David. He was a good looking young man, boy I guess; but not a "hunk." Junior in high school, age 16-but no driver's license yet-black hair, smart as a whip. I counted him as one of my closest friends, and I am sure he felt the same about me. He was the only one of my close friends that made my groin itch. But it was his mind that attracted me to him. And it was his mind that I was admiring this evening as we sat together in his family living room.
I was a high school senior, and while I didn't have a car, my parents let me drive to school whenever I could find a good excuse to need the car. The usual excuse was after school activities that made me miss the bus. I could walk, but if I stayed late for science club, or debate, or whatever, and then walked home I was late for dinner. Or so I wanted my parents to believe. Dad had retired early, and they didn't really need the second car, so it wasn't an inconvenience to let me have a car. As my senior year progressed, the number of days per week that I was allowed to drive rapidly approached five.
Yesterday David and I had agreed to meet with the teacher-sponsor of the science club to plan for some event or other-the excuse for the car-and David had invited me to his house after that. On arrival he found that his parents weren't home and wouldn't be home till late. He asked me if I wanted to eat with him, and a quick phone call home provided the necessary permission. We had no specific plans, and just sat talking for a while. Subject long forgotten. Then David picked up the latest issue of Scientific American. Tossing it to me he said, "The Mathematical Games column has some puzzles that are real stumpers. Dad and I worked on them last night."
"How many did you get?"
"I think three. A couple are just the kind that take lots trial and error, and aren't much fun, but some are really interesting."
"Let's look at them," said I.
We opened the magazine, sprawled on the floor side by side, each reading. I asked which he and his Dad had gotten, and he pointed them out. We puzzled over a couple of the other problems, and after a little back and forth we got two more of the ten. Then David said, "Read the last one. It's a killer."
To this day I can remember the problem.
I need to step back from the story a little, and fill you in. If you were to check the back issues of Scientific American, in Martin Gardiner's Mathematical Games column, you would find that the set of ten problems mentioned in my story was published about 1957. So when I tell you I remember the problem to this day (2005), you know that it had to have been drilled into my memory. The other details of the evening are equally vivid. That evening, and my time with David, has shaped my life. But I need to back up a little and get David and me introduced....
I changed high schools very early in my junior year. I had been going to a small private, coed high school in the suburbs of Indianapolis. I wasn't happy. I could easily say that there was no sex, certainly not boy/boy sex, and that had something to do with my being unhappy. But I don't think that had anything to do with it. I had good friends, was an above average student, except for math and science in which I excelled. But I wasn't happy. Over the years as I look back on good old Parsons School, I think that it was its small size that made me unhappy. When the whole senior class is sixty, half girls and half boys, the pressure to conform is tremendous. There aren't enough students to have a broad curriculum, so you have little choice of classes. Since the school fielded both junior and senior varsity football teams, the pressure on the boys to play football was enormous: Do the math: thirty senior boys, thirty junior boys, eleven players to make a team, substitutes, manager, junior varsity-not many can get away with not playing. I didn't play. Sports wasn't my thing-still isn't. I don't even watch sports-live or on TV. Ask my friends today; conformity isn't my thing either.
In any case, I left Parsons, and entered Maxwell High, the local public high school. A good school, serving suburban students, paid for by high property taxes on expensive suburban homes-in which David and I both lived. The new kid in school does all right-if he, or she, comes in the middle of the year. In each class the teacher took the time to introduce me, and soon I had a number of friends. None that I met in those first days, however, turned out to be my close friends.
I met my close friends in after-school clubs and activities. OK, guys! This was the 1950's. The little clubs and activities after school were about the only game in town unless you were into sports or fucking. And, frankly, in the mid-fifties not may of us were into fucking, gay or straight. So, soon after arriving at Maxwell, I saw a notice for the Science Club. After school tomorrow. And tomorrow I showed up. Science Club was mainly a talk fest. But did we talk. It brought together most of the geeky (definitely not a term we used then to describe ourselves) science enthusiasts. We arrived with our magazines, ideas (some actually made sense), and questions. We talked about relativity, quantum theory, uncertainty theory, evolution (not much, we were all into the hard sciences) and perpetual motion. Some of us even understood a little of those things!
I honestly don't know if David was at that first meeting. But between the Science Club, the Math Club, and the Radio Club (ham operators, but I never became one), I met David and we found we had a lot in common. We were both in the elite few that actually had read some Einstein, Newton, Darwin, anda few others. Who knows how much we understood, but we sure thrived on the heady ideas. And our small group thrived on each other. No girls. Not that they were excluded, but they gravitated to the more artsy activities and were hard to find in places like the Math Club (some), Science Club (a few) and the Radio Club (zero, zip, nada). So the group was boys. We visited each others' homes, hung out after school, went to movies in twos and small groups, and talked. Long into the night. I had access to a car and most of the others did not, or had less access than I, so I was often the one who drove people home.
Was I sexually attracted to this bunch? Not really. Most simply were not physically sexually attractive to me. Some were overweight. Well, so was I but not a lot. Acne! The bane of teenage existence. I had a little, but not much, thank goodness. But I really couldn't be turned on by an acned face. Is that fair? No. But truth isn't necessarily fair. David was the exception. David was about 5' 10" and still growing a little. A trim body, maybe slightly heavier than perfect. Great black hair, combed back just they way I liked it. (Uncombed or spiked hair was not the "in" thing in the 1950's guys-this was the age of Vaseline Cream Hair Tonic!) And a face that hadn't even dreamed of a pimple! But you are reading this in the wrong venue. You are ready for sex. You expect your characters to be ready for sex. I keep having to remind you that this was the 1950's. Gay sex wasn't on anybody's radar screen. In fact hetero sex wasn't very common in suburban middle-upper class high schools, unless you think of "feeling" and "touching" as sex.
We weren't a prudish bunch. We just lived in an environment in which sex was talked about but that was about all. College would change that for us, and the advancing of the calendar would change that for high school students within a decade. Gay sex. Rarely thought of. Even by boys and girls that were in fact gay or lesbian. It was fine for daydreaming, but it wasn't reality, and that was pretty much that.
David and I had known each other a little over a year. The friendship had grown, so that we spent a good deal of time together. And during that time I had realized that I was attracted to him sexually. In the back of my mind I knew I was homosexual. I even had some concept of being bisexual, and thought that was what I was, though I didn't know the term. Kinsey's Sexual Behavior in the Human Male had been out almost ten years, and I had read about it-hadn't actually read it or even seen a copy. His discussion of a hetero-homosexual continuum made sense and seemed to fit my personal experience-well, not experience! let's just say self-understanding. I knew that some boys attracted me. I wasn't comfortable with the idea, and even thought about finding some kind of a cure. Honest! At other times my mind just went with the flow, and that flow often found me imagining the kinds of things David and I might do together if we were both homosexual and were to admit it to each other. But not a chance of that.
So there I was-no, we were-lying on the floor together reading the problem in the magazine. Here it is as I remember it:
John is a young math student at Whizbang University, and is visiting one of his professors for dinner one evening. Sitting in Professor Smith's living room he hears children playing in the back yard. He asks Prof. Smith if the children are his.
Smith's answer: "Some are. But there are four families represented."
John: "How many are yours?"
Smith: "Well, it makes an interesting math problem. I have the most, and the Green Black and Brown families all have less, and none of us has that same number of children. There are fewer than eighteen children out there. The product of the number of children in each family happens to equal my house number, which you saw on the way in. How many children do I have?"
John thought about the problem a while and said, "I need more information. I need to know whether the smallest family has more than one child."
Smith thought for a minute and replied, "Yes. I guess you do." Whereupon Smith told John whether the smallest family had more than one child. Upon getting that information John immediately told Smith how many children there were in each family.
The remarkable thing about this problem is that the reader now has enough information to tell how many children are in each family!
Wow. David and I were blown over by the lack of information in the problem and the idea that we still had enough information to solve it. We thought we were smart. No, we knew we were. And this had us buffaloed. We lay there on the floor passing ideas back and forth and getting nowhere. Eventually we began to get bored. Our minds wandered. I don't know where David's mind wandered to, but I began mentally undressing him. I rolled him over in my mind. We had never had gym together, never been in the habit of "sleeping over," so I had never seen his dick. What might it be like? In my experience I only knew one boy who was not circumcised (he had been at summer camp with me). So it never occurred to me that his dick was other than circumcised. I don't think the impact of his being Jewish even occurred to me! How big was it? How hairy? It had to have black hair, I guessed.
What would David do if I put my hand on his butt? If I shoved my hand under his groin? Kissed him?
Wait, lets back up. The idea of kissing David is strictly hindsight. My sexual thoughts in those days were strictly physical, aimed at the groin. There were no, absolutely no, models in my experience of men in love with men. Kinsey talked of men making physical love to men, not living in loving relationships. That simply wasn't a 1950's concept-at least not in my little corner of the Midwest.
So what could I do, or dream of doing? On previous occasions like this I had gotten us into mild physical contact by wrestling and tickling. Every now and then I'd let my hand slip-but it always had to be an accident. As far as I knew David never interpreted any of these slips as other than accidental, and he never "slipped" with me in any way that I thought was not accidental.
My mind wandered. I thought of David, and I thought of some of the sexual experiences I had had in elementary school. A small group of us played around a little, but that had ended with puberty. God, wouldn't I love to do those same things today with David. Yeah, but what made me think he would want to do them with me? And what was the risk of trying? I thought I trusted David, but being homosexual is a very heavy secret. Exposing that secret was, then, extraordinarily high risk behavior. Could I risk it with David? Would I be willing to try? If so, how? I had had these thoughts before, sometimes at home (usually before or during jacking off), sometimes when I was with David. Too many questions. Too few answers.
David came back to the problem. "Obviously we don't have all of the information that John had, so we must have information that he didn't have. What?"
"Good question. Not a clue."
New thought. Maybe I was getting into "brave" mode. "David?"
"May I tell you something about myself?"
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