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Scents and Decorum

My 25th high school reunion was drawing to a close.
I and a group of friends took one last tour
To satisfy our curiosity
About the current state of the athletic facilities.
Even though I'm a nerd not a jock,
The place held a few important and pleasant memories.
One in our party,
A straight guy,
Wanted to check out the renovated locker room.
I wouldn't have toured that area alone.
It is unseeming for a middle aged gay man
To be lurking about in a high school changing room.
But with a chaperone, I went along.
It was, after all, the straight guy's idea.
As the locker room door closed behind us,
Words from The Sweater by Meryn Cadell
Burst upon my consciousness.
        The sweater has that faintly goat-like smell
        That all teenage boys possess.

Suddenly I was standing in a well
Of what she must have meant.
As I began to wonder
What sort of boys might inhabit this place,
I noticed the sound of one lone shower shutting off.
Out stepped a boy.
Not your stereotypical angry-faced jock,
But a beautiful boy
Who projected friendly, calm, self-assurance
With smiling eyes and face.
My straight friend quizzed him
About the outcome of the championship games.
He chatted with complete openness
As he displayed his breathtaking naked body,
Perfectly proportioned in muscles and poise.
I froze myself in a carefully crafted
Stance of non-chalance
While more of Meryn Cadell's lines rang true.
        And the smell of the sweater hits you
        Like ape scent gloriola...

Deeply and thoroughly conflicted
Between awe, lust, and a desire for decorum,
In this locker room turned dream world,
I found myself living out lines from
Rick Wakeman's Journey to the Center of the Earth.
        Dumb with astonishment and amazement
        which bordered on stupification,
        they fled the forest.

Burning into memory that instant:
The smell, the boy, the fantasies,
So too flee did I.

12 October 2003

by Bill Cattey