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Runner up: Charlie Marston, 13

They’re mandatory in middle-school gym. As cool and popular as Charlie Marston might be, he’s not exempted from the humiliation of wearing them.

“It’s a nasty vomit-green color,” Marston says over the phone from camp in early August. Color is not the only problem. The shorts are not long and baggy like the style of the day. “It’s really hard to get ’em down there,” Marston complains. “I guess they think you look like a wuss if you can’t get em down there.”

And the girls get to see them. “That’s embarrassing,” he admits.

Charlie Marston is going to be famous. At least he thinks so. If only he can decide between sports and comedy. Between Olympic gold and sitcom Emmys. “I love playing sports,” Marston explains, “and I guess I’m not too bad at them. I love playing jokes and just being spontaneous. Everybody says I’m funny. Somebody says something and I make something funny out of it.”

Kind of like Jim Carrey?

“Like Robin Williams,” Marston suggests.

Charlie Marston has his own mind, his own opinions, his own favorites.

Sports heroes: Larry Byrd and wrestler Kendall Cross.

Music: Blink-182 over Sum 41, any day.

Style: “I don’t wear those real, real baggy pants but I don’t like ’em to be up way up. I usually wear jeans and T-shirts. Plain gray T-shirts.”

Girls are not a problem for Marston, 5 feet 1 inch tall, 110 pounds, size-8 shoe, terror in the backstroke, 4.0 grade-point average and currently single.

Girlfriends, he’s had a few: “Sixth grade, I must’ve had 10, 15 girlfriends throughout the year,” he recalls. “It’d be a week — break up. A week — break up.”


So for seventh grade he stuck to one girl. And now he’s taking the summer off from the ladies — but only because he feels like it. “If I woke up and wanted to go out with someone,” he reflects with a pause, “I could.”

Right now he’s just relaxing, looking forward to eighth grade, to being at the top for a while, and dreaming of bigger and better things, beyond the confines of Short Pump Middle.

For the last day of school, Marston slicked back his hair like a Wall Street power broker’s, put on a sharp blue suit over a starched white shirt and finished with a big tie covered by pictures of money.

He says he did it just to show he has a sense of humor. “People recognize that,” Marston says. “They say, ‘Hey, he’s a cool kid. Charlie’s funny’.”

So we asked, because he’s so sure of himself, so sure he’ll be a star someday, how is he preparing now? How much fame has he achieved by middle school standards?

“Just the other weekend,” Marston recalls, “I was at a party and this girl said, ‘Hey, Charlie.’ And I said, ‘Do I know you?’ And she said, ‘No, but I know you.’”

Maybe that’s all the fame you need. ,i>— Wayne Melton

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