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This is a question Shame

Some people get off on the exhibitionism, but this was pure lust. I'm not proud, but I did once have sex on Portsmouth beach at 2am in the fog. I got a nasty cold, shingle _everywhere_ and have never, ever gone back to Portsmouth. The shame.

There are things you boast about, and then there's Portsmouth beach... what are you ashamed of having done?

(, Thu 24 Nov 2005, 17:16)
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Paying The Bill
My most shameful moment, without a shadow of a doubt, occurred roughly ten years ago. To cut a massive story slightly shorter, growing up I was never really interested in being fashionable and cool. Whenever I hung around with my mates as soon as they started listening to trendy underground music I'd get bored and wander off. This is how I first started hanging around with John, one of my friend's younger brothers. We had an odd relationship, he looked up to me because I was older and I was fiercely protective over him because he was younger. Between us something just clicked, we became inseparable. He was the closest friend I'll ever have. When I say fiercely protective I mean way past patronising and bordering on absurd. I'd tell him off if he picked up something sharp and several times, when he left my house, I'd follow him secretly to make sure nothing happened to him on his way home. At the time I had no idea why I acted so paranoid. Teenagers do weird things; blame it on hormones.

Looking back, it was almost as if I was prophetically setting myself up for a fall.

Just after I turned 16 and he 14 I was hanging around with him just outside his house one morning when two girls turned up he knew. I couldn't stand them but luckily another of my mates just happened to walk past. I quickly made my excuses and ditched John and the girls, walking home with my friend pretty relieved to have escaped. The shame that surrounds this one act will haunt me for the rest of my days. I couldn't have been more than a hundred yards down the road when John started swinging on the trees outside his house. Unluckily I'd already rounded a corner, otherwise I would have seen what he was doing and stopped him. Yes I was that protective and that patronising. But like I said I was around the corner. I was probably nearly home when John jumped out of the tree, landed on his feet and overbalanced. I was probably in my house when his mother was taking him to hospital after he'd fallen over backwards, smashed his head on the concrete and fractured his skull. I got a phone call shortly afterwards to tell me what happened. I cursed myself for ditching him, knowing my being selfish had put him in hospital. At least in a couple of days he'd by fine though, no major damage done and the opportunity to joke that he was now 'brain damaged mong boy'.


It was later on that I was out doing some errands that I walked past John's house. One of the girls from earlier ran past me, away from the house, crying. I knew something serious had happened but such was the guilt and shame of it being my fault I couldn't bring myself to knock on the door. Instead I went home and sat alone, crying my eyes out and waiting for the phone call. I remember the weather had been getting worse all day and now there was a storm building. I watched the rain streaking down the window and waited. It only took an hour. His brother rang me to tell me that John was in a bad way. A blood clot had formed on his brain and he'd been rushed to theatre. He didn't know if his brother would live or die. If he lived he might be brain damaged.

It wasn't so funny now.

One of our mutual friends knew how close I was to him and turned up almost immediately to try and take my mind of it. Just to show my age; we spent an hour playing Street Fighter II (in between taking breaks to watch the pretty storm). For every fight, no matter which characters we picked, he would be brain damage and blood clots and I would be hospitals and doctors. I beat him fifty times in a row; he never came close to winning. I'd like to think he didn't let me win but I suppose I'll never know. Eventually he had to go and I was again left with my fear and worry. Waiting for the call I wandered downstairs to sit with my parents, hoping they would ease my terror. Stupid me. Time for someone else's shame. My mother asked me why I looked upset, despite knowing full well that John was fighting for his life that very moment. I reminded her in no uncertain terms. My father responded to this by yelling at me that I couldn't be that worried as I'd been 'upstairs carrying on with your mate for an hour'. 'I heard you laughing!' he finished accusingly. I can't remember the string of expletives that flowed from my mouth then but I do remember it being quite impressive for a sixteen year old. My mother stormed out of the room, slamming the door behind her. Seconds later I followed, tears welling, and stumbled blindly outside into the storm.

People who are lucky enough have one moment of their lives that they can look back on and say that was when I grew up, that was when I became a man, that was my rite of passage. That was mine. With that simple exchange my entire childhood fell apart before my eyes and I saw my family for the stupid, self-centered, emotion cripples they were and still are. I finally understood. The reason I'd been so close to John, so ridiculously protective was because he was my family. He was like my little brother, my son even. I was trying to be, to him, what my parents never were to me. John was the one that was there to put an arm round me when I needed it, to cheer me up when I was down, not them. He was the person I wanted to be around me. Not them.

I stood outside under that raging storm for nearly an hour, heartbroken that my revelation had come too late. It seemed to be reaching a crescendo directly over my house. The lightning was blinding and the thunder deafening. The rain lashed down hard enough to sting my eyes; the water mixing with my constant tears. I never noticed any of it. It was the eerie silence that followed a particularly loud thunderclap that made me realise I'd been shouting as I looked up at that dark sky. I'm not sure I really believed in God but I knew that other people did and that seemed to be enough. I'd gotten angry with him; screamed that I would kill myself just so I could turn up at the pearly gates with a sledgehammer and exact revenge. Then I'd begged his forgiveness. I'd pleaded with him, told him I'd do anything he wanted, told him he could have me if he let John live. There was no price I wouldn't pay. After an hour or so I'd cried all my tears and exhausted myself so I just sat down there, in the rain, and waited.

John died three times during the operation. Every time they just managed to bring him back. He kept fighting and miraculously held on throughout. It took him over a year to fully recover and I spent nearly the whole time with tears of elation in my eyes as I watched him fighting back. Slowly regaining the ability to think, then speak and finally walk again. He's 24 now and still the closest friend I'll ever have. He's sitting near me as I write this occasionally calling me a soppy get and throwing things at me. There's rarely a day goes by when he doesn't make me laugh and there's rarely a day goes by when I can resist remembering that I nearly lost him and being a really soppy get and telling him how much he means to me. Sometimes, when the fear returns suddenly and overcomes me I'll be a really, REALLY soppy get and I'll tell him I love him and grab him in a giant bear hug (you should see his face when I do it in public!)

I still don't really believe in God but I know that I owe someone, somewhere, big time. The payback makes life kinda fun. I got really ill shortly afterwards and still haven't fully recovered but every time I think about it I just smile. It's just payback to whoever I owe for this massive favour. Every time something bad happens; when I lose something, when I get passed over for promotion in my shitty dead end job, when expensive things get broken, when I stub my damn toe the shrieks of pain and anguish are always quickly replaced by grinning and laughing.

I'm just paying the bill. And it's worth every single fucking penny.
(, Sat 26 Nov 2005, 10:13, Reply)

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