When I was in junior high, I walked all the way home to my grandparents’ house in discomfort, only to finally make it, struggle with my key in the lock and pee all over myself in my light blue jeans.
What made it worse was that our extremely judgmental police officer neighbor across the street was synchronized to open his door at the same time, and was behind me with a disgusted look and shake of his head.
It reminds me of my junior high school principal, Mr. Landman. He was a balding cool white Jew with a hoarse voice who wore suits and ties with running sneakers. I begged him one day to come to track practice to see me run, and when I lost the race, I looked up in the bleachers to see him deliberately shaking his head back and forth, as if he really wanted to drive the point home that I was a loser.
It’s like, even now, I look back and know that I was never ashamed because I knew the shame wasn’t mine. I just wore it and ran with it. But it never belonged to me.