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4 Childhood Embarrassments That Never Stop Being Shameful

When you're a kid, you don't know your ass from flapjacks. The world is a wondrous place of confusion, video games, and shit you made sticky because hygiene is someone else's problem. And nestled in among all the Boglins, kickass bicycles, and food that comes in stick form are an array of issues you find hopelessly, terribly embarrassing. And the worst thing about a precious handful of these embarrassments is that you think they won't be a problem when you're older, when in fact it gets exponentially worse and you were living in the halcyon days of embarrassment back when you were 12. As an adult, this shit is just out of hand.

#4. Dong Spying

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In my younger years, I would have prefaced this by assuring you that I'm straight, but eh, would it even matter? If anything, I assume this would be less embarrassing if I was gay. Anyway, it's looking at dicks. From the first time you're forced to bathe communally with other men at a gym of some kind as a child, being surrounded by dong is a weird and terrifying experience.

We're taught from a pretty young age that your doodle is a private thing, and yet when you hit a swimming pool or work up a sweat, it's time to have a naked party with a room full of other dudes who are all flopping out like their clothes have evaporated. And while the sense of unease is awkward, it's the moment you get caught staring at a dong that the real embarrassment sets in.

Why would a kid stare at wang? Why do kids eat paint chips? You can't account for why a kid does anything. I once watched a kid on a bus eat his mother's lipstick. So, being surrounded by old man dink at the Y, it's no wonder that a kid might stare for a minute -- maybe one is all wonky and malformed, maybe his pube fro is more majestic than anything the kid has seen before, who's to say? But man, as an adult, it's a whole new ballgame, so to speak.

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This isn't innuendo for anything.

I have a really bad habit of staring off into space. Do this in a room full of naked guys and it seems like your glassy-eyed, slack-jawed expression has been brought on by an overwhelming sense of wiener admiration, and not every man is comfortable with that. Now you're forced to try to explain that you weren't staring at his junk, it's just that his junk ended up in your frame of view, and you were absently staring at a wall, thinking about blueberry cheesecake lube or whatever. There's no subtle way out of it, and it's so much worse than when you were a kid and could blame it on being sugar-addled or just stupid. Plus it means you need to go to a new gym now, and one day you'll run out of new ones.

The real issue here is the way our culture reacts to staring. How many times have you heard "Don't stare!" when you were growing up, or been made uncomfortable by someone else staring at you? Ever wonder why? Looking at people is not wrong, but it can be creepy to us. A woman wears a super low-cut top, you stare at her boobs, you're being a creep. I say fuck that. If I can see a thing when I'm out and about shopping for bagels and spray cheese, it's not my fault if I look at it. Don't tell me what to do with my eyes. And likewise, if you're insisting that I have to wash my dick in a room full of other dicks because somehow that is culturally normal, don't tell me it's not normal to see another dick. I'm going to look at every dick and tit that crosses my field of vision from now on, no matter how awkward it makes the dinner party.

#3. Clothes From Relatives

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When I was 11 years old, my unmarried and completely out of touch with reality aunt purchased me, for my birthday, a one-piece bathing suit that was yellow with red leaves patterned across it. I want you to imagine this for a moment -- imagine a child's one-piece bathing suit, in bright yellow, with realistic blood-red leaves all over it. Imagine those thin shoulder straps and the dip in the fabric across the back. Imagine the reinforced cotton gusset that I guess was meant to cradle my balls, since I was a boy (still am) and this was a bathing suit meant for a little girl. What the fuck?

My aunt assured my parents and me that this was not a girl's bathing suit, that men in Europe wore this style of suit all the time and it was meant to cover more skin so as to prevent sun damage and skin cancer. This may have been the first time my child's mind formed the thought "bullshit" with such fierce and precise sarcasm that, had I unleashed it verbally, it may have drawn blood. It was bad enough that I had a habit of staring at dicks in the shower at the pool, I didn't need to be wearing a girl's bathing suit while I did so.

Medioimages/Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images

And now for eveningwear!

The fact is, clothing purchased by relatives is a terrible speed bump in your road to independence. It's like being a dog that gets dressed by a rich celebutante who doesn't understand what animal abuse actually is. You know you look stupid, but what's to be done about it?

Once adulthood comes around, you feel like you may have escaped this trap of dressing like an idiot. Instead, it becomes a more finely honed experience of embarrassment wherein your relatives, now totally out of touch with you and your style, buy you things like sweatpants that you and a friend could fit in, because probably you're fatter than they remember, and hoodies featuring wolves. Do you have any idea how many sweaters I own that feature wolves, elk, and cougars? I'm like Walker, Texas Ranger's fashion fucktarded cousin. They hang in my closet for years on end until I have enough to bag up for the Goodwill, and even then I know they look at me with judgment in their eyes for presuming to give such ugly-ass sweaters to the poor and thrifty as though they had no taste whatsoever.

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Felix Clay

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