Two brothers are sitting outside of a barber shop waiting for Mom to come and get them. They are both absorbed in their own thoughts when the youngest boy says to the older, “Know what?”
“It’s really important to be me.”
Jim, the older boy, is taken a little by surprise at the boldness of his younger brother’s statement, but cannot resist an automatic objection. His reply is a simple, “Hu . . . uh.”
“Yeah, it really is.”
“Baloney! What makes you think you’re so important? Who do you think you are, anyway?”
“Well, I’m somebody I’ll bet you wish you were.”
“Yeah, and just who is that?”
Now the battle is on. Jim spits out, “You . . . what makes you think I want to be you?”
“Cause I’m Earnest, and I heard it’s important to be Earnest.”
“Who would say somethin’ like that?”
“I heard Dad talking to Mr. Henry. He said that it is important to be Earnest.”
“Well, yeah, but I don’t think he meant you.”
“What are you talkin’ about? They were talkin’ about the importance of being Earnest! I heard ‘em!”
“Aw . . . they meant that it’s important to not joke around about serious things, but to tell the truth and be earnest.”
There is silence for a few minutes while each is in deep thought. Earnest props his elbows on his knees and cradles his chin in his hands for greater concentration, trying to figure out a way to better explain to his older brother what Jim evidently is not understanding.
Earnest slips out of his chair and slowly walks up and down the sidewalk. He stops long enough to closely expect the leaves on a big tree that dip down just low enough for him to feel its smooth surface. He closely examines a wooly worm that is making its way toward the leaf. Watching the rest of the world always helps him to think better.
He has made a decision. With a look of determination, he walks around behind Jim. He puts his hand on his shoulder for emphasis and says, “Yep, that’s what they said – it’s important to be Earnest. They said that there weren’t too many of us either.”
“Yeah, they were talkin’ about that stranger who came to town last week. They said that he was a salesman, but he joked around too much – they didn’t trust him. He wouldn’t look ‘em in the eye when he was talkin' to ‘em and that’s important. That’s when they said there was an importance of being earnest. I guess his name wasn’t Earnest. Too bad – I’ll bet they’d buy somethin’ from me – ‘cause I’m Earnest.”
“But . . . but . . . you’re . . . and they’re talkin’ about. . . . Aw, heck! You just don’t understand.”
Coming full circle around Jim, Earnest’s brow narrows, and he puts on his most serious face. He looks him right in the eyes and nods his head as he says, “It’s okay, ‘cause I’m still me.”
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