Playboys at the corner deli
A MASTURBATION STORY
I don’t remember having much association with my genitalia when I was really young. My most solid memory dates back to being 10 years old when my grandparents owned a corner deli and lived out the back.
From the minute I was born my grandparents and I formed a special connection. I would spend a lot of time at the corner deli. I’d stay overnight, get up early and help them in the shop packing up the lolly bags (you know, when you could still buy 50c bags from your local deli filled with teeth, milk bottles and caramel buttons).
I was surrounded by a bounty of chocolate, ice creams, crisp packets, cold drinks and magazines. I knew where everything was in the shop and I would sit up on a stool behind the counter watching all the colourful characters waft in and out whilst restocking gum packets.
I found it most interesting watching men awkwardly linger around the nudie magazine section; of course I’d only ever glanced at the glossy covers, never having the nerve to reach across and grab one out of its plastic sleeve.
One weekend on a particularly busy lunch rush in the shop, I’d been ushered out the back to amuse myself. Not knowing what to do, I began to snoop around. My grandparents would leave stacks of unsold magazines in piles near all the empty crates and boxes.
It was there that I noticed them – a stack of Playboys piled on top of each other with the plastic ripped open and the top of the front cover ripped off. It felt like they were calling out to me, “Jasmin, come play!” So I took one, plopped myself on the floor feeling fairly confident my grandparents would be too busy buttering buns and taking cash to worry about me.
As I flicked through the glossy pages I could feel the blood rushing through my body. Something was happening to me and it felt really, really good. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. These older, sexy women with beautiful curves contorting their bodies and doing things that were really turning me on. I admired their full breasts, the way they were touching themselves and looking at me.
I got an incredible urge to explore my own naked body, so much so that I laid down on the dusty floor on my stomach with my chin resting on one of the pages and putting my hands in my pants started to rub myself. I was flushed and excited and then suddenly I was staring at a pair of scuffed shoes and hearing a thundering “what are you doing?!?!”
It was my grandmother, standing there her voice and face awash with a cocktail of shock, anger and embarrassment. She grabbed the magazine off me, yelled something to my grandfather about putting the “dirty” magazines away and walked off. Just like that, my excitement and curiosity had turned into an overwhelming sense of guilt. I was caught masturbating and masturbating to women (the jackpot for my incredibly conservative grandmother).
Not another word was spoken about “the incident”. My dear grandmother would not have known what to tell my mum and she is of the generation where things are swept away quietly, not confronted. I remember that it was impossible for me to sweep away the embarrassment and guilt I felt. I would have cried quietly on my own and probably dreaded going back to the shop.
I see “the incident” a defining moment for it made me feel incredibly ashamed of masturbation, as if I were doing something really, really bad. I remember feeling just as bad a few years later when I had my first shoplifting experience but now I look back on that occasion and see that what I was doing, simply exploring the body I was given, was something very natural.
I don’t blame my grandmother for her reaction, I think even more liberal folk would react with the same knee-jerk explosion today but these early experiences around sex frame what we believe to be right and wrong, moral and immoral.
They set the tone of expectation around what is deemed acceptable and unacceptable, about what makes us a “tart” and “a good girl”. We aren’t told that even though it’s uncomfortable for parents to witness it is still a natural part of life. Instead we’re told that our own exploration and discovery of our sexual self is dirty, bad, wrong, unacceptable, immoral, disgusting, rude.
Following “the incident”, I didn’t stop masturbating of course because it felt good but it was something I never felt comfortable discussing in my conservative family nor was it something that seemed appropriate to talk about amongst friends at my private girls’ school.
Fast forward to now, most of my family and all my friends are aware of my willingness and passion to open the discussion around sex, but having done a quick mental recollection of the many discussions I’ve had with them all, I realise that masturbation is still something that even I gloss over.
One of our gorgeous BAD* Girl tribe who came to our last meetup put forward the suggestion of discussing masturbation and I’m so glad she did. WE ALL DO IT! So let’s talk about it some more. So in two nights time at our very last meetup for the year, we’ll be dedicating two hours to it because sorry grandma, with or without Playboys, I'm gonna keep masturbating. It's completely healthy, normal and pretty goddam satisfying, don’t ya think?