My Secret Identity #2 Tarzan-8/26/2005
I was 12 when I began to understand that men excited me in a way that women never would. His name was James, but we, my sister and I, called him Tarzan. My sister gave him the name. She was with me, the first time I saw him.
We were walking in the city park, just finished with some program the city had for young people in the summer. I was going to my favorite tree to climb into my favorite spot and read. It was on her way to wherever she was going, so we walked together.
As we approached my tree, we noticed that someone was already in it, climbing, and jumping from limb to limb with an ease and grace that was remarkable. My sister looked a moment, and then turned to me and said, “He’s like Tarzan of the Jungle.”
When we got close to the tree, we stood there and looked up at him, admiring him. Of course he showed off for us, wanting to impress.
Then he was hanging from the lowest bough of the tree with his hands. His crotch was right in front of my face. He was wearing trousers too small for him, so he bulged even bigger than he might have in a pair of pants that fit him better. Though I would not know how to phrase what I was seeing, he was a boy becoming a man.
His T-shirt was also too small, and rode up as he hung from the tree. I could see just a fuzz of hair stretching down from his navel into his pants. When I looked up, I could see the beginnings of armpit hair. I got this really funny, but happy queasy kind of feeling in the pit of my stomach. I wanted to reach out and touch that bulge in his pants, and feel how soft the hair under his armpits and bellybutton were.
When he let go of the branch, he landed right in front of us. “Ewww,” my sister squealed, you stink!”, and then she ran off.
She was right. He did have an odor, a musty, funky kind of boy-man smell that, far from offending, butterflied my insides, made my knees weak. My sister may have run from it, but me, I wanted to sink into it, to surround myself with it. If I had been a dog, I would have rolled in it to get it on me.
I was not at all sexually sophisticated then. I did not know what I wanted to do with him, except kiss him, see him naked, touch him, wrestle with him, and bury my face in his glorious stink.
James was 15, from Tennessee, and new to the neighborhood. I adored him. He basked in that adoration for a week or two. Then he found friends more his own age, and I became someone at whom he nodded as if I were someone he barely remembered.
Nothing sexual ever happened between us, but for weeks and weeks, I had dreams of him. They replaced the night fantasies I had of being rescued from some terrible tribulation by a bold, handsome pirate, who I would then forever serve as cabin boy. There was frequent nakedness in those dreams, constant, though benign, body contact that left my waking self stirred, exhilarated. I learned how to relive the stirring, enhance the exhilaration.
No secret cabal of bad companions is needed to teach a boy to masturbate. Need and imagination are the only coaches required. By the end of summer, my fantasies had moved from instances of nakedness to some sophisticated ideas of inter-action. Thus began another layer to my secret, unspoken identity.