It all started when I was 12 1/2. I had always been a curious child, ready to indulge in "I'll show you mine if you show me yours" games at any time. Maybe the curiosity stemmed from seeing an uncircumcised neighbor years earlier, discovering the fact that every boy's penis looked different. Whatever the reason, I was playing one of these games with a younger relative during the summer of 1970. Somewhere in my subconscious I knew getting an erection was special, so we were gently squeezing each other's penises so we both could get erect (actually, I always seemed to be erect during these games — my relative needed a bit of coaxing). Suddenly, a drop of "something" appeared at the tip of my erection. We were both very startled. He asked me what it was. It wasn't clear or watery like urine. I didn't know what it was. So we quickly stopped playing our game, and I stored this incident deep in my memory.
The eighth grade in my small elementary school always went away on a 4-day trip, traditionally to the farms and beaches of Long Island, New York. But when my class was scheduled to go in October 1970, our host decided to close her small hotel, so the school had to come up with another locale for the trip. The historical solution was Williamsburg, Virginia. A traditional yellow school bus would be insufficient for the long ride from New York City to Williamsburg, so the school had to hire a standard bus. The larger bus demanded more students, so we were accompanied by the seventh grade. For the most part, we were allowed to choose our roommates (four to a room), but two eighth graders, "Bert" and "Lee," were left out on their own. Bert was the class scapegoat, teased mercilessly by the class bullies, and Lee was the oldest and biggest in the class with a couple of odd quirks. They were paired with two seventh graders. While most of us played innocent games in our rooms or watched TV at night, Bert and Lee decided to show shadows on the walls...without the use of their hands! News of their shadowy erectile images spread like wildfire amongst the boys, which gave Bert a moment of popularity. On the last evening of the trip, while most students were at the "last night" party, a few of us went to Lee's room to watch him demonstrate what he and Bert had been doing the previous nights — but for some reason he couldn't quite get things, um, up. That night, when it was just the four of them in the room, Bert decided he needed to do more than just show shadows. He started squeezing his penis with his hands. Dumbfounded by this new development, Lee asked what he was doing, but Bert was too absorbed to go into any details, until the obvious happened. He ejaculated, and he asked Lee to pass him a tissue. Various versions of the story disagree on what happened next, but that's not important.
This story passed around the boys with the greatest of detail on our way back to New York. It must have been amusing to the few boys who had already discovered masturbation. For those of us who did not have a clue, it was a major revelation. Masturbation became a hot topic! Surprisingly, it took me several months before I had the courage to try it myself, but one January Sunday morning in 1971 — having stayed home from church with a slight cold — I decided to try masturbating by rubbing my penis against my mattress, as if I were humping it. Memories of my first ejaculation are vague, beyond remembering something sticky on my pajama bottoms. Immediately, an afternoon ritual was born. Every day, as soon as I got home from school (and before anyone else arrived home), I ran to my bedroom, dropped my trousers, and masturbated by humping the bed until I ejaculated. I went through tissues like crazy during this period. Many of my classmates were totally unashamed about masturbating, and we shared many personal details with each other. I remember Lee telling me how he looked at his semen under his "junior scientist" home microscope. Not to be outdone, I had to try the same thing — and I telephoned him right after, excitedly telling him I could see my sperm moving. I knew several others masturbated the same way I did, but there were circumstances when I wanted to masturbate but couldn't just "go to bed." Instead, I found I could get the same sensations by rubbing my underwear gently against the bottom of my penis. I gradually discovered wrapping my hand around my penis in the standard "Fist" grip was even more fun. While I regret not discovering masturbation on my own, I am very proud I figured out the "Fist" on my own! I tried to tell Lee about it, but he still liked humping the mattress. Even with our openness, no one ever considered mutual masturbation, although given the right circumstances and a bit of coaxing, Lee or Bert would be willing to show off their erections. (Both were well endowed for young teens).
During my first year or so of masturbating, I did it every day, usually in the bathroom, developing my own "Stop-and-Go" method. I would bring myself to the brink of orgasm using the standard Fist grip, stop, and then ever so gently rub that "sweet spot" on the bottom of my penis, just under the head, with my finger, again and again bringing myself to the brink, and then stopping. This was probably a leftover from my mattress-humping/underwear-rubbing days. To this day, I still find that spot to be the most sensitive part of my penis. Once a day was usually enough for me, but there was one Saturday from those early years I remember masturbating 3 times, which stood as a personal record for many years. I was almost discovered by my mother during my third session that day, since our bathroom door did not lock. I did experiment with soap, water, Vaseline, and other substances as lubricants, but I eventually settled on just stroking and caressing with my bare hand and finger, even though I am circumcised.
Things changed once I got to high school. While we still made jokes about masturbation, no one ever talked about it seriously, and none of my high school friends would ever have entertained masturbating together. I did find out one of my good friends had masturbated years before we met with someone with whom he was no longer friends, but he attributed the act to early adolescent curiosity. It was during this period I decided, for reasons I have now forgotten, that I was masturbating too much. I cut back to once every 4 days, even using a calendar to indicate when I ejaculated — an "I" for intentional masturbation, and an "O" for out-of-my-control, like a wet-dream. I still played voyeuristic games with neighbors and relatives, but they weren't my peers, and we really weren't masturbating (although I always seemed to end up having an orgasm, which fascinated a few kids, and made me worry I suffered from the dreaded premature ejaculation). Still, I enjoyed masturbation very much, and I remember vividly the strangest place I have ever masturbated: walking through the woods by a pond. (Yes, I was walking AND masturbating simultaneously, tempted into it by a pair of white polyester trousers that were a bit too tight, giving me a huge erection. It was the 1970s, and tight polyester trousers were "in" — even though that day my penis was not!) It still amazes me how I avoided ejaculating on my trousers or my shoes.
College wasn't much better for being serious about masturbation. When I first arrived, I thought I should "grow up" and stop masturbating altogether. That lasted about two weeks! I still preferred masturbating in the bathroom, so I never worried about being interrupted. Still, no one discussed masturbation seriously, and although there were telltale signs my freshman roommate masturbated (also in the bathroom), the subject was taboo, and I felt I was one of only a few still doing it so regularly. Brief relationships sophomore year and senior year taught me a tremendous amount about sex, love, sexuality, and self-control. (I still ejaculated sooner than I wanted, but I learned the great benefits of the "Stop-and-Go" technique can be applied outside of masturbation.) Masturbation was still my major sexual outlet during my college years. It was during college I first heard the term "Onanism," derived from the Biblical story of Onan, the man who would not impregnate his dead brother's wife, and "spilled his seed." I have read Genesis 38:6-10 many times and still cannot fathom how it is a condemnation of masturbation. A condemnation of the rhythm method, perhaps, or the dire consequences of disobeying your father — but not masturbation!
After college, things finally changed. For whatever reasons, some of my friends and I started talking about masturbation seriously, admitting we still did masturbate — even in our 20s, even when in relationships. We talked about when and how we started (13-14 years old seemed the standard age), our initial fears and guilt (some of my friends thought they had broken something inside when they first ejaculated), myths we had lead ourselves to believe, attempts to stop (always failing), and on rare occasions where and how (it had never occurred to me to try the shower before one of these talks). Ironically, we never talked about how frequently we masturbated, which still seems to be a point of embarrassment. The only exception was a work colleague who admitted he indulged in his favorite pastime every other day. These adult discussions finally made me realize that the old joke "98% of all boys masturbate, and the other 2% lie" is probably not a joke but the truth! I finally started to relax and took a freer view to masturbating: masturbating whenever I wanted, with one exception — never on Sundays (or, more specifically, never 24 hours before Service, or not until 24 hours after). Even with our openness, I still have never masturbated with any of my heterosexual friends, and have only rarely masturbated with a few homosexual friends, and only when they were not involved in relationships. While these encounters have been physically and emotionally rewarding, strengthening our friendships, they have not occurred with the kind of frequency for which I have hoped. The most memorable of these infrequent sessions occurred on the occasion of my 33-1/3 birthday. (Hey, we celebrate a quarter of a century, so why not a third?) I invited two friends to my apartment to celebrate, and after dinner, we decided to watch a "safe sex" porno video. We ended up mimicking one of the scenes in the movie. One of my friends suggested a lubricant, and it was the first time the other two of us had ever tried a commercial brand. It was AWESOME! We did not masturbate each other, but watching two other guys masturbate as I masturbated was amazing.
It was during the 1980s that I started to really understand my faith. While not Catholic, I started to practice Lenten sacrifices more and more. I had followed the "no meat on Fridays" routine since high school, but that expanded to no alcohol during Lent in college, and finally, giving up "sex" during Lent 1984. Since I was not in a relationship, the only sex to give up was masturbation. I had my last masturbation session on Mardi Gras Tuesday and went a whole week without masturbating, but I caved in the following Wednesday. Angry at my lack of discipline, I resolved to make it through seven weeks, and amazingly, I did. I resisted masturbating until the week after Easter 1984, the equivalent of a Lenten season. I didn't even have a wet-dream during that period. I continued to repeat the yearly sacrifice right through to 1995. Each year, though, I discovered that it was difficult to start the first week or two, very easy to maintain during the middle weeks, but by the last two weeks, I could hardly think of anything other than masturbating the day after Easter. It became such an obsession, I realized the sacrifice was almost self-defeating. I had given up the act of sex but became more absorbed by thoughts of sex. Eventually, I realized this was not a worthy sacrifice (and probably not a healthy one for my prostate, either) — so while I still do not eat meat on Fridays and Wednesdays during Lent, and I abstain from alcohol during Lent, I now masturbate a few times during Lent — not as often as I normally would, but not abstaining and obsessing for 7 weeks!
I was fortunate to get an opportunity to live abroad for several years and discovered my closest friends abroad and I were equally willing and uninhibited about our masturbation discussions. It seems the same hang-ups any U.S. male has are shared across the Atlantic — and probably around the world, as JackinWorld and JackInsider have astutely discovered. I also had the opportunity to become involved with a youth group during my time abroad, which had many difficult challenges. One challenge was counseling a 14-year-old boy who could not wait until he turned 16 (the legal age of consent) so he could have sex every day with girls. How do you explain that sex is not an easy or trivial thing, usually because more than the physical is involved? I explained to the best of my abilities that with sex come emotions that he may not be willing or ready to handle. I then broached the topic of masturbation as an alternative. He sheepishly admitted that, yes, he did masturbate. I admitted that even in my 30s I still masturbated, especially since I was still single and had gone through the occasional traumas serious relationships can bring. I was unaware of the firestorm brewing in the U.S. regarding Dr. Joycelyn Elders, but I was giving the same advice she had. My confession relaxed my young friend. I was stunned to discover he masturbated very frequently — 4 or 5 times a day, several days a week. He even ate his semen. My teenage habits paled in comparison to his 20-25 orgasms a week. I guess a lot had changed in 20 years. Thanks to JackinWorld, I realize my friend is just like many current teenagers and young adults. We have kept in touch since my return to the U.S., and now that he is in University, I think he finally understands the discussions we had those afternoons several years ago.
During the 1990s, my masturbation sessions settled into a comfortable routine, which lasted until recently. I usually masturbate 5 times a week, always in the morning when I wake up, typically starting in bed, but always ejaculating in the bathroom for easy cleanup (right into the toilet!). I could never grow accustomed to ejaculating onto my stomach; it was just too much of a hassle to clean up, especially after hair started growing there. I still rarely use a lubricant, unless I am very horny. I admit that I still have a few masturbation hangups: I never masturbate when I am on vacation, I still don't masturbate on Sundays, I still can't bring myself to masturbate in my mother's new home, even though current circumstances have me there several days a week, which has really cut down on my masturbation frequency. Over the last year, I've found the only opportunity I have to masturbate is on weekends. This means I am usually very busy on Saturdays, masturbating 2 or 3 times with incredibly intense orgasms. I would still like to have a close friend with whom I can share my masturbation thoughts and sessions on a regular basis, but that friendship has yet to develop. I find it reassuring to know that many guys out there also have the same wish, and that it is a normal "male-bonding" desire. Thanks to JackinWorld and JackInsider I can feel comfortable knowing my masturbation habits and desires are shared by many, and that whatever we do, it is "normal."
Sorry this has run on so long. I guess nearly 30 years of masturbation cannot be summarized in just a few sentences. Here's hoping the next 30 years will have as much to discuss! Thank you JackInsider, for allowing me to write down some of my favorite life stories at long last, especially the story of Bert and Lee. And yes, I did finally did figure out what that drop was which appeared on the tip of my penis when I was 12 1/2.