The Reluctant Human

There have been a number of times in my life where I have proceeded carefully, like a person in an unfamiliar and darkened room, feeling my way, not hurrying and unashamedly taking my time. These times have been watershed moments in life, moments where some people make an announcement of the progress they have made or status they have achieved and others are more reserved. Generally I’m the more reserved type anyway, in most departments of life, but the last of these big life moments I can remember having any sort of desire to go with the announcement route was when I had done my first standing up wee in a toilet on my own, and, I believe we left it there to show Dad when he got home from work. Even at this remove it strikes me that my feelings were somewhat mixed: it was an important moment in my life at the time, that was difficult to argue against, but it also made me feel a little uneasy (just a little) that this didn’t feel like a me sort of way to mark the occasion, and there was a lingering suspicion that we were doing this because we had heard my cousin or some other acquaintance had produced the same kind of announcement for his first big man moment (this, obviously, would indicate I was a bit slower than someone, a peer of mine, whoever it might have been, although I can’t quite recall … and there’s the slim possibility that I’m making the whole thing up).

It’s funny that at other occasions where the announcement is the time-honoured method, and it has to happen, and the rituals are already established, I have had very little difficulty being involved. Nerves are always a factor for a person like me, but it has seemed a comparatively straightforward thing to show up, dressed nicely, possibly even in fairly ridiculous clothes, for a graduation or a prize giving or announcement of selection in a team, or something of that sort. Self-consciousness plays it’s part, but it seems easy, in some ways, as you present yourself, the rites of the ceremony are carried out, and that’s it, it’s over. But to create one’s own ceremony? Now, that’s too challenging. I tend to shrink from challenges like this.

When I decided that I needed to shave, it was something I tackled by ‘borrowing’ razors and using products which were not shaving cream or even shaving-related (like moisturiser or even hair conditioner on my face), or even using nothing and shaving dry, then cleaning the razor I was using behind the family member’s back as carefully as I could so they wouldn’t know I was doing it. When my Dad encountered the same time in his life he apparently went to the shops and bought a razor and started to shave, in front of his parents, so it was public. For whatever reason, when it happened to me the furtive option seemed the only option. It sounds silly, but it was true at the time. And gradually it became something that was more comfortable for me to talk about. Not that I ever asked for tips from Dad. I have a hazy memory of asking Mum when she was doing grocery shopping if she could get me some disposable razors and some shaving cream – although hazy it was comparatively recent, and occurred years after I started to shave. (One of the guiding features of my forays into this part of the wonderful world of adulthood is that I could get away with not shaving every day: I didn’t instantly become swarthy, and you couldn’t quite say I’m very hairy even now.)

Hair introduces first attempts at growing beards. Or really just not shaving for a while to see what happens, which is a bit more accurate. Even when I had a substantial goatee at uni, with its strengths and weaknesses, but was nevertheless there, I still felt anxious about anyone saying anything about it and it was a source of disquiet when ever it was mentioned. Yes, once again this is silly.

I have been considering these moments in my life and wondering whether they say something broader about the way I approach a new phase in life, or indeed how I embark on a new type of activity. Perhaps it is the case that unless I have a sort of footy coach figure to bark orders at me, to tell me what to do, to tell me, in effect, you are a footy player, you’re my footy player, and you will know that because when I tell you to do something you will fucking do it. Immediately. There are so many things I am reluctant to do ‘in the light’, where others may watch; the list is too long to even commence and I wouldn’t want to anyway, as many of the items on that list are a bit naughty or adult or grown up. It’s like I write poetry but don’t consider myself a poet, or something. Or, even more extreme, like I’m the prisoner who, caught in the act, says, “I’m not gay. He’s the one who’s gay.” Not that I’m gay – that was just a figure of speech.

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Published in: on October 11, 2010 at 7:46 pm  Leave a Comment  

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