It’s 1983 and I’m a lone male nursing student in a horde of females – all of whom assume I must be gay because I chose this career. I’m not gay but it’s a useful shield behind which I can hide my utter terror when among crowds of attractive women, all of whom I seem to fall in love with – almost on an hourly basis. It’s exhausting.
I’m not feeling good right now. Last night did not go well and this morning is beyond belief. This may be the worst hangover I’ve ever experienced – but I say that about them all. Though my stomach is red hot and churning, I’ve managed to walk past the canteen, with its smells of bacon and eggs, without embarrassing myself messily all over the corridor floor. My stomach will have to wait for that pleasure, though I doubt it will wait long.
I make it to the lecture theatre with no time to spare. I was going to see if I could catch my reflection in a window and tidy my hair. Gods, I must look as bad as I feel.
Last night I went to The Sun and Doves. Too much beer and macho company. I got into the wrong conversation and crowd, all men talking testosterone. There’s a limit to how much I want to hear about motorbikes, rugby bloodshed, surfing and all that. I’ve never managed macho, and when someone mentioned parachuting I went a bit dizzy. My adrenaline limit is achieved when looking at nice scenery like hills and mountains.
One man in particular seemed to want to intimidate me, and it worked – sort of. He introduced himself as Mark Brown and asked me if I’d ever considered wreck-diving: moron. He nudged me too hard, mock playfully, and my beer went all over him. Not on purpose but I wasn’t exactly mortified. He was soaking wet, furious and embarrassed as the group fell about laughing at him.
However, that’s all in the past, thankfully.
I’m the last person into the lecture room this morning. Every other student nurse is female and they take seats in a circle of chairs. One chair holds a jacket and some folders. Needless to say the remaining empty chair, the one which I must take, is exactly opposite. No one wants to sit in the eye line of a psychiatrist.
Only it’s not a psychiatrist who enters but a psychology lecturer – guess who – he smiles at everyone and says lectures have been rearranged and he’s going to give us an introduction to Freudian interpretation with special reference to male sexuality.
Mark Brown’s eyes linger on mine a moment too long for comfort. If carnivorous reptiles could smile they would look just as he does now.
“Ladies,” he says, deliberately missing me out: git. “This is going to be a fun introductory session but first we need to establish some baselines of male sexuality.” He lifts his folders, sits on the chair and waves sheets of paper. “You’ll be given this handout shortly. It deals with the sort of behaviours frequently observed in hospitalised males and how female staff can deal with them.” He looks at me. “However, the notes are not exhaustive and miss out one crucial thing you need to understand. Fortunately there is a male student present and maybe he will be able to supply the missing data.”
I’m going to kill him. I really am.
Mark nods and smiles, looking right through me. “The average male masturbates once every day or two. Is that correct?”
I’m going to kill him very, very slowly. Thirty young women are looking at me. Someone sniggers.
Blush! I think my face is going to explode. I say, “Uh … I don’t feel able to supply accurate information, never having considered myself average in this respect.” Total bastard – but I wriggled out of that without too much humiliation. The women rock with laughter.
He stifles a snarl and looks down at his notes. “Very well, let’s move on and use Freudian interpretation to analyse male sexual psychology.” He stares at me again. “What do you do in your spare time?”
“Read metaphysical philosophy.”
His eyes narrow as he pauses for a nanosecond and tries to cope. “I’m thinking more about physical activities. I remember last night you mentioned that you liked mountaineering.” He looks at the other students. “Let’s interpret that.”
I zone out and try to imagine what his face would look like if I applied a welding torch to his testicles.
All too soon he has the women convinced they came up with the conclusion that mountaineering is an externalised breast fetish.
They’re all staring like I’m something fascinating in a jar.
He goes on, addressing me, “What do you think of this interpretation?”
“Inevitable as it was guided by an egotistical and vindictive lecturer. Who on earth would be turned on by 1000-metre-high, rock-hard breasts with concrete trig points for nipples?” Again there is general laughter. Gods, I got out of that one too. Once more and I may stop him tormenting me for the whole lecture.
He asks, “What other physical activities do you do?”
©Gary Bonn, 2017