When I was in middle school, I decided to try out for the girls’ basketball team. When the day of tryouts came, I chickened out. Instead of reporting to the gym, I got on the bus and went home.
“Oh, I thought I was picking you up at school?” my mom asked when I got home.
“I didn’t make the team,” I said.
“They had us line up shortest to tallest, and they cut the shortest people,” I explained. “I still had time to make the bus.”
Of course, it wasn’t true. My school was weird but not that weird. I had just gotten cold feet.
My mom bought the story. She didn’t know much about sports, so I guess a height-based cut for basketball players seemed logical. She must have thought that I went to school with some freakishly tall girls because I have always been of average height.
I had wanted to play basketball but didn’t really know how. I was a baseball kid, born and raised with a Rawlings glove on my left hand.
I played pick-up basketball with the guys down at the court at the bottom of the street. There were usually five or six of us, and most of the time, we played half court. We divided into two teams — shirts and skins. Of course, I was always shirts. I could play competitively with the guys. It’s just that we played by pick-up rules and not official rules and that kept me from trying out for the school team.
I thought about basketball tryouts last week when I received my first official rejection letter.
I had submitted two chapters from my memoir for publication. An on-line magazine turned me down because my piece didn’t fit with the editorial focus of their upcoming issue. At least that’s what they said.
Here’s the weird part: I felt something close to excitement upon reading the rejection letter. It made me feel like I was in the game, that I was trying and not lying to myself about being too busy or not ready or not good enough or too tired or too short or too whatever.
Rejection. Who knew it could feel almost good?