Nobody warned me about how cold it would be back here. I mean, I knew I’d be barefoot. And shirtless. Well, clothes-less altogether save for the towel wrapped around my waist. But I wasn’t expecting it to be so damn cold.
Glancing around at the room — a dim and empty space beyond the two backless wooden benches set against opposite walls that each held a half-dozen boys sitting in identical towels — no one else seemed to mind the chill in the air.
It might have to do with the fact that almost everyone else on these benches had about twenty pounds in muscle mass on me. I’d been “bulking” all summer, but I was thin-framed to begin with so everyone was always surprised when I told them I’d planned on joining the wrestling team.
More accurately, I’d been eating-whatever-I-want all summer. I’d certainly gotten heavier, but any muscle gains were… dubious.
Either way, I hoped I’d make minimum weight for my class today. I needed 7 pounds to move up from the lightest class eligible to compete. It would be a small victory, but one that came with a slightly larger grain of respect from collegiate wrestlers, and I was in short supply of that.
A middle-aged woman with a black bob cut poked her head into the room and read off of a clipboard, “Anderson, Greg. Please come to the stage.”
A short, wide boy with red hair and pale skin dotted with freckles stood up and walked towards the opening leading out of our waiting area and onto the weighing stage. When he was a few feet from the door, he paused and looked back over his shoulder at the boys that had been sitting next to him. He opened his towel to flash his white, bare ass to the room, and made an exaggerated farting noise with his tongue. A few of the boys hollered after him while others snickered like it was the funniest thing they’d ever seen.
Wrestling guys were dumb like that. Maybe I was one of them, too. I’d had to stifle a laugh myself, as juvenile as the scene was.
Greg looked satisfied with himself as he wrapped the towel back around his waist and continued out onto the stage, beyond which family, friends, and a few local sports reporters sat to watch the tournament weigh-ins.
It was such a bizarre affair. To strip us all down, parade us out under spotlights, and have us step onto a scale that would spit out a number to be jotted down by officials and reported in a tiny corner on the 3rd page of the university paper.
Our towels folded in the back so that we could open them outward on stage and block the audience from seeing us immodestly. Of course, the two towel bearers that held your towel up had no choice but to take in the full view. And all of us offstage had a perfect shot of every competitor’s backside, though most boys were careful not to stare for risk of being teased.
I glanced over, as casually as I could muster, to get another glimpse of Greg. For a posterior that was probably used primarily to accompany flatulence comedy, it wasn’t bad. In fact, I had to tear my eyes away and try to stifle something very different from laughter stirring in my body. I folded my hands in my lap, trying to apply pressure to the stiffening that was building just under my towel.
Luckily, no one was paying much attention to me. I really hoped I would make that new weight class, because I needed to gain the respect of my team. It was hard enough being small – I couldn't imagine what things would be like if they were to find out that I’m gay.
Black bob cut poked her head into the room again, "Gretzky, Adam. Please come to the stage."
That was me. In an already chilly room, I could feel my hands get cold.
It was a good thing that the woman wasn't looking up from her clipboard, and that no one else had bothered to look up at my name, because I had to shift my towel uncomfortably as I stood. The tightness of it was keeping things contained for the moment, but I was about to walk out on stage and open my towel to the bearers, the admins, my teammates and competitors offstage, and if things really went south – friends, family, and the local news.
I took a deep breath of freezing air, walked across the room, and stepped out onto the stage.
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