt for not listening to him, I think about his life and its effect on me.

We are alike in many ways, I think. Both my father and I have been playing tennis since an early age, and we played similar musical instruments (although he enjoyed his).

When I was still very young, my father would say, "Be nice," or "Don't hit your brother," or "Say you're sorry when you do something wrong," or "Don't do bad things." In other words, he wanted me to be-come a perfect person. He has influenced me so much that it seems like he has brainwashed me. Unfortun-ately, I have taken all that the wrong way. Somewhere along the line, I realize with regret, I began to think people should be perfect. "Make your bed, Jason," I would say to my little brother. "Wipe your nose."

My father is very compassionate.. He's always thinking of other people. I wonder if I am like him in that way, too. Probably, I think, because I try not to make fun of people, and to be sensitive.

This man has helped me get a laugh out of life. When my friends call, my dad answers the phone by saying, "Hammel's hatchery. We hatch 'em, you catch 'em!"

Every year there is a tennis tournament at his health club; he adapts a popular tune to motivate the players. He changed "Hanging Tough" to "You're Mentally Tough!" His crazy antics give me a good chuckle.

After working in a candy factory for years, my dad decided enough was enough. With $300 and three partners, he bought Sudbury Racquet Club. At first, it had red carpeting falling off and taped to the wall and rubber furniture. Today, Longfellow Tennis and Fitness Club has a swimming pool, squash, aerobics, and a lot more which make it a very well-respected business. Now it is part of a small chain. I hope my father's ambitious attitude has rubbed off on me.

My father has curly blond hair, the kind that, if it were long, you could never get a brush through. Tallness runs on my dad's side of the family. His cousin is seven feet tall! That's probably why my dad is so tall. I rarely see him out of tennis clothes, unless he is going to church. He's in great shape after working out from 5: 30 to 7: 30. There probably isn't an ounce of fat on his body. Some people may call me a giraffe because I'm tall, but, if I'm like my father when I grow up, I think I won't care.

Snapping out of my reverie, I am just in time to hear my father urge, "You'll be number one someday if you just try harder!" Well, I admit ruefully, that is one way he hasn't influenced me. He'll never get me to try. Smiling at my tennis coach, I nod, but I know it isn't the last time I will ignore my dad's lecture. n


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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