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Words in a Row

Spelling and grammer and all that stuff--supposibly its like, real important!

Wood Eye

Once upon a time, a boy got a BB gun for Christ­mas. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, he ful­filled the dire warn­ings in A Christ­mas Sto­ry and shot his eye out.

His fam­i­ly was poor and could not afford an acrylic or glass eye. But his father was a tal­ent­ed crafts­man, and he carved an eye from oak, then paint­ed it and fin­ished it so beau­ti­ful­ly it looked just like a real eye.

Nev­er­the­less the boy was ter­ri­bly self-con­scious about his pros­thet­ic eye, even though it was so well-made no one noticed it. His shy­ness helped him become an out­stand­ing stu­dent, since he was nev­er dis­tract­ed with social activ­i­ties, and he grad­u­at­ed from high school with hon­ors and a scholarship.

When the boy went to col­lege, his room­mate in the dorm was a gen­tle and com­pas­sion­ate friend who tried to help the boy break out of his shell a lit­tle bit.

One day the boy’s room­mate asked him why he was so shy and why he nev­er went on dates. There was a dance com­ing up, he said, and he didn’t under­stand why the boy avoid­ed such gatherings.

The boy con­fessed that he was so self-con­scious about his pros­thet­ic eye that he was ter­ri­fied of rejec­tion, and he found it safer to avoid social situations.

His room­mate was shocked. “You have a pros­thet­ic eye?!” he exclaimed. “I don’t know why you’re so wor­ried about it—we’ve been room­mates for six months and I nev­er sus­pect­ed a thing!”

“No way!” the boy said.

“Yes way!” his room­mate said. “Lis­ten; I’ve been to a bunch of these dances and gath­er­ings and I’ll tell you some­thing: Every­one else there is just as ner­vous as you are—probably even more. Every­one will be so busy wor­ry­ing about how they look and what every­one else thinks about how they look, they won’t wor­ry about how you look at all!”

The boy still wasn’t sure, so his room­mate said, “Tell you what: We’ll go togeth­er. I’ll be your tour guide and your wingman—I’ll help you get your bear­ings and you’ll enjoy your­self. I promise.”

The boy agreed, hard­ly able to believe that maybe, just maybe, he wasn’t as ugly as he thought.

The night of the dance, the boy was ter­ri­bly ner­vous, but he’d nev­er real­ized how lone­ly he was before his room­mate offered to help him, and he was deter­mined to give it a try.

They sat down at a table on the out­skirts of the dance floor, and the boy’s room­mate point­ed out sev­er­al unac­com­pa­nied girls the boy might want to approach. But the boy’s fear was too strong and he demurred.

Final­ly, the boy’s room­mate said, “Hey, look over there. See that girl sit­ting by her­self at that table? Does she look okay to you?”

The boy looked, and the girl’s beau­ty took her breath away.

“Okay, get this,” the boy’s room­mate said. “I know that girl, and she is just as shy as you are, and for the same rea­son: She had surgery as a child to repair a cleft palate, and she’s afraid she’s ugly.”

The boy said, “But she’s beau­ti­ful! I can bare­ly see a hint of a scar on her upper lip, and that’s only because I was look­ing for it!”

The boy’s room­mate clapped him on the shoul­der. “Don’t you see?” he said. “She’s just like you! There’s noth­ing wrong with her, but she thinks she’s ugly and it keeps her from reach­ing out to oth­ers. Now you get over there and ask her to dance! You can do it!”

The boy stood up, and for the first time in his life he approached anoth­er per­son to reach out, rather than hid­ing and hop­ing no one would notice him.

Breath­less, the boy approached the girl. She glanced up and saw him com­ing, and she flinched away in a man­ner he rec­og­nized all too well; her body lan­guage told him she want­ed him to approach her, but at the same time she want­ed him to go away.

Filled with com­pas­sion, the boy stepped clos­er and said, “Um—Hi.”

“H‑h-hel­lo,” the girl stuttered.

“I was think­ing,” the boy said, “and maybe…” he fal­tered, but saw his room­mate giv­ing him a thumbs-up to encour­age him.

“Well,” the boy said, “I’m no good at this stuff, but I won­dered if maybe you would like to go dance with me.”

The girl’s eyes lit up, and the boy saw him­self in them: She was long­ing for some­one to reach out to her, but just as ter­ri­fied that some­one might reach out to her.

The boy’s room­mate watched with joy as she squared her shoul­ders and exclaimed, “Would I? WOULD I!?”

The boy stepped back, shocked, and roared, “Hare­lip! HARELIP!”

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