Travel Writing Awards Entry

By Chris Flack

I find myself lying in the middle of my living room, half naked, surrounded by a large group of friends who are trying there best to hold back their laughter. I have just let out yet another scream in agony as more of my now dwindling chest hair is wrenched off my body. I look at my pale chest and it is starting to bleed. It’s challenge number 85, my first chest wax and I am way out of my comfort zone,

I guess you are wondering how I got myself into this situation. It’s all to do with a New Years resolution I made a year ago. Now most New Zealanders make simple resolutions like exercise more, lose weight or stop smoking but I had to be difficult.

It was New Years day and I was at a restaurant with a group of mates. I thought it would be a great idea to send a bottle of wine to a couple of girls at a table near us – like in the movies. My friends thought I would be to scared to do it… so I did. It ended up being a really good night.

I then decided to make it my new years resolution to do two things a week that scared the hell out of me. It became my Comfort Zone Challenge and it would lead me on a year of discomfort.

I thought it would be a good way to pick up girls and a great excuse to try new things. I had to prove I was serious early on. So I took on my fear of heights by bungy jumping and followed this up by not allowing myself to drink for a month. I then tackled public embarrassment head on. I let my flatmate sell a date with me on Trademe to the highest bidder. It is a sad day when you realize you are only worth $41.50.

I then tamed my fear of small children by looking after two for a day. I tried Rabbit shooting but only managed to shoot their shadows. Then I was onto mastering the ancient art of reversing a trailer and the extreme hardship of not allowing myself to text for two weeks. 

A lot of my challenges invariable ended up involving food. Like eating my height in subway sandwiches in one day or constructing an entire house out of Gingerbread.

Others were to conquer certain fears. I had a fear of needles acquired from a nasty incident in Egypt. So off I went to pay a lot of money for an Acupuncturist to stick needles in me. He told me I shouldn’t drink for a few weeks and then had the courtesy to ‘forget’ to remove a couple of needles. I found these a couple of days later – Not my idea of fun.

There were the hilarious challenges like speed dating. That night I managed to reduce one girl to tears of laughter, have an arm-wrestle and convince another girl that I named horses for a living (she told me she was a dolphin whisperer so what else was I meant to say).

Then there was the outright scary challenge – public speaking. My flatmate dragged me along to her Toastmasters group and I was asked to do an impromptu speech on unusual Christmas gifts. I told a story about an engraver my father gave me. It was a ‘boomerang’ present that you give in the hope that the receiver will hate it and give it back.

One of my final challenges and greatest fears is public nudity. I only wear my birthday suit on special occasions but this all happened in a flash; my friend suggested a naked run and with a bit of moral support I was off. The ‘white lightening’ created from my naked body as I ran must have blinded the thirty or so witnesses because no one battered an eyelid – they just went on with there daily grind.

So I think this year’s resolution should be safe, painless and straightforward – I will start recycling.