Every day at recess, he'd stand and wait, hoping he'd get picked. Oh, the things he could do with that kickball if only given the chance!
But every day at recess, he'd get picked last. Sometimes, the team picking last would just refuse to pick him, and he'd go sit on a swing, sad and alone, while all the girls pointed and laughed at him.
Even when he did get picked, though, he'd do something stupid and get made fun of. "Fatso John," they called him. Sometimes they even beat him up.
The worst, though, was one day as he sat on the swing, by himself, and he heard a bunch of girls from the other side of the playground.
"Casey, Casey, two by four," they chanted. "Couldn't get through the bathroom door – had to do it on the floor, Casey, Casey, two by four!"
Tears sprang unbidden to his eyes, and he found himself charging across the playground as fast as his legs would carry him. When he reached the group of girls, he found Marybeth – always the ringleader – and punched her in the face as hard as he could.
He was expelled. Two days later, his parents packed him off to military school.
"I'm starting to feel like the kid getting picked last for Team Chuck. It bothers me to feel like Team Chuck's fat kid."
There weren't too many kids at the school who were bigger wannabes than him. "D-Von", he insisted on being called. Nobody called him that voluntarily, and even the people who hung out with him thought he was a total loser.
What was even worse, though, was the fact that D-Von thought that everything was "pimpin'." New threads? Pimpin'. Cherry '64 Impala? Pimpin'. Failed your pre-algebra final? Pimpin'.
One day, it came to a head. "Devon," his teacher said at the end of California history one day, "can I talk to you for a moment please?"
After the class had left, he walked up to his teacher. "Yo yo," he said. "D-Von in the house, teach!"
His teacher just shook his head. "Devon… I'm going to be very blunt with you. You look like an idiot. You sound like an idiot. Now I know you're not an idiot, but that's what everybody thinks of you."
Devon's face hardened. "Yo, that ain't pimpin', teach."
"You're right," his teacher replied, his voice taking on a hard edge. "It's not 'pimpin'.' It's a cold fact of life."
"Well what the hell you 'spec me to do 'bout it, yo?"
"Devon, there comes a time in every man's life when he has to grow up. A time to look at himself in the mirror. A time to cut off that ridiculous mop of hair. A time to pull up your pants, and tuck your damn shirt in."
"You want me to be somebody I ain't?" Devon asked, incredulously. "That's not the way the D-Von rolls, yo!"
"Well, the D-Von is no longer welcome in my classroom," his teacher said. "Now, you go home this weekend, and think about what I said."
When Monday morning rolled around, his teacher was shocked to see Devon walk into his classroom, clean-cut, wearing a polo shirt and khaki pants. "Devon… I guess you really took what I said to heart!" he exclaimed.
"Well, sir, I came to a conclusion this weekend. You told me I ought to tuck in my shirt, and I have decided that I am, in fact, a tucker."
"Well… that's great, Devon!"
"No, sir, it's better than great. It's… awesome."
"Morgan, there comes a time in every man's life when you have to ask yourself… am I a tucker?"
The little blonde girl's head jerked upwards. Her blue eyes filled with fear, and then terror when she heard the word "Lisa" come flying through the air. Her mother only used her middle name when she was in trouble deeper than the deepest ocean.
She ran upstairs as fast as her eight-year-old legs could carry her. Then she saw the cause of her mother's wrath.
The several Ken dolls. There was one, a big black mustache drawn on his face. She had pulled off his head, and taken a red marker both to the hole where the head used to attach, and the neck stump. Another one, she'd drawn a big, red hammer and sickle on his chest, then cut off the back half of his head, and colored it red. Finally, she had one in a Ken suit & tie, with sunglasses, and a little tiny knife in his hand.
"WHAT THE HELL IS THE MEANING OF THIS?!"
"Well, Mommy, that one is Saddam Hussein… and that one is a dead KGB spy… and the one with the knife is Oliver North!"
Her mother stared at her incredulously. "Have you been watching CNN again?"
The little girl nodded solemnly. "I was watching with Daddy."
Her mother sighed. "I swear to God, if your father doesn't stop letting you watch CNN, I'm going to poison his soufflé."
"No matter how stressed out you are, it's NOT okay to murder a woman's soufflé!"