Author’s note: if you aren’t able to see the excerpt below the title, just be warned that the title should have served as a warning, and if you find yourself unable to handle a frank excerpt from my puberty, then move along. In fact, here’s a gif of a cute dog that will serve as an apology for you having read the title, and then we can be friends again:
Are they gone? Okay, now the rest of us can move forward.
I invented masturbation.
I obviously know I didn’t, but that’s what I thought when I was twelve years old. I might as well have. It’s not as though anyone teaches you to masturbate (thank god), it just kinda happens.
It all started innocently enough. Being a kid entering puberty is weird, and there’s no way to properly warn any other person about their impending puberty. I know my wife and I will have to start many conversations about puberty with our daughter and son someday, and even though we could be as descriptive as possible in what might happen, there’s nothing that can prepare you for the experience.
I was eleven when I got my first facial hairs. Fifth grade. They were stupid hairs, too. Just a few scattered on my chin and one very persistent hair on my upper lip. It wasn’t much, but it was just awkward enough that I couldn’t let it go. I had to learn how to shave. In fifth grade. All I knew about facial hair was my dad had a mustache that was older than me. This meant that facial hair and shaving were for men. I still wanted to play kickball and four square, but now I had to shave. What did it all mean?
And I became interested in girls. I had always been interested in girls, and had used the word “girlfriend” without any meaning, but now I wanted one to cuddle with. Ew. Cuddling is for your mom, not Stacy who sits two desks in front of you. Why do I want to cuddle Stacy?
And the random boners were the worst. Ask any guy. There was nothing sexual for me about fifth grade, but my body disagreed. My body was priming itself. I’d be sitting in religion class in Catholic school, barely paying attention, when my penis just stiffened up. What a stereotypical place to get your first memorable boner: Catholic school religion class. It hurt in the strangest way. It pressed against my uniform pants. It was embarrassing. I pleaded to go to the bathroom.
I had always wondered why the bathroom urinals ran from about mid-bellybutton to the floor. Up until this point, I had always pointed my stream straight at the floor, kinda aiming at a urinal cake to release the scent or pushing a chewed piece of gum around the drain. I never saw a use for the rest of the urinal that ran up to my bellybutton before that day. I was more than thankful for it. With my little boner in my hand, I forced a stream of pee out. (Luckily, guys always have to pee. We can anytime, anywhere. It’s that way for all of us up until our prostates disapprove, blocking this ability). It went straight ahead, kinda splashing me a little, forcing me to step back. And as the pee overcame the boner, my stream steadily fell down, slowly, until it came to rest on the pink urinal cake.
What was that? Why did my wiener go stiff? I contemplated these questions as I finished religion class.
At some point, my mom began a conversation with me about puberty. She gave me a book called “What’s Happening To Me?” which is an illustrated book that’s very realistic and factual about sexual changes and pubescent problems. It was a good book. And I did eventually read it. The first time I read it, however, was at the dinner table. We were all in good moods, and everyone was being funny. I decided it would be funny to read out of this book to everyone. I picked a random spot.
“What is mas-ter-bah-shon?”
I believe that’s how I pronounced it. I certainly didn’t get it right on the first try. My fourteen year old sister went pink in the face and tried to snatch the book away from me. My mother, being someone with a master’s degree in Victorian literature from Duke University, simply laughed and told me how to correctly pronounce “masturbation.” I continued to read the passage about masturbation while running away from my embarrassed sister. Under these circumstances, there was no way for me to absorb what I was reading. I still had never heard of what masturbation was, and I never revisited the passage, because it talked about touching yourself, which just sounded weird.
About a year later, the boners became more frequent, but not any more useful. They simply made me grateful for the design of Catholic school urinals. One night, I got one while I was trying to sleep. I was face down on my sheets. The boner went up. I kinda shifted my hips to itch it in a way, but this time, it felt good. I was surprised. Naturally, I kept going.
It’s really weird, thinking back. As an adult masturbator, you require imagery and the right situation to masturbate. Sometimes you need tools or a helper. It gets complicated. Back then, on that fateful night, I thought of nobody and nothing. It just felt good. This masturbation was pure. So I kept going and going.
When the inevitable happened, I panicked. I had no clue, at all, whatsoever, what had just happened to my weenie. There was goo everywhere. Until I turned on a light and looked at it, I thought there was a chance that it could be blood, like I hurt myself or something. Then I saw that it didn’t really have a color. It was just kinda clear and all over my PJ’s and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sheets. I slunk off to the bathroom to clean up and make sure I could still pee. I could, so I figured that I hadn’t broken anything.
As this “problem” involved my penis, and at that point in my life my penis was only for peeing, and seeing as how I could still pee, I told no one about this. I didn’t ask mom or dad, I didn’t ask my friends, I just accepted that it happened. And it felt good.
I did some research. With the aid of “What’s Happening To Me?” and the copies of “Our Bodies, Ourselves” and “The Joy of Sex” that stayed out in plain sight on our back porch and served as an implied sex talk, I finally figured out that I had masturbated, had something called an “orgasm,” and most boys experience a “wet dream” to kick off puberty. I didn’t have the wet dream, though. I just kicked off my own puberty by dry humping one of the Ninja Turtles. I didn’t have a wet dream until I was in my twenties, actually.
So, I didn’t actually invent masturbation after all. But I thought I had for a couple of days. Then I found out it was normal, and started doing it all the time. Then the imagery became involved, and Elle MacPherson was involved, Sports Illustrated swimsuit models were involved…it got worse as puberty marched on.
I remember having a session while I was in middle school, and I imagined a woman actually using her lips on me. It was a great turn on, but I thought afterward, “no woman would ever do THAT!”
So, I concede, I did not actually invent masturbation.
But I did invent oral sex.