HEARTH   •   ABOUT   •   EXHIBITIONS   •   CITY WATER   •   SPACE LIST


A Summerful of Secrets by Benjamin de Boer

I don’t know what our school was thinking, putting us together in the gym for lunch like that. Instead of leaving us in our individual classrooms, chaos clumps of kids would assemble all over the room, grades impulsively sorted along the painted lines of the gross grey rubber basketball court flooring. After catching up on books, shows, sandals and boys with my dear girls after a summer apart, I walked begrudgingly over to the group of dudes congregated along the old wooden bench. They were all talking shop, serious business, about motocross jerseys, AC/DC, which porn they had found, bootlegging copies of said porn onto their friends’ iPod Videos, jackoff techniques unlocked in the past couple months, and recounting rumours of older siblings who went to our school fucking. The usual.

When I was inevitably asked about what I got up to over the break my mind flashed to a few events in particular that ranged from confusing to euphoric. Of course, being incredibly shy and not wanting to admit that the last time I had a crush it was on Mak, the kid with an eyebrow ring and blue spiked hair who always sat at the back of the schoolbus listening to The Chemical Brothers, all I said in response was

“Yeah. Haha. I don’t know. I just played Warcraft 3 in my basement”

Which is still embarrassing sure, but less embarrassing than admitting to a bunch of hockey kids that while rummaging day hazy under the sink looking for the jug of bubble bath, behind the crusty tube of ♫Comet, it makes you vomit♫ I found my first sex toy. It was a Dory toy from a McDonald’s happy meal. If pressed, the dorsal fin acted like a trigger and it would shoot water out of its mouth. It let out these violent, distorted whale sounds with each spray. I shot up in front of the mirror, torso looking like a lobster after baking at the S-bend beach. Wasting no time at all, hopped into the tub, filled that poor sucker with bathwater and squirted it up my pee hole. What else? While I definitely felt the boundary rush of warm pressure in reverse but the whale sounds killed the mood.

I also really didn’t think they would feel my experience with the part in Slaughterhouse-Five where Lily brings Rumfoord a Xerox. What's Xerox? I wondered, abandoning the book to chase this tingle. Its alien double x-ing of -ero- was like a sensual lure. It's unknowableness to a rural someone who never set foot in a copy room was like treasure annotation, drawing all other text up around it in a quick vortex sex hex. Mind flits to all else veiled or hidden from me purposefully by parents, by my underripeness in time, characters now triangulated under the purple light of scandal. Confusion itself is an aphrodisiac often, here its moment in name brand heterodoxy embalmed a perversity bordering on pharmaceutical.

When not grumpy at the beach, or hunched on my ancient frankenstein desktop I would spend the afternoon walking this couple’s dog three days a week for ten bucks. They ran a little restaurant beside the arcade down the road from my house and were pretty swamped with tourists back then. It looks like a boat run ashore. The front is a patio shaped like the bow, the middle is a restaurant shaped like a cabin, and the back is their house.

I would go around back and grab the spare key from under the big rock to do my rounds with Jerry Lee. Jerry Lee was a lumbering old golden retriever with wet droopy eyes. Jerry Lee smelled bad. He’d pull pretty hard but after a while the heat would get to him and I’d take him back home for a treat and a nap. One day, I was scratching his back after a good lazy lap. He started panting really weirdly and I backed up a little bit, looked down, and saw him dog-cumming on the floor. When we’re talking cum stories, for whatever reason I just knew that they wouldn’t be chill hearing about it if it wasn’t my own - let alone another species.

Remember those rubber poppers? I was lucky and got one from a birthday party grab bag. It was from Brayden’s birthday party, who happened to be sitting next to me in the circle that day. I remember seeing tiny versions of them at Dollarama, the kind that you turn inside out to watch slowly creep towards that moment where it loses all tension, lets loose its concave innards and shoots up into the air. But this one was the size of a Snapple lid, fried bologna cup, teat... It was my favourite colour - translucent sparkly green. I would lie on my bathroom floor, put it on my right nipple and wait all giddy like, wincing in anticipation. The sting felt amazing, like scratching an all-day itch. You know when you poke around in your belly button and it feels like there's a live wire running from there to your asshole? For some reason the right always felt way better than the left.

After my grandparents moved out that August I moved into their basement room. It was around this time that I was watching Cybersix and studying a copy of Erica Jong’s Fear of Flying, particularly intrigued by the underwater scenes with hot men who now swim in my memory as some empty ideal. I had a CD player that I scored from a yard sale down the street that I would use on nights too tired to do more than listen. It sat on my bedside table, volume turned on low so my parents wouldn't shout through the vents as a book on tape or System of a Down chugged along. The little screen where the track number was displayed was offensively bright and cast a wired blue glow across my room.

Raised on the homespun fun of shadow puppet theatre I wasted no time fiddling with angles for the best birds, horses, fish, monster faces. One night I caught a glimpse of my full silhouette against the wall. I had so much fun with this, shows of me wiggling, arching, and posing. By moving closer and further away from the light, forms morph to test curiosity’s strategy towards satisfaction. Broad or narrow shoulders, waistlines thick and slender- you name it. Best of all, I could watch this shadow fuck itself in rhythm laid out by song, rhyme ignored as endings unfurled. With proper hand placement I could change myself, change my places, explore those places too. Shifts bold or barely-visible along my shadow-double produced a loving prism for selves and suitors alike.

Eventually I stopped hanging out with those boys and ate lunch with my friend Kat. It was with her that I found a good outlet for expressing desire in its potent specifics through a mutable character. Together by the stage, we would pour our confused urges into crude cartoons we called The Adventures of Blob, who was basically a sexually active ditto pokemon. We filled so many of those little black and white splotched memo books. We grew apart when I moved to Toronto but I reached out a few months ago and turns out she kept all the books and has them stowed away somewhere <3