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The man in the mirror

Published May 14, 2005

[Times photo: Chris Zuppa]
Prom night: Rick Waddell, left, shares "a classic moment" with his son Josh King. Little brother, Allen Waddell, watches.

He's standing there in front of the mirror, dressed in more pink than he's ever worn in his life. He's 17, a senior at Lakewood High School in St. Petersburg.

Josh King can't stop staring into that mirror. The seconds pass. He poses. He pauses.

The boy stares out at the man. The man stares back at the boy.

And there they are.

The man in him paid for this tuxedo - pink shirt, pink socks, pink shoes - with the money he earned mowing lawns. The man paid for his haircut and the tickets to tonight's prom. The man is paying for dinner.

The man in him helps look after his younger brothers. The man will graduate later this month and yearns to escape Florida. He's the one who will head to college in Virginia. He's the one who will study business, then find a job, find a wife, find his way in the world.

And then there is the boy in Josh King.

He's the one who still has baseball trophies on his dresser and a Porsche poster on his wall.

He's the one who feels nervous tonight, the one who will feel a shiver creep down his neck when he picks up his date - a girl he thought was out of his league.

The boy in him will forget to open the car door for her. He will play his music too loud and be too shy to say much during dinner.

The boy in him still doesn't know how to tie a tie. So his father shows him. And as the father slips the tie from his neck and puts it on his son's, he smiles and says, "This is a classic moment."

They both look at the mirror, knowing how soon the boy will disappear.

Editor's note: 300 Words provides glimpses of everyday life that often go unnoticed.

[Last modified May 14, 2005, 01:15:50]

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