Excerpt from Chapter 3 Boy Is Father To The Man

Published October 14, 2018

Finding Heaven In The Dark

Excerpt from Chapter 3                    Boy Is Father To The Man (page 49)

 I was losing my shyness and becoming more comfortable around
people. I was learning to put people at ease, and they felt comfortable
around me. I discovered my own sense of humor and that I could
make people laugh. I even found confidence to regularly talk to girls.
I teased the girls in the band a little, and I listened patiently when
they needed to talk. The neighborhood girls in Charter Oak Terrace
were more often like pals, than girlfriends. I took girls seriously when
they talked, and they respected and trusted me because of that.

   I was becoming a “Mr. Congeniality” type. I was shy, yet friendly,
clever, funny, and interesting. I had a curiosity about people that was
genuine, and a thirst for knowledge that was growing. I was welcomed
in various groups of students. The smart kids thought I was smart, or at
least smart enough to appreciate their brains. The jock kids were comfortable
with me because of my knowledge of sports and admiration of
their skills. The girls saw me as a friendly, sympathetic listener with
good advice, and their boyfriends saw me as non-threatening. I was projecting
the perfect persona, which evolved out of my need to survive.

   My teachers weren’t as easily swayed by my winning personality.
They wanted results. My report cards during most of my primary
school years recorded the same observations: “William has the ability
to perform well when he applies himself.” Standard teacher talk
noting that I usually only did enough work to get by. These educators
saw my lack of interest as a rejection of my potential.

   We weren’t color-blind in sixth grade, but we weren’t color
obsessed either. With barely a handful of blacks at Batchelder
School, race did not make a major impact, one way or the other. At
least at school, we all seemed to be equal.