an Earl Story

by Dr. Earl Trevathan
Although I didn’t have a good idea what that word, “snobbery,” really meant in my early teenage years, I did feel like it was being appended on me by a friend. It was a crushing appropriation. The pain lasted too long.
A lot of my childhood friends had nicknames: Red, Bones, Meat, Blacky (my brother), Shorty, and many more. My friend, Red, called me, “Skinny Bones” and “Little Legs.” Nothing could have been more derisive, painful. I became very self-conscious of my physique. When group pictures were taken, I stood on the back row, squatted. or folded my arms. I was growing tall but only led to family members noting, “Earl is growing like a bean pole.”
Being skinny didn’t deprive me from participating in sports. I did well in tennis. My brother was superb in all sports, so I vicariously got my enjoyment through him.
One day after friend Red put that label on me, “Hey, Little Legs,” I got up enough courage to ask him why he teased me. His answer stymied me. “Because you act like you are better than anybody else.”
This became a lesson in self-appraisal. What did I do wrong? It was a worry for a long time. I didn’t need a psychiatrist, but I did need some reassurance. Whether Red was right or not in his judgmental call of me, I never failed to wonder whether I was a snob. Red was a close friend. I never doubted that he was fond of me.
Connected to this personal story was another happening that influenced my life. My teachers always felt that I was a good student, even though I didn’t show it at times. Our principal, Mr. John Guy, gave me a book that I devoured, titled: HOW TO MAKE FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE, by Dale Carnegie. It was my “Bible.” Whether Red was right or wrong in his judgement of me, he did put me on a path of self-enrichment I shall thank him for.
I am a faithful member of the local Rotary Club. With a balance problem, I need help getting my food from the buffet line. Every week, Jimmy Bryant gets my food and flatware and brings it to my table. Jimmy Bryant’s father was “Red” (Oscar) Bryant and my friend of childhood who inspired me to try not to be a SNOB.