The Naked Truth

The first time I saw a guy in the buff was, well, pretty fabulous

The first time I saw a boy naked, I'd already lost my virginity months before. My boyfriend and I had Done It in one of those half-dressed, in the dark, "didn't know that's where we were headed that night" kind of moments. It was over very fast, and with all apologies to that boyfriend, it was not the time of my life.

Seeing a boy naked kind of was, though. It was kind of one of the best moments, ever. I hope when the end is near and I'm circling the drain, that my life will actually flash before my eyes and I'll get to see this all over again. Because, man.

I was 17, and the manager of my high school's boys swim team; I was friends with a lot of the boys who swam. Instead of impatiently waiting for their swim meets to be over so we could all go out afterward, I decided to join the team instead, without having to put forth any actual athleticism—which, believe me, was in everyone's best interests.

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My pressing managerial duties included timing how long it took them to swim from one end to the other, and to polish the start gun. (I am not kidding. There was some kind of start-up gun I had to clean every week. I can still smell that polish-and-chlorine odor and feel kind of a thrill.)

There was, inexplicably, a little window a few feet under the pool, and if you went down to the boys' locker room, you could stand on a bench and see the swimmers going back and forth under the water. Our coach, a gruff guy who scared the crap out of me and who had no patience for my nonsense—and believe me, if you cracked open my 17-year-old head, all that would have fallen out would have been confetti and nonsense—pulled me aside.

"Sommerfield," he said. He always mispronounced my name, and I did not dare correct him, because did I mention he was a seething cauldron of rage? He was always one iota from losing patience with the lot of us, and if you had to corral 20 teenagers, most of them in Speedos, you'd be on edge, too.

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In retrospect, I think he was probably a great coach. You know how people who have the best-behaved dogs don't take any guff from their dogs? He was like that with us. No guff. Just a bit of fear. OK, in my case, a lot of fear. I'd be the kind of dog who pees her own leg.

Anyway, "Sommerfield," he said, "go under and see how Fennimore's form looks. Do you know about the window under the water?"

Of course I knew about the window under the water. The window riveted us, because it was weird, and sort of salacious. We all loved that underwater window. Even better, I was being given permission to schlep on down to the boys' locker room. OK, the swim team's locker room, and they were all upstairs swimming, but still. It felt so forbidden. It felt so daring. Maybe I'd even see a boy's unmentionable or something. His bra or whatever.

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I trotted down there with the enthusiasm of Eleanor Roosevelt at an Indigo Girls concert. Except, you know, in a hetero way. I crept past the lockers, got on the bench and dutifully observed Fennimore's form, which by the way meant absolutely nothing to me. Yeah, there he was. Swimming. Wooo! Big deal.

And that is when I heard the ruckus. Laughter, lockers slamming, bags being tossed to the ground. I looked down the hall. The football team—the football team!!—had finished practice, and they were filing into their locker room a few feet down, oblivious to the fact that Karen Sommerfeld, with her Jordache jeans and her hot Princess Diana 'do, was staring at them.

Much like the loss of my virginity, it all happened so fast that I wasn't even aware it was happening until it was in front of me. At first all I saw were football players walking back and forth, but then? Framed in the doorway?

Troy Rivers. Troy Rivers, a football player from my high school, naked as the day he was born. But lemme tell you something: He'd improved with age.

Troy Rivers was a man of color, and every bit as fit and beautiful as you're assuming a 17-year-old football player would be.

I was frozen in time. I was preserved in amber. I had never seen anything so beautiful in all my life, and I'd been to the Ice Capades! Until that moment, men of color had held no particular interest to me, but right then is when everything changed. That sight, those few moments of Troy Rivers naked as a jaybird, burned into my brain. That man set the template for what I consider the ideal man, all the way up until today, 742 years later.

I scurried up the steps to the swimming pool a changed woman. Oh sure, I was still rocking the Diana feathers on the outside, but inside, I'd grown a little. And gotten way pervier.

Years later, Troy Facebook-friended me, and as soon as I clicked "Accept," I stampeded over to his page. He is still absolutely beautiful; he is still my template for the ideal man. I've politely abstained from saying anything to him through the years; I think he's married, and besides, I know nothing about him other than he looks fantastic. Maybe if I got to know him I'd find out he's a big Conway Twitty fan and my whole fantasy would be destroyed.

So I'll just stare at him from afar, the way I did in that locker room circa 1982. I'd hate to ruin that perfect moment of my first naked boy.

Tags: memoirs