At the Omaha YMCA, 1951
My mind on autopilot, I steered the car south along the Missouri. The sun dipped low on my right as I watched for the turnoff for the bridge over the river into Omaha. "Pretty ritzy," I said to myself with sarcasm. "First night out on the road and the accommodations will be first-class: the YMCA in Omaha."
I drove first to the Y on the east side, but it was obviously too up-scale and high-priced for me. With the darkness of night closing in fast, I drove another 35 minutes west, to pull into a section of town in transition. Once obviously a bustling business district, it had declined quite a bit. Warehouses lay vacant, restaurants and bars boarded up. The tall, red-brick Y building still stood fast, a monument to what had been. The marble stairs up to the front desk had worn depressions where my feet fell on them. I pushed through 8-foot oak doors.
"Sure we can put you up. Aren't more than six or seven others taking rooms here right now, all businessmen on the road. We'll put you close to the washroom and showers. More convenient. Three-ten, on the third floor. Front desk is manned all night — George takes over at 11 o'clock. Don't hesitate to come down and ask if you need something. Pool and steam room are on two. Wally's on duty in the locker room until midnight."
I thanked him and took my key, thinking how little he fit the stereotype of someone manning the front desk at a place like this. He was chipper and neatly dressed, as if trying by sheer will power to keep the building the successful center it had been when the neighborhood was enjoying a more prosperous era. I slung my bag over my shoulder and wedged myself into a small elevator. It crept upward, then juddered to a halt at the second floor, just as I noticed a hand-lettered sign that read, "ELEVATOR TO 2nd FLOOR ONLY." Well, at least the device got me half-way there. I stepped off and immediately smelled the chlorine of a pool and felt the humidity of showers. I chose a direction I thought might lead to the stairs, rounded a corner, and was nearly bowled over by a big bruiser in white slacks and white T-shirt. As I tottered dangerously under the weight of my bag, he grabbed me skillfully.
"Boy, am I sorry, sir. So few people here I wasn't thinking. You OK?"
"Sure," I replied, "Everything's intact. I was looking for the stairs to the third floor."
"Here. Let me give you a hand." He hoisted my bag easily onto a broad shoulder. "I'm going up myself for a minute. The stairs are in the opposite direction. You were heading for the locker room and pool. You staying tonight?"
I followed him dutifully up the stairs. "At least for tonight. I've got some business to take care of tomorrow in town."
"I'm Wally. I man the locker room mainly. On a night like tonight, with only six staying over, I man just about everything else, too. Did you get the special rate?"
Wally was about five-eleven and must have weighed 220 pounds. Unlike the man at the front desk, he would have fit perfectly in a '40s fight film, the trainer or the manager or someone whose job stationed him in a gym or locker room, in those white slacks and bulging white T-shirt, built like an upside-down pyramid, gray-balding on top, and fighting the inevitable thickening waist of the 50-year-old. "I didn't know there were special rates. The guy at the front desk said the rate was $8.50." "Well, good for him. That is the special rate. Gets you access to the pool and locker room, but no gym privileges. Did you want to use the gym tonight? I could sneak you in."
"No," I replied as he laid my bag down outside my room door. "It's been a long day on the road, and besides, God didn't make me to be body-builder," I said, patting the incipient thickening of my own middle-age waistline. "Thanks for the help — I appreciate it."
"Not at all. Take a few laps in the pool. Even if you're tired, the exercise'll help you relax. I'm on duty in the locker room until midnight. Your room rate entitles you to a rubdown." He turned and headed down the hall.
"I'd like to, but I didn't pack a suit. Thought I'd pick up one later on the road."
He called back from half-way down the hall. "Don't need one. Just us men here." He disappeared around the corner. The room was adequate. I knew my penny-pinching plans would eventually land me in far worse places. It was as plain as a stripline Chevy fleet car, but clean. I threw my bag on a chair and stripped off my tie and shirt, peeling the sweat-soaked fabric from me. There were times I regretted that the car didn't have some sort of refrigeration like produce trucks have.
I quickly realized the room was just that — a room only, not the "room" you get in a hotel. I scowled inwardly at myself. "Of course, idiot. It's a YMCA, not the Ritz."
Grabbing a towel for my waist, I locked the door, and padded toward the stairs. Figuring the showers were off the locker room, I nosed around until I found swinging doors with "LOCKERS" stenciled on them. I went in.
Metal lockers with newly fixed hasps, wooden benches, the usual. I walked past the rows of lockers and saw a side room. Wally stood beyond the entrance, his back to me as he bent over a massage table. He was giving a rubdown to someone stretched out on his stomach. A towel had been draped across the backs of the man's knees. His butt was exposed. Hearing me come in, Wally turned and hailed me.
"Glad you took my advice. You'll feel better. Do those laps like I told you. I'll be done here in 10 minutes. Stop on by."
There was no doubting the friendliness, the genuineness, of Wally. You could take him at face value, was how I saw it. But for the first time since walking through the front doors, I found my mind turning to something less mundane than finding my way around a strange place. It hit me that a big strapping attendant expected me to present myself without clothes for a rubdown. I had never had one. Had never had another man's hands on me in that way. I felt squeamish, then mentally aroused. I'd been in gyms and locker rooms, of course, but there were always lots of guys around, lots of activity. No chance to betray any sexual interests. I'd never considered that things might seem quite different in the same place with almost no one around and just a twist of fate that would have me naked on a table in front of the very sort of guy that I would have fantasized about. I was scared of embarrassing myself. "Oh, well, you'll be so nervous you won't be able to embarrass yourself," I muttered inwardly.
Gritting my teeth and lowering my head — my normal response to any challenge or anxiety — I padded toward what I thought might be an entrance to the pool. For once I was right. A large shower room had an arrow and the word "POOL" painted on the far wall. I turned a shower on to cool off, soaped down, rinsed off, and with genitalia suitably shriveled from the cold water, headed for the pool.
It wasn't big, but it wasn't small either — enough for good lap swimming. A lone swimmer laboriously stroked his way toward the far end. He wasn't wearing a suit either. You could easily delineate a broad back and hefty buttocks plowing a wake through the choppy water. I was instantly crippled by embarrassment … and something akin to excitement. With every man's primordial fear of springing an erection in public, I quickly slipped into the water and pushed off for a furious lap or two. Fatigue would keep me from making a display of myself.
I persevered for three lengths of the pool, then hung onto the side lip, gulping air. The long day's drive had taken more of a toll than I had realized. I was bushed. To my right I heard splashing. I turned my head and saw my fellow swimmer hitting the side of his head roughly with the heel of his hand, drumming water out of an ear. He shook his head and looked in my direction. A brief wave of acknowledgment and he was off on another lap. I decided to try one more down-and-back. My body, aching from long hours in a car, was good only for the "down-" half. Exhausted, I made my way to the corner ladder and painfully hoisted myself up, rung by rung. I was at the wrong end of the pool, with my towel taunting me from the far end. But I was tired as hell and I didn't care. There was no need to bluff my way through the long naked walk down the side of the pool. The chances of an unwanted erection even in this hyper-masculine setting were nil. My thighs ached, my back ached, strangling all erotic thoughts. I was puffing like an old locomotive, and the only thing on my mind was a hot shower. My scrotum and its contents swayed from side to side unself-consciously as I struggled toward my towel and the shower room.
I was not to be alone. A shower was already running, with a stocky man in his 50's underneath the spray, soaping his chest. Maybe the man I saw on Wally's massage table. I nodded and turned to a shower head opposite him. I was beginning to enjoy the confidence that physical fatigue afforded. Here I could be naked in front of a bunch of other naked men and in fact relish the situation. Fatigue had its up side. As I rinsed the chlorine off, who but Wally poked his head around the corner. Hell, the man was everywhere, with that hulking frame and friendly smile and aw-shucks speech.
"Ready when you are, sir."
Wally squeezed some more oil onto his hand and moved down to my back. He was really working it in with those thick, strong fingers of his. It was like a narcotic. I was overcooked pasta: blissfully limp. After a while, I became drowsy and as if disconnected from my body. Gradually this changed. For the first time in my life I could feel muscles and tendons, where they came from and where they went. I discovered where my legs were really hinged. And the uneasiness I first felt at being naked on the table disappeared. The massage made physical sense. It was good for all of me.
"Where did you learn to massage, Wally?"
"Nowhere special. Spent some time in the war in the Medical Corps, working rehab. Some folks don't have to learn, really. It just comes naturally. All bodies are the same. You know your own, you know everyone's." He moved on to my lower back and the base of my spine. "A massage is good for a man. Gets the blood circulating, makes you feel alive."
As he kneaded the small of my back, I experienced a familiar pleasure and realized that I was getting an erection. I felt Wally lift the towel from my buttocks and re-drape it across the back of my legs. Matter of factly, he began massaging my buttocks and the crevice between. I hissed, "Wally! That part doesn't need any massage!"
"The heck it doesn't," he said, but withdrew his hand. "Time to turn over."
"Uh, I can't."
"Why not?" He paused. "Oh, I get it. You think it might be a little embarrassing? Aw, relax, pal. Lots of guys get a stiff one during a rubdown; must have somethin' to do with relaxin'. Seen it lots of times. Heck, we're both grown men. We both know what a man's equipment looks like. Nothing new there."
I rose up a little on my elbows, the better to talk him out of it. Wally had a more persuasive argument, however. I don't understand how he did it so fast, but he got his arms around me in some kind of wrestler's grip, then flipped me over as neat as a pancake. Totally ignoring the tent pole in my groin, he lay the towel across my waist.
"Wally!" I gasped. "I know there's only you and me here. But this is excruciatingly embarrassing!"
I tried to sit up, but he chuckled, pushed me back down flat on my back, and went on with his massage. I decided I did not want to see the disgust that must be on his face, so I closed my eyes. My member was in no mood to relax, however, and jutted stupidly upward. Wally's expert hands were giving me a real workout, as he moved gradually from my upper chest to my abdomen. With each new area approached, my swollen member jumped. As he got down to my navel, his rubbing started to make the edge of the towel shift back and forth against the underside of my scrotum. This only made things worse. Wally seemed not to be aware of anything and went on with his implacable pounding and pressing. Again he started smearing oil in places that I thought could not reasonably be expected to need massage. By this time I was choking too much to protest. Wally dutifully covered my lower abdomen and hips with oil, then paused. He looked down at me, almost sadly it seemed, from where he stood. Wally started rubbing oil on my turgid penis! My poor, aching, oversized cock. He massaged it just as he had the rest of me. He pulled it away from my groin, and he mashed it against my heaving abdomen; he squeezed it in his fist and stroked it with his fingers. He probed around the base and choked up on it to slide smoothly up and down on the stem. He was nothing if not thorough — no way was my pecker going to have knots in its muscles! He also gave my balls their due, but with more gentleness, cupping and raising them, carefully pulling them down in my scrotum. By this point, I was beside myself, and I thought I would spurt at any moment. Wally seemed to have a sixth sense about this, however, and I thought he might be deliberately holding off. Finally, I couldn't stand it. "Finish it off," I whispered hoarsely.
"What's that?" Wally leaned over, brushing my left arm with his groin and resting a hand heavily on my chest. He was grinning broadly. The sadist must be enjoying my embarrassment!
"That damn erection you've been kneading is going to explode! Please, Wally, I can't take it!"
"You want me to masturbate you right here in full view of anyone who might walk in?" He was obviously making fun now, grinning broadly, eyes crinkled up and twinkling.
"Yes, right here and now!"
"You want me to continue until you spurt all over your gut, even though one of those businessmen might come in here all naked and see me doin' it?"
"Yes, damn it to hell!"
"Whatever you say, sir," he laughed. As he continued to lean over me, his fist closed firmly around my cock and began a regular rhythm. It only took a few strokes. The hot, thick white semen came gushing out, spurt after spurt, and made puddles on my chest like the icing on a cinnamon Danish. I was sure I would pass out from the combined exertion and embarrassment. In fact, everything went black for a second, as my heart raced, and I trembled all over. I could hear Wally breathing steadily beside me. He chuckled in a faintly sinister way. "Whoo-whee! Who would have thought you had all that in you? I guess it's true what they say about eating your vegetables. You think it might be cauliflower that does that?"
"Very funny, Wally."
"Feeling better there?"
"God, I'll never live that one down."
"Aw, heck, quit apologizin'.