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I very distinctly remember the first time a girl took off my pants.

At the time I wore Bullhead jeans exclusively, and Bullhead always put a little colored tag on the inside of the fly to demarcate the cut. Well when the girl in question unbuttoned my pants and unzipped my fly the first thing she said was “Oh I didn’t know there was a tag there” as a way to cut the tension mounting in the room.

She must have noticed that I was dying. My heart was pounding so hard it was making my voice quiver. I wasn’t excited, I wasn’t happy, I wasn’t any of the things I thought I would be based on my many viewings of the movies “Animal House” and “Porky’s”. All I wanted was to tell her to stop, to zip me back up and to go back to hanging out and watch a movie and make out or something.

We didn’t do any of those things. She moved forward with her plans to disrobe me and eventually I enjoyed my evening, even though I felt terrified the entire time. By the second time with her I was completely ready and willing, it was just that first encounter.

It happened like that with a few other women in my life too. In fact, I was told a number of times long after the fact that I could’ve had a much broader and more developed sex life if I hadn’t been so scared to dive in.

I guess in a lot of ways I’ve been like that with a lot of things. Too nervous to jam with some musicians, too nervous to join a softball team, too nervous to fix things around my house, too nervous to do what I really wanted with my life.

I think I’ve always wanted to preserve an image of myself as really good at whatever I try. I always wanted to be a “talented person” in many regards instead of so few. People hear that you’ve played guitar since you were 12, you must be pretty damn good, guess again. People hear you love baseball, you must be pretty good at softball, not this time. People hear you lived on honor roll and dean’s list your whole life, you should make something of yourself, keep trying.

Maybe it isn’t lack of talent that kills the masses; it’s the consumption of self by fear, just like a girl unzipped your pants for the first time.

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