One of the Fiery One's co-workers could not believe that the Fiery One was okay with some of the stuff I write about our personal lives. He was so shocked that he shaved off his beard, a trademark look he had been sporting for years, in reaction to my public airing of such intimate relationship details. He left little else but a goatee in its place. As a result of this recent event, I offer my apologies to any and all of you out there who may have been offended, embarrassed, or otherwise stricken with uncomfortable emotions during your reading of this weblog.

I do not, though, want to mislead anyone into thinking that I might actually be feeling badly for any uncomfortable emotions I may have caused. It is a fact that I delight in them. Because my apologies in no way mean that I will not continue along the weblogging path I have forged for myself in the way to which I have become accustomed, I will push on ahead with the entry I intended to write before I knew of the Fiery One's co-worker's anxiety.

Things From My Past That I Have Found Personally Embarrassing or Shameful:

1. When I was ten, two younger cousins and an aunt from England came to visit. My boy cousin and I were supposed to be playing in my bedroom, but we just weren't in that groove of one thing happening after another in a frenzy of spontaneity like kids so often fall into. Boredom is no excuse for evil, but that is where my lack of imagination took me. Knowing that his family was quite religious, I started circling the bed and telling him that I was in league with the Devil. I insisted that the Devil wanted him to stay in my room forever, because little boys were excellent energy sources and could be used like batteries for the Devil's purposes. It was his choice to stay or to go: if he stayed, he could have anything he wanted but would never leave and be able to see his family and friends ever again, and if he left, he would have to live his entire life knowing that he was bound for Hell in the end. He cried and begged me to find another way out for him, but I informed him calmly that it was not up to me. Part way through this torturous charade, I knew that I should stop, but I had gone so far. I was a runaway train of mass psychological, emotional, and spiritual torture. It was disgusting, and I still cringe at the thought of it.

2. Ten must have been a hard year for me, because this embarrassing incident also happened at that age. I ran in a relay track team, and I was naturally fast, so they had me running with kids two grades up as the team anchor. I was terribly nervous and suffering awful performance anxiety about a provincial track meet that was being held in the city's field house. This anxiety was compounded by the fact that I had to run in an awful sailor top/pink shorts hand-me-down combination from a cousin, because we didn't have the money for normal track clothes. Running with the older kids in a pink sailor suit was not anyone's idea of cool, and all I really wanted to do was crawl behind the folding bleachers and hide. I was so nervous that I didn't even think to go to the bathroom before they called our team up to compete. I really had to go, but my coach told me that there was no time for that and shoved me out onto the track. You know what happened from here. I ended up being not only the dorky little kid in the pink sailor outfit but also the dorky little kid in the pink sailor outfit who had wet her shorts at a provincial track meet. Nobody else seemed to catch on to my predicament, thankfully, because I bolted from the finish line straight to the washrooms. It was two days before I found out that we had come in third place. Not bad for the youngest runner in her division.

3. I really should retitle this list "Why My Tenth Year Was Worst Year Of My Life To Date". I spent a week at my father's brother's family's farm in July of that summer. It was one of the best weeks of any summer I'd had. Hide-and-Seek took on a whole new level of complexity when it was played over an area the size of their farm. We set up a make-believe apartment in the back of the grain truck that we lived in for three days. We found a tiny wooden hideout that my uncle and my father had built when they were kids, and we tried to read what had been scratched into the weathered, grey wood thirty years before. At the end of the week, I was packing up all my stuff so that we could rendez vous with my parents at my grandparents' house, when my aunt came into the room. She had that look on her face that adults often got when they were going to impart something to you that they saw as a milestone on your road to maturity. Apparently, she had decided to take it on herself to usher me into one of the first phases of womanhood by bestowing upon me an old training bra that she had fished out of some storage box. I had absolutely no boobage to speak of at that point, I would not have any for another three years at least, and at that age even I knew that she was tramping right over what should have rightfully been my mother's territory. Partially due to the feeling of inappropriateness and partially due to the fact that I couldn't even say the word nipple without squirming, I could feel my ears flushing crimson. I did my best to keep my eyes averted and the conversation short, promising that I would put it on later. I think I wore that thing for a total of two hours one afternoon. My utter lack of any flesh with which to anchor the garment meant that I spent the whole time wiggling around in an effort to keep it from riding up around my neck and feeling quite baffled regarding her reasoning for giving it to me. Frankly, this gift left me feeling insecure about the obtrusiveness of my nipples, since that's all I really had at the time. I don't think I ever told my mother about the training bra, because it would have lead to even more uncomfortable conversations, and I was all about avoiding any use of correct biological terminology.

4. Every single second that I had to wear that skull cap and metal bit thing that the orthodontist insisted on when I was in the eighth grade was sheer agony for my withering ego. When my hamster ate the cap part of the contraption, I hid the evidence for two days, rejoicing in my cranial freedom.

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"In Trouble and Shame" by D. H. Lawrence

The Uncle And The Pendant (And Some Berry)