Rosa Parks did it when she refused to give up her seat on the bus.
Neil Armstrong did it when he became he first human being to ever set foot on the surface of the moon.
Michelangelo Buonarroti did it when he completed his work on the Sistine Chapel.
Phil Collins did it when he released the timeless, "Sussudio."
Paris Hilton did it when she banged that one dude on videotape.
In the vein of these champions of human betterment, I too have played a part in one these life-changing escapades.
Want to hear about it?
"Shut up assmunch! You don’t have pubes."
That was my friend, Derek. His finger was poking me in the chest, his face barely three inches from mine and his voice was louder than normal. He was making sure that each one of our five or six friends in his mother’s backyard heard him clearly. He wanted everyone to understand beyond a shadow of a doubt that he didn't believe a word of the outlandish claims I’d just made. His hands were airborne, every gesture dramatized to the neighs. He was being obnoxious. He was forcing me to respond in kind.
And respond I would.
Let me backtrack for a second, though.
As is often the case with young boys, moments before Derek so defiantly rose to face me, the conversation between the six of us had turned to girls, and sex and wieners, and pubic hair. To be more specific about it, we’d begun discussing whether or not any of us had actually grown any.
Our friend Matt was the first to speak up. "I've got a ton of hair down there. It's like a forest, or something."
We all knew he was lying. We could read it in his body language and see it in the look on his face. Derek was the only one of us that chose to call him out on it. "Shut up. You don't have anything down there."
"Yes I do."
"No you don't. You're lying."
"I'm not gonna prove it, gaylord. I'm not showing you my pubes."
"That's cause you're a liar and you don't have any. None of us do yet. I'll bet you like…five thousand dollars that I get them before any of you dorks do!"
Matt returned into his chair with a huff. He lowered his head like a puppy that pooped on the carpet and had his snout rubbed in it. He’d been defeated. Derek called his bluff and in doing so, Derek had won.
Believe it or not, I liked Derek. In fact, it would be fair to say that he was my best friend at the time.
He was also a bit of an asshole.
He liked to push people around. If he wasn’t the center of attention, he wasn’t happy. He was the class clown - the loud mouth - the braggart. He was confident, in that frustrating way only a child that hasn’t yet been trampled on by the realities of life can be. Everyone knew a Derek growing up. Derek was the sort of kid that needed to be put in his place, even if only once.
The question was, who among the small group of friends hanging out in his backyard talking about the raisin-chested girls at school would have the guts to stand up to him?
Because my friends were, for the most part, losers - it looked as if the task would fall squarely on my shoulders. I was last option and the last hope – a bastion of hope amidst a sea wickedness. I was the final solution. Like Keanu in the Matrix, I was The One.
Someone needed to put Derek in his place. He was asking just asking for someone to stand up to him and I was confident I had the skills necessary to do exactly that.
When I say “skills” in this case, I’m of course referring to the mildly impressive peach-fuzz that had begun to sprout in around the general area of my crotch a few months earlier. Which is sort of a skill. No?
Shut up. It’s a skill.
Let me pretend it’s a skill.
It makes the story sound cooler if it’s a skill.
I steadied my legs and puffed out my chest. I crossed my arms, lifted my jaw and focused my gaze singularly on the task at hand. This was it. This was the moment. After taking a deep breath I let the words spill from me like a hero's speech moments before the climatic scene in an action film. "I've got some pubes."
Rosa Parks would have been proud.
Derek stood up and moved toward me. "Shut up assmunch. You don’t have pubes."
"Yes I do."
"No you don't."
"Yes I do."
"I know you are, but what am I?"
This was the moment of truth - the instant in which the men were separated from the boys - literally - seeing as pubes were involved.
"Fine." I stood up and started to unbutton my pants.
Initially Derek surprised by my eagerness. His surprise quickly turned to anger. Someone was standing up to him. It was a classic case of the old switcheroo. For the first time in a very long time, someone was calling his bluff. My friends leapt to their feet and formed a circle around me. Their eyes moved to my crotch as I started to unzip.
While I didn't whip out my little boy junk and start flapping it around, I did pull my pants down just enough to show off my crotch grass.
It was short – a bit paltry looking if I’m honest - kind of like the green on a golf course.
Short or not, there was no denying the fact that it was pubes.
A sort of airy, noiseless-noise emerged from the group of gap-jawed onlookers. It was layered in shock, slathered in awe, and drenched in bewilderment. On the top of it all was an Emeril sized BAMM of jealousy.
Did I just make an Emeril reference?
The problem was, with everyone staring at my crotch, no one heard Derek’s mother approaching from behind. Suddenly she was standing above us, peering down into the group of boys and trying to figure out what the hell was going on. "What are you boys looking at…"
She spotted my fuzz - spotted me showing off my fuzz - spotted five kids staring down at my fuzz.
I can't imagine what the poor woman was thinking. It must have all seemed gayer than Doogie Howser in a threeway with Clay Aiken and Tom Cruise at a gay brothel in the fictional city of Gaytown, Gayklahomo.
Which would be pretty darn gay.
Her first reaction was to scream. "Oh my God! What the hell are you doing?”
The group scattered in every direction.
Derek and two kids slid into the house. Another ducked behind the shed and hopped over the fence. Two more headed for the street where they ran and continued running until they got home.
I tried to zip up my pants, but my shirt got caught in the gears of the zipper, which made it almost impossible and also tossed me off balance. I was half trying to run and trying to zip at the same time, while having very little success at either. Instead I was just spinning awkwardly in a circle.
I glanced at Derek's mother. She was staring at me like I’d just transported down from my mother ship with a pair of wobbly antenna bobbing atop my head - like I was a weird little thing from another world that she wanted nothing to do with.
I stumbled into one of the patio chairs, flipped over it and was suddenly rushing toward the ground. I landed hard on my right shoulder, smacked my nose against the concrete and bruised my thigh.
Derek’s mother tried her best to keep herself from laughing.
Her hand went to her mouth and her eyes began to water. Trying to hide her face, she made a weird snorting noise before scampering into the house.
My shoulder hurt like hell.
There was dirt in my mouth and my pants were around my knees.
I looked like an idiot.
I did have pubes though, and that's worth something.