K is for Karl
My mom took one look at me when I was born and named me Karl with a “K”. I don’t know why she didn’t spell it with a “C” like how the name is usually spelled. Maybe because she had a thing about “K’s” since her name was Krystal with a “K”. Anyway, we were the Conners. I don’t know who my father is, and that subject is taboo with my mom unfortunately. Regardless Mom and I were close. She was a single parent, and I was her only child. I could talk to her about anything, but info about my father. I guess it was too hard for her, but I wanted to know why someone would abandon their own flesh and blood. You get to wonder what characteristics you get from each side of your parents. I think he was white because some of my features are distinctive of that. My hazel eyes and wavy hair don’t look like my mom. What did my father look like? Did I look like him? Did I have some of his character traits? There’s a void not knowing. I guess that’s why a lot of children seek their birth parents more out of curiosity than pain. Mom was cute as a button. At 44 years old, black sure didn’t crack. Her skin was flawless even without makeup, she kept herself in shape and could run circles around some of her younger counterparts. Her hair was naturally curly and grazed her shoulders; she was a fine specimen of a woman who any man would be blessed to have. I suggested that mom get back out there and start dating since she is always being nosy about my love life. Sadly there she goes again making some excuse that there were no more good men out there.
We lived on Strawberry Lane in a middle-class neighborhood. We were a melting pot of a multicultural community, Black, white, Hispanic, and Native American looking like the United Nations. Everybody’s lawn was well manicured, and the cars were parked neatly in their two-car garage. Our house was on the corner. It was a reddish brick color with burgundy awnings. The difference was we had an empty side to our two-car garage. We did well as mom was the only single parent in our community. It hadn’t always been easy, but now mom had been working as the Director of Nursing for the last 5 years and we were thankful that mom enjoyed her job, and we were in a good place financially.
Growing up we had our share of financial struggles though, I may not have always had what I wanted, but mom made sure I had what I needed. Mom would always say, “By the grace of God and hard work ethics we are going to make it.” She taught me valuable principles about appreciating the smaller things and then the bigger things would come to you. Mom said material things are just things and they don’t define a person’s character. Other guys at school were so concerned about having name brand shoes and clothing; they should have been more concerned about their failing grades. They would joke me for not being trendy. Mom would say, “Why would anyone want to wear another person’s name on their behind? That sounds like they are having an identity crisis to me. If you are clean and neat, nothing else matters.” I was appreciative of everything my mom did for me. Her advice and her love meant the world to me.
I felt like she was all I had in this world, but I needed to forge other relationships, but I didn’t know how.
No one noticed me, no one interacted with me except fellow classmates who bullied or joked on me. They joked me about my clothes not being trendy, they joked me about not having a girlfriend and they would spread rumors that I was gay. “Why Lord, why couldn’t I be like the other teens? Why couldn’t I be popular and have friends?” My mom said I was “special”, parents say that to all kids, it only made me feel worse, not better.
That’s when I decided to focus on reading books; I Immersed myself in learning. Not only did I read scholarly subjects, I read and learned for the fun of it. I devoured every book about football, because I had a fascination with the game ever since I was a kid in the 3rd grade. I was a bookworm who excelled in sports, especially football, that was me. Strange combination I know. Not to sound full of myself, but I am strong, fast, coordinated, and easy on the eyes. I’m 6’2” and weigh about 250lbs. with a ruddy complexion, wavy hair, and hazel eyes. I would say that I am not a bad looking guy. But I didn’t think I would ever be in a relationship and had even less chance of getting married. Why? Because I was invisible from grades K-11. I wanted to do something different my senior year. I wanted to be seen, not be invisible anymore. My mom encouraged me to pursue my passion for football, but to keep up with my studies. She then told me “When all else fails with pursuing your dream, you will have your knowledge to fall back on. No one can take that away.”
My senior year had finally arrived. A purple and white bulldog was the mascot at Duke High School. I had a passion for all things football, so when the coach had tryouts, I decided to go for it. It’s one thing to read about a subject and another thing to be tackled, thrown down and rushed in “real life”.
It was 3:45pm and I stayed after school for football tryouts. I was nervous even though I knew the plays, positions, and strategies in my head, but now it was time to put it out there on the turf. Coach Bryant was about in his early fifties. He wore gold rimmed oval glasses that sat on the base of his nose. His piercing green eyes looked over the rim. When he removed his ball cap, you could see his hairline receding, but he looked like he was a ladies’ man back in his day. There were twenty of us who came out for tryouts. Coach had us line up single file and practice throwing a football, punting, and catching. Then he had us run through an obstacle course with huge, black tires that looked like they belonged attached to some monster truck. After about an hour, Coach blew his whistle and told us to get back in line. He said that there would be a sheet posted on his door by next week to let us know if we made the cut. Coach said everyone did well, but some stood out more than others. He said if we didn’t see our name on the list, to be hopeful and try again next year. Well, it was going to be a long-drawn-out week waiting to see if I made the team.
I tried to keep my mind on other things but the week waiting seemed like an eternity. In the meantime, it was school as usual, or was it? Ms. Cameron was hot. She was my biology teacher who had endless sexy legs. Her skirts were so short and tight you could see every curve. I don’t know if she wore underwear. She always wore blouses that you could get a peek of her sexy lace bra and all of us guys were waiting and excited to see if her boobs would flop out. Her dirty blonde hair was pulled back in a loose bun. Her glasses hung from her neck; she wore a purple lanyard with the school’s name stitched on it. Even though she was a “girly girl” it was interesting to watch Ms. Cameron hold her composure and not scream and squirm over dissecting frogs and blowing up volcanos and stuff. I enjoyed her class, and it was time for everyone to be paired up for the class science project. This was going to be one third of our final grade, so it was a big deal. Ms. Cameron decided to pair me and Sonoko together. I felt a lump well up in my throat. I had watched her from afar thinking how pretty she was, and I knew she was smart because she pretty much always commented on all questions. Our first step was to get with our partner and outline our project. We had to choose a subject, see how we were going to execute it and write a conclusion. Sonoko let me know from the start that she wasn’t doing all the work and that I had to pull my weight. She was direct and cute, I already liked her.