Looking Like Paul Newman


When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two Paul Newmanthings on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home.**

I didn’t get a ride home. It was my fault I spent too much time looking at myself in the drugstore window. When I was finished, everybody was gone and on their way home, but I didn’t care. It was a three-mile walk home, but all the way I thought about what I needed to do to look like Paul Newman. Of course, I had to grow up. He was about 25 and I was 11, but I could change my hair and I could change my smile. It was that little, “I know what I’m doing, but you don’t” look to it that was the secret. Thee was also the look with his eyes as if whatever he was looking at was the most important thing in the world. I could do that. All I had to do was, no matter what I was looking at, pretend it was a big slice of chocolate cake with thick chocolate frosting and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. That would be easy. First I had to find some of my dad’s hair stuff. It was sticky and it smelled funny, but I had to get the part just right and that back wave right out front. I wished I had a picture so I could be sure, but I thought it was about right. Then I worked on the smile. I might have gotten better at it if my sister hadn’t started pounding on the door, “C’mon get outta there. I gotta pee. You been in there half an hour now.”

As I opened the door and stepped past her trying to smile like I knew everything about her and that she looked like chocolate cake with ice cream she said, “What’ve you been doing in there. You smell funny. Oh gosh. I’m telling mom.” Then she closed the door.

I didn’t know what she was going to tell mom, but somehow I thought it wasn’t that I looked like Paul Newman.

** First line from The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton



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