Wednesday, January 11, 2017


We all think we know what distinguishes little boys from little girls--at least when it comes to the anatomical difference. For boys, it's that fascinating thing that protrudes provocatively from between our legs and seems to invite endless, and endlessly enjoyable exploration. (We are discovering, too, nowadays, that there are exceptions to this general rule, and hopefully to expand our understanding of how gender definition defies this easy and perhaps too obvious distinction. But that's another issue.) What follows is the story of how I discovered--or perhaps, how I became more fully conscious of--my own. If you happen to have a similar story to share, I'd be more than happy to receive it. I'm still actively at work on plans for a "Boyhood Memories" book, and it would be incomplete, to say the least, without this important aspect of our experience as boys. (Anonymity is guaranteed, of course, for anyone who requests it...)

by Peter Clothier

We are in the bath, my cousin Donald and I. This would be during the war, with his family visiting from their home in nearby Cambridge. It is a big family. My sister and I both dread their visits because the children seem to us so wild, so unruly. Brothers and sisters, half a dozen of them, all over the place. Their father, an army chaplain, is away at the war.

So it’s bath time. Nearly bed time. We are in the bath together, Donald and I, because there are so many children to be packed off to bed. We must share everything, even bath time. So there we are, playing with our toy boats in the foamy water, in the big old upstairs bathtub at the Rectory. Donald at his end of the bath, I at mine.

I think I have not given much thought to my penis before now. Not consciously, anyway. I suspect that I must have discovered it to play with, as all little boys do; and played with it, certainly, in secret, under the covers, away from my mother’s eyes. I suspect there is already a sense of shame attached to this part of my body. 

Not so Donald. No shame. His fun is shameless, unaffected, delighted. He raises his buttocks from the bottom of the bath and sticks his penis proudly up out of the water. It’s his lighthouse, he says. His testicles are the rocks. He roils up a storm in the water with his hand, and crashes his boat against the lighthouse. The boat sinks. All souls are lost…

Your turn, he tells me. But I am too shy. Astonished, a little abashed by my cousin’s boldness, I stay down under the water where my penis can’t be seen. But I know now that I have one. I know how it sticks out. And if only I dared, I’d play lighthouse too. Like Donald.

No comments:

Post a Comment