I’m sitting in my chair. I went to AA earlier. A memory keeps surfacing. It is painful and yet I want to exaggerate my response, minimize the significance, although the incident occurred fifty one years ago on the same kind of cloudy, chilly autumn day that we have today.
I remember details, the reason why I was there and the reason my abuser gave for raping me.
I was seventeen, a track and cross country runner. It was cross country season. And I was a Senior, Captain of the team. And I developed swelling and discoloration in my lower leg. We didn’t know exactly what it was, but it could have been a blood clot. So I went to my family doctor.
His practice was in a building called St Luke’s Hospital on Harrison and Grace Streets. The neighborhood was sketchy then; gay beer joints that you wouldn’t know were places where gays cruised, unless you were gay. There was a movie theater that showed slightly risqué foreign films, like The Lovers with Jeanne Moreau, tame stuff by today’s standards or by the porn explosion that came after Deep Throat.
Richmond Professional Institute (now Virginia Commonwealth University) and the University of Richmond’s University College were there. In 1968, their primary purposes were to provide student deferments to keep middle class kids out of Vietnam. Higher Education, at its best. (note sarcasm and irony in statement).
So here I am at the family doctor, getting my leg checked out. Were I gay, I guess I could have been considered a twink, in today’s patois of the subculture. So my lean, 17 year old muscular runner’s ass is there for a diagnosis, a competent medical opinion about this oddity in my leg, when kindly old Doctor Respectability decided I needed (Get Ready For It!) a prostate exam.
“Drop your shorts.”
“Bend over the table.”
I bend over. He starts probing me with what I assume are fingers. I dunno. When he’s done he hands me a box of tissues to “clean up”. There is some fecal matter there. I pull up my shorts and leave. I leave with this funny feeling that hasn’t gone away after fifty one years. Rape? I dunno.
No subsequent digital rectal examination has ever felt like that one.
I won’t say that my life was messed up because of that office visit. Other stuff did most of that. I won’t say I got warped ideas about human sexuality because of that rather, uh, comprehensive digital exam. The warping began years before.
This whole thing was just one stop in the sexual penny arcade we all visit in the course of living.
At least I am sober today.