One of the true blessings of my life has been the love I received from my father. He wasn't a man of many words, but he made sure that I always knew how much he loved me. He was so obviously proud of me that I worked hard to ensure that I never disappointed him.
My father was a very strong man, and he was in great shape. At times, I have thought he could run forever. I was definitely no match for him, and I had to struggle to keep up on the cool Sunday evening that October. We usually didn't talk much while we ran. It's a little difficult to run, breath, and talk at the same time. But I wanted to talk to my father. After several miles, I asked if we could walk for a while. He smiled and slowed down.
"What's on your mind, Son?" he asked.
To my father, I was always "Sport," "Son," or even "JY," but never just "Joel." I liked his nicknames for me. It was one of the ways he showed me that he loved me.
I told him about the debate tournament - in an edited version, of course. I had no idea how my father felt about boys falling in love with boys, and I wasn't ready to find out, either. I wanted to talk to him about Kettering and the way they had defeated David and me. In addition to being athletic, my dad was very smart. I wanted his help in figuring out what I could do to make sure that next time we didn't fall into a similar trap.
"There's no way to avoid all failures," he said. "Life is full of ups and downs. Sometimes, you just have to roll with the punches."
"I know you're right, Dad," I said. "But there's got to be a way to prepare for situations like that, especially if you know you'll probably face them again."
Dad stopped walking and sat down on the side of the deserted road we had found. "Tell me more about exactly what this team did."
I sat down, too, and explained about Kettering's arguments, their evidence which included the deathbed recanting of our expert's economic philosophies and their attack on David.
"What bothers me is that I know they could do the same thing to us again," I said. "The other team could pull some great piece of evidence out of the air and leave us looking liking idiots."
The implications of my father's next words stuck with me for the rest of the night. It wasn't that his advice was so original, for I had heard the old expression he used many times before. But, it opened up some new possibilities that I hadn't considered.
"Well, just remember," my dad said, "if it seems too good to be true, it probably is."
With that, Dad stood up and said it was time to get going. It was at least three miles back to the house, and we jogged - hard - all the way. I thought about what had happened during our debate with Kettering as I let Dad guide us home. By the time we arrived, I had formulated my plan. I went upstairs, showered for the third time that day, and forced myself to spend the rest of the night on Chemistry and Math homework.
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