Charles Bukowski was quite the character who Time Magazine in 1986 crowned as the “laureate of low-lives”, and this character came to mind when I was dragged into a discussion about sex at school yesterday. In order to spread the embarrassments all around, and maybe dilute them, I’m going to tell you lot about it, and I’m also going to tell you because I find it funny.
One of the girls claimed that she had never masturbated – imagine this delivered in a shocked and alarmed protest. It was as if there mere thought of girls masturbating was evidence of the low tone of us guys. This subject came up because Ben was teasing Abbie about masturbating all the time because of the boy in Drama that he has the hots for, and Abbie deflected the teasing over to the girl. She literally flew up on her feet, pointed at Abbie, and almost demanded an apology for levelling such a heinous accusation.
I was reminded of Maria’s response when I spoke to her about this very subject about two years ago, when I tried to ask if another female masturbation-denier was actually telling the truth. Yes, Maria and I can talk about these things. Not easily, and not with a lot of blushing on my part, but we can talk about it.
The me who asked had no clue what-so-ever about girls. Hell, I had no clue about boys, and I was one. You could still accuse me of having no clue, and the challenge would probably be true. That said, I do know that sometimes this clique I belong to get side-tracked into things that leave us all embarrassed and flustered when the low banter becomes more important than usual. Like yesterday, with the girl, that had consequences that instead of deflecting Abbie’s “accusation” made us run with it through the day so that this girl’s masturbatory practices was what everyone talked about.
In response to my questions two years ago, Maria cocked her head to the side, gave me a wry smile, and asked me a counter question. “If Kalle (a mutual male friend) came and said he never masturbated, would you believe him?” Of course not. This was something I knew because the teased/bragged/fantasized about it with their friends. Kalle was one of the more forceful braggarts. So, the idea was silly. “There you go, Maria said. Everyone does it, and if someone says they don’t, they’re lying.”
After that, Maria started teasing me about these questions, and spent about half an hour coming up with euphemisms for stimulation, male or female, and mostly centering around my interest in the subject. Which was part of the fun for her. After, I thought along the same lines that I did today and wondered why there was a difference between girl sex and boy sex. Why did girls hide their sexuality, and why did the boys not?
Which brings me to why I thought of Charles Bukowski. I am quite positive that if I had the opportunity I would have followed in Charles Bukowski’s foot-steps. He had trodden a wide path of debauchery and wantonness, after all, and except for a lack of access, I probably could have been quite the horrible person from age twelve when the sexual beast awoke in me.
Maybe it is so that sex is less important for boys because we don’t have to live with the biological consequences of sex. Or maybe it is because sex isn’t that important to me, so that I can imagine having it without a lot of loaded issues around it. Maybe I’m generalising things to cover all guys when I think about my relationship to the activity.
For girls, and maybe that is where the main difference is, the consequence of sex is profound in that they can become pregnant, and maybe as this danger has been reduced with the invention of the pill and condoms and all, what has been carried over into popular culture is this idea that teens shouldn’t have sex because their heads are not ready. Biologically speaking, we are, of course, and biology rules in the end. But culture now says that sex is bad, particularly if you’re below twenty. Maybe that’s why it is more likely for a girl to flatly deny that she masturbates, than for a boy to do it, and maybe that’s why a girl could expect to get away with that kind of a denial when a boy wouldn’t?
Mark and I have a beautiful kind of love-life where we can be utterly and intransigently furious with each other, and still end up in a heap in the sofa in front of the telly at night, all lovey-dovey and twee and touchy.
Neither of us are really good at holding grudges and nursing injustices, and while we can go full-throttle when we argue, when it is over it is over and we can spend time mending fences and putting band-aid on emotional bruises. Mark, being much more emotionally level than me, mainly becomes annoyed with my ‘hysterics’, and I think that is what drives our argument for the most part. If it wasn’t for me, the arguments would be over much quicker.
Yesterday was spent being snide to each other through a car trip that ended up utterly ruined by the weather. The last days have seen some snow-fall, and as usual the country falls apart when that happens. However, my parents arrive on Thursday, and there are a lot of things to do before they arrive, and that was what we were doing. We had to get the car out and fetch a lot of things so that we’re prepared for tomorrow and the next week.
When we came through the door at home I think that we were both so relieved that the bad mood just poured off and we ended up watching a film in our old hideous sofa.
There was some levity when I told him about school and the discussion about sex we had, and for an hour you basically had two gay boys trying to think and talk about the strange concept of sex amongst girls. It becomes a very academic discussion, after all, that is both coloured by an alarming amount of ignorance and a funny realisation that we’re actually talking about girl sex. And that we’re so academically minded about the whole thing adds another level of hysterical ‘wrongness’ about the whole thing.
Normal boys snicker about girls having sex because they want it and they are embarrassed. Us two, we giggle about it because we’re so ignorant about it, and don’t understand it. You both have the cultural conditioning that we’re talking about sex, which is embarrassing, and then you have the curiosity about something that does not affect us, and then you have the gaping ignorance about the subject. It makes for a strange conversation indeed.
The very best part of life with Mark is these talks, festooned as they are by our ignorance and hang-ups. We seem to have the talks about everything and anything, and they’re filled with googling and searching the internet for answers. They become a little research project in their own right, and while we may be utterly ignorant about the subject, we can go and read about it and talk about it.
The only thing that we rarely really talk about are books I’ve read because Mark is not a great reader of fiction. Oh, he reads a lot but he prefers to read non-fiction, and I struggle to think of a novel that he’s read while we’ve been together. That doesn’t mean that he doesn’t indulge me and ask questions when I go off about some book I have read, but it’s as if he is humouring me by asking perfunctory questions and letting me prattle on about books. I think he does it because he knows I love books, and he wants to please me. I don’t think there’s a great interest in him for the subject.
It’s not a discussion, more of a monologue on my part, and he does his spousal duty of asking somewhat intelligent question to satiate my need to get a book off my chest. When we talk about things that interest us both, there’s a whole other level to it, and those talks are the best ever because we play this mental match of tennis where we spur each other on.
Over the next few days I’m likely to be very busy, and will probably be mostly on my Twitter and my tumblr blog because I can do those on my phone. Smartphones do not lend themselves well to write long screeds like this, and I doubt I will have time anyways – so expect the activity here to drop off a bit.
Or, maybe I’ll find I need to vent here. I do not know. But just a heads up that if I’m inactive, I’m spending the time with my parents and Auntie and Mark and trying to navigate the strange family that is mine. Wish me luck?