Last week I wrote about “the genius of participating”. I indicated that if I had accomplished anything in life, it was because I was willing to participate until a breakthrough was made.
Nothing is true 100% of the time, and that is especially the case in my situation. Here is one moment I chose not to participate and I regret it to this day.
It was toward the end of summer 1961, and my senior year in high school was about to start. That previous spring I had been selected to be the head varsity yell leader. It was the second time I had tried out, and felt fortunate to finally have made it.
Our first event was to lead a series of cheers at a fashion show in downtown Long Beach at the Riviera Hotel. All of the sororities from the different high schools were invited to see the new line of teenage clothing. ( Or something like that.)
I was required to get up on the runway twice and lead some cheers and do some routines with my fellow cheerleaders. Our squad consisted of four of the cutest girls in the high school, and two guys. One of us looked very Ivy League, and the other looked like a bleached out surfer, that was me.
As we finished our second routine, the band started playing a medley of southern California beach songs.
No sooner had the music started than a group of girls began chanting, ”dance, surfer, dance.” Different girls started lining up to dance with the surfer.
For some incomprehensible reason unknown to God or man, I froze. I looked down at my feet and pretended not to see or hear anything but the music. Then I came to and decided to jump up onto the runway. But by that time it was too late. The music stopped and the fashion show continued.
As the fashion show ended, a girl came up to me and offered to help me take a couple of the megaphones out to my car. I didn’t know her, other than she attended the “rich school”, Wilson High. She gave me her name.
I was taken off guard. I paused, and said, “thanks, but I can manage.”
She replied, “It’s no problem. I’d love to.”
I knew something nice was occurring, but was too slow putting it together. “No, really, I can handle it,” I said.
Her final words were, “Ok, then. Maybe some other time, Roger.” She then slowly walked away, looking back and smiling. She caught up with her crowd and disappeared.
Beating His Head
A couple of hours later, I picked up a friend to go surfing. He was one of those kind of guys who was funny and direct at the same time. He was about 5′ 6″ tall, with jet black hair combed straight back. Let’s call him “Lip”. Anyway, on the way to the beach, I told him what had happened at the fashion show.
The Riviera Hotel
Here is our conversation as best I can remember.
Lip: “Roger that’s BS. That never happened.”
Me: “Lip, I swear it happened just like that.”
Lip: “Those girls were chanting for you to get back up on the runway and dance with them?”
” And you didn’t?”
”And this beautiful creature wanted to help you take two megaphones out to your car?
“And you said, no, TWICE?”
“And she knew your name?”
All of a sudden Lip started beating his head on the dashboard.
Lip: ”You fool, that will never happen to you again. Go to bed and slit your wrists. Your life is over.”
Lip: “No, you relax. My life is over too. You could have gotten me a date with one of those rich sorority girls from Wilson.”
And So It Went
The one time I didn’t participate. Let that be a lesson to you. Don’t hesitate.