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December 02, 2009
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There was a period of seventeen years in my life, between the ages of twelve and twenty-nine, where I didn’t go swimming once. And the sad and ironic twist in all of this is I love to swim. And not only do I love to swim, but I love to swim more than anything else.

I didn’t swim for those 17 years of my life for one reason: Because I hate taking my shirt off in public.

I think a lot of guys out there take for granted how easy it is for them to take their shirts off in public. For some guys it’s a subconscious function like breathing -- you know, they do it without ever thinking about it. And worst of all, they usually do it at anytime or anyplace.

They take their shirts off at the beach, at the gym, when they’re having sex with women, and even when they turn into werewolves.

I, on the other hand, am terrified of taking my shirt off anywhere -- never mind in public. Seriously, I don’t even like taking it off when I have to shower.

As I’ve already written before, I was a fat kid:

So right from the start, I was uncomfortable with taking my shirt off around other people. But I loved swimming and my Uncle Norman, who is a very kind man, always invited us to swim at his pool whenever we wanted to. But as a result of hating to take my shirt off, I became that fat kid who wore a t-shirt in the swimming pool.

And so I continued the habit of wearing t-shirts in swimming pools all the way up to middle school, when my older brother encouraged me to lose weight by offering me $200 if I could lose thirty pounds in three months.

I quickly lost the weight and dropped almost forty pounds in that time -- and my brother happily gave me the money he wagered.

Unfortunately, as soon as I lost the weight, I immediately started growing back hair so once again, I was left feeling uncomfortable with taking my shirt off in public.

But to be completely honest with you, it didn’t matter that I had back hair, because although I lost weight, and was technically skinny, I still had love handles and these little pockets of “back fat.”

At that point, I was so embarrassed and insecure about my body, I made a conscious decision to never take my shirt off in public again. Now that wasn’t such a big deal because I was pretty much already living my life like that -- but the kicker is, I also decided that if I wasn’t going to take my shirt off anymore, than I wasn’t going to go swimming either. By that point, I was smart enough to realize that wearing a t-shirt in a pool is waaay lamer than being fat.

And that’s the way I lived through high school, college, and most of my adult life -- although that’s not to say I never took my shirt off.

Whenever I was lucky enough to bring a girl back to my place after a night of drinking, I was always terrified of the moment when I finally had to get naked. I knew it was inevitable, but I always tried to stall it as long as possible -- and because of that, I mastered the skill of getting girls completely naked before I had removed a single article of clothing.

I soon figured out that if a girl was digging me enough to be at my place at 2:30 in the morning, than she probably wouldn’t care that I had love handles and back hair. Or at the very least it was too late for her to do anything about it -- she had already made her bed, so to speak. But just to be safe I always kept the lights off to soften the blow. FYI – there’s a blow job joke right there but I’m not going for it.

Anyway, something happened to me as I started getting older – I stopped caring.

I just stopped caring about all the dumb shit that doesn’t matter. Things like being fat or hairy, or farting in public. Stupid things that belong in high school. And by the time I turned 29, I was ready to go swimming with my shirt off -- although there was no way in hell I was gonna take my shirt off on a California beach. The girls here are waaaaay too hot for me to go through that kind of public humiliation.

Instead, I figured if I was gonna take my shirt off in public, the safest place to do it would be in Mexico where the beaches smell so much like shit that nobody wants to go swimming.

So I rented an RV, and invited a group of people from every stage of my life to come to Mexico and support me as I took my shirt off in public for the first time in over seventeen years.

That trip to Mexico ended up being one of the most painful experiences of my life. I got diarrhea, I was shaken down by the Mexican Police, and worst of all, my heart was broken by a girl that I had been in love with for a couple years.  I don’t have the time, energy, or strength to write about that story right now, but the one good thing that came out of that trip was I loosened up enough to take my shirt off in public and enjoy the warm, shit-smelling oceans that Mexico has to offer -- although to be honest, I didn't enjoy swimming as much as I remembered -- probably because I was swimming in a sea of shit.

I think what also made it easier for me to take my shirt off was the fact that my good friend, and then-roommate, T-Bone, had a body as weird as mine:

Although I still feel uncomfortable taking my shirt off in public, I am now able to use my disgusting physique for positive endeavors -- like winning Halloween Costume Contests dressed as Michael Phelps:

The night that picture was taken I won $50 for scariest Halloween costume.

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