Friday, April 18, 2014

Sometimes It's True: Things Happen 
For A Reason
(A Memoir)

In 1962, I had been in America (and in Villa Rica, Georgia) for two years and boys my age back then were expected to go out for sports and I was no exception even though I was still struggling with the language and the academics. What English I knew was picked up from my American dad and out of a dictionary, and the syntax wasn't always correct.

In school, I was okay for Germany but not okay for America. Math, for instance. Here they began by teaching fractions, in Germany I had just learned decimals; I knew my German history, but not much American. Reading, not too bad. I loved to read and there was the aforementioned dictionary to help with the words. I aced all my spelling tests and even once won a county spelling bee. Guess what - the dictionary again. I had seen those words so many times I knew what they looked like.

But back to sports ----- it wasn't that I wasn't any good at baseball and basketball, I was just not given much of an opportunity to play. I played at home a lot, a lot, and I was good with all my fielding and I could do all my basketball shots just fine, no problem.

But..... in practice and in real games, I was ignored and/or rode the bench. I rode the bench so much that people began to wonder out loud why the "German Boy" never got to play?

You know what the coaches' answers were? "We can't understand him, and if we can't understand him, how's he gonna understand us???" Deep South thinking at the time.

But no one asked the German boy who spoke English with a guttural accent and appeared to be so arrogant no one wanted anything to do with him. The accent I understood, but the "arrogance" was misunderstood as a reluctance to get involved socially because of ----- the accent.  A "Catch 22" before it was cool to say it!

So I chose music, something I could do on my own and be as good as I wanted to be. I played my drum in the high school band and in 1964, here came The Beatles and my starting to play drums in what was to be so many rock groups I can't remember them all. Thank God for The Beatles.

Music also did wonders for my popularity. By then I had lost most of my accent and put the "y'alls" and "ain'ts" in all the right places and I even had a girlfriend. I believe that's called "peer pressure". I called it getting one's ass kicked for being different.
So no sports, but drama (the theatre kind - not the teenage angst variety) and music - lots of music.
So am I bitter?
I was for many years, but I'm a damn good drummer, a fair guitarist and I've even done some community theatre.
I wrote this because my story isn't really all that unique when you think about it. Except for the name and the country, this could be any young immigrant kid.
If you know a kid or family with these problems, maybe you'll remember this and give them some encouragement, because things do have a way of working themselves out.
From my memoirs 12.26.2013

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