“What’s wrong Scott?” asked Taylor as I sat back down to the dinner table. You see, I’d just committed the cardinal sin in our newly formed family–when dinner is ready, we all sit together and pray before anything else. Today, I had to run to the bathroom first and it threw off our routine.
“Wrong? Why should there be anything wrong? I just had to go to the bathroom quick–and yes, I washed my hands!” I replied.
“No, I mean, you had this strange look on your face,” retorted Taylor. Look? What look I wondered. Who knows, I’ve always got some sort of “look” about me!
“Oh, that! It’s nothing, I was just confused is all,” I replied–setting up my trap.
“Confused about what?” Sierra piped up (she’s only three at this point and just now catching on to the conversation.)
“Oh! Well, your mom and I have been married for several months now and dated for several months before that. I’ve become quite a fixture here and you guys have always told me how much smart your cats are than my dog. So, I’m confused as to why Roscoe [the cat] still doesn’t know my name!” The trap has been set!
“Uh…what do you MEAN he doesn’t know your name,” asked Taylor as she tilted her head and scrunched up her forehead.
“Oh, yeah. That! When I walked through the bedroom, he looked up at me and said ‘Hey, Roger, can you get me a drink out of the fridge when you go back in there?’ So, I ask again, if cats are so smart, why hasn’t he learned my name after this seven or eight months?” I finished.
Taylor and Sierra sat there dumbfounded trying to make out what I’d just said. Abby–my biological daughter who at 7 is quite used to my mind games–is trying her best to conceal a snicker. Sara–Taylor and Sierra’s mom and my new wife–sits grinning at the two of them waiting for the response. Finally, Taylor leans over, covers her mouth and whispers (not so quietly), “Mom, are you sure about him? I think he may be crazy!”
And so began what the kids called the Legendary Sunday afternoon dinners at the Haines house! While Sunday dinner always started with prayer and discussion of the lessons from church, they always devolved into fits of craziness–often started by yours truly. That was also the day when Roger became one of my many personas! Most people know me simply as Scott, or Mr. Haines to the kids. In vacation bible school at church, the kids called me Mr. Scott because all the adults were known as Mr/Mrs and their first name.
In second grade, my grandmother tried to call me Scotty–she was yelled at and put in her place, by me no less. I’ve always hated Scotty so in 47 years, only two people have ever been allowed to call me that–and they were under the age of five. I never liked that name because in second grade a new kid transferred in and he was called Scotty. He was always sick and when he came to school his face was always covered in snot. On a related note, people have tried to call me Snotty and get shot down for the same reason!
Starting in sixth grade, my classmates started calling me Hot Staines–I have no idea why. They came up with some explanation about taking my first initial and last initial and swapping them. I always wondered where the ‘C’ went though. And what of the other ‘T’? I was also the only kid subjected to that name change so I knew they had to be making fun of me for something, but what? I never liked being called that, but what’s a shy loner to do when 100 people are calling you the same thing? It also didn’t help that in sixth grade when they started calling me that, I only had family home for about 42 of those school days. Every other day it was just me and my dog (until she died in January). Since I didn’t stop it and didn’t feel like I could talk to anyone about it, the name just stuck–all the way through graduation at age 17. Later in high school, the students that used “Hot Staines” were not condescending about it as much.
The next nickname became “Hairy Mole” in my freshman year of high school. I absolutely HATED that one, and a LOT more people seemed to know that one. This is the first one that was truly accompanied by bullying. You see, I was born with a birthmark on the right side of my chin. It’s slightly smaller than the size of a dime and was always quite pronounced. My parents said it was a birthmark with mom calling it my beauty mark, but it’s really just a mole. As with most moles, it is raised, much darker than the surrounding skin and has hair coming out of it. Since it’s larger than your run-of-the-mill mole, it seemed like a LOT of hair grew from it. My dad started helping me shave in about sixth grade, but by then it had grown to about a quarter inch in length or more. By high school, I was shaving every few days and the hair blended more with my stubble–but the reputation had already been earned. Thanks to that ugly mole on my face, I was screamed at, had students run from me in the hallways, got beat up a few times, had notes left on and in my lockers and countless other things happen. A lot of that died down late in my junior year after I tutored the captain of the soccer team and helped him get an A in his senior English class. Apparently he came to respect me and stood up for me, so people stopped picking on me about it so much.
When I left for college, I never looked back. I’ve only been back in that high school 3 times–and two of them were for my brother. In college, I grew a goatee and went by my middle name, Wesley, for awhile. Finally I just settled back in as plain ole Scott. Over the years though, I’ve been called Scooter or Scotter (by girlfriends) or sweetie (by my wife) but mostly just Scott. Sometimes I do get called Steve though–mostly over the phone by vendors at work who hear Scott and think “Steve”.
Each of the names has meant something different in their own times. They’ve also had an affect on my personality as well. As me–Scott–I’m much more confident in who I am, than at any other time. I have regrets and I have a lot of self-doubt, but I have no illusions of who I am, who I want to be, or where I’m going. I generally like who I am today. Despite my confidence, I’m still slightly more introverted and make friends slowly–but when I do, they are strong friendships. I think long and hard before I speak or act–sometimes too long–and I’m well aware of my strengths and weakness. I will ask for help when necessary and offer assistance when I can. Online (which is where I met all but 2 of the women I’ve ever dated), I’m more of the “Roger” persona. I’m still Scott at heart, but I’m much more free in what I say and do, because it’s easier to do when you’re not looking at someone. It’s also easier to “edit” the things you say when you’re typing than when you’re talking out loud.
When I’m around people from my past–like around high school or college–a lot more of those insecurities start rearing their ugly heads again. Call it childish or petty, but I always wanted to be able to go back to a reunion and be the one people looked at and said “Wow, that was that quiet nerd we bullied? Look at how successful he is now! Look at how much he’s changed!” Truth is, I haven’t changed too much in the looks department–though the mole has blended into my old face more and the hair grows like my beard. By the worlds standards, I’m not a great success either. I’m a two-time college dropout (third time was the charm) and I’m not monetarily wealthy. My wife would say my success lies in the fact that I’m a Christ follower that has led his family, an extremely hard worker that has done everything possible to provide for his family and has provided a stable home for her and our girls–and that’s enough for me.
Am I a success? I guess that depends on who you ask, but I will say this: I’ve lived my life and accumulated some amazing stories along the way!