Nothing wrong with not fitting in
Esquire Singapore|November 2021
On the idea of being a little out of this world, NEIL HUMPHREYS insists that being unconventional is the way to go.
NEIL HUMPHREYS

There are two very loose, self-imposed rules for this column. Do not stray too far from the topic and do not pander to one’s disturbing fixation with male genitalia.

But the two come crashing together like a pair of underpants hitting the kindergarten carpet in this instance.

On my first day at school, the teacher muttered those immortal words to my mother.

“Just let him try and fit in.”

Maybe there was a PE class that morning. Maybe there was toilet training (a tad late for three-year-olds, but you didn’t see the kids in my school. The only thing missing was David Attenborough’s narration.) Either way, I decided that the best way to settle in with my new classmates was to drop the underpants and give the tiny tackle an airing.

The kindergarten teacher scampered over and suggested there were more conventional ways of fitting in with the world around me.

And I’ve spent the better part of 40 years trying and failing to learn them.

In my primary years, I was a non-sporty kid on a sporty, working-class housing estate. During my secondary years, I was a smart kid in a less than smart school (for some, the academic ambition at the end of school was merely to reach the end of the school).

In fact, the school bullies took a keen interest in my intellectual prowess, so much so that after one particularly awkward school assembly, where I was awarded every certificate on offer—except PE, of course—I was chased across the football pitch, captured and then had my trousers pulled down.

In fact, the bullies’ modus operandi seemed to involve nothing more than seeing any penis other than their own (their latent homoeroticism was up there with the volleyball scene in Top Gun).

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