Short, tan and “teddy”…not tall, dark, and handsome

I was born a poor white boy- it went downhill from there. I was the shortest dude in third grade- I had to stand in the back of the line because the teacher had us line up according to height. That was my first sign someone was bulking up on the Miracle Grow. In fourth grade I found out I was “white.” Someone called Felipe Lopez “brown,” and I questioned why they did that. The pale kid with the missing tooth said, “Because you’re white, man.” I never knew that. I went to look in the mirror and I swore I couldn’t figure out what in the world he was talking about. I grabbed a Crayola, but I didn’t even start coming close to the Crayola color until I found a factory-reject tan one. But, it didn’t account for the freckles…so, I guess you could say that’s my “race,” freckled.

But my problems were bigger than the Crayola box. I found out that some young ladies preferred a guy who was “tall, dark, and handsome.” I was never tall, except to my stuffed animals, and kids smaller than me. But, being short had its advantages, like slipping away and hiding from bullies. As far as “dark,” I never understood this one. If girls and women believed such trifles, then they either had a problem or just a preference. Even then I didn’t understand girls or women who preferred one shade over another. At age thirteen, I knew we are all unique, and that if you can’t see the person because of their skin color, you have a real problem. God created skin shades, so it’s all good.

But hearing this drivel- for that is just what that phrase “tall, dark and handsome” is- belittled me and many other boys. For a young boy may not have the looks of a Johnny Depp by the age of ten, twelve, or fourteen, and may never be as handsome as some airbrushed Fabio-like screenshot. The truth is that an eight year old boy could have a few big teeth and few small teeth, ears the size of photon torpedos, and a voice like one in the Vienna Boys Choir. And a twelve year old may be so self-conscious about his looks, he acts like Doctor Jeckel and Mister Hyde. A fourteen year old boy may have pimples the size of a Mountain and a voice like a weasel…because he is growing…into a young man…

I learned early on that handsome is in the eyes of the beholder. This was particularly true when I saw girls drooling over pictures of John Elway…when I was growing up, “handsome” meant the boy looked particularly plain- as far as I could tell. I never looked plain enough. However, as I grew, I appeared to be becoming more huggable to the fairer sex. A few girls even called me a “teddy bear.” Today, I would rather opt  for the description of being “teddy bear-like” than “handsome,” at least then I know I don’t look so plain…

2 responses to “Short, tan and “teddy”…not tall, dark, and handsome”

  1. Well, for me the thing that attracts me to a man is his intelligence. If I loved a guy I wouldn’t care if I had to carry him around under my arm like a football – seriously. In fact, I’ve found that guys many consider “tall dark and handsome” are too in love with themselves to love anyone else.

    And that’s just sad.

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