On cowardice

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Scaredy-cat, that was me.

It wasn't until about the time of junior high that I realized I was a milquetoast. You see I was afraid to walk to the trashcan in our backyard after dark. The yard was fenced in, we weren't rich so it wasn't a long walk. Each step weighed so heavily you'd have thought I was about to be assassinated by a terrorist.

I was terrified of insects. One stung me when I was five. An odd-looking flying bug would send me fleeing indoors. Even in my twenties.

My fear of strange dogs was a little more justified. On the way to Shuman Junior High one day a dog sunk his teeth into an ankle. I'd walked past that dog hundreds of times. It didn't bark, growl, it just walked up and took a bit. About a year later a dog charged at me and for the first time in my life I climbed a tree. In seconds.

I grew up a wimp. Good thing I wasn't hankering to be manly. And that a few smooth young fellows didn't know what a weakling that stud with the manly was. Of course I grew up to doubt my own sexual desirability. Bless those boy-harlots who shook that out of me.

I only feared what I knew. Happily in Atlanta I'd prowl the city's back-alleys well after midnight. Until that unwelcome night that three men placed their knives against me. They found out that I didn't have anything worth stealing. After walking down Peachtree Street's and Piedmont Avenue's white line home I grew more careful in my nightly rambles.

When I was in jail in the Eden North Carolina county jail I was grateful that I wasn't in the same cellblock as the black screaming sissy above me. It was bad enough to discover there was a closet that I would crawl into before letting myself be raped. What would've been like if I'd deserted another gay person, however silly and irresponsible? I knew that I'd really want to give her (I don't really know but the person sounded transgendered) recognition as a fellow gay (which wouldn't have necessarily been welcomed). Not to just lie back and get head or pretend she was too low to matter.

After I left home my timidities started dropping away. Simply being able to live as I wished uncramped my mind. One of the often-unperceived decisions some of us face is when we unknowingly decide to live for ourselves or in fear of others.

Thankfully mere experience shook me out of my fear of the dark, insects. Some people grow up reckless, others of us have to work to escape pedestrian terrors.

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On cowardice
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