As a young lad i remember being told endlessly never to try this as a child. I was told kids really didn’t have any business exploring their curiosities, I didn’t understand it and tried to but it never made sense, I promised myself that as soon as I was old enough, matured enough as they put it I would take that journey and see the forbidden kingdom, maybe get a fruit or two while I was at it.
I had heard mixed stories and had gotten motley reactions, some said it wasn’t as bad as it was portrayed, others felt once you went in there was no going back, you always came out sweaty, stained and exhausted.
I stored every iota of data collected, awaiting the moment when the opportunity would present itself, the day I would walk tall and majestically and see for myself that which had all tongues wagging.
I won’t lie to you I was very apprehensive, I had lived a sheltered life, had grown up in the old-fashioned English manner, I was the kid who had siestas at 2pm and cookies and milk at 4pm (true story, don’t judge). I was the kid who cried when school closed and the driver wasn’t parked out front when I stepped out; I was the kid who cried when mommy was travelling without me I was that kid, spoilt and ignorant about a lot.
But as I grew older, I heard stories of audacious exploits by young reckless, daring lads, some my age, others a bit older and I said, no matter how difficult it was going to be, I would find a way. Even if I had to pay for a way I would eventually if i got there.
Time, as it’s been known waits for no man, less still the procrastinator, and it sure did me no favours, I was almost always there but something kept me back, I believed that this was a task for the strong-willed, the brave, the adventurous, I had no prior experience, had never been allowed even a peak, I was clueless and didn’t think I’d ever be ready, what if I couldn’t find my way, took the wrong turn, got lost completely and embarrassed myself, needing mommy to come help me. I was a man and wouldn’t have liked to be laughed at by my peers that had been on this adventure and came out better, stronger and more confident. We were basically all the same, pampered over fed kids (or so I thought).
This procrastination and second-guessing went on for years even when the crying years where well and truly behind me, even though I could confidently say I was a man, I knew that one thing was left to do. I had learnt how to drive, serenade ladies and cook a bowl of spaghetti Bolognese (I shit you NOT). I was tougher, astute, street savvy (all in the head I’d admit). I had left the ignorant me behind, though I’d admit I was still a mama’s boy.
The time had come for me to step out and be counted as a boss (street certified) my dear brother had gone before me and was looked at differently by our peers, he was no longer mommy’s boy, he had developed wings, he had grown an extra pair of balls, I couldn’t sit back and take it anymore, I had to take a look, I had to dig deep and promise that this goal was well and truly scored.
The day finally came, I woke with trepidations, but I knew there was no turning back, it was now or forever be labelled a wimp. The time came for me to take the ride, i was disoriented, confused from the start, I didn’t know where to go in from, what to do when I was in, and how long was good enough to say I spent in. It was stuffy, congested and a bit smelly, I was sweaty, exhausted and wanted out. It didn’t take long because I choked, it was quick and brief, I was in and I was out, but the bottom-line was that I had conquered my curiosity; I could finally say that I was my own man.
Down the years, I have wondered why it was a big deal for me to visit such a grimy place all to be considered grown. I still wonder now.
CULLED FROM MY INCOMPLETE SHORT NOVEL: MY FIRST TIME IN OLD OSHODI.
Dirty minds, I’m sure you all read thinking it was about fornication. I am a Born-Again virgin. (I shit you NOT)