“Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run
There’s still time to change the road you’re on.”
– Stairway to Heaven, Led Zeppelin
Life is pretty simple when you break it down. It’s all about choices. Make a good choice, reap the benefits. Make a bad one, deal with the pain and regret that inevitably follows. Often times in our lives, there are multiple ways to handle a situation. At times like these, we are invariably faced with moral dilemmas about which path to take. These decisions can be crucial, as they shape the trajectory that our lives take.
You would no doubt be familiar with the film Mr Destiny, a Jim Belushi vehicle from the early 90s. It was dismissed at the time as nothing more than a direct ripoff of It’s a Wonderful Life, which is probably warranted, but I feel that Belushi’s powerhouse performance as Larry Burrows outshone anything Jimmy Stewart ever did. Belushi’s Burrows desired for a better life, only to discover via Michael Caine that the life he was leading was pretty darn spectacular to begin with.
But it gets me thinking back to a different time: 1993 to be precise. I was sixteen and starting over at a new school. I needed the change in almost every sense of the word. I was wildly unpopular at my old school; my grades were suffering and I was just generally unhappy. My parents noticed and decided to do something about it. They enrolled me at another high school across the other side of town and crossed their fingers that their little fuck up would turn things around and become something.
That little dream never quite materialized for any of us, but other important things did happen. For one, I was popular. Well, maybe popular is overstating things a bit – but I was certainly accepted, for the most part, and that was critical. For the first time in my life, girls noticed me. One girl in particular took a shine to me. Her name was Tanya. Still is, I assume. She was cute as hell, if a bit “rough”. She had blond hair, heaps of earrings and truly fantastic legs. Golden brown, they were. And she liked me. Like most things in high school, I found out about her feelings not from the source itself, but a male friend of hers. He was a surfer dude named Daniel. He informed me of Tanya’s affections after maths class one day. He said she wanted me to go to a small party that she was holding while her parents were away for the weekend. It was like something straight out of a John Hughes film, which was quite fitting, as I felt like I’d gone from the Anthony Michael Hall dweeb archetype at my old school to an Andrew McCarthy-level fox over the Christmas break.
I ummed and ahhed about my invitation all week. I was really nervous about it. Word was spreading that she intended to have her way with me at the soiree, whether I liked it or not. I was freaked out. I’d never touched a girl in that way at that time, let alone take one to bed. From all accounts, Tanya was no shrinking violet when it came to carnal knowledge either, even at such a young age. I felt I was out of my depth, so I said no. It’s not that I didn’t want to see her naked and let nature take its course – quite the opposite – I just didn’t feel right about it.
My refusal of her request didn’t deter her, however, as she transferred her infatuations to another boy in our class. I missed my window of opportunity.
I never experienced high school sex like a lot of people did. I think, had I accepted Tanya’s kind offer of her vagina in 1993, I’d be a completely different person today. Not better necessarily, but definitely different. I would have conquered a fear and become a man a little ahead of schedule. Maybe I would’ve wooed my way into several other girls in my class as well. I certainly wanted to, I just didn’t have any game. This lack of confidence has been the bane of my existence to this very day.