Always Tense Without Realizing

Long before I slipped a disc in my lower back for the first time, I went dancing at Bugatti’s nightclub. I was a spotty, lanky teenager thrust into a world of drunken partying that I wasn’t ready for.

After a couple of pints of “snakebite and black”, a popular drink at the time made of cider, lager and blackcurrant cordial, I plucked up the courage to follow my friends onto the dance floor.

But just as I was joining the throng of horny adolescents, I was touched on the arm by a girl just one or two years older than me. I turned to see her impersonating me. Her shoulders were raised right up to her ears, and she said one word: “Relax”, before releasing the tension and letting her shoulders fall.

I had no idea I was so tense until it was pointed out to me. Was I always like that? It wasn’t for another 20 years before someone else mentioned it. Here in Japan, running down a somewhat technical mountain trail, Ajimi-san, following behind, told me to relax my shoulders. He’d seen it too.

The warnings were there. I just didn’t heed them.

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