Writing about my thoughts and thinking deeply about things is my way toward reaching an awarness and understanding and some form of personal growth. I try not to care what people think about me as a…
The old rusty bridge called out to the adolescent male mind.
It may have been that it looked old. It may have been that it was right next to that shitty-looking bar with nothing but limestone gravel and chocolate-colored puddles for a parking lot — not being old enough to enter a bar, you could only imagine what it was like inside, but you would’ve bet it had a low ceiling, lined with white tiles with little black spots, stained by what looked like coffee, endlessly threatening to fall right off the ceiling, like the ones you saw at the bowling alley during Saturday morning junior league.
It might have been the opaque water of the muddy creek that ran under the bridge. It might have been the hobo’s clothes we sometimes found under there.
Definitely, the place gave a sense of excitement and possibility. The rattling of metal above as cars passed over only added to the mystery. The world was passing by all around, and it was our place. A secret. A place where we young boys felt like adult men — or at least the idea we had in our thirteen-year-old brains of what it must be like to be adult men.
And that was what made the discovery of the nudie mag that much more exciting.
It was February, and the four of us were hanging out under the bridge again. It was too cold for us to care. The cold meant the ice was thick over the creek.
This had been a ritual for us this winter. Each time Steven’s mom drove him over to Todd and I’s neighborhood, we’d get bored. We didn’t want to be around Todd’s stepdad, who was sitting at his word processor with an oxygen-mask on. I didn’t want to be up at my house where my brother had a habit of turning my friends against me. We didn’t want to be at Alex’s house, because his sister was hot and she was sleeping over at a friends, and we really only tolerated Alex because it meant we could sometimes see his hot sister in their house. Besides, Alex’s house smelled like steamed broccoli.
So, naturally we had to stay outside, even when it was ten degrees. Recently that had meant we hung out under the bridge, and tried to smash the ice.
“Why are we coming back here?”, Steven groaned, as we descended down the left side of the bridge.
“You just don’t want to get popsicle foot again!,” I replied.
“Yeah, try not to put all your weight on it this time,” said Todd.
“Fuck you, Benny”, said Steven, as Todd and I laughed in chorus, and Alex chuckled, as he pretended to have heard us. Alex was paralyzed on one side of his body or something, so he was always dragging his left foot.
We each dispersed to our respective stations to begin trying to shatter ice. Alex started collecting together rocks and pieces of broken concrete with his good hand. Steven, apparently thinking better than to pound his foot through the ice, inspected a large branch for its demolition capabilities.
As I was examining how the ice had repaired the breaks from our last visits, I heard Todd call out.
“Hey, what’s this!?” I looked and he was pointing at a curled over patch of brown on the ice. At first I thought it was an injured bird or something.
Steven bounded over with his large tree branch, which Todd took from his hands. Todd probed the injured bird with the tip of the stick, trapping it onto the ice and awkwardly pulling it toward him. As it got closer, Todd shouted:
“It’s a nudie mag!”
“Bullshit!,” I said, and incredulously stepped forward, squinting my eyes. I needed glasses, but I didn’t want to look like a dork, so I didn’t see so good.
Alex dropped his rocks and dragged himself and his limp foot over. Steve got so close to the shore of the creek, it looked he might lose his balance and fall in. Todd kept pulling the object closer, and finally, the brown gave way to colors you wouldn’t naturally see under a shitty old bridge in the winter: pink, caucasian flesh, electric blue.
We all crowded around Todd as he spread open the pages in front of us.
I had seen naked women before, such as showering with my mom as a child, or when my brother raided Mom and Dad’s nightstand and we looked at the line drawings in their Joy of Sex book. I had even seen a Playboy centerfold a couple of times, when I found one stashed next to the couch in my grandpa’s basement.
But I had never seen anything like this. I don’t think any of us had. The water vapor coming from our mouths got thicker and whiter in the crisp air. Our chests heaved, the insides of our mouths nearly froze, they were so agape.
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