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Power Chapter Ten: Psych Subject

How far will Mark go to win a competition? And what will he learn about himself?
We were paid twenty-five dollars an hour for each session. One Saturday we were told that we would be paid two hundred dollars to take a day-long battery of tests. The results would go into a database where we were identified only by a code number. Only Dr. Wagoner, the head of the Psych Department, had the key to the code. She would give us our results if we wanted them.

My first actual job was in some advanced class that was studying motivations. It was all over my head. They were talking in technical terms and I couldn’t follow any of it. Neither could any of the others. We were a total of five guys and five girls.

The teacher, a woman named Farrell, talked for less than a minute to each of us. She asked our ages (from my eighteen to one woman’s twenty-two). Our sexual orientation (everyone but one girl said “straight;” she said “not really sure.”) When had we lost our virginity? One girl said she lost hers at prom night in high school. That sounded about right. The rest of us had lost our virginity during freshman week at the college.

Two students were chosen as team coaches. They picked teams of two guys and two girls each. I didn’t know any of the other paid subjects. We were told that the winning team would get one hundred dollars. Money is a great motivator and I was ready.

Each team had to sing a song as a group. We did “Rubber Ducky” to a chorus of laughs. The other team won that round. Next we were given one minute to prepare and then perform an interpretive dance. We lost again. I was beginning to think that the money was out of our hands.

Then we did “pole and a hole.” Each girl placed a wooden ring at her crotch and held it tight with her legs. The guys put a pole between their legs. We had to put the pole in the hole. Our team won. Now it was two to one.

Then it was paper airplane flying. We were beginning to get really competitive. The other team won; one of the guys was an aeronautical engineer so we never had a chance.

Behind three to one, we huddled. We had to win the next one. And we did.

The next task was for three members of the team to remove the outer clothing of the fourth member using only their teeth. Every team member had to participate equally. We drew straws and I was selected as the subject of our team. The girl who got disvirginated at her prom was the subject for the other team.

The other team went first, and finished quickly. We still won. The second girl on their team hung back, and Miss Farrell deducted points for that. Hearing about the deduction I told my team to go at it, everybody participating. One girl removed my shoes and socks with her teeth. The other girl bit off my shirt buttons and pulled my shirt off. The guy did not hesitate. He undid my belt and pants, and pulled them down with his teeth. Three to two! We were still in it.

The last task counted double. If we could win it, we would get the one hundred dollars. Both teams were eager.

The team members still dressed had to remove their outer garments. Each member of the team had to make out for one minute with every other member of the team.

I took one of the girls in my arms and we made out passionately for a minute. I tried to keep myself soft, but was half-hard by the end. The other guy made out with the other girl for a minute. When they were done she was panting. That was probably assisted by the guy’s hand on her crotch. The other team had followed suit, and it looked like it was dead even.

We switched girls. I took my cue from the first guy and had my hand on her crotch the whole time. She went from panting to moaning to a scream. She had actually had an orgasm while I was making out with her. The other pair on our team did okay, but the girl kept brushing the guy’s hand away from her crotch. The other team actually crept into the lead. Both of the guys were wearing boxers and the girls pulled their hard dicks out and stroked them during the session. We had to do something big to win.

Time for the last switch. The two girls on the other team started making out and took off one another’s bras. Our girls did the same and their hands were on each other’s crotches. The other guy on our team (Ben was his name) put his arms around me and then his tongue was in my mouth. I kissed him back, as passionately as I could. He was a really good kisser and I was completely hard. The girls on the other team were heckling the guys. I refused to break to see why. Ben hooked his fingers in the waistband of my briefs and pulled them down, so I removed his briefs. His hand went to my dick, so I grabbed his and started pumping.

The instructor called “Time.” The other two guys still had their boxers on. The girls were berating them for being pussies. They had only kissed chastely on the lips. We had won!

We all put on our clothes and the teacher asked our team what had motivated us to win. Ben said it was the money. One of the girls said it was the competition, the thrill of competing and winning. The other girl and I agreed.

The teacher thanked us and gave each of us twenty-five dollars. She then dismissed us and started talking to the class about monetary gain not being the sole motivator. We all left together.

The girls on our team (Natalie and Lisa) thanked me and Ben for being willing to go as far as we did. I asked Ben if he had ever kissed a guy before. He said he had done more than that since getting to Anthony. He was a virgin when he got here last year; in the past year he’s done most things with most kinds of people. He really liked girls but was not disgusted by the idea of sex with a guy. I told him I had kissed a guy once in a game of truth or dare; no reason to bring up the mutual masturbation with Jay. We all exchanged phone numbers. As we departed the two girls on the other team were lecturing the guys on team spirit.

The next psych subject job was strange. It involved just two guys and two girls. I was the put in a booth and a wire was attached to my foot. I couldn’t see what anyone else was doing. Suddenly I felt an electric shock from the wire. It wasn’t painful, but it was surprising. After a few seconds there was another shock, this time stronger. It hurt, but I didn’t cry out. I was able to keep from crying out until about the fifth or sixth shock which really hurt badly. I screamed out “What the fuck is going on?” That was followed by an even stronger shock. I yanked the wire from my foot and stormed out of the booth.

I never found out who was administering the shocks. One of the girls was standing next to another booth and yelling, “Come here motherfucker, I’m going to kill you.” We were thanked for our time and dismissed.

I was paid the hourly amount for an interview with Dr. Wagoner. She explained that the purpose of the testing was to determine sexual orientation. Rather than ask us what our sexual orientation was, they had shown pictures to us and measured pupil dilation. The more aroused by the picture, the more our pupils dilated. The pictures had seemed to be in random order. They included puppies, sunsets, naked women, naked men, naked children, city skylines and what not. We had been shown other similar pictures and some films while undergoing an MRI. The films were a mix of political speeches, people having sex in various combinations, herding cattle, and other stuff. What areas of our brains were excited was recorded and linked to the film or picture.

We were also asked questions while hooked up to a polygraph. The questioner started with some basics, including some in which I was instructed to lie. Then it was on to more personal questions. Did I consider myself straight, bi or gay? Straight, obviously. Did I ever masturbate? Yes. Had I ever had vaginal intercourse with a woman? Yes. So forth and so on. There were questions about what I was interested in doing. There were questions about being physical with another member of my own sex. I felt relieved when the questions about that went past masturbating and kissing to oral sex (never!), anal sex (never!) and bisexual orgies (never!). Did I want to have vaginal intercourse with a woman in the future? You bet your ass I did. Did I want to have anal intercourse with a woman in the future? I had never thought about it. I think the needle jumped on that one. Did I want to have oral sex with a woman in the future? Absolutely. Did I ever fantasize about sex with women? All the time. Then similar questions substituting men for women. The session had lasted nearly two hours.

Dr. Wagoner said that they had developed a scale from zero to one hundred. Zero was absolutely completely and only straight. One hundred was absolutely completely and only gay. The highest score ever recorded was ninety-seven. So, even gay people had some interest in heterosexual sex? That surprised me. The lowest score ever recorded was four. I nearly fell off the chair. You mean the jocks who boasted about fucking a different woman every night and who were offended if another guy said something positive about their appearance actually might have some interest in the same sex?

The professor said that fifty would be a true bisexual. Out of more than seven thousand records there were two fifties. They had concluded that forty to sixty was probably the range for most bisexuals. There were relatively few, but it was not extremely rare.

A score of seventy to one hundred was considered gay while a score of zero to thirty was considered straight. She showed me a graph with a double bell curve. It slid off to near zero from the mid-thirties to the mid-sixties, then there was a smaller bell at the higher numbers.

My score was twenty-three. I asked what that meant, and if a twenty-three was “more gay” than a twenty-two.

“You have a preference for women. It is a real preference, not just a slight one. You could go your entire life having sex only with women. You probably won’t. You are open to a physical, or even a romantic, relationship with another man. If you have a strong emotional attachment to a woman you’re more likely to have fewer experiences with men. You are a typical straight man.”

I asked if that meant normal. “There is no such thing,” Dr. Wagoner replied. “Typical is a better word for it. You are definitely neither gay nor bisexual by preference. That makes you a typical straight man. The difference between twenty-two and twenty-three is nothing because the person administering a particular test might have had a slight influence on the outcome.”

She finished by telling me that I was free to discuss my results with anyone I wished, but she never would. I asked her if I could come back if I had questions. “Yes, of course. You won’t be paid for that, but I’m more than willing to schedule time with you if you want to discuss this further.” I needed to internalize this some.

Later that day I ran into Ben from my first psych subject job. He said he was a twenty-nine, thus a typical straight man. I told him I was a twenty-three, thus the same. He said that Lisa was a seven but Natalie a thirty-six. I told him I didn’t want him sharing my score with anyone without my permission, and was disappointed that he had told me the girls’ scores. I hoped he felt properly chastened.

I had a really weird job late in the semester. I was brought into a room with about twenty girls and told to undress. By that time I think I had lost all sense of modesty. I mean, I wasn’t going to fuck a girl in front of my mother, but that was sensibility rather than modesty.

When I was naked the teacher said that the women were going to try and give me an erection. I could say no at any time. My task was to try and stay soft. I failed miserably. One girl came up to me and stroked my chest while another stroked the inside of my thigh. Soft was beginning to disappear. They left and one girl kissed me while another stroked my hardening dick. I tried to think about having a root canal but that didn’t help much. Seconds after another girl’s mouth was on my cock I was rock hard. The teacher thanked me and told me to take my clothes into the bathroom and get dressed, and do whatever else I wanted to do in privacy. Of course, I jerked off then got dressed.

The next day I was brought into a room with about twenty guys and told to undress. The instructions were the same. One guy stroked my nipples while another stroked the inside of my thigh. I had very little reaction. They took it slower. Eventually the guys working on me were naked. I had a bit more reaction, but only semi-hard. Then a guy who was naked and hard came up to me and began licking and sucking at my nipples. His hand brushed my cock and that was all she wrote. I sprung a boner. The teacher told me to take my clothes into the bathroom, etc. I felt ashamed but I jerked off anyway.

Few of the other psych subject jobs involved nudity or sex of any kind. I figured that, despite what Freud had written, psychology couldn’t possibly be all about sex.

I went back to see Dr. Wagoner. She had graciously made half an hour in her schedule to talk to me. She thanked me for my work as a psych subject; I had gotten top marks for cooperation and open-mindedness from all of the instructors. That wasn’t what I was there about.

I went straight to the point. “Dr. Wagoner, you said that my score was twenty-three, and I was a typical straight man. That’s the top level analysis. What else can you tell me about men whose scores are similar to mine?” She thought for a minute, and then asked if I really wanted to know. “That’s why I’m here.”

So she told me. “Mark, you are straight but not a fanatic about it. That’s good, because most men who are fanatics about it are actually very conflicted. They have natural curiosity but suppress it so brutally that they are even able to pass polygraph exams about their desires. In all honesty, we consider fifteen to twenty-five the healthiest range for straight men.

“The probability that you have already done some experimenting with another male is high. In fact, it is very high.” I looked at my lap while thinking about the all-nighter with Jay. “We have a very sexually-charged atmosphere here at Anthony. You have doubtless seen couples having genital-genital or oral-genital sex in public. Some students foolishly go naked most of the time thinking that it makes them more attractive. Other students usually find them easy, but not necessarily attractive.

“You live in a dorm with seventy testosterone-poisoned young men. All of you are naked or in underwear. Reports from the senior residents are that about half of the incidents of same-gender sex involve only two people, but the other half involves groups. Once a group has passed a threshold the arousal takes on a life of its own.” I thought about my friends jerking off into one guy’s mouth. She was right.

“Your destiny is probably to fall in love with a woman to whom you will be more or less faithful. Before that happens you are very likely to have sex with many women, and probably some level of sexual contact with several men. A lot of that will take place at Anthony. This is a safe environment for as much experience and experimenting as you want.”

I think I felt better, but wasn’t so sure. After all, it had only been the one time with Jay, and we really hadn’t had sex. The human ability for self-deception was still unknown to me.

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