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 my early teens when my grandparents owned a corner deli and lived out the back. I’ve always been incredibly close to my grandparents and as such I spent a lot of time there. I’d stay overnight, get up early and help them in the shop, packing up the lolly bags (when you could still buy 50c bags from your local deli filled with teeth, milk bottles and raspberries). 

I was surrounded by a bounty of chocolate, ice cream wrappers, crisp packets, cold drinks and magazines. I knew where everything was in the shop and I used to love sitting up on a stool behind the counter just watching. I found it oddly fun watching men awkwardly linger around the nudie magazine section; of course I’d only ever glanced at the glossy covers, never having the gumption to reach across and grab one out of its plastic sleeve.

On a particularly busy day in the shop, I’d been ushered out back to amuse myself. As I walked out to where the crates and empty boxes sat looking for something to do, I noticed a stack of Playboys piled on top of each other with the plastic ripped open. It felt like they were calling out to me, much like the chocolates did on a daily basis. So I took one, found a cosy hidden spot and flicked excitedly through the pages, the blood rushing through my body.

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 lay down 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.

We all know hindsight is a beautiful thing but it’s our reactions to experiences at the times they occur that ultimately shape what we believe and who we become. I can now look back on that occasion and see that what I was doing – exploring the body I was given – was something very natural and yet the reaction of my grandmother made me feel like I’d done something entirely shameful. I don’t blame my grandmother for her reaction, I think even more liberal folk may 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.

We hope that as we grow older we also grow the courage to challenge what we’ve learnt and try to make sense of what to believe, who we are and what we deem to be right for us. When we're young most of us are told that we shouldn't touch our genitals and that masturbating is wrong. I'm guessing you know what I think about this, though :) Yep, it's a total load of utter crap. Sorry grandma, but I truly do believe that masturbation is natural, healthy and absolutely necessary for discovering and understanding the beautiful bodies we've been given.


image by Guy Bourdin

image by Guy Bourdin

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Jasmin xx