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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Much Ado about Nothing (not about the play) (07/28/11)

TITLE: Varsity Clothes
By Louis Detweiler


Varsity Clothes

“Mom, I need a set of varsity shirts and pants for school. Are you down in the basement? I’m home from school. I’m going to change my clothes and play football outside before I do my homework.”

Mom yelled, “Don’t leave the house before you go play football. How much homework do you have? We just bought you clothes for the school year two weeks ago. What do you mean varsity shirts? There is milk in the refrigerator and cookies in the cookie jar. I want to talk to you before you go play.”

I watched my mother slowly walk up the basement steps carrying a load of laundry. “I don’t have much homework. I will do it after dinner. I need to get out for awhile. I need a break.”

Mom put the laundry down in the hall and came back to the kitchen table. “Thanks for the help getting up the steps. Your sister at least offers to help. You just sit there and eat while I carry the laundry up the stairs. What if I should fall or hurt my back?”

“I’m sorry. I’m excited about playing football. Tommy’s brother from the University is here and some of his friends will be playing today.”

“What!” Those guys are four years older than you. Let me see your homework list. What is this about varsity shirts? Is a P.E. teacher making you buy special gym shirts?”

“Mom, I’m fourteen years old now. I’m becoming a man. I need to dress with respectability. People are starting to look up to me now that I’m in high school. Clothes are important.”

“Your father knows how important your grades are. You make good grades wearing your clothes now. Your father is proud of you because you are a good student. You work hard. You make good grades. Why is it you need different clothes?”

Tommy wears varsity clothes and his friends wear varsity clothes. Even his older brother, Pete, wears varsity clothes. Almost all my friends wear varsity clothes. They have style.”

“I don’t work, Roberto. My mother is sick. She’ll be coming to live with us for the next two months. It will be expensive. She needs to have dental work done. The only person making money is your father. I buy clothes from the best deals I can find.”

“How am I supposed to prove I am as good as the others if I can’t even wear the same clothes as them? They will laugh at me and not let be a part of their group.”

“I don’t know. Be back at the house at 6:30 pm when your father gets home. I hope those young men teach you something on the football field, but be careful.”

My father looked at me after we had finished dinner. “Now, Roberto, what is it you want with new clothes?”

“Tommy has varsity clothes and a lot of my other friends have varsity clothes. For me to fit in I have to wear varsity clothes.”

My Dad looked me in the eye. “Clothes don’t make the man. Character makes the man. If you are truthful, honest, reliable, trustworthy and good that what’s count. If I hear anymore about this I will get my belt.”

I went to my room and cried. “What had I done to deserve such lousy parents?”

The pain at school was unbearable. My friend, Mary, actually laughed at me because I didn’t have a varsity sweater.

My friends, Mary, Tommy, and Eddie, laughed at others because they didn’t wear varsity clothes. I saw one girl run into the bathroom in tears. I was desperate. I thought about stealing clothes from the varsity shop.

In math class, the last Friday of October, Mr. Duvall smacked Tommy’s desk with a 3 foot ruler. “What are you doing Tom Shucks? Give me that piece of paper that Mary just passed you during the exam. You two were cheating. I’m going to suspend both of you for a week and give you an F on the exam. You two are dismissed out of my class, NOW. We will meet in the principal’s office when this class is over.”

My grandmother noticed that I was smiling when I came home from school that day. “Roberto, I’m happy you are smiling. You must have had a good day?”

“Mima, we don’t have all the money in the world, but I’m glad I have you, Mom, Dad, and sis.”

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Member Comments
Member Date
CrisC Ramirez08/05/11
The dialogue was great. It was easy to understand and able to tell each characters place. However, the end was a little confusing. The smoother transition perhaps into what the lesson Roberto learned. Very real for our teenagers today. Excellent story. :-)
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 08/09/11
This is a nice story. As a parent I can relate to having to tell my kids no. Thankfully, they understood and never made me feel bad.

Your dialog is good. You could make it more natural if you used contractions. In formal writing, many were taught to avoid contractions, but when using dialog, try to be more natural. Listen to how people talk every chance you get and try to imitate that.

You did a good job covering the topic without making it obvious. I also think you have a great message for kids and adults. Nice job!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 08/09/11
Actually after glancing over the dialog there were only one or two spots where you didn't use contractions, so I'm sorry I focused just on the one or two times you didn't use them. Oops Nice job! Again sorry.