This is one episode of my story, neither the first nor the last…
Hit the Showers!
That was the most dreaded phrase during my junior hi years. It happened daily – right at the end of PE. It meant that the torment and terror was about to begin. I was an early bloomer and attracted lots of unwanted attention from peers, older kids, and adults. I hated stripping, being naked, having others staring at me, being compared and talked about. That part of the daily routine was relatively innocuous. But the other things that happened: being taunted, poked, prodded, pushed, touched, bumped and rubbed – any of them could have been excused as being not a big deal individually, but they added up to a systematic and concerted effort to bully. Not every guy in the class participated. But none stood up or spoke up against it either. And neither did the coach. The couple of boys who might have wanted to defend me or protest were too afraid. And at some point, the taunting and “accidental” physical contacts – even though each was brief and done by a variety of people, seemed to cross the line to become sexual harassment and/or abuse. The object of the game was to get me to respond physically to the treatment – to get me aroused so they could make fun of me. And to my shame, despite (or maybe because of) my intense concentration and efforts to the contrary – they usually succeeded. After a while, I started to respond almost before the anything happened.
I would try to make myself unobtrusive and slip into the shower room without being noticed but it never worked. If I tried to get in there ahead of the crowd, then they were coming in as I was coming out and they caught me. If it tried to lose myself in the crowd and go in when it was the most congested, then the biggest gang was in there all together and I couldn’t keep out of their way. If I tried to lag behind and go in last, then they were waiting for me when I came out.
The shower room was all one big space about 10x20’ with an open doorway about 6 feet wide at the extreme right and the wall to the right of the opening free of shower heads and the long wall opposite with about 5 evenly spaced heads stretching to the left. The far wall to the left had another 3 and the wall immediately to the left of the doorway had probably 3 heads. The walls were orangy-brown ceramic tile about 4x6” with a speckled surface that reminded me of the top of a pumpkin pie. There was a drain in the middle of the floor and the tiled floor sloped down slightly from all sides and was slippery. The light was relatively dim – but not dim enough to suit me. The echoes in there made it loud and nearly impossible to make out what anyone was saying. So everyone yelled and that made it worse.
My challenge once I was in there was where to go. A corner feels like it gives more shelter – but I learned that it also makes it easier to get cornered and harder to escape. Straight ahead is not good because you can be seen by everyone from outside through the opening. But around the corner from the doorway is bad because no one can see what is going on and they can get away with more. The best spot is just to the left of the doorway because I can get out quickest. Sometimes I have no choice because I have to take whatever showerhead is available. Or sometimes I have to move because another guy pushes me aside and takes over my spot.
The next decision is whether to face the wall and the water jets or face the room. I prefer to face the wall but that means that my back is to the room and I can’t see who is coming up behind me. That is dangerous and scary because it leaves me open to sneak attacks. But if I face the room, although I can see anyone who comes toward me, they can also see and reach my vulnerable area more easily and that makes me really nervous. I finally figure out that I have to keep moving; constantly turning around so that I’m harder to focus on and I can keep an eye on the whole shower room. A moving target is harder to hit.
The next challenge is the gauntlet of crossing the whole locker room to get a towel. We rented towels and got a fresh one every day. If I get the towel before I go in the shower, it either disappears before I get out or it is soaking wet when I get back to it. (Surprise! How did that happen?) I have to go straight from the shower, dripping wet and totally naked between the rows of lockers to the opposite end of the room to the equipment cage to get the towel from the coach with his check list on a clip board. (Of course he has seen and heard nothing.) That gives everyone another look at me and another chance to mock, ridicule, and “accidentally” bump, push, or touch me again. I wanted to die or disappear.
Finally, after grabbing my towel, totally humiliated, I could cover myself and stumble back to take refuge between the open doors of my locker and that of the guy next to me on the left. I would try to dry off and get dressed between them in a ridiculously small space. But at least I could get the front of my body hidden. Once I was back to my locker the game was over until the next day.
I think that this is why I have that same unwanted and irresistible reaction whenever I am in a locker room or if I have to change clothes or strip in the presence of other guys. I have been trained or conditioned to have this physical response. And it is confusing because an erection normally signals a feeling of attraction and desire mixed with pleasure – not fear, revulsion, shame and self-loathing. And now it somehow seems to involve all of the above at the same time. Confusing and disturbing!
Edited by ModTeam (07/11/12 12:50 PM)
Edit Reason: added trigger warning