Some people seem to be born with knowledge of what sex is all about. During those formative years in which sex first entered the picture, so to speak, it seemed so tantalizing and out of reach that it vexed me terribly.
Perhaps the first sexual escapade of my life was up in a tall hemlock tree with a neighbor girl named Cathy. We climbed up there together one summer afternoon and showed each other our genitals. Even at the age of six years old, I got an instant erection. “Why does it do that?” she asked. “I guess it gets embarrassed,” I told her.
Fifteen years later, as a senior in college, I was dating a woman with whom I had fallen deeply in love. She bought me a pair of silky running shorts during cross country season. We went for a run and within a mile the state of excitement in my pants was apparent. We both stopped and laughed. That was the only time I ever got an erection while running.
Most of the time, the state of a man’s genitals during running is something entirely different than erect. The movie Juno describe the bouncing genitals in the shorts of distance running as “pork swords.”
It would have been helpful early in life to realize that girls/women knew all too well what was going on down there. But we all find out about sex and genitals at our own rate. Unfortunately for Bleeker and Juno, they played it a little fast and she wound up pregnant. This scene shows the nature of their true relationship, outside the sex that is, and it sustains them through their teenage challenges.
I wonderfully recall being a freshman cross country runner at little Kaneland High School out in the cornfields of Illinois. During a dance in the cafeteria, I somehow lucked into the arms of a cheerleader named Joanie whose rock hard body and thighs were mine for the night. She held me tight through many songs and when it was all over for the evening, I stood in dazed wonder at my physical and emotional good fortune. She kissed me quickly and vanished out the door. Thank God the lights were low because I discovered on the way home that I’d been excited enough through all that thigh-wrap dancing to spot the front of my gray jeans. If my friends had seen that, I might never have lived it down.
Despite that intense experience, I still did not understand much about the wonders of the female body. With no sisters to depend upon for advice, or to stumble upon in a half-dressed state, the female anatomy remained a cartoon cutout in my mind. Even tracing the pictures in my father’s Playboy magazines when I was eight or nine years old didn’t help me figure all that much about the female body. I was intensely curious, yet left with the mysterious.
As my artistic talents grew along with my hormones, I began copying centerfolds with pencil drawings. Those took me hours to complete. The excitement during that process would build, and like all young teenaged boys, that always consummated with one thing. But at least I had the product of all that obsession to consider after it was through. Such is the give-and-take of the artistic process. It is often driven by desires of one sort or another. Creativity and sexuality are both sides of a coin in some cases.
And yet, there were times when it was necessary to get rid of all that sexual energy to get anything done at all. Even after a morning session in the shower, I’d be distracted beyond belief during classes in high school. The fashions worn by girls back then were as much a focus of male attention as they are today. Even back in seventh grade, the girls wore fishnet stockings and miniskirts. Some had already sprouted breasts. We’d play spin-the-bottle at kissing parties in dark little basements. Sex was always peering out from one corner or another.
In hopes of proving myself to girls and gaining their attention, I competed hard (no pun intended) in every sport I played. Of course, cross country wasn’t the macho sport that football ever was. We were a gang of thin, pale souls with thick hair, sunken cheeks, and hollow eyes. But we were tough. When the cross country team went 9-1 and the football team went 0-9, we at least laid claim to success while the sweaty, zit-covered footballers retreated to the showers in defeat week after week. For whatever reason, the girls still clung to them like burrs on a flannel shirt. The football guys got laid. With a few exceptions those first couple years, the cross county guys jerked off into tube socks. That changed by the time we were juniors and seniors, but just barely in time to salvage some rite of passage.
All that time, the uneasy relationship between sexual feelings, guilt and self-image wrestled for my attention. A friend in wrestling once told me that he masturbated to lose weight. I was already rail-thin from miles of running. The thought that I was making myself even skinner didn’t help my self-esteem.
That confusion into college when as a freshman I officially lost virginity in a drunken outdoor session on some campus stone wall. It was an inauspicious way to “become a man,” but I didn’t care. I figured one has to get off the starting line one way or another.
At the same time, I was enrolled in life drawing classes with nude models. Finally the curves and angles of the female body were revealed for what they were: just bodies. Coming back from classes with my armload of drawings each day, I’d be met at the dormroom door by a phalanx of floormates eager to gaze upon what I’d drawn.
Now I was getting somewhere, but where?
That “somewhere” would soon enough take the form of sexual relationships much like the Bob Seger song “Night Moves.”
I was a little too tall
Could’ve used a few pounds
Tight pants points hardly reknown
She was a black haired beauty with big dark eyes
And points all her own sitting way up high
Way up firm and high
College came and went, so to speak. The adult world and forty years of life awaited. Now I’m sixty-plus years old and hormones don’t drive every thought that goes through my head. My focus is now the desire I feel for my wife. It is a fascinating thing to share all this running, riding and swimming with her. The intimacy of watching her strive through workouts and then sharing a marriage bed is unique in many ways. In her I see the desires of so many women seeking to keep themselves fit and healthy, to enjoy life in all its fulfillment and variations.
To be true, the world is much more free with body images these days. The female buttock is no longer taboo. Nor are nipples so carefully hidden. Even the Mons Venus owns the day. All this honesty would have helped my young mind free itself from the sexual trap of mystery and fear. It’s just bodies, and sex, and all that.
The way it should be.
I can still recall the girls from high school walking around in their skin-tight Levi’s. I’d always sit in the back of class just to watch them walk in and sit down.
To this day I still admire a nice pair of Levi’s!
The challenge in all that is whether we’re allowed to “sexualize” women or not. On one hand, it’s not our place as men to do that all the time. On the other hand…