It’s been over a month since Steve, a gay man at the YMCA, has made sexual comments about my “down below” and what he wants to do to me. I have blogged about Steve and his harassment before.
We interrupt this blog for a digression:
“Down below” is what my mother called down below. She used this term for both my sisters, too. “Did you wash your down below?” Mom would ask when we were old enough to take baths by ourselves. Sometimes Mom would omit the “your” and just ask, “Did you wash down below?” Whenever Mom asked this question, she would have a serious expression and raise her eyebrows. We grew up in a time before someone invented the words “penis” and “vagina”.
We now return to our regularly scheduled blog:
What stopped Steve from sexually harassing me?
About a month ago I was in the shower room alone when Steve came in. We were the only men there.
“Gary,” said Steve, “I have to tell you. I love you.”
I immediately responded with words that dealt with sex and travel.
“No, no, I’m serious,” said Steve. “I love you. You’re a wonderful man. You’re good-natured and sensitive and such a beautiful person. I love you. I would kiss you if you let me.”
Once again I used words dealing with sex and travel.
“I’m not joking!” said Steve. He looked so intense.
“Look Steve,” I said, “this is weird. I have never been naked while another naked man tells me how wonderful I am and how much he loves me. It’s weird!”
“Perhaps you should get used to it,” he said.
“Not as long as I am breathing thank you very much.”
It seems that Steve needed to seriously express his feelings for me. He had to get it out of his system. Since that time he has made no comments. We say hi and sometimes engage in small talk, but he has made no embarrassing sexual comments. How long will this last? As long as I am breathing, I hope.
WARNING: SEXUAL LANGUAGE
When I started going to the YMCA, I was fresh meat. All the older gay men stared at me. As time passed, their staring stopped as they learned that I was straight.
But one man has continued to make sexual comments to me that make me feel weird, but the comments are funny. I will call this man Steve which is not his real name.
In order to see the humor what I am about to tell you, you have to remember that Steve always walks around the dressing room naked. He is not ashamed of his body. It’s almost as if he is advertising, “Here I am! You can have me.”
A few weeks ago, Steve came up to me while I was shaving in the washroom. Naturally, he was naked. He leaned towards me and whispered loudly, “Hey Gary, wanna see my dick?”
When I stopped laughing I said, “No, not today Steve. Maybe tomorrow.”
Several times since then he has said, “How about today, Gary? Wanna see my dick?”
I laugh when he says it, and when I think about it. I am laughing now as I write this.
Today, I was in the shower room alone when Steve came in. He immediately started singing “As Time Goes By” from Casablanca. I was naked! He was naked! And he’s singing a love song to me! Weird, but funny!
Another man came. Steve stopped singing and said to the man, “I’m just singing a love song to my boyfriend.” The man shook his head and laughed.
Steve likes to see how far he can go. He knows I’m good-natured. And, as I have mentioned before, I am proud that I am well-adjusted and not threatened by homosexuality.
I am well-adjusted—if I do say so myself. But I am not the only one who says so. The voices in my head say that I am well-adjusted, too.
What makes say that I am well-adjusted? My reaction, or lack of reaction, to a man at the YMCA who makes sexual suggestions to me. I do not feel sexually harassed or angry when he does this. I just laugh and dismiss his comments because I know it ain’t gonna happen.
“You’re lucky,” I said, “I’m secure in my masculinity. I know guys who would punch you out for saying these things to them.”
“I know,” he said.
Gay bashing was big when I was a teenager and I could never understand why. Guys would brag how they “punched out a faggot.” And when I asked them why they did so they said, “Because he’s a faggot!”
Homosexuality is a threat to those men who are not secure about their masculinity.
So, this man can say whatever he wants. It won’t affect me other than making me feel proud of being well-adjusted.
It’s okay if the world ends tomorrow because I have seen everything.
Yesterday, at the YMCA, I saw an old man walking to his locker which was close to mine. He was naked. A silver flash, from between his legs, caught my eye. I couldn’t believe it! He had a large silver ring with a large silver ball piercing the tip of his penis causing it to swing like a clapper. If his thighs were metal, then he would have sounded like a church bell.
I don’t understand. You take a body part that already has a hole in it, and put another hole in it near the first hole. Then you take a large silver ring with a large silver ball and push it through the second hole. It’s hard for me to see the advantage of doing this since I don’t even like wearing rings on my fingers. And the thought of piercing my manhood? Ouch!
The old man must love hanging low and swinging to and fro.
Oh well, my life is complete. There is nothing more for me to see.
On Tuesday, a non-Asian man stared at me in the shower at the YMCA. He wore black-framed glasses. I could see him with a pen pouch full of pens in his shirt pocket, and not dressed in the latest style. In other words, he looked like a geek.
He just stood and stared while the shower water bounced off his back. He never washed or moved. He had lust in his eyes. I tried to enjoy my shower, but found his staring disturbing. I did my best to ignore him, finished my shower, and left with him still standing and staring.
On Wednesday, an Asian man stared at me in the shower. He was not wearing glasses. Unlike Tuesday’s geek, this man moved and showered. At times his head faced me while the front of his body faced the wall. Once again, I found it disturbing the way he kept staring at me. He, too, stayed in the shower after I finished.
Today, an Asian man wearing black-framed glasses stared at me. He, too, moved while showering. At times his head turned 180 degrees to keep me in his gaze.
This is payback for all the times I made women feel uncomfortable by gawking at them. I now understand how uncomfortable they felt.
I promise never to stare at another woman again—at least not long stares. Perhaps just a few polite quick gawks so the women don’t feel uncomfortable.
In the meantime, I will endure my fate giving thanks that all the men do is stare at me, and don’t do anything else.
I like to be left alone. I do not want to talk to anyone. If I am left alone, I can spend time inside my head. I can’t stay inside my head if people talk to me.
Today at the YMCA, old man after old man approached me trying to start a conversation. This happened in the dressing room, workout areas and shower. I politely dodged having conversations with them.
I was dressed and gathering up my stuff to leave when a man came in and started to use a locker near me. He saw the bunch of bananas I had. (I like to eat bananas after I work out.) He approached me while he was undressing.
“I have a song I like to sing to kids about bananas,” he said.
He started singing I Like Bananas Because They Have No Bones while he was still getting undressed. And then he was naked and hadn’t finished the song! I wanted to shout, “Beam me up, Scotty!”
It was bad enough that I had a naked man singing me a song, but then he started to scratch himself you know where. He was singing and scratching at the same time! Is that talent or what?
I was polite and waited for him to finish the song. And then I got the hell out of there!
The other day I wrote how older men stare at me in the shower at the YMCA. Yesterday, a younger man stared at me. He looked like Frankenstein except he did not have the bolts in his neck and the green skin. He did not stare with lust in his eyes like the older men. He had that blank Frankenstein stare.
Frankenstein never moved his head. He followed me with his eyes. His face remained blank. When I looked at him he looked away. Then he would resume staring at me once I looked away. He stood motionless, with the shower water hitting his back, staring at me. His eyes followed me when I finished and walked to the towel-drying area. Again, he would look away when I looked back.
What the hell was Frankenstein thinking while he stared at me? Did I remind him of an electrical wire? A dark lightning bolt? A chocolate bar? Who knows?
It’s been a month of working out at the YMCA. I am slowly getting used to being naked with no privacy. I may never get used to being stared at while I am naked.
Almost every day, while I shower after a workout, some men will ogle me. The men who do this are older. I pretend that they aren’t there hoping that they will get the message that I am not interested in what their eyes are suggesting?
And there’s an older man who loves to talk while he is naked. Whether you are in the dressing room or in the shower, he will come up to you and start talking about how Donald Trump is ruining the world. I try not to say too much hoping that he will go away. Political discussions with naked men are not high on my list of things to do. They have only stared and never touched.
I didn’t realize how uncomfortable I was with my body until I started going to the YMCA. I will be completely comfortable when I learn to love and accept myself.
When you are a nomad, and can’t shower every day, the three areas to keep clean are your armpits, your crotch, and your butt. You can get by without a shower if you wash these areas daily. The only problem with washing in public washrooms is dodging zealous security guards. These security guards want to make the Universe a better place.
“You can’t wash in here,” shouts the security guard.
“But it’s a washroom,” I say.
“That doesn’t mean you can wash in here,” says the security guard.
His logic escapes me, but then I never went to security-guard school.
I showered at a friend’s place on May 31. For the month of June, I washed in public washrooms. I must have smelled okay. I went to two social functions during June and none of my friends said anything. Were they being polite?
I longed for a shower, a nice long hot shower.
I started making some extra money and had enough money to join the YMCA. On Friday June 30, I joined. While I was filling out the paperwork I kept thinking, “Tomorrow, I’m going to have a shower! Tomorrow, I’m going to have a shower!”
I could not fall asleep Friday night because I was so excited about being able to have a shower. I was like a kid on Christmas Eve anticipating Christmas morning.
“I’m going to have a shower! I’m going to have a shower!”
I finally fell asleep, but was up early Saturday morning.
“I’m going to have a shower! I’m going to have a shower!”
I was so excited thinking about a shower, as I took the subway to the YMCA, that I wanted to run up to people on the subway and shout, “Hey Mister, I’m going to have a shower! Hey Lady, I’m going to have a shower! Hey World, I’m going to have a shower!” But I contained myself.
It’s a short walk from the subway to the YMCA. As soon as I saw the YMCA I thought, “That’s the building where I’m going to have a shower! That’s the building where I am going to have a shower!”
I went in. I worked out. And then? And then I had the longest shower in history. I soaped up and rinsed off a thousand times, and then I stood under the shower for a long time with the water bouncing off me. I was in Heaven!
Funny how such a simple thing like shower can bring such joy.