Trading Blows: Between Rounds (1 and 2)

A QUICK NOTE: This is a continuation of Trading Blows: Round 1. If you haven’t read that yet, I suggest you do. If you have…carry on.

We met the way most couples do. Michelle, lying gloriously naked on a lounge chair, and me, struggling to control my shameless erection under my paintbrush kit. Michelle, humming away to whatever wonders were pouring from her green earbuds, bravely presenting herself for art, and me, doing my best to remain professional and not get booted from class.

One skill that every man learns is how to hide his penis.  I promise this is related. Unless cursed with erectile dysfunction, every man will have to tackle (many times over) the moment when he inexplicably pops a boner, and needs to conceal it before the present company gets uncomfortable. It happens in business meetings, swimming pools, family dinners, church.  One minute you’re doing your best to listen to the pastor, the next your mini-head is at full mast, putting up the sail as if to say, ‘Hello friend. Let’s shake hands.’ There is no rhyme or reason, anything can set it off. A whiff of perfume, a glimpse of lace, a memory. At times there is no instigation at all; your woody just wakes.  So we train ourselves to deal with this quandary as quickly and subtly as possible, and accumulate strategies over time. Place a book over it. Pretend to stretch. Hope to God no one sees the lump under the blanket. We all develop techniques, most ending with the tuck up into the waistband, hidden behind the zipper. This usually works, but it becomes challenging when wearing gym shorts, because the fabric is so flimsy it’s hard to conceal, tucked or not, and there is no zipper to hide the bulge.

Which of course is what I have chosen to wear to class. Foresight is not my forte, so I didn’t thing twice about having to hide my ankle spanker in my gym shorts when I saw ‘Nude Portrait’ on the syllabus.  So there I am, torn between tucking my tummy tickler before the professor gets close, and gazing at Michelle every moment I have.  Professor Norberte, with his untamed shock of white hair and a penchant for bow ties, has a set of hawk eyes, and any insubordination is met with a swift boot from class.  I’ve met this fate a couple of times, so it is of utmost importance that I deal with this protuberance without drawing attention.  I slip into my chair, slide my brush bag over my bop gun, and slowly rotate both the bag and my erection towards the almost flimsy waistband of my Adidas shorts. I think I’m being smooth, clever even, until I happen to glance up and Michelle’s staring at me.

Its funny; when I registered that I was shoring up solid, all I could think about was not embarrassing myself in front of you. Granted, the Prof was a problem, but he was the devil I know. And yes, I understood that its basic manners not to show you my candy cane in public, and that it was highly unprofessional that day in particular because you were naked for art, but I cared beyond that. I knew that it was my destiny to know you. One glance into your almond eyes, and it was of the utmost importance that I discover what your favorite ice cream is (Rocky Road with a light drizzle of caramel), if you liked sleeping on the right side or left (whichever has the fan), who was playing through your earbuds.  Through some electro-shot of ESP I knew, walking into that class, that I would be with you from this Valentine’s Day through the rest of eternity, so I better start brainstorming grandiose ideas.

I freeze. We’re sharing prolonged eye contact, and I won’t dare to draw Michelle’s attention lower than my eyes, so I leave my paint bag where it is, propped up unevenly across my aching spelunker. Her long, curly brown hair is flowing down the front of her chest, so it is easier to resist the innate pull of my eyes to Michelle’s ample bosom. Figuring that she was staring first, I decide this is as good a time as any to make my first move.  I lean as far forward as my erection will allow.

“What are you listening to?” I whisper.

“What?” Michelle, not catching the need to be discreet, doesn’t whisper.

“I, um…I asked what you were listening to,” I hiss. I’ve already managed to make this awkward, I lean back to beat a hasty retreat, and in swoops Professor Norberte.


“No sir.” There is a problem.  I wish I would have finished my trouser-trout tuck before talking to Michelle. Like I said, lack of foresight, too much of foreskin.

“Well then, I suggest you set up your paints. Now.”  His eyes are burning under his tumbleweed eyebrows; he is itching to root out insubordination, a hawk straight out of the bowels of crotchety-teacher hell.  The other ten or so students in class have already set their stations and are raring to go, so Professor Norberte decides that my tardiness is a challenge to his reign over the class. Instead of leaving me to set up by myself, he chooses to perch over my shoulder until I have accomplished his assigned task. He can smell blood.  I glance over at Michelle, who is still starting at me intently, with what I hope is a inkling of a smile starting to curve the side of her mouth. My brain should be formulating the plan to hide my ovarian pool stick before I stand, but it’s drowning in the curves of Michelle’s lips.

“Now.” There is no budging room here. The bird of prey has found his victim, and unless I acquiesce he will swoop in for the kill, banishing me from Michelle forever.

I had just managed to tuck the very tip of my skin flute into my waistband, so I take a deep breath, think fuck it, and I stand to set up my canvas.  For a second it seems the bulge will stay aiming skyward, so I remove the bag that I’ve been holding to my waist and start to take out my paints.

“Very good,” Professor Norberte says, his eyes still luminous, and he steps forward to slap one claw onto my shoulder, congratulating me for not disobeying his order.  The moment he does, out of the waistband falls my pleasure picker, and with it goes both the Professor’s eyes, every other student’s eyes, and Michelle’s. In these gym shorts the fabric offers no resistance, so there I am standing at attention, in all my 12-inch glory (estimates vary).

And I don’t know what to do. If I reach and tuck now, I’m actively acknowledging that yes, the class is staring at my schnitzel. I can’t bring myself to check how Michelle is handling it, so I glance at Prof. Norberte instead.  He is shaking. His face has turned beet red. There is sweat building on his brow. It is like he is having all of the reactions I should be having; this is bad.  He gasps in one huge lungful of air, then drops the hammer.


“Um…” I start, confused, and he takes a little pause to hear me out. He’s percolating, gathering ammo for his full assault. So, I continue with the logical answer to his inquiry.

“…it’s not like I can detach this.”

He roars. Not in a he-yelled-so-loud metaphorical way, he actually roars.

“Grraaaahhhhhhh!!!!” I flinch. It’s not everyday that your teacher does a growl from The Lion King.

“Get the hell out of my classroom!!! This disrespect will not stand! You will never return to this class! I’ll have you removed from this department!!” It continues, on and on, a never-ending stream of exclamations. Later, my counselor will tell me that when being interviewed by the head of the art department about why he wants me removed from the School of Art, Professor Norberte will say only one word, ‘Disrespect.’ The old man couldn’t articulate the horrors he had to face when he met my baby-maker. I take pride in that.

I decided now is a great time to tuck my tallywhacker, so I do while Norberte is exhorting the gods of art to smite me, and I hear a suppressed snort. While I scramble to make sure my tools are together, I slip a look at Michelle, who has nonchalantly slid a hand over her mouth.  She’s doing her best to hide her laughter, but she’s forgetting she is still butt-naked. Her abs are spasming, and her chest and neck have turned beet red.

“This is not funny,” I say, giving her my best ‘I’m-your-goofball-life-partner’ grin, and she snorts again.  Professor Norberte is practically shoving me out the door with his voice, but I have to get one more shot in.

“Erections in the classroom are a serious epidemic. This is no laughing matter,” I say, giving her the gravest look I can muster under the circumstances. She bursts with a full-bellied laugh, doubling over her knees, toes curling, hair getting caught in her mouth. I don’t even know this girl, this Michelle, but I’ve seen more of her in five minutes than I’ve ever seen of any other woman, and it is gorgeous. A girl that can full-belly laugh stark naked in a room of strangers, because of my third arm of justice that is standing out because of her…here’s a keeper, folks.

Norberte then stands in my face and continues his scream fest, and there’s already a crowd of onlookers at the door, so I beat a hasty retreat to the hallway and collapse on the bench outside the classroom. I’m shaking, and it could be from any number of things. I’ve exposed myself to the class. I’ll be eviscerated by my classmates.  I’ve probably been kicked out of the art department, if Norberte follows through. I could lose my scholarship. I probably just killed my career at this university in more ways than one.

And I’m definitely in love.

An hour later I’m sitting on the bench outside of the dean’s office, my head in my hands. You’d think that the thoughts swarming my brain would be about my academic future, what my parents will do. But really I’m just kicking myself over and over about how I royally fucked up being given permission to stare at the most beautiful woman I’ve seen, completely naked, for over an hour. These opportunities are few and far between, and all I managed to get was a minute or two. That’s at least fifty-eight minutes of heaven I destroyed.

“Earth, Wind, and Fire,” floats a soft voice floats past me. I pause to enjoy the melody in those words, but assume they aren’t for me, so I resume mentally kicking my own ass.

“September, specifically. I know its cliché, but it mellows me out during stressful situations.”

I peek from between my clasped fingers that are covering my eyes, and across the hall from me, leaning against the wall between a fake Andy Warhol and a gag Mona Lisa made to look like Homer Simpson, is Michelle. I don’t recognize her at first; she’s clothed.  She’s wearing tight, dark jeans, a flowing purple blouse, and knee height brown boots. In other words, she looks smoking…and I can’t seem to clear my throat.

“Marry me,” I force out, and she laughs. I’ve made her laugh every time I’ve seen her. That counts for something, right?

“Buy me a beer first” she says, heading for the door.

“Absolutely,” I gasp, following her down the hall like an orphaned puppy that just found its real owner, the one that will keep it forever.  I can meet with the dean and do my best not to get kicked out of school later. Another lesson every man learns; beautiful women always take precedence.

“Oh and one more thing,” Michelle says, turning over her shoulder and looking back at me. She pointedly stares at my shorts. “Try to control yourself this time.”

And with that, I follow her giggling like an idiot into the sunset. Happily ever after, probably.

Published by Neil Stratman

I'm an actor currently based in Chicago. Woot.

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