We were watching TV, Two and a Half Men or Big Bang Theory, I can’t recall. I was playing poker on my phone, not sure how the conversation started in the first place. Somebody on whatever show was on must’ve brought it up. One of the cats was lying on my lap and I was on a roll, finally winning some money back.
Jackie said, “So, how often do you masturbate?”
“What?” I chuckled, looking at her briefly and turning back to my poker game. I had to fold that hand. I turned back to her. She was waiting for a response, her serious gaze cloaked a smile not far behind. “Once in a while,” I said.
“Once a week…? Two weeks?”
“I don’t know. I don’t…I don’t have a set schedule. Once in a while.”
“Where do you do it?”
“What?” I chuckled again.
“Where do you do it?”
“Where…?” I muttered, fiddling with my phone and folding another hand in advance.
“You do it in the shower, don’t you?”
“No, I um…”
“Oh god, in bed? Do you do it in our bed?”
“You watch porn in our bed!”
I wish I had a snapshot of my face so I could forever remember the moment, my stuttering shame. I think I was smiling, smiling like an imbecile, but I’ll never know for sure. I said, “I don’t watch porn.”
We paused. My eyes darted around the room and landed on my phone, still in my hand, but I’d long been kicked out of the poker table, as if they knew I had more important things at hand. I sighed, “I do it in the bathroom, on the toilet.”
“Yes,” I muttered, pushing the cat off my lap. She cursed at me on her way down and I don’t think I was smiling any more, but I’m willing to bet that I still looked like an imbecile. I began to tell her everything, while trying to avoid any direct eye contact, of course. “I sit on the toilet,” I sighed, “Every once in a while I do it, I…I close my eyes, you know? And yeah, I…”
“Jerk off with your eyes closed?”
“On the toilet, yes…” I dropped my head slightly and closed my eyes, but that was ruined. So much for closing my eyes in peace. Then came the voice in my head, “Just smile, idiot! Can’t turn back now, so just smile. You can still turn it around on her, you know?” I did so right away. “How often do you masturbate?” I exclaimed, turning toward her frantically, almost rising off the couch.
“I don’t anymore, vibrator broke about a year ago.”
We paused. I turned away from her again. It was a rather long pause too, because I remember thinking that all was over, turning my attention to the TV, hoping another character on whatever show was on would give us a new topic of conversation.
“So,” said Jackie, “What do you think of?”
“Think of what?”
“When you sit on the toilet with your eyes closed?”
“It’s imagination!” I exclaimed, raising both arms in the air, and added, “I imagine things.”
“Yes, I picture…”
“No particular person…What the hell? Who would you think of when your vibrator was working?”
“You,” she replied firmly.
“Aw, that’s so sweet babe.”
“If not you, then Justin Timberlake.”
“Well, there you go! I bet he was really good with his tongue!”
We both laughed, sincerely awkward. “How about you?” She said.
“I don’t know,” I sighed, “I picture fictional characters, sometimes old school actresses…” We paused. My eyes darted around the room. I said, “This whole conversation reminds me of a scene in a Woody Allen movie, not sure which one, but in it he explains how he prefers masturbation to the real thing. He explains how, the night before, he’d conjured up a threesome with Elizabeth Taylor and Sophia Loren, and he says, ‘As far as I know, that was the first time both actresses appeared in something together!’ “
Jackie said nothing. The conversation was over, or so it seemed. “Thanks Woody!” I thought.
Later on that night, I stood in the bathroom for several minutes, staring at the toilet. I think I was smiling again, images of nameless breasts running a marathon in my head, Elizabeth Taylor making out with Sophia Loren.
“Ahem! What’re you up to in there?” Jackie exclaimed from the living room.
“Just saying my goodbyes,” I whispered and thought to myself, “Well, that’s that…”
Walking out of the bathroom and down the hallway, back to Jackie, that same voice surfaced again in my head, saying, “Fuck Justin Timberlake!”