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They were about 13, maybe younger, and as I watched one of them drag on his butt, then gulp down the smoke with a grimace like it was a mouthful of castor oil, I walked over and squatted beside them.

I said “G’day” and explained to them that I was a smoker as well, had been for almost 20 years, had battled with it almost daily and, for the 2567th time, I was quitting again that day.

I remember the day I had my first cigarette with my step brother at his mum’s house in Coogee: a disgusting mentholated Alpine that I slowly convinced myself was a tasty treat.

It took me years of dedication to bed down the habit and make it part of me but, like rising damp, once it had established itself, I found it almost impossible to get rid of.

As I mentioned in last week’s post, I cannot tell you how many times I promised myself I would stop and could or would not.

I can say, though, with almost 100 per cent certainty that any smoker, if they’re honest with themselves, would admit they regret taking up the habit.

Reflecting on this, I also realised there are a few other things you can pretty much guarantee you’ll regret doing, so here’s an incomplete list that might save some of you a few dramas in your life and which you’re very welcome to add to.

Hitting a woman: If you’ve ever made this mistake, you’ll know it’s one that rattles around in a guy’s head for years to come. I wish I could say the same about hitting men, but I’m not that reconstructed and New Age just yet.

Wearing sandals: I still shudder at the thought of being forced to wear sandals as a kid. My instincts were spot on,
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even as five year old.

You know the “gateway theory” for drug use? How drinking and smoking dope can lead to harder drugs?

Well, sandals are the gateway for T shirts tucked into shorts, blue tooth ear pieces, bum bags, clipping your mobile to your belt and those Camel Back drinking systems I now see people using when they go for a walk.

It’s a slippery slope and you eventually even up here.

Lying on your CV: Somewhere, some day, some suit is gonna pull your dacks down by saying, “Oh really? I worked for Tracks magazine in 1993 and you were not the editor, dipshit.” A bad smell will follow you.

Going to the Easter Show: Every Good Friday while growing up as a Catholic. Talk about a guilty pleasure.

Throwing a tantrum: I can remember a couple I threw in my 20s one with a girlfriend, the other with my parents and I just want to clutch my testicles and make guinea pig noises in shame. It’s just so unbecoming.

Pretty much any tattoo before age 30: I know I , but I’m yet to meet someone who still likes the sick tatt they got when they were 18. Wait until you’re 30 and I bet you get something different and are much happier for it.

As someone once said to me: “I see a woman with a tattoo and I think, OK, here’s a chick who’s capable of making a decision she’ll regret in the future.”

Not finishing school: Sure we hear stories about people leaving school at 15 and becoming multimillionaires, but I reckon most who drop out of high school end up running errands or lap dancing for millionaires instead.

Not sticking up for your sister: I was a real prick to my sister when we were younger and I so wish I could go back in time and be more of a rock for her. I also had friends who gave her a hard time and thought it was amusing. It was lame. I’m sorry, sis.

Belittling a mate in public: Say what you want when it’s just the two of you, but making a gump outtaya chinas in front of others is just not on. And you’ll be the one copping it next time around.

Shitting yourself in public: Hard to come back from. See above.

Heavy drug use: I’m not going to say I regret all of it, because some fun was had and it certainly broadened my horizons. I’ve also got some funny stories to tell.

By and large, however, I look back at 25 year old me and feel sorry for the guy. I also wonder how smart I would be today if I hadn’t obliterated so much of my brain over so many years.

Throwing up in a cab: And then cleaning it up outside your house as the meter ticks over and the neighbours wake to the sound of the driver barking: “You missed a bit!”

Diving on the sporting field: Especially if it decides the game.

Travel: This falls under the category of stuff you’ll regret not doing or as some dude named Sydney Smith puts it: for the things we did can be tempered by time; it is regret for the things we did not do that is inconsolable. the fat/gay/ugly/dumb kids: Might be funny at the time but it corrodes your soul.

Saying to your mum through sobs when you’re 10: “I hate you,
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I hope you get hit by a bus.” Especially if she does.