When I was a kid in grade school, we would take trips to the library. I never liked to read, and even to this day I find it difficult to stay on task when reading a book.
However, if a book captivates me, I usually can get through it.
For the most part, I didn't care about the trips to the library. I liked them because we weren't in school, and we would get a Tootsie Roll Pop. *Did you get a star? No? I got a star! I win!*
One of the years, maybe 2nd or 3rd grade, the librarian introduced a book to the class. It was called Nate the Great. When the librarian announced the title, everyone looked over at me and started to get all giddy. "Nate the Great. Hey, his name is Nate. He's Nate the Great." I must admit, it was a huge self esteem booster. But I didn't let it go to my head...well actually I did. But not in the way you would think.
At that moment I was proud that my name was Nate, but I wasn't cocky about it. It just made me feel good. Special.
As time went on, kids started to call me Nate the Great. Not all the kids and not all the time. (There was this one girl...Darla...she and I hated each other...she called me Nincompoop Nate...grrrr).
I'm now in 4th grade and my family is up in Minnesota at Cass Lake for vacation. One rainy day, we decide to take a break from fishing and lake activities and go to Bemidji. We went to a mall where I got a new fishing pole and then we stopped into a shop that sells t-shirts, hats, etc. with any custom wording on them that you want. (Like "Vote for Pedro") I tell my parents I want a hat and they oblige.
"What do you want the hat to say?", they asked.
"NTG.", I replied.
"NTG? What's NTG? Your initials are NJB."
"Nate the Great.", I said matter-of-factly.
They all laughed. My parents, the people working at the store...they laughed. But I was unphased. I remember my dad saying something about me not having a modesty problem. At the time I had no idea what that even meant.
But I got the hat.
That hat was one of the most favorite, most lasting items I have ever owned. And I still have it.
That hat and I have been through a lot together. It fell off into a flooded dry run and started floating away when I was in 5th grade...I jumped in and got it. It served as an archery target when we had nothing to shoot at...no it wasn't still on my head.
I loved that hat. And when I look at it, I'm reminded of the days when I was NTG. In fact, I was called that so regularly, that one of my friend's parents gave me a new shiny NTG hat at my graduation.
Here is the old faithful. It doesn't stand up anymore. The three holes in it are from arrows that hit their mark.