I step into the shower stall under the hot spray of water. “G******n, this is going to feel so good!” I say aloud. The warmth immediately expels the chill deep in my bones from working seven miserable hours outside on this wet and icy winter day.
Steam swirls in the air and the hot water soothes my aching body. I can feel my tight muscles relax and the cluster of knots in my back begin to untwine. I squeeze a gigantic glob of shampoo into my hand, more than needed. The lather from the shampoo builds and thickens and I massage it into my scalp, paying particular attention to massive stress and tension built up in my temples.
With foam running down my face, I hear the bathroom door slowly creak open. I think to myself, “That goddamn cat, I didn’t close the door all the way! Did I?”
Now a bit irritated, I continue to work the shampoo into my hair and scalp. I’m annoyed the cat took me out of my “Calgon, take me away” moment. Gradually a chilly flow of air envelopes my body. I shiver from the cold and curse the cat one more time. I hear a creak from something heavily stepping on the wooden floor. I know the cat is getting a fat a*s, but he’s not “that” big. Oh well, maybe it’s time to start buying him that diet Meow Mix for cats with fat asses, I chuckle to myself. With soap suds running down my face, I poke my head out from around the shower curtain and yell, “No more Fancy Feast for you, buddy!”
I casually rinse the soap from my head and face, reluctant to leave this comforting sanctuary of warmth and tranquility. Rasps of guttural pants catch my attention. I am not alone. I open my eyes to something pressing its face into the shower curtain from the other side. The genderless body gyrates against the shower curtain with a perverted motion. The flimsy curtains hang from the curtain rod which then sticks to the hazy body rubbing against it. It presses its forehead against the curtain, opening and closing its mouth.
I slam into the rear of the shower from the shock of seeing this obscene creature. The cold tiles of the shower stall wall prickle my skin like needles. It presses its featureless faces deeper into the curtains. It invasively studies my naked body, up and down, over and over again. The terror I feel is only matched by my shame. It crouches and slowly rises, licking the curtain’s surface in a zig-zag pattern from bottom to top. My stomach begins to turn. Ever so lightly, its touch upon the shower curtains begins to emerge on my skin!
The falling water from the shower head beat against my body and grows louder. My God, it is deafening! I fall to the ground sobbing and scream, “Stop! Stop!”
The soothing hot water quickly loses its heat and pelts of cold water sting my skin. The beast laughs and cackles at my torment. It lowers its pressed hands to waist level and rubs its palm against the curtain’s surface in a circular motion that grows faster and faster. The beating of the water grows louder and louder!
I can’t take anymore! I want it to end! I accept my fate and reach for the shower curtain!
My fingers are trembling violently from both the cold and fear. Shaking, I grab a handful of the thin barrier, the only thing separating it from me. I yank the curtains as hard as I can, ripping them down! I shut my eyes and bring my hands to my face as plastic curtain rings and rod crash to the floor.
Seconds feel like minutes. I wait for a whisper with the stench of sewage to breathe obscenities into my ear. Any second, I expect those cold fingers to begin rubbing over my bare skin, granting themselves permission to go to those forbidden places.
Silence and stillness are all I encounter. I slowly lower my hands and open my eyes to an empty bathroom. I pull the shower curtain over my exposed naked body. I can’t stand to look at my nakedness. I try to stand, but my knees buckle when the faint echoes of laughter call out and fade from within the sink’s drain hole.
I can’t tell how long I laid there before I become aware of my surroundings again. I am ashamed of my nakedness and reach for my white briefs. The white briefs my buddies at the gym laugh at me for wearing when we hit the shower. It is all in good fun. Still laying on the cold floor, I slip one leg in and then another. Once completely covered, I get to my knees and bring my hands to my face and begin to sob. Through my tears, I look down at my bare thighs and the low rise underwear I wear. My mind wonders. I look good in tight underwear, with my thirty-inch waist and my hairless swimmer’s body. They joke, “Why do you wear kid’s underwear?” They say, “You look like a little boy in your tighty whities!”
I look down at the “tighty whities” I wear, and I begin to cry again.
“Why do you wear tighty whities? You look like a goddamn child! Why don’t you wear a man’s underwear?” they will say tomorrow.
Finally, instead of laughing with my buddies, I can answer them now.
“I wear my “tighty whities” because they help me not to forget how it felt to have the innocence of a child. They remind me of what I lost and will never have again.”