Father Tony

A vociferous American erection

Filed By Father Tony | December 26, 2008 6:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: straight men at the gym

Dear Father Tony,

This is about my husband's "little problem" at his gym. Every time he comes home, I ask him "Was he there?" We are getting a lot of laughs out of this but my husband (straight and with a great bod) is asking me what he should do. I'm a (straight) woman so I'm in the dark about this so I'm asking you because you would know...

In the shower at the gym is a guy who is very friendly with my husband. My husband says he likes talking with this guy who is funny and smart but after they got to know each other, one day he comes home and tells me that when they were in the shower together talking, this guy got an erection in the middle of the conversation. I said "What were you talking about?" He says "the economy!" Anyway, the guy doesn't try to hide it and my husband doesn't know what to do so he went back to his locker and left really fast.

The thing is that now, it happens the same way every time they are in the shower together. They could be talking about anything and after a few minutes the guy gets an erection and just keeps on talking.

My husband is cool with the gay thing in general but he is not sure how to handle this. It's like "out there and pointing at him." He thinks he should say something. I asked him if it happens to the guy only when he's talking with my husband or with other guys also and my husband says he has never seen it happen with other guys but it's not like he's looking so he doesn't know for sure. He thinks he should say something, but what?

The Housewife

Dear H,

I hope you'll know how greatly I like the attitude you and your husband seem to have about this funny little matter. Neither of you is freaking out or becoming enraged or insulted. I wish more people would reach the point were an erection doesn't trip an alarm siren causing gentle folk to run for cover and soldiers to march into battle.

And, before I forget, I want to dispatch my opinion of the behavior of the man who is producing the erection. His first one was, perhaps, unavoidable. The second one was probably more intentional and a way of saying "Just in case you missed it the first time" but the subsequent ones may be evidence of bad manners and indicate a gay man with an unfortunately immature and desperate sexuality. Although an erection can occur without notice and with no correlation to the subject at hand or the circumstances (and I dare any man to say that he has not gotten hard at incongruous or inconvenient moments such as supermarket, church, wake, lawn mowing, office meeting or classroom), we have an obligation to refrain from waving the thing about when in congress with those who deserve a sex-free common experience. This guy does not seem to understand that, and so your husband is forced into a responsive position not of his own design, unless he is not telling you the full story, and is actually flaunting his good looks before his admirers in the shower room - a "straight" male behavior that is not at all uncommon, incidentally.

(I am remembering a certain local television personality who used to pretend to wash himself energetically so as to produce a monstrous erection as soon as we were alone in the shower room of the gym. I knew he was married, and he often spoke of his wife on-air. I made no acknowledgment of his big production until the day he decided to make absolutely sure I got his drift by slamming the thing across my butt while walking behind me. With my eyes closed under the spray and a headful of shampoo, my voice echoed off the tiles "I get it. I get it." There's a lot more to this story, but some other time.)

Let's also pause for a moment to sing an anthem of praise for that great clarifier, the American erection. In a nation beset with religious nonsense and intolerance, the American erection boldly steps up to the plate, rips through the codpiece of ambiguity and raises a defiant fist, God bless it.

Men can engage in androgynous harmony that is unavailable to women: our mouths say one thing, and suddenly our dicks pipe up with an entirely different message. But like small children, our dicks should sometimes be seen and not heard.

You must first ask your husband what he would like to say to his agitated friend. Does he want to thank the guy for the compliment? Does he want to alert the guy to his feeling uncomfortable with what has come between them? Does he want to ask the guy for an explanation? Does he want to tell the guy he is not interested in a sexual relationship? Does he want to tell the guy that he is interested in a sexual relationship?

Have you ever asked your husband if he was bi or bi-curious or straight-curious or some-kinda-gay? Sometimes, gay men in showers pick up on things that a "straight" man thinks are hidden and that even a smart wife can't be expected to notice. I'm just saying.

I'm guessing that the owner of the erection is testing your husband. Because your husband has been polite, the erector may press the advantage by bringing their above-the-neck conversation around to the subject of sex. Your husband can wait until that happens and have a response prepared, or, he can initiate the conversation himself. He should simply point to the erection and say, "What's that all about?" I suspect the ensuing conversation will end the mystery, and that the erect guy will confess his attraction and his hope for sex. He may try something laughably artful like "I'm just as straight as you are but damn you've got a great build and you can just blame my dick because it's got a mind of its own." Your husband should be prepared for some version of this classic trap-a-straight-guy line designed to provide him with a way to sex that doesn't necessitate surrendering his status as a heterosexual. It's an old ploy, and, I have to say, it works nine times out of ten, leaving some of us able to say that there's not a man on earth who can't be had. (And don't say "Not my husband", because I'm here to tell you that the bigger they are the harder they fall. I've lost my appetite for that sort of conquest, but there are many gay men who relish it and practice it with skill.)

In conclusion, if I were you, I'd be curious to know what my husband has prepared to tell the guy when he is next confronted with his erection. Let me know what he intends to say and I'll certainly tell you what I think it means or how I know the erect guy will respond.

Your husband should know that if he really wants to defuse the situation, he needs to be nonchalant (a perfect word for this situation because it comes from the French meaning "not heat-inducing"), as he silently reaches over and cranks the erect guy's shower dial into the cold water position.


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He could joke by saying, " Are you just happy to see me?" or " Hey, don't point that thing at me." It would be funny enough and get his point across as well.

Happy Holidays!

I'm glad Father Tony mentioned the cold water trick, because turning on the cold water in the shower is what every gay male high school freshman learns so that he can make it through the final minutes of phys ed class without getting beaten to a pulp (that's a whole-body beating I'm talking about here). As long as there is a cold water faucet around, there is no excuse for this type of behavior.

The husband might begin reacting by saying, "Gee, it looks like you need some time alone" and walking away to the farthest shower available. Ending the conversation should be an unmistakable signal of disinterest, if not mild objection.

If the guy wants to cruise in the shower, he should find a gay bathhouse. No one will object to his erection there, I assure you!

The guy should know better than to cruise in a mainstream place. I sometimes ask if some gay men are just dying to be sent to the hospital by some less understanding straight men.

Dear Lucrece,
Let's not be too fast to discount the merits of cruising in a public place. Instead, let's fault the gay men who don't do it properly. There's a way to cruise a gym that is non-offensive. The cruiser needs simply to respect the rights of others and to build on overtures from interested men without steamrolling the venue with his horniness. A gentleman is a gentleman, even when naked. Unfortunately, there is no "gay college" where I might be enlisted to teach this sort of art.

Fine. I'm just tired of all the stories about gay men being horrendously brutalized because they let their passions interfere with common sense. I can't understand how some gay men operate as if we lived in a post-homophobia world.

Father tony, TBP is your college to teach gay boys that art.

I'm with Father Tony here, though I will go further out and say that your assumption that cruising in a public place should equal a gay bashing strikes me as beyond the pale; how does that even seem appropriate? Way to take care of your own there. Father Tony does in his answer note that there must be class, the dulcet tapping of a hat pin, or a drumstick perhaps, rather than the sledgehammer.

You are also naive in assuming the husband hasn't played up his part of the deal. As women are, so are men likely to enjoy displaying themselves, like peacocks.

How nice of you to assume that I approve of the beatings. I love how admiringly people think of me.

And equating cruising with high likelihood of bashing if you are an idiot about it (meaning your judgement of time, place, and person, not to mention execution) doesn't seem unreasonable. Perhaps you live in a more open-minded place; but where I have lived, it is not rare for men to react rather violently when faced with a proposition from a homosexual. This is something that seems to be lost on those who have for too long dwelled in the commodity of a gay metropolis.

A guy can still get the stuffing beat out of him in the gay metrotopia if he's not careful. As I think you were trying to point out, using a little common sense is not giving in to violent homophobia.

You said: I sometimes ask if some gay men are just dying to be sent to the hospital by some less understanding straight men.

Sounds like you approve to me. Said with just the right sotto voce you could even sound like you heartily approve.

Well, you better go and get your ears checked if it sounds like that to you. Other commenters have made it obvious that they get my point.

Of course, what would be the fun in taking people's comments for what they are, instead of injecting them with a view of what you want them to seem like in order to get all sanctimonious on us?

Well, you better go and get your ears checked if it sounds like that to you. Other commenters have made it obvious that they get my point.

Of course, what would be the fun in taking people's comments for what they are, instead of injecting them with a view of what you want them to seem like in order to get all sanctimonious on us?

Dear Copperred,
I'm still regretting not seeing you when I was at the blogger summit in DC, but things spun out of control as they always do. I did manage to visit the Crew Club and the YMCA, both of which were extremely enjoyable.

I figured you'd gotten roped in with the crew and while I too missed the opportunity (I think I was watching TV and eating cheesecake or something like that), I think there will be other opportunities.

I, of course, cannot see a thing without my glasses, and so could have totally missed the member unless it was a particularly mentionable member. Or a particularly mentionable man.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | December 27, 2008 1:54 AM

I just have to ask: Why couldn't he ("straight husband") have turned his back on the situation and answered the erect guy with "uh huh's" finished his shower and walked on. Or make eye contact only. This would have sent the message that there was no interest and no questions need to be asked. As no one should be placed in any situation in which he or she is uncomfortable, how about being certain not to be in the shower at the same time?

Unless you are straight and love the audience.

Dear Robert,
Exactly. Even in an all-gay social setting, one can always move away from someone who is making scintillating conversation that is really just a spider's web.

Unless you are straight and love the audience.

Well, that's kind of what I wondered too, Robert. As the gay guy who ends up in bed with "straight" men all the time (I don't seek them; they find me!), I've found that the straight guys who hang around where there's the chance of sex - like after finding your showermate with a hardon "every time they shower together" - tend to, well, want it. If you were worried about the guy having a hardon, would you keep showering with him? Or do an extra rep on the bench press?

Ah yes,the good old out of control erection. Back when I had a dick, it seemed to have a mind of it's own. Even though I was not into guys, my penis used to decide on its own when it came to arousal. I would get aroused from just about everything. Even if I was doing geometry or making up a poem in my head, my dick would suddenly sit up and take notice. A jet flew across the sky, I got a woodie. Police car go screaming by, hard on city.

It was just embarrasing.

After about thirty or so, things calmed down a bit, though there were still moments when standing at the milling machine I was glad for the machinist's apron I wore. Yeah, cutting metal is soo sexy!

It might be that the guy in the shower has no control over what his penis is doing. I know that once I got one, it was next to impossible to knock down without, well you know. Perhaps it is subconsicous, perhaps he is playing some kind of game after all. Hardons come for many different reasons and from a variety of causes.

Even with my new plumbing, at times I get that warm tight feeling down there that let's me know there is something else on my mind. It just isn't as embarrasing, or noticeable, as it used to be.

My perspective is, of course, a bit skewed. I mean having the outer equipment, but not the inner 'workings' of being male, maybe my lack of control was more symptomatic of my trans nature than anything else. But it is worth considering.

Dear Diddlygrl,
Thanks for the fascinating reply. I've often wondered what it would feel like "down there" once the obstreperous bird was removed from its nest. I'm heartened to know you can still get a "warm feeling". The embers of lust without the embarrassment of lust.

PS: As unruly as my own dick is, I could never part with it, unless, decapitated while touring a Revlon factory, my parts were harvested for the living in need. I'd like to think my dick would go to either a transitioning F2M or to a dysfunctional man needing repair. In either case, I just know my dick would bust its stitches.

Well, there is a difference between surgery and getting it lopped off. The surgeon really just rearranged things down there so little went to waste. That I still get a response is as much a credit to his skill as anything else.

I can understand your being invested in your equipment. After surgery I finally felt some sense of rightness with what was down there. It was a singularly unique experience for me since I had never felt it before. I finally understood why guys I would talk to cringed and covered up when I mentioned surgery.

Finally I got to "walk a mile" in their shoes. No amount of sympathy can substitute for the real thing when it comes to such feelings.

gee, i feel so bad for this lady's husband. i mean, he's met an intelligent and witty man, and on a regular basis they both seem to really enjoy engaging each other in some very interesting conversation while naked.

but, how gross, i don't even know if i can bare to say it -- there was that one "little" hitch. i'm so sorry we live in a world where straight men have to endure the unwanted sexual attention of those awful queers . . .

then again, dear housewife in seattle, if your hubby really has trouble deciding how to handle this situation perhaps you should consider following him into the shower next time he meets his friend. then you can judge for yourself if 1. this creature really exists and 2. if he's even worth talking about (now, do i have to spell it out? get back to me pronto with valid contact info, if the answer to #'s 1 and 2 is yes, and you haven't already jumped on it yourself -- i hate sloppy seconds).

i should add, however, that if somebody touched the temp control of my shower i'd bash his freakin' skull in, whether he/she is gay, straight, or indifferent. in my opinion, that was a very bad piece of advice and, given the circumstances, strikes me as borderline gay bashing.

Dear H,

Anybody who can get an erection talking about this economy is a disgusting pervert. Tell your husband to dump him.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | December 27, 2008 9:13 AM

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

I would tell your husband to address it with capt. Woody directly and as politely as possible and let him know he's not comfortable with it. Sounds to me like the shower guy is more of an exhibitionist than anything, and often times just letting them know you see it and it isn't welcome removes the sexuality of it from the offender.

A friend of mine had a similar situation. Both parties are gay in this example, but my friend wasn't comfortable with it at all. He didn't know what to say for the longest time, mostly because it's an embarrasing subject to broach. However, as soon as he did mention it, the offender stopped all together. Now, it probably wasn't out of consideration for my friend, more likely it wasn't a turn-on anymore.

Also, he should "take care" of this soon or the shower guy is likely to escalate the situation. That is, assuming your husband doesn't actually enjoy the attention.

Don Sherfick Don Sherfick | December 27, 2008 2:53 PM

Tony, you don't supply us with any details as to the geographic location of the person asking you the questions here, but if they happen to be in Boise, Minneapolis, or Washington DC, the shower show-off flashes a Senatorial ID card or otherwise says "now what do you think of that?", there's a whole other dimension to the story.

I've never understood the group shower requirements in school gyms or in other facilities. Every bathroom has privacy stalls, but showers are somehow different.

Does a curtain cost so much?

Confession: I am a master at spinning lies. I can tell whoppers that would knock your socks off in their richness of detail and absolute believability. It's a trait that apparently has been bred into me, because I'm not the only person in my family with this gift/curse.

I don't lie anymore in my adult life, because I have come to believe that lying is immoral (despite its transient convenience, at times) and that it holds us back from realizing our full potential in our lives, both as individuals and as a society.

But let's just acknowledge that I know from lying.

So to my eye, this entire tale--both the husband's original story and the wife's retelling of it--smacks of deliberately-omitted details. I'm genuinely not convinced that we're being told the whole story.

Take the following tale as a case-in-point. (For the sake of simplicity, let's leave out questions about Husband's sexuality. But throwing that issue into the mix greatly increases the likelihood of the following events taking place.)

Husband and Friend meet at the gym. They talk, grow close, enjoy one another's company, and share a mutual attraction that is at least partly sexual. One day, their sexual attraction comes to a head, and Husband and Friend get hard-ons in the shower together. Perhaps they jack off in front of one another, or they jack one another off. Maybe Friend sucks Husband's dick (or vice versa). Perhaps this occurs more than once.

They both enjoy their encounter(s) a great deal. Husband starts to feel badly about it, however, because he's clearly crossed the line into infidelity. And he truly loves his Wife. But he likes the sex with Friend enough that he won't call things off unless he really has to.

So Husband finds himself in an emotional dilemma: Does he give up sex with Friend (which he really enjoys) in exchange for a clear(er) conscience regarding his marriage (which he desires to honor by not cheating without permission)? Or does he try to have things both ways, by making a quasi-confession to Wife, giving her just enough information about the circumstances that they can laugh things off together, but not giving her so much information that he actually has to change his behavior?

Husband decides that he wants to have it all. So he comes home from the gym one day and tells Wife a ha-ha funny story about how Friend just keeps inexplicably popping boners in the shower! While they're talking about the ECONOMY, of all things! What a riot!

And now Husband has truthfully confessed part of his behavior--he's been naked with Friend. In the shower. Several times. He's seen Friend's hard cock. Several times. And now Wife has just enough of the story to be in on the joke, but not enough of it to conclusively implicate Husband. And he hasn't actually LIED to Wife--he just hasn't told her the whole story. (Although it's pretty hard to talk about the economy with a dick in one's mouth. But nevertheless, let's assume that the economy line was an embellishment. Or that they talked about the economy, but not at the same time that Friend's dick was hard.)

What he's omitted, however, is that Friend has also seen Husband's hard cock. Several times. And that he has stroked/sucked Friend's hard cock, and that Friend has stroked/sucked his. Several times.

But now, because Wife's in on it all, Husband can continue to get it on with Friend without having to worry about whether Wife knows. Because, Husband tells himself, she MUST know. She MUST, right?!?! It's a pretty stupid story, right? ANYONE should be able to see right through it, right? So if she's gullible enough to believe it, or if she's too scared by the implications of the tale to say anything about it or to ask probing questions, then it's not Husband's problem, right?

And so Husband continues to get his jollies with Friend, while gaining a clear(er) conscience about his marriage to Wife.

This example ranks among the classic ploys that cheaters (and liars) use to rationalize their own desires and behavior, and to convince themselves that their behavior is, at a minimum, excusable. It's worth asking whether this is what's happening here.

Again, this is just conjecture based on my reading of the facts. I fully concede the possibility that both Husband and Wife are telling us (and themselves) the truth about Husband's encounters with Friend's hard-ons. But to the eye of a highly-trained former liar, I don't really think that's the case.

Dear JTW,
I heartily agree with your estimation of the situation. In responding to the letter, I made a choice to go along with the wife's account, thinking that given enough rope, sooner or later the truth will out. I am also convinced the wife sees things the way you do in her heart.

I do,however, disagree with you strongly about something. The plural of hard-on is most definitely hards-on rather than hard-ons.

Ha ha ha. You will be pleased to know that the thought crossed my mind as I penned my missive. I concede the correct formal construction and raise you a colloquial informality. (But you'll be pleased to know that, as an attorney, I will never say or write "Attorney Generals.")

I hope that you're having a great Saturday!

Don Sherfick Don Sherfick | January 11, 2009 8:46 AM

"I do,however, disagree with you strongly about something. The plural of hard-on is most definitely hards-on rather than hard-ons."

Oh? Tony I know you've long ceased to claim any affiliation with the Magisteriam on faith and morals, but would have thought that the rigors of grammatical correctness taught in seminary (if not also by the nuns at St. Peter's) would have kept you from such an apparently heretical observation.

None other than the highly authoritative-althoug-not-universally-infallible Wiktionary at http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/hard-on lists the plural as "Hard-ons". I do see, though, that the site has yet to establish a list of either citations or have anyone comment in its discussion section. Perhaps it's time to change that.

One might dismiss all of this as simply idle "small talk" writ large, but it should be totally dismissed "out of hand". As I recall both the makers of Viagra and Cialis have disclaimers in their ads that say there are no studies or conclusions concerning "multiple erections".

Does Father really know best on this important topic?

Dear Don,
I may not know best, but I do know first.

Several years ago, I made Isadora Alman, the prominent sexpert and author of the column Ask Isadora laugh over my rendering of hards-on, bringing it into common usage (the wiki-pasture) by dint of its indelible life on the net. Until you find an earlier reference, I've the coin. So, even if you invoke Usus quam penes arbitrium est et ius et norma loquendi, my version is justified.

Regarding the nuns of St Peter's, you should email me privately.

Don Sherfick Don Sherfick | January 11, 2009 6:02 PM

"Usus quam penes arbitrium est et ius et norma loquendi".

No fair! Reverting to Latin is the last refuge of a scoundrel. As to the nuns of St. Peters, I kenw Sister Norma Loquendi, and Tony, you're no Norma Loquendi.

And I think you are confusing "hards-on" with "hands on".

(Or is it "hand-ons"?)