High school is part wonderful, part wrenching for most everyone.
Along the way, for the lucky ones, personal growth occurs.
Time is getting away from me. But I pause long enough to remember how that night I was in the play went, and after that, muse briefly about the end of that senior year.
Beth and I were arguing, and she’d given me hell about trying to make waves at this late a date. She did have a point, I decided. About wearing the costume, and being too uptight about it. I could walk on stage, toss the bundle of letters in the window and walk off; maybe even 15 seconds were more than I’d need. There couldn’t be all that much ogling going on in that short a time, and I could mostly keep myself in profile to the audience. I just had to hope my dangly bits would cooperate and stay dangling. I still hadn’t put the costume on.
In the back of my mind, however, I couldn’t forget my unhappiness about her having told the lunch table I hated being called shy as a ruse in her conspiracy to get me to accept being in the play. I still needed to get back at her for that. So, school was still out as to whether I’d get the bundle of letters through that window on my first try that night. I’d see how things went before deciding that.
We finally parted with my agreeing to wear the damn costume but not agreeing with anything about anything else. Let her worry a bit, that was my plan. I knew how devious she could be, and in order to maintain some respect, I simply wasn’t going to meekly cave to her wishes.
I was to learn just how devious she was by accident. I overheard her at the cast party after the play. She was talking to the faculty adviser, the one who went along with the risqué aspects of the play. The advisor was complimenting her on the job she’d done, and asked how she’d managed to sell out the auditorium, something the school had never done before with a student-written and directed play.
“It wasn’t hard,” Beth had answered, her smugness both obvious and obnoxious. Well, to me it sounded obnoxious. “I just told a bunch of girls to keep it secret, but that I’d have Whit on stage basically naked for them to ogle at. I told them that if he found out that people were expecting that, he’d never go on, so they had to keep it quiet. The word got around, as I knew it would, and the place sold out.”
Of course, by then, I’d had my own revenge, even if it was mostly inadvertent. Things have a way of evening out.
But, back to Saturday, and to the time right before the play. When I got to the auditorium and was backstage, everyone was nervous. I wasn’t. My appearance would be very brief, and it wouldn’t come till near the end of the play, and so I was relaxed and in a decent mood after all the arguing Beth and I had done earlier. I never liked fighting with her, but had learned how to calm down afterwards, and I was still in that mood while all the other cast members around me were excited and nervous and fidgety.
I wouldn’t be getting into costume, if that’s what you could call those two ounces of material I had to wear, until we were into the second and last act of the play.
I watched the first act from the wings, and when the second act began I made my way to the dressing room. Several other people were there, including a few freshmen boys wearing Speedos. I’d never seen the whole play and had no idea what that was all about. Then Dean came in, saw me, and beckoned me to follow him. He was also only in a Speedo.
He led me to a smaller room that was obviously a private dressing room because it had a mirror with bright lights over it and some makeup containers on a shelf in front of it. Before we entered he hung a sign on the outside doorknob reading Do Not Enter; then we went in and he shut the door.
“Why the Speedos?” I asked.
He looked just as nervous as he had that morning, and I didn’t know if it was because of my presence or because he’d be going on stage, too. But he answered well enough, even looking me full in the face for the first time as he did. “We’re all supposed to wear them. We’re angels. Beth designed the costumes. They’re robes, but designed to open up as we move to show skin. Legs and chests. The whole play is a bit risqué for a high-school production. I don’t think anyone but the faculty advisor knows how risqué; the advisor doesn’t mind. She’s like that. Anyway, we have to wear Speedos so when we’re showing skin, there’s lots of skin to show. All our Speedos are like this.” He pointed at his; it was the same color as my shorts, skin color. And tight.
I just shook my head, and wondered about Beth.
“Anyway, I need to put on your body makeup. You’ll have to undress.”
I looked at him hard, and he blushed, and I took off my clothes. All of them except my boxer briefs.
“Okay,” he said, “but those will have to come off eventually.”
“Why?” I asked.
“Because the legs of those will show beneath the Speedos. They’re shorter than the, uh, costume. And I don’t think it’ll fit over them anyway.”
I frowned, then picked up the Speedos from the counter where they were waiting for me and pulled them on. He was right; they were too tight to fit over the boxer briefs, and I could see the bottom of my briefs extended below the bottom of the costume.
I took them off, dropped my boxer briefs, and, with my back turned, asked if I should put on the costume before he did the makeup. He said, “It’s better if you don’t. I don’t want to get the makeup on them, and I need to make sure the makeup is below the top hem and above the bottom hem.”
I grimaced, but, having no choice, said, “Okay, go ahead with the makeup, though I don’t understand why I need it.”
“You’d look pasty white under the spots without it,” he explained. “And Beth made sure the makeup is the exact color of the shorts. It’d be my ass if I don’t get you made up just as she told me to.”
I frowned again, but submitted. I sat naked on a chair in front of the mirror and watched as he began rubbing makeup onto my skin, starting on my face and working down. I opened my legs and he stood between them, close to me. His chest was in my face, and I could smell his scent. I tried not to as I found it something of a come on.
Not only was his scent turning me on, but his hands sliding over my torso, over my nipples, had the same effect. I was afraid it was becoming noticeable when he told me to stand up and turn around, which I did, and he began doing my back.
That didn’t do much to quell my hormonal response, but it wasn’t nearly as sensual as doing my front, and so while my growing problem didn’t continue growing, neither did it subside.
He did my back all the way down to my feet, only missing what the shorts would cover, which wasn’t much, basically only my butt and hips. Then he had me turn back around and sit again. He kneeled and began the front of my legs, doing the tops of my feet first, then working up.
I could see him well, and as he got to my knees, I saw that I wasn’t the only one having hormonal difficulties. He was wearing a tiny Speedo, and it was sticking out farther than I thought it was made to stretch. I looked at Dean’s face, and I saw he was sweating.
Seeing he was as hard as I was—yes, rubbing my legs and moving past my knees to my lower thighs had caused my delay in erecting to no longer be a delay. I had now become as hard as I could get. He couldn’t help but notice it, too.
“Stop a moment, Dean,” I said. My voice was husky, and I cleared my throat.
He looked up at me, his eyes wide and dark. I couldn’t tell if he was scared or excited or both.
“Looks like we have the same problem. I don’t know about you, but I’m damned uncomfortable with the whole situation. Look, we’re both guys. We both know about hard-ons. What I suggest is you take off what’s giving you so much discomfort. Okay? And it’ll make me more comfortable if I’m not the only one exposed.”
His eyes grew wider, which I hadn’t thought could happen. I smiled at him, trying to look as innocent as possible, hoping that would diffuse the tension. It—it’s obvious what I mean by ‘it’—was pointing toward my chin..
He looked at it, then at my eyes, really looked at them, then stood and pushed down his Speedos. He was built pretty well for a kid who was probably only 14. He blushed again, but left his hands at his sides, not covering himself up. I gave him points for that.
I took a deep breath. “Okay, that’s that,” I said. My voice still didn’t sound right to me. I wondered what it sounded like to him. “Go ahead. Let’s get this done.”
He kneeled again and edged forward so he was just in front of my knees and began slathering on the makeup. In just moments, he was inching forward as he rubbed the makeup up higher on the front and insides of my thighs.
I was watching him, and the sweat was back on his forehead, and I saw his hips twitching. Then I saw him bite his lower lip.
I felt sorry for him. I knew what he was going through. I picked up the makeup jar and handed it to him. “You’re almost done.”
He was about done. Just a couple more minutes and he’d be finished. I was still a little embarrassed, too, but what we’d done together made me less so. He knew I was human, now, and compassionate, and I knew he knew that. That knowledge helped.
All he had to do was finish up, which meant getting right up close to the main stuff, and actually brushing against it now and then. But he got it done, and now all I had to do was put on the costume. It was then I realized the extent of my problem. There was no way in the world I could fit in those Speedos. It was hard to believe I could fit in them even if I didn’t have a problem with ‘it’. I did try, though. I pulled them up, but doing that did cause some additional embarrassment because it made my what-was-sticking-out stick out even more prominently, and it was now the focus of what we both were looking at, and it was all too apparent how ‘it’ couldn’t possibly fit in my costume.
I took the shorts off again, laid them on the counter, then just turned to look at Dean, feeling a bit uncertain. He looked back at me, and then for some totally unknown reason, we both broke out laughing. That broke the ice. Before, even after what I’d done, there had been some reserve between us, perhaps because of the age difference, perhaps because he still was thinking of me as some sort of macho idol. Now, we were equals. The laughter had achieved that. It had also calmed ‘it’ down.
When we stopped laughing, he looked at the clock, dropped open his mouth, and said, “Almost time for you on stage! Damn it, hurry up!”
That statement was followed immediately by a knock on the door. “Two minutes, Whit. Get out here! Now!”
I struggled into my costume, what there was of it. It was tight, really tight, but I didn’t have a problem with ‘it’ by then and did get everything tightly enclosed.
Then I jogged to the wings, and right then got my cue.
I tried to walk onstage with aplomb, but was still feeling overwhelmed by what had just occurred moments earlier. My head was a bit spacey, and my onstage-with-aplomb bit was more like a stagger. I had the bundle of letters in my hand, but instead of focusing on the prop I had to throw the letters through, what caught my attention was the sudden roar from the crowd. I hadn’t thought ahead to whether there’d be any reaction at all. It caught me by surprise, and I couldn’t help myself. I stopped for just a moment and turned to look at the audience.
They rose! They were clapping and shouting, and I felt like an imbecile. What could I do? What should I do?
What I did was give them a little smile, a half bow, then walked to my spot and hurled the letters at the window. Except my arm felt like a wet noodle, and the letters hit the bottom frame and bounced back. I strode forward, picked them up and stepped back. Then, without thinking about it, I became a quarterback again. I took a couple of quick, short hop steps backward, turned in profile to my target, and with good form and follow through, pitched the letters through the window.
The audience roared again. I didn’t mug them this time. I did raise my arm in triumph, made a fist and the arm pump the boy had made in Home Alone, then trotted off the stage, somehow managing not to trip or stumble.
From the wings I saw Dean and the other freshman boys go onstage in their angel costumes. To say he was cute in that white robe with tactical slits in it nowhere near describes how he looked. But I was tired of being on display, and made my way back to the dressing room. There was a small stall shower in the corner. I showered off the makeup and dried myself off. I was dressing when Beth stormed into the room. I was just pulling on my boxer briefs, but she’d seen it all before, so I just pulled them up and didn’t worry about the brief flash she’d had. Through the door she’d left open I could hear the final applause.
“Come on,” she said urgently. “Curtain call.” She grabbed me by the arm and pulled me to the wings—me fumbling on my jeans all the way, no shirt at all—and she pushed me out onto the stage. No one else was there, and I had to accept a solo bow. I got off stage quickly. Beth was smiling triumphantly. I scowled at her, and she just laughed.
I saw Dean at the party. I pulled him to one side. “I hope you’re not going to spread around what happened tonight,” I said.
He put his hand on my arm for a moment, then took it back off again. He didn’t look at all awestruck, talking to me now. “That was just between us. I’ll always remember that. It would no longer be something that just you and I had shared. It wouldn’t belong to just us after that.”
That made me feel better. I wasn’t sure how to ask my next question, and in fact thought I shouldn’t ask it at all. Still, I wondered . . . He let me off the hook. He grinned at me and said, “Of course, I’m gay. What straight boy my age would be so good applying makeup?”
I grinned and laughed.
They didn’t have many gowns long enough and wide enough for me, but did find one somehow. They had the same problem with a couple of my football friends, offensive linemen who were in the neighborhood of 300 pounds. My head wasn’t much larger than average, and finding a cap that fit was no problem at all.
I sat with the rest of the seniors and listened to the top students give short addresses. Beth was one of them. She wasn’t nervous at all. When had she ever been? I was proud of her. She spoke about some of us going on to college and some of us getting jobs, and how all of us would be looking at a future that would involve change and growth, and how we were better prepared for those challenges because of the foundation we’d gained these last four years at Madison, and how appreciative we were to the faculty who’d guided our steps as we’d grown from young teens to the mature young adults we now were. She threw in some humor, too, like saying: ”Well, some of us were mature young adults.” I thought it was the best address of all of them.
There were multiple parties afterwards. I even went to a few, but didn’t spend much time at any one. I simply wasn’t a party animal and had little patience with the alcohol-induced revelry going on at all of them. I was more comfortable when around fewer people.
The kids I was closest to were all waiting for acceptance letters from the colleges we’d applied to. I knew where I was going. It was a division one school whose football team ran a pro-set offense. Spread offences that utilized a running QB were big right then, and I didn’t fit that scheme at all, but pro set offense were still in vogue and were being added at some schools. I’d been offered a full scholarship to one of them after spending some time at their campus and speaking with their coach. I’d be leaving for fall practice in August.
I’d be leaving Beth and Jake and all my other friends. I knew how I felt about that. I had regrets, and felt uncertain, but also was looking forward to the challenge. I realized that a year ago I wouldn’t have been ready. Now I was.
The one I’d miss most would be my dad. He’d been there all along, behind me 100%, supportive and simply there. He still would be, but he’d be miles away now. I had to accept his absence. I’d been with him every day of my life till now. That would take some getting used to.
This was a very bittersweet time for me. Beth had called us mature young adults. I wasn’t sure I wasn’t one of the ones for whom that title didn’t apply.
All this remembering. I am sitting in the dressing room where Dean did my makeup. And more. Time is getting away from me. I need to go. But I linger. I think about my freshman year in college. Lot’s to think about there.
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