Worthy of incessant and unyielding back-pattage are the remaining contest participants -- fifty-odd strong! -- whose inspiring, heartfelt and hilarious accounts of the times when they were "green" (overcoming obstacles to learn something new about themselves) were too darn good not to feature on this blog.
Our writers are of all ages and come from many walks of life; their experiences are as diverse as they are moving, and I hope you enjoy the select excerpts they've given me permission to share.
(If you participated in the contest, be sure to respond to an upcoming email that lets you choose which souvenir Green Baby Bookmark you'd like -- a prize distributed to all writing contest entrants, just for participating.)
Hope you have fun reading what everybody had to say. For once, I can shut my mouth and take in all of your great ideas and experiences. Happy reading!
Runner Up: Lesley R. from Brooklyn, NY
Lesley describes her early foray into ice-hockey -- spurred by unrequited love. [Excerpt.]
Oh, how vividly I remember the day I broke the news.
"Mom, I want to play ice hockey," I said in my cute seven year-old voice.
"You wanna what? Why, sweetie?" She shoved a tray of pork chops back in the oven. I should've known better than to confront my mother on this matter while she was wielding greasy kitchen tongs.
"I think it could be really fun!" And a really cute boy in my CCD class always gets to be 10 minutes late because he's playing hockey in the park. (As much as I enjoyed Sister Helene’s musings on the apostles, I’d rather use those precious minutes coveting another’s hockey puck.)
“Let me think about it. We’ll talk later." She sighed.
Looking back, I suppose I understand her need to process my proposal. Her daughter wanted to gallivant on a sheet of ice with modified knives on her feet surrounded by boys. It sounded like an SVU episode waiting to happen. Against these seemingly insurmountable obstacles, she obliged.
My father shouldered the burden of shuttling me to Prospect Park at an ungodly hour with my older sister and a very large coffee thermos in tow. He was a southern California native, so he had never dressed a hockey player before. After several attempts at putting the right pieces of equipment on the right limbs, we finally got it right. I looked and felt like a tiny NFL linebacker. Fearless, I grabbed my new stick and set out on the ice.
Runner Up: Tyler H. from Ogden, Utah
Tyler plays an evil clown during a Halloween parade. Ironically, while he's enlisted to scare passersby he, himself, feels trepidation -- but ends up "stretching his mental hamstrings" to try something new. [Excerpt.]
Mother Nature was bipolar that morning; the weather kept changing rapidly and unexpectedly. The lumpy suburb we were in was where the parade had always been held. It was an erratic place that looked as if it had added onto itself bit by bit. Overgrown trees buckled the pavement where we were standing, but, just down the street, saplings shorter than I stood staked in the bare front lawns of newly constructed houses. This was not the suburb I lived in, but my cousins lived nearby and whenever the Founder’s Day Parade rolled around, they constructed their own float in the parade. Ever since I was little, I had stood on the curb waiting for their float to come by, all the while collecting candy. This year, I was not going to be eating any of the candy.
“Pick a mask and a costume,” my aunt said, gesturing to two plastic bins on the pavement next to the truck, one containing rubber masks, the other carrying clothing that matched the masks. She must have sensed my reluctance to choose, because she almost immediately suggested that I go as a clown.
“No one else wants to be a clown.”
I plunged my hand into the bucket of clammy, used faces. My fingers brushed against what felt like a round clown nose, so I grabbed it between my fingers. Its frizzy red hair caught on the other masks, so it took a little tugging to free it. I almost wished I hadn’t made the effort -- it was definitely a clown, and it was definitely a scary clown. Its factory-made face was pulled into an evil grin, and its brow was furrowed, giving it that nightmare-stalker look....
.....I’m sure the spectators found that half of the novelty of our float was due to the contrast between us and our neighbors. Behind ours was a titanic frilly float that probably left more junk on the road than the horses did. Half-a-dozen dolled-up girls lurked on it, the curls in their hair the exact circumference of a curling iron and their pretty dresses not holding in enough of their body heat.
In front of us was a semi-truck -- the kind that you see on the highway that make you want to pray for your life -- complete with a sticker with a number to call in case the trucker’s driving killed you. Instead of pulling a big metal container behind it, there was a wooden trailer loaded with hyperactive Sunday school kids from the local church...
....I didn’t know anyone in this town. I don’t know if that made it easier or harder to be in the parade, but my stomach caught in my throat even thinking about waltzing up to folks and attempting to make them pee themselves, then rewarding them with candy....
....I tried to be more enthusiastic about my costume. In order to do this (and to give myself courage), I picked up a huge, rusty knife from the back of the truck and held it awkwardly. It was old and too dull to slice, but I figured if I swung it hard enough and long enough I could probably sever a limb from someone’s body. Hopefully having such a cool knife would help to excite me, at least a little.
“Where should I sit?” I asked my aunt.
“Oh,” she said distractedly. “Oh, um, just walk alongside the truck over there. Scare kids, and stuff.”
I think my knife wilted. “Wait, you mean I’m not on the float?”
“Throw candy and stuff, it’s in the back of the trailer.” She looked annoyed. “Run up to people and scare them. But keep up with the float.” She grabbed a mask from the bin and ran around to the other side of the truck....
....I suddenly became very grateful for the mask. Not only did it hide my probably sheet-white face, but it also created a false sense of distance, like I was watching the people in front of me on the television. For those reasons, the mask made it a whole lot easier to scare people, especially kids. So once I got close enough that we were all highly uncomfortable, I dug the rest of the candy out of my pocket and held it out so they could grab it from my shaking hand. I then walked away at last, towards the back of the trailer to restock my pockets with precious taffy. I breathed a sigh of relief.
Read more submissions here!