"I’ve Got a Melvin!"

According to Wikipedia’s article on wedgies a Melvin is a variant [of the wedgie] where the victim’s underwear is pulled up from the front, to cause injury to the victim’s genitals. Though as a child I understood that the term was equivalent to wedgie and I believe many of my peers understood the same, so the story that is about to follow may refer to either the traditional wedgie, or the definition I cited.

When I was in 7th grade there was a girl in my math class. I’m sure I thought she was pretty hot at the time. Her name was something like Brandi or Bethany, I remember it started with a ‘B’. I could probably dig out my Middle School yearbook to find out for sure, but I’m not too worried about her exact name. She was a year ahead of me in school. Well, as I recall, class hadn’t started yet, and the students were catching up on their homework, or otherwise wasting time. I was doodling in my notebook when I heard this girl announce, “I’ve got a Melvin!” She said it innocently, almost casually (but there was still some resolve in her voice, that’s why I have the exclamation mark). She sounded curious, as if she was a child discovering something for the first time. She didn’t sound embarrassed or shamed. I glanced in her direction, she was to my left, and the desks were arranged in a semicircle, so she was facing me. She shifted in her seat and adjusted her jeans to undo the Melvin.

I thought a lot about this. First of all, I thought it was funny. I’d heard the term Melvin before, but something about the way she announced it was absolutely hilarious. More importantly I thought about how unembarrassed she behaved concerning the situation. Admittedly, whenever my underwear bunched up, I adjusted it as slyly as possible. I wouldn’t have dreamed of confessing to an entire class the discomfort that I was feeling. I admire this girl’s utter lack of shame. I mean seriously, there’s no reason to feel shame when a wedgie or Melvin occurs naturally. Underwear bunches up sometimes. And yet I would have been ashamed at the time.

I did get a wedgie one time. Not by accident either, it was done to me. I didn’t even know what a wedgie was at the time, and I didn’t understand why the perpetrator grabbed my underwear the way he did.

It was during my elementary school days. The South family had taken me and my brother to go rafting with them. And while we were driving to the reservoir one of their sons, Jeremy or Jason, decided to grab my underwear and pull. Looking back, I can’t help but think that if I had been like the girl I spoke of, I would have just told Mr. South to stop the car, so I could get out and adjust my underwear, then I’d deck that kid as hard as I could. Sure he could have given me the beating of a lifetime, he was at least three years older than me, but I think I could have gotten one punch in, and at least I would have stood up to him. Instead, I quietly struggled to adjust my underwear while buckled in, and I never said anything. Ah, the regrets of childhood.

I don’t understand shame. I really don’t. Yet I feel it sometimes. As people, we’re ashamed of a lot of things that we probably don’t need to be ashamed of. Especially things that we don’t do on purpose, or things that happen to us. I guess it’s part of the human condition to feel shame, or maybe it’s part of the way we’re raised. I try not to be ashamed of anything anymore. I try to be open about all my experiences and mistakes, but even I have to confess that there are some things, not even very bad things, things that could have happened to anyone, that I will take with me to the grave.