Priapus in Our Midst

Jack was a lippy little son-of-a-bitch from the get-go. He was forever cocking off to someone at Louise Elementary School, then getting the stuffing knocked out of him. It's often said that repetition is the key to learning, but that certainly wasn't the case here. He continued to speak out of turn at West Junior High, and with its larger audience, Jack garnered even more attention. Here's an example.

The school itself was about three blocks away from the athletic field. So, on days that weren't inclement, we'd suit up in our gym shorts and tennis shoes, then jog from the building to the field for our hour long phy-ed class. Typical activities included baseball, soccer, track events and the like.

The jog took us down under that beautiful elm canopy mentioned in My Favorite Pyromaniac, in fact right along where Tommy lived. That stretch was a wonderful piece of my idyllic hometown: neatly tended flower gardens, lawn ornaments, manicured yards and the like. Just off to our left, the University arboretum lay below in a verdant valley.

One day as the chain of boys snaked along to the outdoor activities at the field, someone took exception to the tone of Jack's voice. I don't recall whom, but it may have been Bob, the big guy from Cacoethes, Indeed. That seems likely, for I do recall he had limited patience for anyone passing a slighting remark. I'm back a hundred feet or so behind the crowd and hear a cacophony of raised voices, cheers and jeers, sort of like a murder of crows raising hell around an owl. When I catch up, I see three or four of the lads tussling right in the middle of some lady's flower bed along Arbor Street, and then a joint whoop went up at a triumphant upraised arm holding a pair of shorts and a jock-strap.

Jack had been de-pantsed amidst the daisies.

The gymnastic accouterments were then heaved across the street down into the stream running through the arboretum. So, Jack had to jog back to the schoolhouse, jiggling all the way. For all I know, that probably titillated him. Here's why.

West was the first time for any of us to be afforded a legitimate gymnasium with attendant shower room facilities. This was rather exciting stuff after six years of makeshift phy-ed doings at Louise. So, here it is, the start of seventh grade, fall semester, and the first time to reap the luxury of showering after physical exertions. We're all happy as larks in the boys' shower room, singing, yelling, snapping towels and the like.

And then Jack saunters out dripping wet from the shower to the locker room, fully extended in the usual sense of the word, wearing nothing more than a goofy grin.

More guffaws and rabble-rousing ensued.

He wasn't quite so stimulated the following Thursday. I'm pretty sure it was Donny who lubed up Jack's jock-strap with Atomic Balm, an analgesic for sore muscles, or in this case, something to make a muscle sore.

But there was a pattern emerging. When wrestling season commenced, the school sealed off the gymnasium, had all the boys line up and drop their trousers, following the command: "Turn your head to the left and cough." A crabby old battle-axe of a nurse, bun hairdo beneath a white hat of course, clipboard and pencil in hand, went down the line, checking one athlete after another for hernias.

When she got to Jack, sure enough, there he stood at attention in more ways than one. West's version of the Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus--you know, "As above, so below."

And that goofy grin again. The nurse took one look, then...Thwack!

She gave it a hearty snap on top with her #2 pencil. Flaccidity followed at once.

Whatever became of Jack, I hear you ask? Well, in high school he was arrested down at Brookside Park. When the cops surrounded the car, windows steamed up no doubt, they found three lads in the back seat. One was naked, the other two not, with the only garments present including a lacy frock. You can guess who was so decked out in it.

Bit by bit, I was discerning the rift between individual and society, that things were not what they seemed.

The last I heard of Jack was that he was serving time in a federal penitentiary for manufacturing amphetamines.

Next installment: What Boys Want

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