I, ME, Dave Hingsburger, was told that I was an old prude. A PRUDE!!! This story happened on the way down to New York City, we had stayed in a hotel on the Saturday night to make the drive down on Sunday shorter and therefore less arduous. I have been wanting to write the story but didn't have the courage to, wasn't sure I could pull it off well. It's a story that causes me great discomfort and I want to say it just right. I have the comfort of writing these words now and knowing that if I want I can just hit 'delete' and never tell the story or address the issue. If you are reading this, it means I've decided, 'Damn the torpedoes'. Here goes nothing ...
Our hotel was taken over by young boys and their families. They were there for some big soccer tournament. The boys were all between 14 and 15. There were signs up all over the hotel reminding everyone of the 'rules' of hotel staying. Congregate in the lobby not the hallways, keeping doors closed, not running through the floors. As a guest I appreciated these rules. Our room looked over the front parking lot and the lawn that separated our hotel from the one just cross the way. As it was a soccer tournament and as there were young men there, several of them gathered for an impromptu 'kick the ball around' game. These boys all showed the signs of manhood. They were strong and lithe and agile. One of the boys wore only loose fitting shorts. No shirt, no shoes. His body was already well defined. Though he was a boy, and a young one at that, he showed all the signs of coming manhood. I had to stop myself from thinking, 'Put your shirt on!' Working with offenders makes me hypervigilent. But boys, 15 or not, should not have to live their lives in fear of danger every second of the day. I knew the boy was attractive and I simply pushed that fact away. He's a boy. He should just be a boy. Let him be a boy for as long as he can. Adulthood, sexuality, all the rest of it ... let it wait. Life is long. Childhood is short.
We went downstairs in preparation for going out shopping for a few groceries. I was outside waiting for Joe to get the car and as such was only a few feet from the smokers area. There were two women there, they were both 10 or 15 years older than I was. They too were watching the boys play. By now I had firmly moved them in the children category and could watch them without noticing their physical beings. One of the older women said aloud, as if she wanted to be heard by the boy in question, 'Hubba, hubba, I'd take that one to bed.'
First, 'Hubba, hubba?'
Second, 'Stop it! Stop it! He's a boy!! A child still.'
I said to her, 'Please, he's just a kid.'
She said, angrily, 'Don't be such a prude, if it were a bunch of girls the same age you'd be drooling.'
First, she couldn't be more in error.
Second, if that were true it would still be wrong.
I get so sick of the sexualizing of children. Advertising presents little girls and little boys as sexualized. The new commercial for denim diapers presents an INFANT as a young and 'hot' man. It outrages me. CHILDREN SHOULD BE CHILDREN AND ADULTS SHOULD KNOW BETTER. Yes, I noticed his attractiveness and I noticed his coming adulthood - but I AM AN ADULT, I KNOW TO WATCH MY MOUTH, WATCH MY BEHAVIOUR AND TO PROTECT NEARLY GROWN CHILDREN FROM ME, MY ACTIONS AND MY WORDS.
I don't know if that boy heard that woman's comments but I hope, really hope, with all my heart that he did not. I hope, really hope, that that day was a day of sheer joy of playing soccer with his friends, thinking about pizza for dinner, anticipating the game the next day - I hope that not for a second did he think about his body as an object of desire, that he simply enjoyed his body for the purposes of football, of play and of the last seconds of childhood.