The young black man sat in my new member orientation session last night. His eyes did not connect very much. He was nervous, like everyone is at their first Jacks visit. He looked around frequently, not paying full attention, but I could tell he was listening. He was getting the message… I just don’t think he was ready.

My club does a 10-minute new member orientation session for any guy who’s never been to RCJ before. We just want to make sure the rules are crystal clear and more important, we want to introduce first-timers to the culture of this particular JO club, even if they’ve been to lots of other Jacks clubs.

Not everyone likes the session, though most do. Some guys arrive full of themselves, full of their expertise in Jacks clubs, or just not ready to follow somebody else’s rules. It’s okay if those guys just turn around and walk out. I prefer it, in fact. I would like the guys in the playspace to all be into it, all buying in on the vision of friendly, social dick play. If it’s not for them, it’s better for everyone if they just bail out.

I’ll call the young black man “Mark.”

Mark interrupted me to ask a clarifying question as I was explaining that the required minimum participation was stripping to underwear, that if a guy is not willing to strip to his underwear, he’s in the wrong place.

Mark asks, “Is it okay if I wear a shirt? It’s kind of cold.”

I say, “Yes, it’s okay,” reassuring him that it was much warmer inside the playspace.

So we wrap up orientation and a few minutes later, I see Mark in the entryway to the playspace, wearing underwear and a T-shirt. Also a hoody and a hat. He is, essentially, dressed. I can tell that he dressed not to stay warm, but to feel safer.

It seemed to me like he was armored up; protecting himself from becoming vulnerable, naked, by hanging on to these clothes that not only kept him from getting a chill, but were invested with meaning and identity. 

And for two hours, I saw him observing from afar, separated from everyone else, not engaging in any way with anyone else and giving off a strong “don’t touch me” vibe.

I felt bad for him. He was there for some reason, obviously. One assumes it was because he was at least a little interested in jacking with other guys! But his clothing armored him and anchored him in another reality. It kept him from trusting, giving himself to the experience and attempting any kind of interaction.

For all I know, He may have been just as shy and standoffish if he’d worn only the underwear, or nothing at all, and I learned that attempting to protect himself with clothes is indeed an indication that a guy is in the wrong place, that he’s just not ready for the Jacks and perhaps never will be.

For my part, I learned that we should enforce the minimum participation rule and not allow guys to wimp out. It’s better they those guys not be in the club at all than be in the room while hiding uneasily behind their armor.

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