Day I at gymnasia

Socrates sidled into the main theater of the gymnasia. He felt awkward. He felt acutely that his unstructured teenaged body was in unfavorable contention with the polished marble walls. Their smooth white gleam seemed an imperious reproach of his red, pimply skin. His eyes couldn’t help but roam over the tawny golden hued tiling and the resplendent blue mosaics which all sparkled in brilliant harmony with the wide cooling pond at the theater’s center. Men and boys, nude and slicked with olive’s oil, were squatting, jumping, tying off the ends of their cocks with wool string, warming their muscles for the morning’s pursuit of attainable divinity.

Socrates gulped back a large swallow of mucous. His mucouses had been acting up quite a bit lately. Ever since he had noticed he was ugly. It happened one day out by the lake in the eastern part of his family’s wood plot “By Zeus,” he’d muttered, scowling into the Greek cerulean surface that could only reflect truth. He was so ugly he couldn’t believe it. His mother had always intimated that he wasn’t an attractive young man. Even as a child she had cherished his more hard-won characteristics, like an early proclivity to discern rancid almonds.

His mother had helped in delivery for hundreds of country children in her time and never hesitated to praise and celebrate when the gods deigned to summon a beautiful face for Greece. For her adult son — for indeed at 17 he was firmly a man — his mother rarely had praise of his features. She usually complimented him on his great ability to make sturdy walking sticks. “Such a clever craftsman,” she would beam and then sharply elbow his father, the stone mason, an indication that Socrates really should be getting on in his vocational training, lest he sit idle.

Socrates felt the cool marble against his bare back in the gymnasia. His already fine and feminine waistline shrunk back towards his spine, making him appear more gaunt and unmanly than ever. Could he possibly make friends among these athletic specimens? He recognized a few from the market stalls. Sons of sandal makers. Uncles of his fishing team. The patrons here were all thick with muscle, wild haired, and sexually avaricious in a way that made Socrates wonder if he had actually been born unsexed in some odd jest between Olympian scoundrels.

“No,” Socrates thought to himself, a painful expression overtaking his face and vexing his shoulders. “I will never be one of them.” His mouth swiveled into a pout and he headed back for the egress, firm in his belief that he wasn’t good for anything.

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