A tale of desired enhancement … somewhere below the belt.
Let me tell you about my friend Roger. He was hardly a close friend, just the spouse of someone my wife had known for many years. We’d never had much to say to one another, he and I; our wives were the ones who mainly communicated. But one day we happened to be in a bookstore, the four of us, and the guy suddenly turned to me and, out of earshot of his wife, said, “I wish I could add another inch or two. You know.”
I didn’t know, and I guess I was kind of shocked. Roger was considerably older than the rest of us, having recently celebrated his 80th birthday. He was an attractive man who always seemed boyishly self-confident. And I assumed—wrongly, I guess—that by the time a man like Roger had reached a point in, shall we say, late maturity, he had made peace with himself and felt reasonably comfortable in his own skin. Not necessarily so, it seems.
Many years earlier, when I joined a health club near my office, I was aware that among the regulars was a coterie of “actors”—maybe they were models or just wannabes, I was never quite sure. One of them—I think his name was Tony—seemed to enjoy parading around the locker room and in and out of the steam room and sauna naked. He was slight but not skinny, with a face having no strongly compelling features. What set him apart from all of the others was his junk. He was enormously hung.
Other men obviously noticed him—he seemed to dare them not to—but most fellow gym-goers looked the other way, even though it became pretty obvious that the man wanted to be noticed and looked at. And maybe he wanted more.
Among the locker-room attendants, a cynical lot, it was said that Tony was not really an actor but a hired boy, someone who used the health club as a way to attract business. I heard whispers to that effect, and at the time it did seem plausible.
Then one day, when I hit the gym early, I heard Tony talking to a couple of other so-called actors. It seemed that he’d made a few connections in recent days—men who had taken him out for a drink or a meal, each seeking information, not sex. “This happens all the time,” I heard him say.
“They asked me how I got so big,” he said. “I didn’t know what to say.”
I tried to keep a straight face as I did my curls and leg raises that day and busied myself on the elliptical machine. For here was a guy whom nature had endowed over-generously—a guy whose naked presence might have been formidable enough to scare off a lot of women but whom other men envied seriously.
I looked around. A lot of the men coming in to work out were regulars, all pretty beefy and well put-together. Among them, I knew, were guys who desired—more than anything—to be like Tony and somehow add an inch or two more.
That experience, which has obviously stayed with me a long, long time, summoned up my memory of Shakespeare’s elfin Puck, who at a critical moment in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” was made to utter, “What fools these mortals be!”