After dark, Frank summoned the juniors to our apartment. They were earlier told to wear Speedos and bring a towel. "But that's it! Nothing else!" All furniture in the living room, except a table and some chairs for the initiation committee, was temporarily moved to another room. The remaining seniors stood behind the committee as spectators.
Brett, Maurice and Frank, also in Speedos, nothing more, wore deadly serious expressions as the juniors filed into the tension-filled room. Then Frank gave the usual speech.
"Now, listen, guys, this initiation is supposed to be fun for those who went through it before. It's important you participate in the right spirit. It's not like the end of the world even though you might think it is. There's absolutely nothing to worry about...provided, of course, you've all completed your last will and testament. Are you ready?"
The juniors formed a circle, then Frank shoved a marshmallow into one boy's mouth. "Okay, guys, pass it from mouth to mouth--no hands--until it reaches the last guy."
"This is gross!"
The funniest thing was watching the boys try to get the marshmallow between their teeth to avoid contact with the previous boy's saliva.
When the marshmallow returned to its starting point, Frank ordered the kid to swallow it. That was a newie for me. The kid screwed his face, looked like he was gonna puke, and forced the spit-drenched thing down his throat. It was totally gross but we seniors pissed ourselves laughing.
Next, the guys were each given a "job". Carlos stripped to reveal a tiny uncircumcised willie, and not a pube within cooee. Frank placed a tog bag in the center of the room and ordered Carlos to make love to it. Even the rest of the juniors cracked up at the sight of the little guy pumping away at the bag as if it were the horniest chick in town. Once into the rhythm, he developed a roaring boner. He oscillated, undulated, kissed and pounded the bag with such intensity even he embraced the spirit of fun. In fact, it was so hilarious, two other juniors were ordered to perform the same stunt, much to Carlos' delight.
When Graham was summoned, he was asked to strip. No worries; out of all the juniors he had the prize willie, luxuriously crowned by a dozen curlies. "Put this on," Frank ordered.
"A girl's dress? No way!" Nonetheless, the grommet slid the mini dress over his head. "What now?"
"Walk down to McDonalds, buy a burger and bring it back."
"Yeah, right. I'm not going anywhere in a girl's dress! And that's final!"
Another senior and I were appointed to follow Graham just to ensure his safety. The dress barely covered his butt. At the entrance to the apartment block, he set off on a sprint down the street, but quickly realized the dress was lifting. Then he settled for small careful steps, which cracked me up big time.
We reached the point where McDonalds was on the other side of the road, directly opposite. Graham stood at the kerb for an age, checking traffic as well as the restaurant customers. Inside, swimmers from other teams constituted his major concern. He dreaded the inevitable razzing.
The moment Graham stepped through the door, the joint erupted into raucous laughter and wolf whistles. And not only from the swimmers; the regular crowd joined the ruckus too. Graham steeled himself, and strode to the counter. He ordered a plain Mac which took about a minute to arrive--the longest 60 seconds of the grommet's life.
As he turned to leave, a junior from another team asked Graham if he wanted a date.
"Stuff you too! Wanna step outside?"
"Piss off, I'm busy."
"The dress suits you. You should've been a girl."
"You wanna step outside! Cool."
At that point the other senior and I stepped in and separated the pushing and shoving juniors. The spectacle of Graham in a dress, slogging it out with another grommet would have been too hilarious for words.
At the apartment, thunderous applause welcomed our little hero, whereupon he ditched the dress. By then, most of the other lighties were initiated so I missed that. But Graham's stunt at McDonalds took the cake, and was one of the highlights of the tour. However, more was to come.
After all individual initiations were complete, the juniors were divided into two groups; those with pubes and those without. One by one they stood on a chair. Maurice, equipped with latex gloves, smeared each boy's groin with shaving cream, then proceeded to shave them. Some of the guys couldn't resist sprouting a hardon, which added to the entertainment. Needless to say, Graham was totally pissed off at having his prized pubes mercilessly decapitated. "It's gonna take forever to grow these bloody things back!"
"Don't worry," Frank chuckled. "It'll help your speed in the water."
Next morning it was down to the pool and down to business. Heats took all day but each member of our team qualified for at least one of the following day's events. I qualified for the 200m and 400m fly semis while Brett and Frank made the freestyle and breastroke. Graham qualified for the 200m and 400m freestyle, breastroke and butterfly as well as the 100m fly. He swam like a genius inspired. The junior who gave him grief at McDonalds qualified for almost the same events and was a wicked freestyle swimmer. As anticipated, Brandon creamed all his heats.
Friday's semis were a lot more difficult. I failed to make the cut in the 200m fly. I was fourth. Brett sailed through his heats and qualified for the 100m and 200m freestyle and breast events while Frank succeeded in all his events. Graham won the 200m fly.
Saturday was finals day and the pressure increased dramatically. The feature event was the 100m freestyle with Brett, Frank and Jolly Jim representing our school. Favored to win, however, was Prima Donna Brandon. He had stamped his name on that race at previous meets.
Within a split second of the starter's gun, Brett and Brandon hit the water simultaneously, with Frank in close proximity. Brandon was first to turn but Brett found something extra and hauled in his opponent with each gruelling meter of the final lap. Our school team sprang to its feet as one: a forest of waving arms and fists as Brett touched the wall a good two seconds in front. Brandon heaved himself out of the water, then threw his cap to the ground in utter disgust. He proceeded to win all his later events, but his crown was irreconcilably tarnished. Brett, conversely, was crowned hero of the day. Frank managed second in most of his finals, but creamed the 100m and 200m backstroke while Graham won the 100m fly as if he were the only swimmer. He too received the hero treatment after that. And me? I didn't make the first three in the fly but I swam well for forth. My competition included some top guys so I wasn't too disappointed. Besides, I was bouyed by the success of my mates.
Saturday night, we were allowed to do our own thing and rocked over to a disco organized at the local pool hall. Brandon was there with a few of his buds. When he began to chirp we decided to avoid trouble and split to the Sports Bar. That's when Brandon made a big mistake. He followed us.
By the time Brandon summoned the courage to approach Brett, and provoke him with a shove, Brett had already downed a few shots and was amped for a confrontation. The punches to the gut flew so thick and fast, Brandon didn't see them coming. Wearing a stunned expression, he crumpled to the deck, out cold.
Sunday we hit the beach where I managed to convince a local to reluctantly lend me his board. Graham tried the same trick but failed. Meanwhile, it was a real treat to be back riding the waves again for an hour or two.
After school Monday, Stuart visited my room. "You always do your homework in your boxers?"
"Always," I laughed.
"Heard you bummed out on the tour." He sounded sympathetic as he planted his butt on my bed.
"It was weird. I swam really well but wasn't getting anywhere."
"All the guys have one over you, Kyle, and you know it."
"All the guys take it now. Ian Thorpe must be doing the stuff as well."
"I hate supps."
"We're not talking `roids, mate. It's the same stuff your body makes--it's totally natural."
"Is that why you've gotten so damn tight?"
"Yeppo," he grinned, flashing a perfect set of pearlies, then stood and paraded his tanned god-body around the room.
The blond Adonis had gone by the time my folks arrived home from work. I allowed them time to settle and relax before I quizzed my dad about Creatine.
"A lot of kids are using that stuff now," he said, stirring his coffee at the kitchen table. "The guys at the office talk about it. Damn expensive, though, Kyle."
"It cheeses me off. All the guys are using it--and beating me."
"You're gonna need to find work to pay for it if you choose to use it. I know Brett uses it."
"How do you know that?"
"Just look at him. He has helluva muscular development for his age. I've seen him box--he has oodles of energy. At first, I though he might be on steroids or something similar."
"He wouldn't take `roids, dad."
"I hope not. Is his mother quite well off?"
"I don't think so."
"Maybe he only buys Creatine when he can afford it. Most of the kids do that. They only use it when they need it, or when they're in training."
"So what do you think?"
"I've never been one for taking stuff like that, Kyle, but maybe you should try it to see if it helps. But! You're gonna have to pay for it yourself, boyo. We don't have that kinda money to throw around."
"I know, dad."
Then my mom joined the convo. "If you ate your spinach when you were little you could've had a body like Brett's now."
"Hear that, dad?"
"I'm listening, I'm listening--and I ate all my spinach."
"He's a lady killer," my mom smiled.
"Hmmmm," was all my mom added. Dad smiled and shook his head, giving me the impression my mom felt horny, which obviously pleased him.
Next morning, Brett was on prefect duty so I didn't catch up with him until break. I asked him about Creatine. "Sure, I take courses of the stuff during boxing training. I also took a course for the swim tour. The whole team was on Creatine. Even the grommet asked the coach about it."
"He couldn't afford it."
"The coach gets the stuff at a discount. And sometimes he helps the younger guys, provided they produce a letter from their folks to say they're allowed to do a course. I get it from Stuart; he's got a contact. Shit! Just about all my money goes on it."
"What's the prob?"
"I'm just not sure I wanna get into it."
"You don't need to, mate. It just depends on how badly you wanna win."
"Are you saying I can't win without it?"
"Not quite. But it does give the other guys that extra energy boost when they need it. It's not like a drug. I don't think there's a swimmer who doesn't take it...except Kyle."
"Oh, he took some. How do you think his swimming improved so quickly?"
"You thought it was because of the extra training we gave him? Okay, his stroke was poor but the Creatine helped his speed and endurance."
"He didn't say a word to me about it."
"Because he's paranoid about what you might say. You'd probably go on and on about drugs and shit." That comment hurt. I was disappointed that my little bro kept his secret from me. I studied the ground at my feet, lost for words. "Kyle, for crying out loud, don't look so down! The little bloke would've told you if he thought you'd be sympathetic to his side of the story. And it's not like he's taking drugs for fuck sake!"
G had previously emailed me his thoughts on the matter. "A friend said if you won by taking supps then it was the supps that did the winning."
"No--he doesn't do any sport."
"Oh, c'mon, Kyle. I hate it when we get into these heavies. But I feel like ramming your head against the wall. How the hell would he know what it's like to compete against every mother who uses supps? And your coming last every time?"
"You know what I mean. So who's the brightspark friend?"
"You don't know him. He's a bloke I email."
"Well, tell him to look around; to ask his school mates `cause everyone is taking it."
"Now you're getting pissed off."
"I'm not getting pissed. I just get so mad at you sometimes `cause of the way you think. You're like so damn cautious about everything. And then you ride huge surf and don't give a rat's ass if you break your neck."
"I can't afford the shit anyway."
"So don't stress about it then."
"I stress `cause I still got two swimming seasons, and the way things are going I'll never make the winter team `cause all you guys are getting pumped."
"Aaaggghhh, Christ! Stop doing this! Now listen up--and I don't want you to think I'm dissing your email mate who, incidentally, knows fuck all about sports competition. All sports have changed, Kyle. Look around at some little guys. Hell, look at Graham: his increased performance, his increased strength and his muscle mass. That's how it's going, mate. The guys will take stuff to win, so long as it's not steroids or addictive drugs--preferably something natural like Creatine. Guys who don't take supps are going nowhere. I know you're scared, honest, but there's nothing wrong with the stuff."
The argument was pointless. I couldn't afford the stuff, and neither could my folks. But just then, I remembered what my mom said about Brett. "By the way, my mom says you got a hot bod."
"Is your dad the only one at your house who's not ogling my bod?"
"My dad? Oh, yeah, he thinks you got a hot bod for your age."
"It's obviously a Kyle family thing."
"My folks aren't shy about telling it like it is. And if my mom thinks you're hot then you must be."
"Yeah? Well, I don't see what you guys see. But, then, I know you're crazy. Hey, change of sub. Stuart phoned the other night and told me you guys have sorted out your differences totally. He sounded pretty damn amped."
"Yeah. We've both chilled about it."
"Susan says Melanie's happy about you guys being back on track."
"It's going okay."
"Lighten up, Kyle, and stop stressing about supps. You'll always make the swim team. Apart from anything else, we'll always need a mascot."