(While I'm making a quick trip south to visit my dad this week, I'm reposting a few older entries. They might be favorites to longer-term readers; to newer readers they might be completely new. For Monday through Wednesday, I'm posting the first few of "A Sexual Education" in the order in which they happened, which is completely out of order from the way I actually wrote them.)
My father did the grocery shopping in our family, when I was a kid. My mother couldn’t take the smell of a supermarket for very long; the mingled smells of produce and meat and disinfectant upset her lifelong-touchy stomach. I usually went with him, for the simple reason that while he took an hour to plod along the aisles of the Colonial Market and comparison shop, I got to run around Azalea Mall. The supermarket anchored one end of the little mall, and Woolco the other. A Thalheimer’s and a Woolworth’s rounded out the major stores.
When I was eleven, the summer between fifth and sixth grades, I was whittling away the minutes in People’s Drug Store, standing in front of the long and bright display of magazines in the store’s front section. I seem to remember I was reading an issue of Cracked—a journal I never bought, as it was little more than a lowbrow cousin to Mad, to which a portion of my allowance was devoted. I’d read it from the stands, though, and on that particular warm afternoon I must have been fairly absorbed in the pages, because the sensation that followed affected me like a bright shock from static, making me jump and blink my eyes, startled.
It was just the slightest of sensations, really. Just the faintest touch through the fabric of my pants, right beneath the head of my cock. Typically I wore Levi’s corduroys in those days, though that particular afternoon I was wearing one of my two pairs of dressier slacks—a pair of green denim pants with wide flares around the ankle. The slacks were super-tight and embellished with raised seams that ran down the front of each leg. (Hey, it was 1975.) Almost immediately I began to get hard. I reacted in surprise because I hadn’t done anything to arouse myself that way. My magazine wasn’t particularly saucy, and I hadn’t yet reached that age of puberty when I was one walking erection, though that hormone-driven phase was to come very, very soon. I looked around to see if anyone might notice the bulge that had swelled across the front of my pants, but the only person in the area was a man who’d walked by moments before, as absorbed in his magazine as I’d been. I shook my head and went back to my reading.
A moment later, the man standing several feet to my left put his magazine back in the rack, then slowly crossed in front of me again. I was paying more attention this time as he passed, and noticed that he slowed when he was in front of me. Again I felt the slightest of tickles, this time traveling the length of my erection—as if he was using a fingernail to trace prominent outline there.
Never before has my heart beat so hard. I thought it might pound its way out of my chest. It felt as if I was encased in a giant timpani and made to suffer during an angry tattoo across its top. My eyes were so filled with rushing blood that for a moment I couldn’t see clearly, but then I took a look at the man who’d just touched me. He was in his late thirties, perhaps, and had one of the enormous porn mustaches that men often wore in that decade. His shirt was tight across his broad chest, and synthetic, and brightly-patterned, and the top two buttons opened to expose a pale and hairy chest.
I knew at that point that I was more attracted to guys than girls. I’d read the sections about homosexuality in the sex manuals my parents had given me, and I’d recognized myself within the pages, somehow. Yet I’d never really looked at an older man before and thought about him as a potential partner for sex. Hell, I hadn’t even known it was much of an option. At that point my sexual experimentation had consisted largely of occasionally bunching up a pillow between my legs and rubbing against it furiously until I enjoyed a dry orgasm; I didn’t have a clue of how to masturbate with my hands, nor had I the urge to seek anyone out for sex. I didn’t even fantasize, at that point. I humped my pillow, thinking about nothing. No pornographic movies played through my head. I didn’t have any specific fantasies. My sessions with my pillow were pure instinct, with no concrete thought.
When I looked at this man, I found him moderately attractive. But frightening. The smart part of me knew I should walk away, or retreat to somewhere with more people around. The few inches of me engorged with blood, however, prompted me to stay where I was. It wanted to see what happened next. The man picked up another magazine and leafed through it, slowly, casually. Then he tossed it onto the rack, and began walking in my direction. As he passed in front of me, he paused. His hand was curled into a fist, which was the pendulum suspended from the pivot at his shoulder. Out it swung, until the side of his fist collided with my hard dick. It rested there for only a moment—long enough for me to feel the warmth and the pressure, through the denim—and then he walked away.
I watched as he walked out the back door of the drugstore and stood just outside. His head craned forward to look back in my direction. He wanted me to follow him, I knew. I couldn’t make any such decisions, though. My heart beat so loudly that I was sure everyone in the mall could hear. I wanted to follow and see what happened, but some instinct told me I shouldn’t. I could be kidnapped and murdered, I reasoned. No matter what my dick wanted, my self-preservation seemed to win out. I simply stood there and waited.
It didn’t take him long to return. I froze when he approached, wanting to be touched again, but not wanting to appear to desire it. This time, however, he simply positioned himself next to me. “Please,” he hissed from the corner of his mouth. “Come to my car. I’ll do whatever you want. We don’t have to go anywhere. Anything you want. Please.” Once again he turned and walked out the door that led to the parking lot, and waited.
This time, I moved. I walked very quickly in the opposite direction, into the mall, and down its length to the Colonial Market at the other end. I helped my father with the bagging and with the loading of groceries into the car, keeping very quiet the entire time. The moment the last head of lettuce was put away, I ran to my room, pulled down my pants, and bundled up my pillow.
For the first time, that summer afternoon, I had something concrete to think about while I rubbed myself.