This I Believe

Murray - Rockville, Maryland
Entered on February 19, 2007
Age Group: 50 - 65

I believe that striving to be somebody is a worthwhile endeavor, a learning process, and certainly worth the effort. As long as I can remember, I always wanted to be somebody – in my case, the kind of somebody who got recognized; who thrilled people merely by showing up; who could make people squeal with excitement the way I might were I to run into Nicole Kidman or Meg Ryan while walking down the street.

As a kid, I thought baseball might be the way for me to become somebody. To accomplish my goal, I spent every free second practicing, practicing, practicing. As a result, no kid I ever met could field the way I could or handle a short-hop baseball as adroitly as I could. The result of all that effort was I ended up a good-field, fair-hit, but, unfortunately, slow-footed baseball player. As it turns out, in baseball slow-footedness is a somebody killer. The truth is, slow-footed ball players never become anybody.

So in high school my focus slowly shifted from athletic stardom to the more artistic life of performing. That was certainly a way to become somebody, I thought, and I was pretty good at it. I had decent roles in several high school plays, and that early training actually allowed me to win the lead in my college’s rendition of “Bye-Bye Birdie” (the Albert Peterson role). Talk about becoming somebody, my picture even appeared on the front page of the college newspaper. Unfortunately, I had to share the spotlight with the leading lady, who looked so beautiful in that photo that she was obviously the somebody, while I merely ended up being somebody standing next to her.

However, in my continuing quest, I started, along with two friends, a folk music group that achieved some regional success by the time college ended. And I almost became somebody. Our trio was scheduled to appear on a popular national TV folk music show called “Hootnanny.” I felt so close to my goal that I told everyone I knew (and even those I really didn’t know) to watch me become somebody that Saturday night. And then my trio was cut from the show – the ultimate somebody-to-nobody humiliation. And a nobody with a banjo may just as well be a bozo.

Next came my TV career, or as I like to call it, “My Career With The Stars.” For more than five years, I was a “Live at Five” producer. The news and interview show had a celebrity on each day, and somebody had to greet and schmooze the VIPs who appeared. That somebody was me. I met a president, movie and TV stars, singers and athletes. I have hundreds of autographs to prove it too. But alas, it was I doing all the squealing and fawning over somebody. Never the reverse.

Which brings me to the other day when I arrived home from work. As I entered my house, my wife called out to our, then, two-and-a-half year old granddaughter: “Fynn, Pa’s home.”

Instantly I heard the rumble of little feet racing from our family room towards me.

“Pa!” a little voice called out excitedly.

“Pa!” the voice called again, even more excited this time – an indisputable squeal.

A squeal for me.

So this I believe: That everybody should strive to become somebody.

Even if it takes a very long time.