I recently attended a high school reunion which included an optional tour of the campus before the festivities began. The last stop on the tour was the sports centre which included the pool where I had learned to swim as a young child. In secondary school I had participated in and observed inter-house swimming competitions, and played a variety of water games including water polo, and engaged in various high jinks in that pool.
Our school’s swimming uniform was dark green speedos. Watching boys in speedos certainly confirmed to me that I liked male bodies. It was definitely one those formative experiences. I might not have been sure about what I wanted to do with boys – but I knew I liked them and I knew I liked some of them more than others, which I suppose was an important step in determining my preferences – some of which have stayed with me until today.
I’m sure every hormonally challenged teen guy, gay or straight, dreaded the idea of getting a very obvious boner while standing on the starting blocks of that pool.
So staring at that pool brought back a lot of memories – mostly positive.
But then something interesting happened – a group of guys on the tour headed for the change rooms. They hadn’t altered much. There were fewer benches than there used to be. The showers which used to be communal had been split into individual cubicles for privacy. The old pastel colours had gone and it looked brighter and newer – but it was definitely the same old change room we knew with a face lift.
But it posed the question – why would a group of guys in their 30s, all straight as far as I know, want to check out the change rooms? It was pretty clear that all of us had some pretty powerful memories associated with this room.
When teenagers start to become aware of their sexuality it leads to a number of things. Many connected with this swimming pool change room.
This was the room where we surreptitiously checked each other out while changing – working out who had hit puberty and who hadn’t. Seeing where we fit within the group in terms of body hair and cock length. Where we compared and contrasted. I don’t ever recall any disparaging comments being made about people who developed late – but everyone knew what was going on.
I still remember one boy who hit puberty early and had what seemed to be a massive cock compared to the rest of us. I was a bookish kid who knew how puberty worked but it made me, and I suspect others, long for when our bodies would catch up.
This was the room made sure we wore good underwear on days where we had PE. Expressing our sexuality by picking out underwear that made us feel good – and avoiding ones that made us look like children. Nothing with cartoons. What we thought looked sexy – which in those days was exclusively briefs.
It was the room where we had to prepare to head out to face the girls – also in dark green speedos.
We only ever had a few towel fights in the change room – which frankly scared rather than excited me. Almost no one walked around naked. Sexuality was more of an undercurrent.
This was the change room where I noticed that two of my fellow students after swimming practice would head to the sauna – so that everyone would leave the change room before they got there. One time I hung back to see what would happen – nothing unfortunately. Another time I left and then returned five minutes later to find they had locked themselves in the change room. I was always convinced there was sex but I will never know how far they went. And neither will their wives.
In many ways, that was the biggest irony of all – in my year level it was the straight boys who were having more mutual masturbation and sexual high jinks with each other than the gay boys did – mainly because it didn’t mean anything to them – it was merely helping out a mate and getting off.
That’s not to say I didn’t have some sexual experiences in high school on campus but they were all with guys who now have wives and kids. In one case, lots of kids – giving credence to the theory that they weren’t gay, just horny.
So that brings me back to the reunion. Why did a group of men in their thirties, most married, wandered into the change room of their youth and paused for a few minutes to remember good times? Perhaps it was where their sexuality started to impact their lives. It started here.