Tag Archives: teenage sexuality

Teaching About Sex, Consent, And Relationships (Through Video Games)

Let’s face it. Most kids aren’t that eager to learn about the stuff that their teachers, parents, and school administrators want them to learn about. They’re not interested in knowing the skills that will make them healthy, productive, tax-paying consumers who will keep society running. They’re interested in the skills that will make them popular and/or get them laid.

The deficiencies of our education system are many and I’ve made no secret of my disdain for the experiences I had within that system. However, I don’t want to dwell too much on that this time. Talking about how much I hated high school is rarely that sexy.

Instead, I want to focus on something that most kids are eager to enjoy and how some people are using that to improve their understanding of sex, sexuality, and relationship. What could kids possibly excite kids that much to learn about something that they would rather not learn from the same gym teacher that makes them run laps in winter?

The answer is more obvious than you think. It’s video games. Admit it, that almost makes too much sense.

There’s no question that kids love playing video games more than learning about quadratic functions. According to a survey done by the MacArthur Foundation, approximately 97 percent of kids between the ages of 12 and 17 play video games. When it comes to statistics and surveys, you can’t get much more definitive without asking kids whether chocolate fudge tastes good.

Kids might not be able to agree whether Superman could beat the Hulk, which he totally could, but they agree that video games are awesome. So if kids love video games so much, why not use that love to teach them valuable lessons about sex, relationships, and consent?

That’s not a rhetorical question. I’m not being facetious either. It’s not about the medium or whatever asinine controversies it may have. It’s about working with what kids already love and using that to help them in valuable ways. It’s not that radical a concept. Hit movies have been made about it.

When it comes to teaching kids about sex, though, I wouldn’t expect Edward James Olmos to star in a movie about that. That doesn’t mean the concept is entirely flawed. Teaching kids about sex is hard enough. Teaching them in a way they’ll remember and take seriously might be beyond the power of Hollywood.

That still doesn’t stop some from trying. In a story by Kimberly Lawson at Vice, an associate professor of medicine at Yale University has helped create a game called PlayForward: Elm City Stories. It’s a fairly straightforward, two-dimensional role playing game that is less about killing aliens or Nazis and more about guiding players through a narrative, showing how their decisions affect them along the way.

That’s not quite as radical as it sounds. Role-playing games represent a large chunk of the video game industry. Major game franchises like “Mass Effect” and “Final Fantasy” are built around the idea of having players make choices and face repercussions of those choices. Take away the aliens and the monsters, though, and you’ve got a solid basis for understanding real life choices.

PlayForward: Elm City Stories plays less like Dungeons & Dragons and more like the classic board game, Life. In it, you play as avatar in a fictional, but fairly realistic city where you have to navigate a variety of activities and make choices along the way.

Some of those activities involve who you your friends are. Some involve going to certain events and parties. Some even involve whether or not to make out with a cute girl. It may sound mundane, but like most RPGs, the appeal is diving into the world of the character and leading them through it. Here’s how Vice describes the experience.

Players have to make important, life-changing decisions, including whether or not they should go upstairs to make out with someone, if they should use a condom or not during sex, and whether they should accept pills found in someone’s grandmother’s medicine cabinet. At any point, they can fast-forward to the epilogue to see what their character’s life looks like at 30, based on the decisions they’ve made.

Through that experience, players learn about more than just saying no to the guy on the street corner offering a free hit of crack. They experience both the short-term and long-term impacts of their decisions. Given the notoriously short attention spans and limited foresight of kids, that kind of insight in indispensable when teaching them about sex and relationships.

It’s no “Super Mario Brothers,” but the lessons it conveys are more valuable than any princess. It puts the players in a position to choose the right and wrong path. It shows them just how right and wrong those paths can be in the long run for their character and themselves, by default.

Beyond just consequences, the game gives players a chance to explore situations involving intimacy, consent, and relationships. Their choices help forge the relationships they have throughout the game. To get a better outcome, they actually need a better understanding of intimacy and consent. The fact that gives them tools to apply those lessons in the real world just a pleasant side-effect.

In a sense, PlayForward: Elm City Stories is coming along at the perfect time. We live in a world where sexual harassment and sexual assault are heated issues. We, as a society, are not as willing to turn a blind eye to these sorts of indiscretions anymore.

Just punishing the Harvey Weinsteins of the world isn’t enough, though. We need to teach the emerging generation that there’s a time and a place to show a beautiful woman your genitals. Knowing those circumstances will be the difference between having a great sex life and being sued into oblivion.

Kids aren’t going to learn those skills through lectures, after school specials, and cute puppets. Some of the most effective learning methods involve active engagement with real activities that offer real rewards. In that sense, video games are the perfect medium for that kind of teaching.

While I doubt that PlayForward: Elm City Stories will win any game of the year awards, it sets an important precedent that is worth building upon. Saving princesses and shooting killer aliens is still fun, but learning about relationships, consent, and sex will take a player much further in life.

Kids, and people in general, learn best when they don’t know they’re learning something. Video games may still have a nasty reputation in some circles, but it offers opportunities to teach valuable skills that aren’t easy to teach, especially to hormonal teenagers. We should take advantage of those opportunities and hopefully, PlayForward: Elm City Stories is just the beginning.

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What “Big Mouth” Gets Right (And Wrong) About Puberty

When you’re a platform that has created shows like “House of Cards” and “BoJack Horseman,” the bar for quality is higher than most. That’s the benefit/burden of being successful. Say what you will about how Netflix has evolved over the years, it has produced some amazing content in an age that some call the third golden age of TV.

Then, there are shows like “Big Mouth.” I’m not saying that Netflix is lowering the bar for the sake of balance, but I’m still struggling to make sense of this show. When I heard about it, especially with comedian Nick Kroll attached to it, I hoped I had found another show to pass the time in between seasons of “BoJack Horseman.” I’m won’t say I was disappointed, but I do feel like I took the quality of Netflix content for granted.

I’m not going to say that “Big Mouth” is a bad show, but I won’t make excuses for it. It’s the kind of show that goes out of its way to be crude for all the wrong reasons and not in the traditions of “South Park” either. It doesn’t go for the cheap laugh or even the mid-priced laugh. It’s a show that just goes out of its way to sensationalize teenagers going through puberty.

On paper, it sounds like a great concept. Going through puberty is wrought with all sorts of craziness, some funny and some embarrassing as hell. I’ve shared some on this blog, including a story about the most awkward boner I’ve ever gotten.

Big Mouth” tries to extract humor from similarly awkward situations. It takes a lot of swings and it misses a lot of pitches, but it does manage to hit a few balls here and there. Yes, I also mean that in a literal sense. This show does resort to that kind of humor.

It may not be the kind of high-concept insight you get from an episode of “Rick and Morty,” but it does at least try to send a message about the horrors of puberty. Even if the product is crude and exceedingly exaggerated, that message is relevant, so much so that it’s worth talking about.

I honestly didn’t expect to write about “Big Mouth” in any capacity, especially when writing about sexy memories from my college years is so much more interesting. However, after gritting my teeth and watching the show, I feel the horrors of puberty are worth talking about, especially with ideas about toxic masculinity being so prevalent lately.

Big Mouth” doesn’t attempt to wade too deeply into those kinds of issues. It’s too crude and too crass a show to even attempt that kind of commentary. However, it does do a good job at showing just how powerful and, at times, overwhelming that flood of hormones can be to a young person. For some, it’s downright traumatic.

Throughout the show, the main characters, Nick Birch, Andrew, Glouberman, and Jessi Glaser, are often hounded by literal manifestations of a monster that personifies their hormones. It’s never clear whether the monster is invisible or not, but this creature basically says everything the FCC won’t allow teenagers to say out loud.

For the boys, the monster is named Maurice and his advice usually amounts to things like, “Go ahead and jerk off!” or “Look at her tits!” or “Too bad, buddy! You’re getting a boner!” I’m not going to lie. That monster kind of triggered some awkward moments from my teenage years where I found myself thinking thoughts too crude, even for my novels.

The girls aren’t spared from that awkwardness either. There’s another hormone monster every bit as crude, but reserved for female characters. Her name is Connie and she embodies all the alpha bitch, hyper-feminine extremes that Sam Kinison ever joked about. She’s emotional, dramatic, and demands that every female character be confused or overwhelmed by her body. That’s basically puberty in a nutshell.

In a sense, “Big Mouth” is unique in its balanced approach to showing how boys and girls both struggle to endure puberty. That’s rare in most coming of age stories that either focus on horny guys trying to get laid or bitchy girls trying to get popular. This show doesn’t give a pass to either gender.

This is what “Big Mouth” actually gets right about puberty, to some extent. It’s not just overwhelming and frustrating for one gender. The male experience is unique. They have to deal with constant erections and that annoying voice in their head urging them to think dirty thoughts about anything that even looks like a beautiful women.

Since I’m a man who has more than his share of bad memories from my awkward teen years, that’s a sentiment I can appreciate. However, it’s the female perspective in “Big Mouth” that I found most intriguing. The idea that girls are just as freaked out about the changes in their bodies, minds, and everything in between shouldn’t be such a novel concept, but this show goes out of its way to belabor it.

Now, I don’t know for sure that the girls I went to high school with had an actual hormone monster on their shoulder, telling them to cry irrationally at a moment’s notice or lash out at anyone who dared to look at them the wrong way. It’s just somewhat refreshing to think that teen awkwardness knows no gender.

If gender balance is a strength in “Big Mouth,” though, it’s biggest weakness is portraying how the characters deal with it. The show is so over-the-top with the extremes of puberty that it’s hard to glean a meaningful story from it all.

It’s not just that puberty takes the form of actual hormone monsters that sound like uncensored commentary from a bad porno. It’s not that the show makes puberty sound overly traumatic either. There’s never a sense that the characters, even Jessi and Nick, actually grow through the experience. That’s kind of a big oversight with puberty.

From a purely biological standpoint, puberty is the maturation of a child into adulthood. That maturation part is never even hinted at in the show. After watching the first season of “Big Mouth,” it’s hard to imagine any of the characters involved growing into functioning adults.

In the real world, puberty tends to bring out the best or worst in a person. If someone starts becoming an asshole in puberty, they usually stay that way into adulthood. If someone shows an ability to deal with it and grow, as a person, then they’re usually in good shape. It can even get pretty hilarious when both kinds of people have to deal with one another. Unfortunately, we don’t get that with “Big Mouth.”

I won’t go so far as to say the show is terrible. It does have its moments and some of those moments are genuinely funny or insightful. It is, as the end of the day, an overly comedic take on the rigors of puberty. It doesn’t try to be coy or deceptive. It doesn’t try to use colorful metaphors involving flowers or cucumbers. It gets right down the dirty, gritty details.

I can see the show appealing to those who suffered more during puberty than most. I can even see the show appealing to “South Park” and “Family Guy” fans. It’s hardly a guide or a warning with respect to the rigors of puberty, but it reflects a common truth. Being a teenager sucks and puberty is a big reason why.

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Another Sexy College Story (Kind Of In The Way You Think)

By now, I imagine most college freshmen are settling into their new life of exams, late-night studying, and awful cafeteria food. I understand it’s a transition. It takes some getting used to, living on your own for the first time and having to be responsible for your own laundry. It can be jarring at first, but you come to appreciate it quickly.

College is a strange, but amazing experience. It’s like the last rest stop on the road to adulthood and you’re not entirely sure if your bladder is up to task. However, once you go through and do your business, you’re off on your own and ready to be an adult. It’s scare, but you really come to appreciate being able to buy beer without a fake ID.

Compared to the prison sentence/nightmare that was high school, college was breath of fresh air and a mouth full of chocolate fudge. I learned more in those four years than I did the last ten of public school. I actually got to forge my own path, make my own decisions, and carry myself like an adult and not some brooding teenager. It might have been the best therapy I could’ve gotten at that point in my life.

As part of that process, college had its share of sexy experiences for me, but not entirely in the way you think. There were a number of events in college that really made clear to me that I was an adult now and being horny wasn’t something my health teachers would treat like a goddamn chronic illness.

I’ve already shared one of those sexy college experiences on this blog. To date, that still ranks as one of the sexiest. It involved a party, a lot of drinking, and a couple showing off their sex appeal in front of a cheering crowd that I was proud to be part of. You can’t get much more college than that without a John Belushi look-a-like crashing the party.

While that night might have been one of the most memorable experiences I had in college, it definitely wasn’t the only one. Since the last one I shared went over so well with readers, I’d like to share another. This one isn’t quite the spectacle, but it’s still sexy in a more direct sort of way. It doesn’t involve a party or anything. However, it definitely helped inspire the young erotica/romance writer in me.

This particular incident happened in my sophomore year of college. It also happened to be the first year I stayed in a co-ed dorm. It was an upgrade compared to my freshmen year when I stayed in an all-male dorm. Believe it or not, when you put a bunch of young, hormonal men in a confined building who have never been without parental supervision before, it tends to get messy.

Living in a co-ed dorm did help balance things out, somewhat. There weren’t as many fire drills at two in the morning and not as much of the building smelled like sweaty socks. Don’t get the wrong idea, though. Contrary to what “Animal House” rip-offs would have you believe, it’s not as sexy as it sounds.

You learn quickly that putting young men and women in a confined building who aren’t used to being on their own can be just as messy, but with a few twists. When the sexes mix, it changes the dynamics and not always for the better.

It’s not just that young, hormonal men do stupid things when in the presence of women they’re trying to sleep with. Sometimes, the presence of both genders just means both have more chances to do all the crazy stuff they hesitated to do when they were still living at home. This story is a nice reflection of that.

Unlike my previous story, this one doesn’t take place at night or during the weekend. This takes place in the middle of the day, on a weekday, and right around mid-terms no less. It’s a stressful time, to say the least. There aren’t as many parties going on and some of the dorms, mine included, mandate certain “quiet hours” so residents can study.

In terms of timing, it may very well be the least sexy time of year. My roommate, who had a girlfriend, seemed to understand that. I remember him being a lot less energetic during that time, even when his girlfriend was around. However, other couples on my floor didn’t get the memo.

One of those couples, fittingly enough, lived right next door to me. Now, I knew my neighbors pretty well. I often went over there and watched TV with them when my roommate needed some “alone time” with his girlfriend, of which I totally respected. On this day, though, it wasn’t my roommate who was the issue.

It starts at around two in the afternoon. I’m in my dorm, my roommate is in class, and I’ve got my last mid-term of the week in about an hour-and-a-half. Naturally, I’m eager to get it over with and take a breath. Then, just as I’m trying to study, I hear something in the dorm next to mine.

It’s moaning. Namely, it’s the very sexual kind of moaning.

At first, I thought my neighbor accidentally left his speakers on while watching porn. It was kind of an unofficial rule. If you’re going to watch porn, you wear headphones. It’s just common courtesy. Then, as I listen closer, I realize this is not coming from a speaker.

I soon recognize one of the moans as belonging to my neighbor, the same guy who was nice enough to let me watch TV with him and his friends every weekend. I don’t recognize the girl, but I do recognize real, sexy moaning. It doesn’t take a porno connoisseur to know the difference.

Needless to say, I’m a little taken aback here, but I’m also very much intrigued. Remember, these are midterms. These might be the most stressful parts of the semester for some people and yet here’s my neighbor, dealing with it by having sex with his girlfriend. I’m not saying it’s a bad way to deal with stress. I’m just saying it’s a bit surprising, given the circumstance.

I quickly find myself listening a little closer. At one point, I think I stood close to the wall, right next to my closet, to make sure my ears aren’t playing tricks on me. I determine my senses were in perfect working order. This was really happening. A couple was having sex just a few feet from me, separated only by a cinder-block wall.

They weren’t very tactful either. I heard a bed rocking. I heard gasping, grunting, and moaning. It didn’t sound like a gentle, romantic kind of sex. This was the rough stuff and they seemed to really like it. I know because the girl was pretty vocal. I heard a few things from her that would probably get her fined by the FCC, but I doubt she minded.

It created this powerful scene in my head. I could vividly picture my neighbor and his girlfriend in the bed, going at it and loving every second of it. It might not have been romantic, given the setting, but they still made it sweet in their own special way. I like to think it helped lay the foundation for my future efforts as an erotica/romance writer.

I don’t remember exactly how long it lasted. I just know that the moaning and grunting stopped. Maybe they still went at it for a bit longer, but it was hard to hear at that point. That didn’t stop me from listening a bit longer, trying to pick up on the details. Eventually, though, it got quiet again and I surmised they had finished.

All this happened and I still had a mid-term in less than two hours. I’m not going to lie, that was quite a distraction, but one I didn’t mind. If anything, I found it to be kind of refreshing, given how stressful everything had been all week. I remember eventually going to my class, taking my mid-term, and not feeling as overwhelmed as usual. I guess my neighbor and his girlfriend deserve some of the credit for that.

I saw my neighbor again a few times after that. I didn’t mention what had happened that day. Neither he nor his girlfriend brought it up either. Every time I looked at them, though, I couldn’t help but laugh a little. During a stressful time in college, in a less-than-romantic moment, these two found a way to get sexy and intimate. For an erotica/romance writer, that’s nothing short of inspirational.

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On Nice Guys, Women, And Whining

We’ve all heard it before. We’ve either experienced it, know someone who has, or seen at least fifteen movies built around the concept. There’s a guy sitting myself, his head held low as his lips quiver with sorrow. He’s sad. He’s lonely. Nobody likes him and women would rather endure amputation rather than touch his cock. When anyone asks about it, he tells the same boring story.

“I’m a nice guy! Why don’t women want to be with me? I’m not some jerk or asshole. What’s wrong with them?”

On some levels, we have sympathy for guys like that. Yes, I know there are women who feel this way too, but a generation of teen movies, romantic comedies, and high school drama has conditioned us to hear a male voice every time we hear this overplayed diatribe of angst.

Since I’m not in a position to undo that conditioning, I won’t try. Just bear with me because this is an important message to anyone who has either said those words or heard them from someone else. I don’t want to underscore the depths of that loneliness and angst. I’ve been there too. However, there is a context worth pointing out here.

Call it what you want. We really don’t have a label for it. I call it it “The Nice Guy Whine.” Unlike the wine you can drink, this one doesn’t get better with age. It’s one of those overplayed tropes that play out way too much in both the real world and in fiction. Movies like “10 Things I Hate About You” and “She’s Out Of My League” try to make it interesting and sexy. It doesn’t make the whining any less annoying, though.

They’re frustrated, isolated, and in utter despair. They’re nice guys. They do the right things. They’re generally well-behaved, law-abiding, and friendly. They don’t hurt anyone or go out of their way to make trouble. They’re just genuinely nice guys. So why won’t the beautiful women they want to get with hook up with them?

I don’t deny it’s hard and I’m not just talking about genitals here. As I’ve said before, we humans are a social, passionate species. We seek connection and intimacy. I’m not just talking about the kind we do between the sheets either, although that is part of it.

We want to find love. We want to be with someone. In terms of core needs, that’s right up there with food, water, and sufficient WiFi. When we don’t get that connection and intimacy, we get lonely and upset. That’s to be expected. Our brains and bodies know we need that intimate connection. When we don’t get it, it tries to do everything possible to get you to seek it, even if it means the occasional awkward boner.

So what’s going on here? Why is it that nice guys just can’t get any? Well, as someone who once asked those same questions and did plenty of Nice Guy Whining himself, I’d like to offer a clear and concise answer. For all the fictional characters and real people in this world who’ve whined like I have, listen up. This might be the most important thing you hear that doesn’t involve the IRS.

“Being a nice guy isn’t enough. The vast majority of the planet is full of nice people. By whining about it, you’re indirectly insulting every man or women who doesn’t want to be with you because you make it about them and not you.”

Reading that out loud, I’m sure it sounds harsh. Trust me, it’s not meant to be that harsh. It’s supposed to reveal a simple truth and it’s actually uplifting on some levels when you think about it.

It’s true. Most of the people in this world, including the guys, are nice. We only think it’s full of mean assholes because they’re the ones who make the news, get reality TV shows, and star in movies, albeit for all the wrong reasons.

The fact that these assholes get our attention is actually proof that most people are nice. Things don’t get our attention unless they’re rare, dangerous, or shaped like female breasts. Even science bears it out. People today are generally nicer and more decent to one another than they’ve ever been.

Why does this matter? Well, it matters because by whining about being a nice guy, you might as well be whining about the sky being blue or water being wet or tits being awesome. You act as though the mere fact you’re alive and not dissecting animals in your basement is reason enough for your dream girl to be with you.

Step back for a moment and think about that. You’re a nice guy. I don’t doubt that. Even so, why should that be your primary appeal to a woman? What else do you have to offer? What sort of skills, passions, and personality traits do you bring to the table? I’m not saying you’re devoid of those things. I’m just saying these are questions you haven’t bothered answering.

I ask them with the full understanding that I’ve done plenty of whining like that too. There were plenty of times, especially in my teenage years, when I whined about the girls I liked not wanting to be with me. For a time, it left me very depressed and extremely isolated. It was not a good feeling.

However, I’m not good at lying to myself so I was able to answer that question on my own. In addition to having a debilitating acne problem, I had piss-poor social skills and did not take care of myself. I like to think I was pretty nice in general, but how does that make up for the utter lack of benefits I would bring to a woman?

I know I have much more to offer now because I’ve actually worked on myself. I’ve taken the time to develop new skills and abilities. In addition to being nice, I’m very physically fit. I run at least 15 miles a week. I lift weights. I try to watch my diet. By most measures, I’m a physically attractive man.

In addition to my looks, I’ve got other benefits to offer. I have a car. I have no credit card debt. I have a steady job. I’m very skilled in terms of writing passionate, sexy stories meant to moisten panties. Believe it or not, these are skills that women find attractive. Just being nice is only a base requirement. Everything else on top of that are premium features.

It may sound cynical, the idea that being nice isn’t enough and you actually have to sell yourself somewhat. It gives the impression that people only want to be with you because you can do something for them. Well, how is that any different than what you want from them? It’s a bit crass, I know, but it’s entirely pragmatic when you think about it.

Part of being a social creature is bringing something unique to the table. Maybe it’s a skill. Maybe it’s a personality. Maybe it’s a certain type of energy that stands out from the others. Whatever it is, it’s part of the overall package that is you and you actually control what’s in that package. You have the ability to make yourself appealing. There’s nothing, other than sheer laziness, to stop you.

By just whining about being a nice guy, it’s like you’re trying to shame others for not having lower standards. You give the impression that someone is evil just because they prefer a smartphone with more features than an old flip phone.

In a sense, that undercuts your whole “nice guy” persona because wanting to do the absolute minimum to achieve the maximum desired results isn’t very nice. If anything, it’s as big a dick move as any Biff Tannen wannabe ever pulled off.

With that, all those whining nice guys out there have their answer. You know why being a nice guy isn’t getting you anywhere with your current crush. I even told you how to fix the situation. It may be harder for some than others, but the opportunity is there. You just have to take advantage of it. I’ll even add that most women, in my experience, will be attracted to men who takes advantage of those opportunities.

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Awkward Boners And Another (Overly) Personal Story

Brace yourselves because I’m about to get personal on this blog again. Yes, it’s going to be the awkward kind of personal. Yes, it’s also the sexy kind of personal. No, it’s not that kind of sexy. I still save the bulk of that for my novels.

I think it’s important to get personal when building an audience. It helps us relate to one another. I can’t just be some faceless guy behind a computer screen trying to sell sexy stories. I need to be someone with which people can feel a personal connection. That connection is the difference between a passing audience and a loyal one. The sexy stories I sell, as a result, are just a nice bonus.

Now, I’ve already gotten pretty personal on this blog before. I’ve talked about my love of sleeping naked, my own circumcision, and the soul-crushing, four-year prison sentence that was high school. I hope those stories have endear my life and this blog to people. I’d like to deepen that endearment and I intend to do that by talking about awkward boners.

I’m sure I’ve got every man’s attention now. I’ll still give a moment for the women to stop rolling their eyes. I get it, ladies. Awkward boners are one of those things that men make too big a deal of. Yes, it’s a unique experience to a particular gender, but it’s not even in the same hemisphere as giving birth or breast feeding. I’m not going to equate awkward boners with that, but I do feel they’re worth talking about, if only because it’s funny.

In fact, I think it’s because we don’t talk about these gender-specific experiences that men and women have such a hard time relating to one another. For some, talking about the joys of birth is a bit too much. I think awkward boners are a good start, if only because they reveals a vulnerability in men that they don’t readily admit.

This brings me to my personal experience. Yes, it’s about an awkward boner situation that I endured. I admit it. I’m a healthy man who has had at least one awkward boner in his life. Any healthy man who doesn’t admit that is a goddamn liar. While I doubt I’ll start a trend, I can at least tell a story that should brighten everyone’s morning.

This particular story happens in middle school, which is sort of like the sub-par prequel to high school. It’s like a mild soreness that you don’t realize will one day become a stabbing pain in the pit of your soul. I won’t say it was awful, but there were definitely signs that being a teenager was going to suck on a lot of levels.

This was also before I developed a serious acne problem that utterly destroyed what little confidence I had. I like to think that during middle school, I was at least somewhat content. I won’t say I was as happy as a fly in a shit factory, but I wasn’t miserable. For the most part, life was okay.

At the same time, however, puberty was starting to kick my ass, as it does with most people when they enter those fragile years between being a kid and being a walking time bomb of hormones. As a result, unexpected and unwelcome erections were becoming more common.

For the most part, I was able to hide those erections as well as any burgeoning young man. Talk to any man who survived that part of his life and they’ll tell you the same. They learned to be tactful, discreet, and downright cunning at hiding their boners. You might say that men at this age become boner ninjas, which is a lot less sexy than it sounds.

Every now and then, though, our boner ninja fails. In this particular instance, it failed at one of the worst possible times, short of me giving a speech to the entire school while wearing a speedo. I’ll give everyone a moment to conjure that mental image. You’re welcome.

On this particular day when my inner boner ninja failed me, I was in the seventh grade. It was late in the spring and really starting to get hot outside. As such, gym class involved a lot more outdoor activities that turned us from hormonal time bombs into sweaty hormonal time bombs. I didn’t mind this because it made the afternoon go by faster.

However, my body just loved making it harder for me and yes, that means exactly what you think it means. I’d just finished my English class. Gym was the last class I had before I went to lunch so I went to the locker room eager to work up an appetite. I go to change into my gym uniform, as I’d done almost every day to that point. Then, it happens.

I don’t know whether it was the poetry assignment I’d had in English class. I don’t know whether it was because of some cute girl I’d seen who just started wearing a bra. Maybe I’d just read one too many Wonder Woman comics that day. I don’t know, but whatever it was, something triggered an unexpected launch in my pants. It wasn’t a half-launch either. This rocket was going into orbit and staying there for a while.

Now, keep in mind, I’m in a boy’s locker room in a middle school full of immature teenagers. You can’t find a time or place less appropriate without involving clowns, dead puppies, and buckets of expired milk. On top of that, I’m up against the clock. I needed to be out in the gym with the rest of the class within five minutes. For a situation like this, that’s the longest five minutes you’ll have outside a dentist’s office.

I don’t even get a chance to undress before the situation escalates. By the time I get to my locker, we’re already at ignition. By the time I unlock it, we’re at liftoff and we’ve cleared the tower. There are several obnoxious boys next to me, talking about crap that should arouse absolutely no one. All I can do is keep my head down and silently curse my dick for doing this to me.

I know my body well enough at this point to understand that this situation is going to get worse before it gets better. If I start undressing, there’s no way I’m going to hide this. For a moment, I just stand there and stare at my uniform in my locker. At that point, though, my rocket is well into its orbit and re-entry is not possible.

I needed to act and act fast. I had only four minutes left and that was just not going to cut it. Finally, I made a decision. It was going to require some theatrics on my part, but there was no other way.

Tactfully, I grab my uniform from my locker. Then, I clench my stomach as though I’m in pain and head right for the bathroom stalls. From where I’m standing, those bathroom stalls might as well be in the heart of Mordor. Instead of Orcs, though, I have to weave through a bunch of spitting, swearing teenage boys. It was an arduous journey, to say the least.

At one point, a kid next to me that I knew looked concerned. He asked me if I was already. I instinctively said I was fine, but my stomach wasn’t. I might have said something about the tacos I ate for dinner last night, hoping he would fill in the blanks.

That seemed to do the trick, though. He didn’t ask again. I managed to work my way around the crowd of other boys and make it into the bathroom stall. In my first stroke of luck, there was nobody in there. I was able to close the door, lock it, and breathe the biggest sigh of relief I’d felt to that point in my life.

After I was alone in the stall, I was able to settle down and let my penis complete its orbit, so to speak. It still took a lot longer than I wanted. I remember thinking about anything and everything that would get it to settle.

If you’re a healthy man, you know what I’m talking about here. You’ll go through any number of unsexy thoughts and images. You’ll picture your grandmother in a nightgown. You’ll picture your dog throwing up on your bed. You’ll even resort to doing algebra in your head. When algebra is an option, you know your body is working against you.

For me, I don’t quite remember what I thought about to subdue my erection. It still didn’t work as quickly as I’d hoped. I still had somewhat of a quasi-boner by the time I got undressed and put my uniform on. I was still up against the clock too. By the time the warning bell rang, I had to grit my teeth and hope for the best.

I managed to put the rest of my stuff in my locker and make it out into the gym. I still had somewhat of a tent in my pants. Keep in mind, these gym shorts aren’t exactly known for being well-fitted. I had to be very careful with how I carried myself, especially as the girls started making their way out of the locker room. It also helped that the gym uniforms weren’t exactly sexy. Even raging teenage hormones can only do so much.

Once I sat down and waited for the gym teacher, I was able to finally able to complete re-entry, so to speak. In another stroke of luck, the teacher was a bit late so I had a few extra minutes to make sure no more rockets were ignited. It still made for some tense moments, but I got through it.

That, my friends, is the story of my most awkward boner. I’m sure there are other men out there who have had far worse experiences in far less comfortable situations. It is, in a sense, the shared price of masculinity. No one is immune to it. We never know when it’s going to happen. When it does, we learn that we aren’t always in control of our bodies. Sometimes, our bodies control us.

There’s almost something poetic about that. I’m sure plenty of men disagree and just see awkward boners as an annoyance. Well now, you’ve heard my story. If there are any men out there feeling bold, I encourage you to share yours as well. Please let me know in the comments. There’s no shame or judgment. For men and women alike, let’s share this experience and everything it can teach us.

Perhaps I can make this part of my sexy discussions. Boners can be awkward, but they can be beautiful too. Let’s not let that awkwardness undermine that beauty.

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What The NCAA Says About Our Sexual Attitudes

Is anybody else still buzzing from the College Football Championship game earlier this week? I sure am. I still feel like I just left a rock concert and my ears are still ringing. At least with Monday’s game, I don’t have to worry about permanent hearing damage down the line.

In case you’ve been in a coma for the past several days, Alabama and Clemson played one of the most epic college football games in history. It was a hell of a game from start to finish, full of big plays, big turning points, and players that really rose to the occasion. It highlighted everything I love about football, a sport I’ve loved since I was a kid.

As much as I love football though, there is one component about college football that still bothers me. It’s not necessarily the football part though. That’s the fun part that most sports fans can get behind. It’s the college component.

This doesn’t just apply to football either. I watch other college sports from time-to-time, mainly basketball. When I was in college, I even knew some college athletes. It’s a big part of college life. Between class and keggers, college sports are a big part of the culture. However, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to see it in a different context, one that is probably a byproduct of being an erotica/romance writer.

Unlike the professional ranks, college athletes don’t get paid. Sure, they get a scholarship to a school (although it can be revoked and rescinded at any time), but they don’t make any money directly. It doesn’t matter if your Deshaun Watson, the quarterback from Clemson who just became an icon at his school, or some backup point guard on the basketball team. They don’t make a penny directly.

This is kind of odd because the NCAA, the governing body for college sports, made over $1 billion in 2014 alone. They made this money despite not having to pay a dime to the actual people who play these sports that entertain us so much, namely the athletes.

Understandably, there are some folks who have a problem with this. The issue of paying college athletes is a sensitive issue, so much so that South Park dedicated an entire episode to mocking it with crack babies. It’s as entertaining and offensive as it sounds. Since the basic rule of thumb is that if South Park mocks it, then it must be a serious issue, it’s safe to assume there’s some major controversy/injustice going on.

Now I’m not going to dedicate this entire post to arguing for or against paying college athletes. That is a complex issue with more wrinkles than a porn star’s bed sheets. I’m not entirely qualified to discuss the particulars of this issue, but someone like John Oliver is. Last year, he dedicated a show to reviewing this issue and, as he often does, he breaks it down in a pretty astonishing way.

In watching this, it’s hard to feel much sympathy for the NCAA. That would be like feeling sympathy for the New York Yankees for not winning the World Series this past year. It’s an organization full of bureaucrat businessmen whose sole purpose is to make more money for the organization. I don’t mind people making money, but when it involves exploiting people to such a degree, I have a problem.

Then again, there might be other forces at work here beyond the greed of the NCAA and those who share in their profits. It’s a force that John Oliver never touched on and rightly so. It’s one of those forces that’s clearly there, but the implications are hard to see.

Watch that clip again and focus on the parts about the coaches and administrators making all that money from these college athletes. Do you notice something about them? Well, don’t look too hard. It’s fairly bland on the surface. A lot of these people are older individuals. They’re either at middle-age or beyond. They wear suits, they sit at desks, and they have as much sex appeal as a shaved cat.

Why do I bring this up? It’s not just to mock the ages of those involved. That’s just wrong. I mention their ages because it highlights an unspoken facet of our sexual attitudes. Listen to older folk talk about the sexual behaviors of the younger generation for more than five minutes and you’ll probably hear the same story, assuming you have a strong enough stomach.

Most will complain that these kids are out of control. They’re all a big ball of hormones, ticking time bombs that will go off at the sight of anything that looks like a tit. Put them in a room with anything that’s even somewhat alive and they’ll find a way to fuck it. They’re just that horny. They’re just that decadent.

Never mind that this generation, the Millennials, is having less sex than previous generations. This is the perception of the older crowd. It’s a perception that every older crowd seems to have about younger crowds in some form or another. Whether it’s baby boomers, hippies, yuppies, or whatever crazy generations emerged in Ancient Egypt, old people whined about them.

Why do they whine? Why does younger people having sex make them so upset? Well, if you’re older, you’re more likely to have kids. That means you’re also likely to have a daughter. Talk to any proud father about their daughter and chances are, they’ll vomit uncontrollably if they think about their daughter having any kind of sex that doesn’t involve making a grand-baby that will care for them in a nursing home.

It hearkens back to the Bronze Age idea that men must protect their daughter’s virginity, as though it’s some sort of precious commodity that they can later sell for a juicy dowry. Never mind that this isn’t the goddamn Bronze Age and it’s illegal to sell your children. Older men still recoil at the idea of their precious girls being defiled by hormonal men.

So how does this apply to college athletes? Well, anyone who saw the movie Varsity Blues has a vague idea. College athletes are big, strong, handsome, and a good chunk of them are minorities. They don’t just attract women. They can physically overpower them, sometimes in horribly violent ways.

The idea of paying these young men money, which they could then use to more effectively have sex with more women, probably doesn’t sit well with the older men who coach and govern college sports. Some of them may even worry that their own daughters, sisters, girlfriends, or mistresses will fall prey to a handsome, athletic stud’s charms.

It’s fairly undeniable that young athletes are quite horny and quite eager to fuck. The stories that come out of Olympic Village every four years during the Olympics are proof of that. For the NCAA and the old folk who run it, they just can’t stomach the idea of giving these young men too many resources. They’ll just use them to do more humping.

Now this is just the wild interpretation of an erotica/romance writer. I’m not saying that this thought crosses the minds of those in the NCAA when they’re arguing against paying college athletes. However, I do think there’s an unspoken concern that older generations have about the young, one that makes them look for excuses to not give them too many resources.

In some respects, I understand that. I like to think I was fairly mature when I was young, but there’s no way I could’ve made real, adult decisions about the future of my life at 18, which is when most college athletes start their careers. Give me a lot of money and athletic prowess and I might find a way to fuck it up.

Then again, is the problem really that college athletes are too horny and immature? Or is it that we just treat them with the expectation that this is how they’re going to be and they can’t possibly be any different? It’s just something to think about the next time you hear someone make excuses on why we shouldn’t give too much money to young, handsome, athletic men.

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