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I loved gymnastics when I was a kid and specialised in the floor exercise with tumbling and bounding. Competitions for little kids weren’t highly competitive where I lived. If someone was headed to the Olympics or something, they probably moved away to work with a dedicated trainer. My trainer was a high school gym coach who moonlighted for extra money.
I dropped out of gymnastics when I was fourteen and hadn’t noticeably started puberty yet. Men’s gymnastics are all about strength and particularly upper body strength. The other boys grew taller and gained muscle mass while I retained a little boy physique. I might have stayed with it even though I was uncompetitive in most events because I liked the floor routines, but the showers after practice were the final straw. No fourteen year old wants to be different from his peers, and my difference became increasingly humiliating. Nobody was really mean to me except the one guy who spread rumours at school. My own self imposed embarrassment drove me out of the sport.
The puberty fairy eventually found me. By the time I turned nineteen, I had caught up with the other guys. I had difficulty meeting girls in part because I was beneath their notice for so many years. I think teens go through a phase where they start to mingle with the other gender and learn to socialise. I missed that experience. I was shorter than most of the girls, and looked years younger than my age until eighteen at least.
I stayed in town to attend the local university. My grandfather had a college fund for me, but I earned an academic scholarship, so I used granddad’s money to pay for room and board. I enjoyed the “college experience” as the brochures described it. I had the dorm room closest to the elevators on the floor with the laundry room. Most floors in the building were single gender, e.g. the boys’ floors and the girls’ floors. Electronic keys only let students into common areas like the lobby and their own floor. Only boys lived on my floor, but the laundry counted as a common area.
I received an email from my old gym teacher/gymnastics coach. She had accepted a position as Assistant Coach of the university’s swimming and diving team. She tried to recruit me for the dive team by citing my gymnastics experience. She must have been fairly desperate because she sent me email almost every day until I replied. I agreed to meet her at the indoor pool to discuss possibilities.
Mrs. Rush bought me a cup of hot chocolate from the vending machine, invited me into her broom closet sized office, and said, “The competitive dive season starts soon. The men’s team is short two, and we’re down three women. We’ll be at a huge scoring disadvantage if we can’t fill every event with the maximum number of students.”
I nodded my understanding. I never considered diving competitively. My experience consisted of goofing off at a neighbourhood swim club that only had a low diving board. “I don’t think I can help you,” I said.
“You were one of my best students. I know you’ll be an asset to the team. This is my first year, and if we score as poorly as last year, it will probably be my only year. Please, at least try it and see if you like it.”
I sighed. “I do miss gymnastics,” I said.
“Great. Practice is every morning at six AM and every evening from nine to eleven. You are expected to attend seven practices a week using any combination of those times.”
“I can’t see myself out of bed at six,” I said with a laugh.
“I’ll see you tonight at nine then.” She smiled back at me.
“Wait, when do you sleep? If you’re at both practices, you can’t be getting more than six hours a night.”
“Yeah. It’s a hassle, but the dive team doesn’t get first choice of pool times. The university rents the facilities to a high school from seven to eight-thirty every night. I had to take what I could get.”
I found the men’s locker room by a quarter to nine. The entrance at the end of a hallway opened directly into an area with benches and lockers. Beyond that, a tiled area contained a couple of toilet stalls, urinals, and sinks. Winding my way around a corner, the only route to the pool passed through a communal shower area. It was a big open room with shower heads along three walls. Beyond the shower, the corridor turned ninety degrees and a door opened onto the pool deck.
The pool should have been on the recruiting brochures. There were eight fifty meter lanes and four twenty-five meter lanes. A separate diving pool had two low springboards, a high springboard, and a three tiered Olympic style dive platform. My mouth hung open to see it. Bleachers could seat a thousand spectators, and a glass press box at the top of the bleachers contained at least two large permanently mounted TV cameras.
“I had no idea swimming was such a big deal here,” I said in awe when Mrs. Rush greeted me. Then I remembered to close my mouth.
“It used to be back when they built this facility. A bunch of championship plaques line the gallery on the way to the bleachers. The old coach retired a decade ago, and the team fell apart. The league kicked us down into a lower division, and we’ve been ignored since.”
“That’s a shame,” I said because she seemed to expect a response.
“Where’s your suit?” She swept her arm up and down to emphasize the street clothes I wore.
“I don’t have one. I didn’t expect to go swimming when I came to school.”
“You’ll have to buy one of the team suits eventually. Our colors are teal zebra stripes on yellow, I’m afraid.” She shook her head ruefully.
“The school’s colors are red, white, and blue,” I said.
“I know, but there was already a team with red, white and blue in the lower division, so we had to settle. Anyway, the decision was made before I got here.”
“Should I just watch today?”
“Come with me,” she said as she turned me by my elbow and guided me back into the men’s locker room. She followed me right in.
“Um,” I stammered as I gestured around the empty shower area.
“I’m the coach,” she said.
I blushed a little but followed her through to the area with lockers.
“You can pick any locker that doesn’t have a combination lock. Bring your own lock.”
A couple of guys wore generic speedos in a variety of colors, but most wore ugly teal and yellow speedos. “Hey guys,” Mrs. Rush said. “Do any of you have a spare suit Josh can borrow for today’s practice?”
A tall guy closed his locker and said he had his competition suit from last year in his bag, but the bag was out in his car.
“Will you get it for me?” Mrs. Rush asked with the ‘help a poor damsel in distress’ body language I remembered from gym class.
The tall guy sighed heavily and opened his locker again. He put on sweatpants and a team jacket while we watched, and then he jogged out the door.
“I’ll start practice. When David gets back, put on the suit and join us.” Mrs. Rush threw a quick smile at me, but let it fade before she had completely turned to leave through the showers.
David handed me the ugly suit, stripped down to his own suit, and walked toward the showers and the pool deck. He didn’t say anything intelligible. He just thrust the suit at me and grunted.
I guess speedos are more or less one size fits all. The thing stretched and squeezed my hips. I glanced in the mirror and winced at the outline of my penis pointing up and to the right and noted that one of my balls hung lower that the other. I thought, if the thing were any tighter, people would be able to tell I was circumcised. I felt shy, but the other guys wore similar suits, and I was nineteen. I told myself to grow a pair and get out there. I looked at my pair in the mirror on the way.
Mrs. Rush walked over to me right away. She said, “Do you remember the floor exercise where you bounded into a back flip?”
“I want you to do that from the low platform. Plant your hands on the textured edge and flip out and away. Get a good distance so you don’t hit your head. If your hands don’t land on the textured strip, don’t attempt the flip. Just let gravity carry you to the water.”
“Are you OK?”
“Yes. I just haven’t tumbled in a few years.”
“It will come back. It’s like sex or riding a bicycle.”
I took her word about the sex.
I waited in line while another guy performed a front handspring into a three quarter twist and slid into the water like a seal. For my turn, I paced three large steps back from the edge and turned. My chest heaved with anxiety, but I remembered the nerves I always had before competitions.
I took two steps and bounded with a half turn into a handspring. I felt the bumps of the textured strip, so as I launched with my momentum, I crouched into my flip for at most half a turn before smacking my back hard on the water. The slap reverberated throughout the pool area. It stung like hell.
When I climbed out of the pool, my back was lobster red, and I hopped from foot to foot sucking air through my teeth to manage the lingering pain.
Several of the girls practising on springboards clapped for me. Mrs. Rush shouted, “A little more height next time.”
I wanted to quit right then, but my father always said quitting becomes a habit, so I got back in line for another try. My second attempt got the height, but I hit the water feet first while still in my tuck. The boys at the swim club would have called it an epic cannon ball. The pretty lifeguard on duty scowled at me as she wiped remnants of my splash off her legs.
Mrs. Rush asked, “Didn’t I say? We’re going for the smallest splash, not the biggest.”
Several people chuckled. I attempted the relatively easy tumble several more times before Mrs. Rush sent me to practice on some mats layered out on the other side of the pool deck. The mats didn’t provide as much room as I used for floor routines, but I enjoyed trying out elements of my old routine. The first thing I realised was that my arms and legs were a lot longer than I remembered. I used to be able to complete four tumbles in the space available, but two sent me out onto the concrete deck. I looked at my limbs as if they betrayed me.
After practice, I jogged to the locker room along with the other guys. Most towelled dry and pulled sweatpants over their wet suits. I didn’t have any sweatpants, and David wanted his suit back. I reminded myself that I wasn’t a little boy anymore, and I had already grown a pair, so to speak, so I gathered my street clothes on a bench and wriggled out of the impossibly tight suit.
I was bent over at the waist to get the suit over my ankles when I heard Mrs. Rush right behind me. I imagined I could feel her body heat on my bare ass, but I’m sure it was in my head.
“David, can Josh borrow your suit for the rest of the week until he has one of his own?” Mrs. Rush said it in that wheedling way of hers.
“I guess,” David replied sounding put-upon. “I needed it as a backup for competitions though,” he added as a warning.
“Great,” Mrs. Rush said and launched into her after practice summary of what she saw and what she expected from each of us at the next practice.
I remained bent over until I felt ridiculous and then stood. I kept my back to Mrs. Rush while I yanked on my white briefs and then my jeans. I didn’t really hear a word she said over the beating of my own pulse in my ears. I probably looked like a boiled lobster again.
“I’m going to go talk to the girls now,” she said. “Get your sleep boys.” She smiled at all of us and trotted back out through the showers.
I lived right next to the laundry, so I got in the habit of washing and drying David’s suit after each practice. I adopted the sweatpants over wet suit strategy employed by the other guys for the cold walks back to my dorm room. As I got to know the other guys, they joked with me about mooning Mrs. Rush at my first practice. They said it should be a new initiation for everyone who joined the team. I laughed with them, but every time they said something about it, I blushed again.
The two team suits I ordered showed up at the end of the first week. Mrs. Rush had made some comment about having a spare in case of problems. My first thought was to buy a black suit that might conceal my assets a little better, but I worried I wouldn’t be able to wear a black suit in competition if something happened to my team suit.
I talked to a few of the girls. It represented a big step forward for me. Shyness dominated my social interactions under the best of circumstances, and the athletic girls in skimpy one piece suits made me extra nervous. One girl, Natalie, gave me pointers on my dives. We spent a whole practice together with her demonstrating things and me mimicking her while she watched from the water by edge of the pool. I’d swim over to the ladder, and she’d climb out right ahead of me. Sometimes our hands touched on the ladder’s hand rail. I stared at a sensual stretch of her long neck and the sway of her feminine curves when she hopped onto the deck.
My diving improved over the following weeks, and I enjoyed feeling like part of the team. Some of the other guys came to my dorm room to play video games. I joined an informal dart league with David at a bar off campus. Losers had to buy the winner’s drinks, and David and I lost more than we won. I wasn’t old enough to buy beer, so every time we lost, the other team grumbled over the Cokes I bought them. We started to win more often, but I suspected the other teams let us.
I enjoyed catching glances from the girls, too. They never did that when I was in high school. There was nothing to see then. I actually told Natalie, “Up here – my eyes are up here,” one time. She laughed, and I ogled her boobs for payback.
A few days later, Natalie pulled me aside after a dive and said, “I’ve been waiting for a good way to say this, but I’m just going to come right out and say it.”
“What?” I asked with a worried tone.
“Whatever you’re doing with the suits, you better stop it. Haven’t you noticed the things are getting threadbare, and the yellow is almost see through now.”
I jumped back from her. “What?” I looked down at myself and saw the standard sculpted relief of my penis with curves highlighted by zebra stripes. “I don’t see it,” I said.
“Um.” Natalie blushed a little. “It’s, ah, only where the material is stretched the most.”
I looked down again with concern.
“Um, your balls,” she said.
“Shit. Why didn’t you say something sooner? Now I have to finish practice like this.”
She laughed. “I’ve been looking for a week. One more practice isn’t going to reveal anything I haven’t studied already.”
The self-conscious hell I endured for the next ninety minutes left me jittery and nauseous when I got into the locker room. I bent every which way to see in the mirror, and the guys made jokes about my new limbering exercises. I pulled on sweatpants and headed out with a strange emotion bordering on humiliation with overtones of foolishness.
Natalie met me in the hall right outside the men’s lockers. The door closed slowly behind me, and it occurred to me that she had a good view from her position. Another shiver passed through me.
“What are you doing to your suits?” she asked.
“I don’t know. I wash them after every practice.”
“You’re not using bleach are you?”
“I don’t own any bleach.”
“Maybe there’s some bleach in whatever detergent you use. You might have just got a bad dye lot from the factory, too. The chlorine in the pool might be causing it.”
“Is my other suit as bad?”
“Worse,” She winked.
I rubbed my wet hair back over my head and tasted some bile in the back of my mouth. “What am I going to do? These things cost eighty dollars each, and it’ll take a week to get new ones.”
“Wear both at the same time until the new ones arrive.”
“That’s a great idea. Thanks.” I smiled with genuine relief as I considered the brilliance of her suggestion. “What can I do to avoid this with the new suits?”
“I always rinse in the shower to get the chlorine out of the suit before I change into my clothes.”
“You guys shower?” I asked.
“You don’t?” she asked.
“We just put sweatpants on over our suits.”
“Why don’t you shower?”
“I’m not sure. None of the other guys do. Maybe because Mrs. Rush comes in after every practice.”
“I hadn’t thought of that. I guess I didn’t notice.” She sounded contemplative.
“What are you thinking?” I asked.
“Well, if there was a male dive coach, would he go in the women’s locker room while the women showered?”
“That’s another good point. How does she get away with it?” I asked with righteous indignation.
“I bet it’s because of the equal employment laws.” Natalie said.
“Back in 1978, a court ruled that female reporters had to be let into the men’s locker rooms after games. Newspapers had story deadlines, and each paper wanted to scoop the others. Interviewing players in the locker rooms gave male reporters a half hour advantage on deadlines and scoops. Plus, they got more candid responses before the players could spin things too much. Since women reporters were at a disadvantage, the court ruled they had to be let in, too.”
“Let me guess: you’re majoring in journalism,” I said.
“Pre-law.” She smiled again.
“Do male journalists go into women’s locker rooms for the WNBA or whatever?”
“It has happened, but the teams usually have a policy of keeping all reporters out of the women’s room for some amount of time after the game.” Natalie seemed to relish explaining to me.
“That doesn’t seem fair.” My righteous indignation was back.
“Get used to it. Women have it much worse with double standards in other situations.” Natalie patted my shoulder as a form of commiseration.
“So how does all that apply to Mrs. Rush?” I asked.
“I don’t know. Maybe she couldn’t coach both teams if she wasn’t allowed in the locker room, so she has to be let in for equal employment opportunity.”
I shrugged and asked, “would you like to come to my dorm room? I have a new espresso maker that’s totally against the rules for dorm room appliances.”
“Maybe another time,” she said. “I want to take a hot shower and go to bed. I have an eight a.m. ethics class that puts me to sleep even when I’ve had a full night’s rest. Swim practice is turning me into a zombie.
I smiled and said I’d see her at the next practice. We went our separate ways, and as I walked home, I replayed her telling me about the see-through suit at least a dozen times. I felt queasy. I’m sure it’s because of the way I thought about my body as a kid, but knowing she not only saw but “studied” my goods made me feel nauseous.
I read my detergent box, and it didn’t contain bleach. In fact, it said not to use it with chlorine bleach. Maybe the chlorine from the pool reacted badly with it. I ordered two more suits online putting charges on my credit card that I wasn’t sure I could pay. I put on both suits and modeled them in front of my mirror. I still didn’t see exactly what Natalie meant, but I believed her.
At the first meet, Natalie earned the most points for the women’s team, and I earned the second most for the men’s team. Both teams still lost, but I was proud of myself.
At my university, the policy was for the visiting teams to share the locker rooms with the home team. There didn’t seem to be any problem, except all the visiting team guys showered after the meet. A couple of them kept their suits on, but most showered nude. My eyes bugged out of my head when Mrs. Rush walked right through the steamy shower crowded with naked specimens of masculine athleticism. She even glanced down and smirked once or twice without breaking her walking pace.
The other team’s coach was a grizzled old guy. He shook hands with Mrs. Rush as I pulled on my sweatpants. He told her, “Your guys should really shower.”
“Why’s that?” she asked with that almost coy tone she often used.
The other coach cleared his throat and said, “The league by-laws require athletes to shower before entering a pool and again at the end of the meet. They are trying to reduce outside contaminants in the pool, and the high chlorine levels instituted after the pink-eye epidemic two years ago means players should wash after to avoid chemical burns from prolonged exposure.”
“Chemical burns? Really?” Mrs. Rush asked.
“Well, think about it,” he said. “They sit in wet suits for a couple of hours during the meet. Then they wear the wet suits home for however long that takes. Do it every day, and they exceed the health standard for chlorine exposure.”
“I see,” Mrs. Rush conceded. She raised her voice and said, “You hear that boys? Shower before you leave the locker room from now on.”
Everybody groaned, and I felt ill. Mrs. Rush and the other coach strolled back out to the pool through the shower again. They were engrossed in conversation, but I caught her glancing down more than once.
I showered in my suit after every practice. The other guys showered nude and teased me about my modesty. “What you got that we haven’t seen?” someone asked.
“My cock,” I answered. “Have you seen MY cock?” When the joker stayed silent, I added, “Well then,” and turned off my shower head. As I walked out of the shower to use a urinal, I looked over and foolishly said, “Besides, Mrs. Rush couldn’t handle seeing what I’ve got.”
The other guys all groaned and made animal noises. I thought it was all in jest until Mrs. Rush stepped into the shower from the pool deck. The guys in the shower performed nonchalant pirouettes to face the walls with their backs to the intruder. Someone said, “Hey Coach Rush, Josh says you can’t handle seeing what he’s got in his suit.”
She laughed and said, “What suit? I think he practices nude for a couple of weeks, and from what I remember, I would have needed a magnifying glass to see anything.”
The guys all laughed and groaned. I reprised my starring role as boiled lobster.
The next meet was at a school four hours away by bus. I earned the most points for the men’s team, and we actually won the meet. The girls lost in a squeaker. Mrs. Rush acted like she won the lottery and wanted to celebrate. Unfortunately, the other school had the visiting team use the women’s locker room and the home team use the men’s. Each team let one gender shower and change before admitting the other gender.
Mrs. Rush sent the girls in first. She came back out after a while and told us it was our turn. Once inside, I found it hard to breathe for a moment. The women were dressed and sitting around the lockers. The showers were separate and not readily viewable from the lockers, but I’m not sure the other guys would have minded even if the women had a great view.
I showered in my suit as always. The guys who finished before me walked out to the locker area wearing towels. I assumed they would dress modestly with the towels foiling any peepers. When I walked into the locker area in my suit, Mrs. Rush said, “You can’t ride home four hours on the bus wearing that suit. Go back in the shower and take it off.”
I sighed and shrugged my shoulders and searched my mind for any excuse for not complying. I told myself I could wrap myself in a towel and peel off the suit in seconds. I tried, but the speedo was so tight I needed both hands to wriggle out of it. The towel dropped to my feet as I struggled. I heard giggling and looked up. Half a dozen feminine heads leaned around the corner to look at me. One said, “That’s what Mrs. Rush can’t handle seeing,” in a skeptical voice. Giggles turned into laughs and I turned into a lobster.
Mrs. Rush shooed the girls away shaking her head in a rueful gesture I interpreted as her saying I got what I deserved. I didn’t want to go back to the locker area even shielded within my towel. I shivered even though I wasn’t cold standing in the steamy lingering heat of the shower. When I nerved myself up and joined the others with my head held high, Mrs. Rush paused in her team spirit congratulations speech to look at me and ask, “What were you doing in there for so long?” After a long pause when I felt every eye in the room on me, she said, “Did the girls get you excited? Well, I suppose that’s one way to celebrate a win.”
A few people uttered half hearted laughs. Mrs. Rush smiled and added, “I’ll give my top scorer a certain leeway on shower etiquette, but I hope you cleaned up any mess you left.”
Half the people in the room groaned, “Ewwwww.”
I wanted to die. I pulled my sweatpants up under my towel while Mrs. Rush resumed her speech. I didn’t have any underwear with me because I wore my suit under my sweatpants for the ride to the meet. I felt exposed and floppy even after I pulled a shirt over my head and tossed my towel and wet suit in my gym bag.
We didn’t get home until after midnight. It was a long lonely ride sitting in a row by myself. Natalie and one of her girlfriends sat in the seats across the aisle from me on the way to the meet, but I felt like a pariah for the return trip. It may have all been in my head. Maybe my teammates didn’t treat me differently, but it felt like it to me. It felt like they all thought I was a pervert.
The next day after practice, I walked in the shower, and one of the guys said, “Whoa, buddy. Wait for me to get out of here before YOU shower.” The three or four naked guys in the shower all laughed.
I know I overreacted, but I skipped the next practice and wrote an email to Mrs. Rush saying I quit the team. She replied saying I couldn’t quit the team because I was her highest scorer and I’d let everybody down. I said I was too humiliated to set foot in the locker room again, that I felt singled out and victimised by her, and as an aside, I mentioned that I didn’t think it was right for a female coach to be in the men’s locker room.
I didn’t hear anything for a couple of days, and when I did, it was a knock on my dorm room door. A pretty blonde girl I didn’t know said she was from the school paper and wanted to interview me about why I quit the dive team. I told her I didn’t want to talk about it, but she batted her eyelids and made me feel like a heel for denying her my story.
“I’m uncomfortable when Mrs. Rush comes in the men’s locker room. I see her glancing at my nude team-mates while they shower. After the last meet, she kept the entire women’s team in the locker room while the men showered and changed. She ordered me to take off my bathing suit, and didn’t stop several girls from peeking on me in the shower. When I was reluctant to dress in front of the entire women’s team, she joked in front of everybody suggesting I stayed in the shower too long because I was doing something nasty in there.”
“What did she think you were doing?” The pretty reporter showed a winning smile.
“You’ll have to ask her that. I was just trying to preserve a tiny amount of modesty.”
The reporter wrote some notes on her smart phone. She asked, “Anything else?”
I knew I shouldn’t have talked to the reporter, and I knew I shouldn’t say any more, but I let my mouth run. “I don’t think it’s right or fair that women reporters go in men’s locker rooms, but male reporters are almost never allowed in women’s locker rooms. The same is true for coaches. Would a male coach go in the women’s locker room while the women were showering?”
She didn’t say anything, so I continued. “Women’s privacy is respected, but men’s privacy is trumped by equal employment opportunity concerns.” I didn’t know what I was talking about. I was a fool.
The reporter looked into my eyes. I looked into hers. I saw something frightening. I saw the look of a reporter with good story. She turned to leave but asked, “One more thing. Is it true you’re the top scorer on the team, and they can’t win without you?”
I said, “I scored the most at the last meet, but the whole team is strong. They’ll do fine without me.”
Both the men’s and women’s teams lost at the next meet. The school newspaper ran a story about how the team was weakened without their top scorer. The article quoted me several times. I felt like an asshole. The article ended with a couple of questions. One was, “Should Coach Rush keep her job?” The other was, “If a male coach is hired to replace her, should he be allowed in the women’s locker room?”
Half the campus talked about the article. The newspaper sold so many copies that they had a second printing. A group of unpleasant girls formed an almost twenty-four hour a day protest outside my dorm room door. They jeered at me and followed me to the bathroom. There was only one bathroom on my floor. It was supposedly a men’s floor, but the bathroom door didn’t say “men’s”. It had no sign at all. Several times, the protesters followed me into the bathroom. I started using toilet stalls even if I only needed to pee. The showers were individual stalls, but I didn’t feel comfortable showering with protesters heckling me from two feet away on the other side of a thin partition.
I called the reporter and updated her on my status. I told her about women following me into the bathroom. I said something like, “This campus has turned into a hostile environment. I’m not sure I’ll come back.”
Another article quoted me, and then I got a call from the Dean of Student Affairs. Apparently, my words meant something sinister to him because he asked if I had hired a lawyer and if I planned to sue the university. I said I didn’t plan to sue anybody and made an excuse to hang up..
The next call was from Mrs. Rush. I could tell she had been crying. She might have been drunk. She said something about how I was ungrateful and stabbed her in the back after all she had done for me.
Natalie walked up to me where I was eating in the cafeteria with a few friends from my English class. She said, “I thought you were a nice guy. It just goes to show – you can’t tell a book from its cover. Grow up, asshole.”
I got an email from one of the dive girls I didn’t know well. She asked me to meet her in the common recreation area of her dorm across campus. When I arrived, she led me into a side room where half a dozen girls glared at me. They pulled up their tops exposing their breasts and one said, “There! Does that make you happy? Are we all even now?”
They put their shirts back down, and I turned to leave, but instead, I sat on the couch. I put my head in my hands, and I said, “I’m sorry. I don’t know what they’re doing to Mrs. Rush, but I didn’t ask for any of it. I just wanted a little privacy. Is that so bad? How would you like a male coach traipsing through your shower every day?”
“Why don’t you?” one of the girls asked.
“What do you mean?” I whined.
“Why don’t you traipse through the women’s shower if it’s such a big deal? We wouldn’t stop you.”
“Yeah, right.” I said. “Besides, two wrongs don’t make a right. As much as I’d like to see more of you, I still don’t want to be exposed to you.”
“Are you some kind of prude? What’s the matter with you?” The girl who said it wrinkled her face as if I smelled bad.
“Seriously?” I asked. “None of you mind being seen naked by random men? None of you would feel violated? None of you would feel threatened?”
When nobody answered within a few seconds, I stood and left. I felt terrible. I walked around campus collecting my thoughts, and then I walked to Mrs. Rush’s office. I got there an hour before the evening practice was scheduled to start. She looked terrible as if she hadn’t slept.
I knocked on her open door and said, “I’m sorry.”
She looked at me for a long time. I asked, “So what has happened?”
“I kept my job, but it’s only because everyone on the men’s team signed a letter and sent it to the dean. It said they wanted me to stay as their coach, and I was welcome in their locker room any time.”
“They really did that?” Of course they did. It was a stupid question. I said, “I’m sorry.”
She looked at me. I couldn’t read the expression on her face. I asked, “Why did you keep the girls in the locker room? Why did you humiliate me in front of everybody?”
“It was a joke,” she said without much conviction.
“Can I come back to the team?”
“Why?” she asked.
“I feel like an asshole. I feel like I let everybody down. I feel like I’m the only one who is shy and doesn’t want to be ogled.”
“I never thought you felt ogled. I didn’t mean to make you so uncomfortable.”
“Why did you let the girls peek at me in the shower?”
“I didn’t ‘let’ them. It’s not like they consulted me first. I made them leave you alone when I saw what they were doing. I still didn’t think it was a big deal. You’re college students. Girls will be girls – and all that.”
“How many times has the excuse been ‘boys will be boys’ when a girl was the victim?”
“Grow up. You’re not a victim. If anything, the girls were complimenting you.”
“Like construction workers compliment women walking by. Except, I was nude, and they were laughing instead of catcalling. Which is worse?”
“I’m not sure I want you back on the team,” Mrs. Rush said with a dark tone.
“I understand,” I turned to leave.
She said, “What would make it right? Do you want me to stay out of the men’s locker room from now on?”
“I thought you didn’t want me back.”
“I want to be fair,” she claimed.
“I don’t know,” I whined. “I really don’t. I don’t know what to say. Part of me says you’ve seen everything I’ve got already and there isn’t any more harm. Another part of me really does feel violated.”
“Come to tonight’s practice,” she said.
Practice went like all the others except that not many people talked to me. Afterward, I collected my towel from my bag and headed toward the shower with my suit still on. The door from the pool deck opened, and a stream of girls walked in as if it was nothing. They carried their gym bags, and they started taking off their clothes. Soon, every shower head was occupied. Half were occupied by naked girls. More girls loitered undressed outside the shower as they waited for a head to become available. Soon, most of the guys waited naked as well.
Not all the dive team girls were there. Natalie wasn’t. I found myself waiting for a shower head, and I was the only person in the room wearing a stitch of clothing. When a guy turned off his shower head and walked towards the waiting crowd, some of the girls made catcall whistles. The guy bowed, and pushed his way through the milling sea of flesh. “After you,” A short girl said while gesturing me to take the open spot.
I couldn’t think with all the beautiful breasts and toned bodies around me. I reluctantly took my spot and turned on the water.
“Really?” the girl at the next shower head over said. “After all this, you’re going to keep your suit on?”
I don’t know what I was thinking. I wasn’t thinking. I wriggled out of my suit. I don’t remember much about the moment, but I distinctly remember the sensation of my penis flopping free from the suit.
“There. Is that so bad?” The girl next to me said. Three of the waiting girls walked up to me and hugged me mashing their bare breasts against me. I trembled, and looked at my feet, but what I saw made my breath catch. One of the girls had pierced her clitoral hood with a little gold ring that had a ball on it. I don’t know how I didn’t notice when she was waiting for the shower, and I don’t know how I didn’t see its outline through her bathing suit during practices.
When the girls released me, everyone looked at my stout four inch erection. One of the girls said, “Oh look. He likes me.” Everybody laughed. Even I laughed.
There was no reason to stay in the shower, so I bent to pick up my speedo and walked out to grab my towel. I think some of the girls deliberately assured that my raging stiff cock brushed against them. Somebody said, “Oh no. This is a hostile environment,” and everybody laughed again.
The girls never showered with the guys again. Mrs. Rush made a dramatic point of shouting in to ask if everyone was decent before she entered the shower. Some of the guys started saying, “Yeah – all fine,” while they were still naked. Mrs. Rush leered at their goodies whenever that happened.
The men’s team won several meets with my help, and Mrs. Rush kept her job for the next year. I occasionally heard people whispering about the shower pervert with the tiny penis. It hurt me more than I admitted to anyone. Natalie seemed polite with me at practices and meets. I knew I had blown any chance with her.
~~~~~ Author’s Note ~~~~~
A female judge ruled in 1978 that female reporters could not be barred from men’s locker rooms unless male reporters were similarly banned. Up to a third of all sports reporters are now women. Female reporters and camera women are routinely in professional sports locker rooms. At most older stadiums and almost all minor league facilities, showers are communal and often open for view from anywhere in the locker room. Candid videos of nude male athletes have circulated among certain fans for decades.
Think about the ridiculous uproar about Janet Jackson’s split second wardrobe malfunction and the fines payed by the TV network. In contrast, CSN showed the Cubs mascot naked on live TV without any repercussion other than editorials about how the man’s penis was shown “… for nearly 10 seconds of live TV on Tuesday night after someone at CSN Mid-Atlantic apparently decided to have a little fun.”
Poor video editing resulted in a FOX affiliate station airing a glimpse of the admittedly spectacular penis revealed by Minnesota player, Visanthe Shiancoe, in the Vikings’ locker room after a game.
For your Internet searching fun, look up “Kristen Davis, a 19 year-old journalism student writing for the Arizona Wildcat, discusses what it is like having a naked athlete’s dick in front of her notebook in full view during a sports interview,” and, “An 18 year-old girl discusses how she was given a press pass and what it is like interviewing naked male athletes,” and, “Salon Magazine discusses numerous issues and encounters between female reporters and nude athletes.”
Our culture perceives men as lascivious and predatory. A woman’s modesty is an asset, and she has a natural right to preserve her modesty. In many cases, male modesty is considered irrelevant. A man in the women’s shower is a threat, but a woman in the men’s shower is not. It may be because of the relative biologic costs women face as compared to men when copulations occur. It may be because women are “less visual.” It may be because “women’s work” includes intimate caregiving tasks so they’ve seen it all before. It may be because macho men are expected to want to show their assets (think of the infamous unsolicited penis pictures women receive).