Two Heads, One Heart: First Date, First Documented Erection

I'd had erections before, I'm sure, but had paid them no mind. It wasn't on my radar as much when one occurred because my jeans had been rubbing me the wrong (or right) way.

When I was 10, my little brother hosted his birthday party at Safari Sam's, an indoor complex that combined an arcade and one of those big indoor playgrounds with colorful plastic pipes and nets and a severely unsanitary ball pit. (In the late 90s, everyone in my neighborhood had their parties there. I'd been to one where the fun times were shit on – literally – when management had to close the playground portion because some kid was unable to control his bowels and had left his mark throughout the tunnels.)

Mom told me I was allowed to bring one person, and I chose Amanda, my first ever "girlfriend.” I was only in fifth grade, but I felt like it was time for Amanda and I to get out on the dating scene. At the time, “dating” meant to me that you were doing something together outside of our elementary school. I didn't know much about dating or girlfriends other than I wanted to go on one and I wanted to have one. Mostly because my older brother did, and he got to kiss her at middle school dances while they played that Aerosmith song from "Armageddon," which seemed pretty fucking groovy to me.

I wrote Amanda a note asking if she'd like to go on a date with me. She accepted on the assumption parental permission would be granted, a shoe-in since my mom and dad would be chaperoning.

Count it: that’s a first date, even if my mom was driving and most of the planning was executed by our parents.

Most of the planning, but not all.

Amanda and I had decided at a backstop recess rendezvous days prior that, sometime during our date, we would sneak away to one of those bright red plastic tubes. At the time, it was the only way we could think of to get a moment alone.

And in this tube we would take our relationship to the next level.

I was gunning for at least a kiss on the cheek, but Amanda was prudish and only willing to get marginally wild, so we compromised: we would hold hands.

We clasped hands for about 10 seconds, glancing awkwardly at and then away from each other. It was pretty much the only time I had touched a girl in any way that could be construed as romantic, and it gave me an erection. (I still get boners sometimes from handholding. I get wood easily – sometimes it happens for no reason at all. I'm lucky that way, unless my secret suspicion turns out to be true that you have a finite amount of boners you're granted in life and I'm unwittingly using all mine up before I turn 30.)

I'd had erections before, I'm sure, but had paid them no mind. It wasn't on my radar as much when one occurred because my jeans had been rubbing me the wrong (or right) way.

Shortly thereafter, we ran out of the playground and back to the party room while I was still pitching the tiniest of tents.

I was unknowingly letting my freak flag fly, and my older brother saw it. He halted the conversation he was having with his friend about JNCO jeans or Marvelous 3 or whatever, and began laughing maniacally. But that was as far as he took it. He could've made a public spectacle of me, but passed on the opportunity.

It'd be months before he explained to me what implications came with the weird hardening of one's "dinger,” and even longer until I'd discover you could disguise your rocket by tucking it into your boxer waistband. (It’s an uncomfortable but effective maneuver until you develop a nickel allergy and the button from your jeans makes a rash on your tip that sends you into a panic because you think you have herpes – but that’s a story for another time.)

“Why didn't you explain to me what was going on right then?" I asked.

"Well, there was no reason to at the time," he said. "If I had explained it to you in front of that girl, it would have been hilarious, yeah, but that would have been really bad for you. Like, you may have never recovered. And mom would've been fucking pissed at me."

In the 15 years since I produced a boner at an indoor playground (which, for the record, has not happened since and will not happen again), I've had many moments with the opposite sex that have been amazing and life-altering. But I've had many others that can be viewed as either mortifying or hilarious, depending on how you choose to remember them.

I tend to choose the latter.

And I've always fully recovered. I think.

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