There’s a very specific period of my teenage life that I remember fondly. I was about 13 and not yet set apart from my peers by height or sharp wit or beard. I was smart, having been bumped up a couple of classes, but the bullying hadn’t started yet. It was just a twelve month period, but I think we had more fun that year than any other that followed (at school anyway, university is something else entirely).
This is a story about me and the boys. The year was 1997 and we were 13. Out of a class of 12, seven of those were boys and six of them had grown up together since kindergarten, aged 1. To say that we were close would be an understatement — we were basically brothers. We were almost inseparable at school, always perfectly in-step and full of rapid chatter as we moved from classroom to classroom, laughing at jokes we could guess the ends of and finishing each other’s sentences.
Despite our closeness, we were still very different from one another. Some of us were academically brilliant while others simply did enough to get by. I wasn’t a chatter-box back then, but I did always raise my hand in class — I was that kid (though to be fair, I did always know the answer). I wasn’t particularly playful either… but my friends were! They were complete pranksters and always up to no good! And I always stuck at the focus of the damn crossfire.
There’s a strange kind of loyalty between childhood friends. Or maybe it’s just the fact that children are capable of firing and forgetting. When you’re 13 you can pull your best friend’s pants down, but don’t try it when you’re 31.
What I’m trying to say is, as the shy, unassuming, genteel member of the group, I was always the butt of their jests, jibes and practical jokes. I could tell you a lot of stories from that year. I could tell you about our out of bounds adventures or our scary dungeon-crawling experiences beneath our Victorian-era school building. The problem is… I’d have to ask them for permission first. A lot of the stuff is probably quite illegal too, in hindsight (it’s not really a consideration when you’re a kid), so I should probably stick to just the boner-related humour — well, except one childhood erection story that I can’t tell you until two people die.
With the preamble out of the way, let’s begin! It was a history class, and I had just stepped outside the room to talk to the teacher in private. I’d been a very naughty boy and she wanted to squeeze an apology from me — something she knew would be difficult. After a few fruitless minutes we both trudged back into the classroom, she with a frown on her face, and me with a grin.
I sat down.
A chorus of giggles erupted from behind me.
The teacher turned from the blackboard and the diagram illustrating the fall of the Roman Empire to see what a bunch of boys were giggling about. I too tried to turn around.
But I couldn’t. Because they’d glued me to my damn seat.
‘Shit, I’ve been glued to my chair’ isn’t really the first conclusion you jump to in such a situation. Let’s face it, it’s not the kind of thing you really expect, even from your prankster best friends. So of course, instead of thinking rationally, I just tried to turn around with even more force.
Rrrrrippp. There went the seat of my pants. Glue, warm, sticky glue was now pooling in, on and around my smooth, hairless… bits. I still wasn’t free either; I was still very much stuck.
By this stage, the guys behind me were in hysterics. The girls to my right were also staring at the desk, my chair, my pants. They were waiting to see what the teacher would say, before breaking their boring and sensible decorum.
Now, don’t ask me to explain the next bit. It doesn’t make sense to me now, and it never makes sense when you’re a teenager, but, yes, my fragile, nervous body decided that it was perfect time for a boner. Boiiiingggg!
Thank God I’m sitting at a desk or this could be a lot worse.
I smile nervously at the girls and try to shuffle a little further under the desk. It’ll all be over within a few minutes. Well, except for the glue. Shit, the glue.
Noooo, the teacher’s walking towards me…
‘What’s going on Seb?’
Where do I start… ‘I’m, er, stuck.’ A nervous grin — mine, not hers.
She looked down at me, cowering behind my desk. She must’ve misread the weird mix of tortured emotions displayed on my my face. The following act would never — COULD never — be forgotten. Twelve years later and what she did next is still indelibly scarred upon my subconscious.
She pulled back the desk with all the aplomb and fervor of an amateur magician.
A choked cry of alarm — from her, not me.
There I sat, my skinny teenage todger bursting forth from within my torn, sticky, glue-caked pants.
Unable to move. Exposed to the entire classroom. The only real saving grace is that I was 13 and not 16, or it would’ve been a lot messier.