NOTE: In order to keep this letter from upsetting more sensitive readers, a colloquial term referring to tumescent private parts has been replaced with the word "badger." What term? ...We think you'll figure it out.
I have quite an embarrassing problem, and I'll be blunt and get straight to the point: I have a [badger] problem. You see, I'm going to college in the fall and I have yet ever to date a girl, nor have I been intimate with any girl before. But any time that I get physically close to a girl, my downstairs area gets fairly excited. For example, I went to prom with one of my friends, and at first when we danced we weren't too close to each other, but once we got to the slow dancing we got closer, and that's when I got a [badger]. I felt so uncomfortable, especially because I had no feelings for this girl. I wasn't sure if she could feel it or not because I tried to keep some distance, but still, I felt totally awkward. And I have this problem in even less physical settings, such as playfully holding hands with a female friend or merely talking about sex with a girl.
So pretty much I want to know if this could be a potential problem for when I finally start dating and whatnot. I'm almost positive when I kiss a girl for the first time I'll get a [badger], and I don't want her to take it the wrong way. Do girls feel awkward when that happens to them, and do they always think that it means I want to get intimate with them? I don't want to send the wrong message to any of them. And lastly, is there anything I can do to stop this from happening? I don't want to struggle with this problem as I start to date.
Stop it? Stop it?! But... but... don't you realize that your body is working exactly the way it's supposed to? Even if it is working, um, overtime.
Because while yes, they can pop up at inopportune and embarrassing times, [badgers] aren't a problem at all; they're a normal, natural, desirable part of being a grown-ass man. (Seriously, though you may not believe me now, it is far, far better to have a million [badgers] you don't need, than to need a [badger] and not have one.) And before you do anything else, you can take comfort in the common wisdom about any and all body-related anxieties: whatever it is, it's a billion times more noticeable to you than it'll ever be to anyone else.
Basically, girls aren't equipped with special radar that detects the state of your junk, and they're not watching your pants to see what pops up, which means that most of your unwanted [badgers] will remain a well-kept secret between you and your wiener. (Except in the most extreme circumstances, in which case you should either a) hide the evidence by putting something on your lap, or b) claim that it's actually an optical illusion caused by the pleats on your pants.)
And as for dating, here's the deal: yes, girls will probably notice if you get a [badger] during, say, a makeout with full-body press, and yes, an inexperienced girl may be initially surprised when it happens—not in a bad way, but in an OMG EVERYTHING THEY TOLD US IN HEALTH CLASS IS ACTUALLY REAL way. Because hey, coming into sexy contact with unfamiliar body parts is always a little weird the first time around. But a girl who is making out with you is a girl who will a) fully expect your body to react this way to physical contact, b) be old enough to know that you can't control it, and c) understand that it doesn't mean anything except that your hormones are firing on all cylinders. (And ladies, take note: if you give a guy a hard time about this, you don't deserve the pleasure of dating one. Whether you're male or female, being mature enough to date means being mature enough to be comfortable and cool with the way other people's bodies work.)
So relax, have fun, and don't worry about the [badgers]. Remember that there's nothing wrong with your body—and that anyone who says differently doesn't deserve to enjoy it. Remind yourself as needed that your "problem" will settle down on its own as you get older and more experienced. And until it does, you can take comfort in the fact that every male person in the entire world—from Teddy Roosevelt to Peyton Manning to every last one of People's Sexiest Men Alive—has been where you are now, and came out none the worse for it.
Got some supportive reassurance for our Sparkler? Tell us in the comments! And to get advice from Auntie, email her at email@example.com.