Choice? Even If I did make a choice, it was because I had wanted it, and who can deny that was my right? Looking back on it now with fond memories, I think it was more a matter of suggestion, discovery and inquisitiveness than choice. I had already decided I liked looking at boys; after that came the waiting. I hadn’t known what I was waiting for, or even that I was waiting. I didn’t realise I was poised and ready.
He had crept carefully alongside me while we sang the hymn. We were two of a dozen choir boys. In those days we praised, prayed and sang every Sunday morning, but my appraisal of his suggestion, which he had just made in my ear, caused me to forget the words to the song. I now had another hymn in my ear and his voice was extraordinary, enchantingly real, tantalisingly insistent, eliciting concrete images in my mind, a prayer pleading for my playfulness in perfect harmony with him. Why had I never thought of it before?
I looked at his eyes. They were definitely pleading. Yet somehow, cheekily in tune with his demand, twinkling, and perfectly sky blue in colour.
I shook my head from side to side. What was he thinking? I couldn’t help but think his suggestion was not in keeping with our surrounds, especially as I realised I had begun to find the idea appealing and I was beginning to suspect that the act itself, whatever it involved, might indeed be worth investigating. I had thought it might even be pleasurable even if it happened in a church.
He pulled upon my sleeve just behind my elbow. ”Please,” he whispered.
“No, go away,” I whispered back to him. My caution prevailed.
“Come on,” he said, “you’d like it.”
“Stop it,” I snapped, almost too loudly.
I felt him looking at me, and I could tell he was considering what else he might say. I too, wondered what next he would say.
I stopped singing to make sure I would be able to hear anything he said.
It occurs to me now that it might have appeared that I was playing hard to get, but of course in those days I didn’t know about such a tactic.
I was however never so aware of me inside myself, and yet simultaneously, alongside another person. I felt I was in a fog with him watching me, and both of us waiting for the other to speak, for me to agree, or for him to expand his request in a way that I would have no doubt what he meant and no urge to avoid accepting.
“Amen,” sounded the chorus of boys as the hymn finished, but he had not given up.
“Ah, men!” he exclaimed to the amusement of several boys either side of us.
We dispersed from the choir loft and made our way towards the Sunday school classroom. He followed me with the determination only a pubescent youth has in his longing for freedom to release his joy upon the nearest object of attraction.
’What is wrong with him?’ I thought to myself, while we walked side by side down the corridor. The heat from his body was intense.
“You want to, you know. You know you do,” he said as if he seemed to know I was predestined to agree.
“Want to, what?” I asked, but my dumbness was as phoney to him as it was to me. I knew then exactly what he meant, even if I didn’t understand what it was we would do, or could do. I only needed to work out if I wanted to do what he suggested, if I wanted to do it as much as he obviously did.
“I won’t hurt you,” he promised and I looked into the innocence of his eyes, wide open with expectation and a yearning to share his now obvious excitement. It was a contagious excitement.
What was I thinking? I was spellbound; my mind had shut down in a flood of answers to the one question that was now obvious to me: ’What is wrong with me…that I do not accept his proposal?’ I asked myself.
It was something I suddenly knew I wanted, and I desired it with more certainty with every passing moment, moments in which my certainty grew hard and fast, straining to overcome the final remnants of my hesitation driven by the excitement of the imminence of my accepting his brazen invitation. Our waiting was at an end and I gave him my answer with a question. “When?”
I watched as his lips parted into a radiant smile and he rolled his eyes towards the heavens as if in thanks.
“Now, before the main service ends…before the Sunday school teacher arrives,” he said excitedly and both of us looked around to see if we had been overheard.
“Follow me, I know the perfect place.”
I watched him skip down the corridor and realised where he was headed. I quickly ran after him, suddenly laughing inside myself, giggling aloud, as I became aware I had just accepted temptation, and that acceptance would see me make more than one visit to the confessional today.