When I Realized I Was a Coward

GhostCrabI remember the exact moment that I realized I was a coward: it was a warm summer’s night in July, about 30 years ago. I was just a kid, and we were on a beach—Myrtle Beach—vacationing with the whole family, having a blast with cousins I rarely saw. We lived in our own giddy world on these trips, bouncing from one sugar high to the next, utterly uninterested in our beer-drinking, Scrabble-playing parents. We had a bunch of cottages on the beach. After dinner, in the early evening, just after dark, whilst the adults were settling into a game of cards, my cousins and I would go out and explore the beach. It was magical: the warm sea breeze on my face, the smell of the ocean, and—this is where it gets weird—these amazing glow-in-the-dark crabs. The locals called them ghost crabs—and they really did look like ghosts, bluish-white ghosts from Pac-Man, defeated ghosts that have recently been chomped. They were so fast. But alas, we were often faster. I wanted to pick them up so badly, so very badly—but I couldn’t, I just couldn’t do it. I was afraid of getting pinched by those big claws. My cousin Andy, who was younger than me, had no trouble picking them up—even though he was pinched hard repeatedly. His courage shamed me, and yet I still couldn’t bring myself to pick up the crabs. It was then that I realized that I was a coward, by nature, and that I would need to struggle against that basic fact for the rest of my life. I realized, as well, that I would be forever in awe of naturally courageous people.

—John Faithful Hamer, The Myth of the Fuckbuddy (2017)

About John Faithful Hamer

John Faithful Hamer is a college professor who still can't swim, drive, or pay his bills on time. His sense of direction is notoriously unreliable, yet he'd love to tell you where to go. His lack of practical skills is astounding, and his inability to fix things is renowned, yet he'd love to tell you what to do. His mismanagement of time is legendary, as is his inability to remember appointments, yet he fancies himself a philosopher and would love to tell you how to live. He wouldn't survive in a state of nature, of that we can be sure; but he's doing quite well in the big city, which has always been a refuge for the ridiculous, a haven for the helpless, and a friend to the frivolous.

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