Isaac has been extremely ticklish for as long as he can remember. As a kid his best friend Ty used to hold him down and tickle him, but once they started high school, they drifted apart. Isaac came out as gay kind of young, but Ty never revealed his sexual orientation, and as a result Isaac felt sort of abandoned by his best friend. Now, a few years later, they’re both home from college and run into each other in a bar. This leads to a confrontation and a dispute that can only be settled the good old fashioned way—tickling.
I have this thing about tickling. One of my erogenous triggers or something. Though I’d probably hedge a bit before publicly admitting I get turned on by extreme tickling scenes—in truth, I do. It all started years ago, back when I was a kid, long before I even associated tickling with sex. My older cousin used to tickle me. Being so much bigger and stronger than me, he’d easily overpower and pin me, then tickle me mercilessly until I begged him to stop. No, in truth he’d continue long after the begging started. Sometimes I even peed my pants.
There was just something about the loss of control, perhaps a thrill at being dominated, that excited me, and as I grew older, it continued to thrill and then arouse me. The intensity of the sensation, not unpleasant but certainly uncomfortable, forced me to respond emotionally. My breathing and pulse quickened, and of course I trembled and laughed. I laughed so hard I could no longer breathe, and then laughed silently all the more. Though this lack of control, this feeling of entrapment, frustrated and panicked me, I’d ultimately surrender and resign myself to the reality of my fate.
Was I a masochist?
In my teen years, tickling wasn’t cool. I didn’t broadcast to my friends how sensitive my feet, abdomen, and underarms were. I definitely never confided my secret, the fact that on some level I enjoyed the torture. I loved it and hated it simultaneously. The only person who ever really found out was my friend Ty.
A full head taller than me, Tyler had caught his growth spurt early, and by the tenth grade towered over me with his broad shoulders, muscular arms, and a sculpted, defined set of pectorals. I crushed on him big time, and in a way that was far less naïve than the childhood infatuation with my older cousin. Ty became the star of my masturbation fantasies.
I didn’t pretend it was okay. It was anything but. We were buds, best friends, and he quite obviously wasn’t gay. Neither of us were, because gay was just so... gay. My feelings for him and my attraction to guys in general remained a well-guarded secret I harbored within. And yet I craved physical contact, whether it was nothing more than his arm around my shoulder in a bro hug or wrestling around on the floor.
In normal straight-men-rule-the-world society, getting physical with another guy consisted of slaps on the back, contact during sports, and other manly types of bromance expressions. It wasn’t like Ty and I snuggled together on the couch or went around hugging each other. But he grabbed hold of me one day, not intending to show affection I don’t think, but more to get around me. As his fingers dug into my sides, I spasmed a bit, jerking and laughing reflexively. And that’s how he discovered my ticklishness.
Having accidentally pinpointed my weakness, Ty didn’t hesitate to use it against me thereafter. Usually it was very brief. He’d tickle me while wrestling to gain an advantage—one he really didn’t need. He already could easily overpower me and always won the contest hands down. But I did nothing to discourage him from this physicality, other than feign protest. Clearly he saw right through my objections.
At times I’d goad him into a confrontation by doing things to irritate him. Walking by, I’d flick his ear while he was watching TV or using his laptop. I’d talk or sing, needle him by repeating annoying phrases. He’d warn me to stop. “Isaac, knock it off.” I’d keep pushing until at last he’d leap from his seat on the sofa and lunge for me. My heart pounded in my chest, throbbing as hard as the boner in my pants when he tackled me and trapped me in a school boy pin, flat on my back. The weight of his body crushed against me as he used his legs to pin down my arms.
He could’ve hit me. He could have even spit on me or slapped my face. Being so much stronger than me, he held every advantage. Total control of the situation. Yet he always chose the same punishment. He tickled. He’d start with my armpits, and I’d try with all my might to free myself, to toss and turn enough to throw him off of me, all to no avail. I’d press my lips tightly together and rapidly shake my head, fighting to maintain control, struggling not to release the laughter that was building inside me. And then at last when I could take no more, it would burst from me in a fit of hysterics.
I’d laugh and laugh, so hard that it was impossible to breathe, gasping and out of breath. The laughter eventually quieted because I had nothing left within me with which to make a sound. At last I’d suck in a gale of oxygen, and the fit would start anew.
I pretended I hated him for doing it. I’d sometimes act mad afterward, brooding just a little. But we both were turned on. Maybe he enjoyed feeling me writhe beneath him as much as I loved being pinned by him. Maybe he was as aroused by his power over me as I was by his dominance.