Most of my early experiences were like everyone else's — discovery of masturbation on my own at age 12; alarm on first ejaculation; guilt, denial, efforts to stop, etc. I'll skip those details and describe aspects of my masturbation life that were perhaps a little unusual.
How could this part of my body go from soft to hard? No other part of me did that. I puzzled over it around age 10 and decided that a special bone must be buried in my body, just behind my penis, and that it slid into place inside it to give me an erection. My fingers, arms, and legs were firm because they had bones in them — that must be the answer. I was a future writer, not a future engineer, so I didn't theorize much about how the bone was supported when it was not inside my penis, or what mechanism moved it into place like a foot sliding into a sock. There was no one to ask. Such things were not discussed in my family.
I must have carried this strange notion until I was 15 or so, when I came across the actual facts of the matter in a book. They seemed hard to believe at first — how could a fluid, like blood, cause hardness? Eventually I accepted the scientific view. And it was many years before I learned that some animals, like raccoons, do have penis bones. Are they involved somehow in erections? I don't know.
A Bloody Hand
At age 13 I masturbated until my penis bled. I spent summers in my grandparents' house on a lake, with no other kids my age. My grandfather worked, and my grandmother fished all afternoon from her dock. One afternoon, alone in the house, I could not keep my hand off the throttle until I found, after the fourth or fifth orgasm, that my palm was bloody. The blood had seeped from the shaft of my overstroked penis.
That persuaded me to stop, and scared me enough to keep me abstinent for many days. Of course I told no one, anxiously examining every morning the buttermilk-sky pattern of small, thin scabs that formed along the shaft of my penis. Eventually the abrasions healed, with no permanent harm done. This should have converted me to lubricants, but it didn't.
I envy the people who write to JackinWorld about the excitement and pleasure of masturbating with other boys. It never happened to me, though I wanted it to very much. The standard attitude among boys in our little Southwestern town was to snigger about masturbation as something for the weak and nasty and to deny that you — manly, virtuous you — had ever done it.
I tried to get a boy to join me one afternoon, when we were alone in my house and it was raining. I masturbated in front of him. He watched, looked sheepish, and did nothing. At the time I believed he was being morally superior and self-controlled, but now I think he probably felt his penis would not measure up to mine.
My other failure was with a boy of about 10, when I was 12. Our parents had businesses on Main Street and kept their stores open until 9 on Saturday night. This threw us together, and one evening when we went into the alley behind one block of stores to pee, we lingered in the darkness, among the irregular sheds and back porches and loading docks. I dropped my pants and masturbated, with my free arm around his shoulders, and he did something inside his bib overalls that may have been masturbation but probably was not. All of this was wordless. We had no idea of how to discuss what we were doing. But it was an awkward, pleasant occurrence on Saturday nights through one whole summer — a failed attempt at being intimate friends.
Circumcision as an Adult
I was circumcised at age 23, in the Navy. I needed it. I had phimosis: The opening in the foreskin was so small it couldn't be pulled back over the penis head. Actually I could pull it back when I didn't have an erection, but then it became a sort of tourniquet around the shaft and caused the head to swell with blood. It then became urgent to get the foreskin back over the corona and in place again. (The best solution was an icy, shrinking shower.) This small opening made for difficulties keeping clean, and at times the foreskin itself got red and sore.
Yet I would probably not have had the circumcision if a shipmate (and good friend) had not told me I ought to. I was the senior corpsman in a Navy operating room, and I simply asked the Chief of Surgery if he would do the job. He said he would, and I spent the next week worrying that I would get an erection on the operating table and be shamed forever, exposed under the bright light, with the surgeon on one side, his assistant on the other, and two of my friends and co-workers watching.
We cranked up the head of the operating table so I could lie there, wearing a surgical mask, and watch myself being circumcised. I had seen much surgery by then and was not disturbed by the sight of blood, even my own. They cleaned my penis with ether, then tincture of merthiolate. These chilling liquids discouraged erection unbelievably well.
The doctor put a tourniquet around the base of my penis (a rubber catheter, secured with a clamp, served this purpose), thus cutting off the blood flow. Then he gave me a sort of half-erection by sticking a hypodermic needle into my penis and injecting Novocain into the spaces that fill with blood in an ordinary erection. This produces an excellent anesthetic effect, and at the same time the tourniquet keeps blood out of the surgical field. Only when they were done cutting and it was time to tie off the bleeders did they release the tourniquet. (They may have paused and let me bleed for a bit in mid-operation, to keep the tissues from being blood-starved. My memory is uncertain here.) When they finished they sent me, on foot, to the barracks. I spent the afternoon on my bunk and worked the next day.
It sounds bad. Actually it was painless and took maybe 20 minutes. A needle in the penis is no worse than one in the arm. The tough part is the next few days, when your penis turns purple and yellowish-green and is swollen and hurts. All your pants are too tight, and every erection you get in your sleep is so painful that it wakes you like a fire alarm, and you get up and pee to get rid of it. For me, that meant 3 or 4 trips to the head per night, and in our barracks the head was in a small nearby building.
When you take off the dressings to shower, your penis is bristling with catgut sutures in addition to the discolorations. Other men in the showers look at you with horror or alarm and ask you what happened. But the parts of the sutures under your skin turn to liquid and are absorbed, and in ten days or so the outer bristles simply drop off one by one.
I suppose this was the longest period of my adult life without masturbation — 3 or 4 weeks. I wanted to heal thoroughly, because a few months earlier we had circumcised a young Lieutenant J.G. who had not waited long enough to heal and had torn most of his stitches loose. His penis was a bleeding, butchered-looking mess when he came in for repairs. He had to be re-sewed, and the doctor told him that the clean, neat look of the first stitching was lost forever. He was going to have a somewhat disfigured penis. The young officer claimed he had torn his stitches out in sex with a nurse, but none of us believed it. We figured he had masturbated too soon.
Once healed, I had to learn a new masturbation grip: 4 fingers curled around the lower surface, and the thumb around the upper, would no longer serve. But I did not try lubricants. I tried new grips. I have used lubricants on maybe 12 occasions in a lifetime of masturbating a steady once a day, with an occasional extra thrown in. Lubricants don't seem to work for me. Nor am I moistened by what many of us call "pre-cum." I have never produced any. I am the ultimate dry masturbator, and I like it that way.
I thought my circumcised penis downright handsome. Others have said this, too. The intensity of orgasm did not change. If some genie came out of a bottle and told me I could have my foreskin back, I would say no.
Finding Privacy in the Navy
For Navy enlisted men, there is a small amount of comfort in one's bunk, but no privacy anywhere. One of the pleasures of liberty was to check into a hotel room, strip to total, liberating nakedness, and masturbate — sometimes for hours, in comfort and privacy — then go out to dinner or a dance or a movie. I tried to figure out how to masturbate after lights out in the barracks without causing a movement of the sheet that the men on either side might see, or a vibration that the floor would transmit from my bed to theirs. I had felt that vibration myself when a man in an earlier barracks came in from liberty, drunk and apparently unsuccessful at getting laid, and masturbated under his sheet. I lay there, feeling very faintly every stroke he made, and wishing I were doing it instead of him.
My in-barracks solution was to turn on my side, stroke my (then uncircumcised) penis with a wrist movement so slow it produced no vibration, and ejaculate into an undershirt. That slow, slow stroke produced a fine orgasm, but the position was so awkward, and the concern about discovery so preoccupying, that I did it only a few times.
Our operating room had a shower for the corpsmen. It was private enough, but you stepped out of it naked into the view of whoever was in the corpsmen's dressing room. A man's penis remains a little engorged just after masturbation, even if hosed down in a cold shower, and is an instant giveaway. In any case, every member of the crew was convinced that anyone who used the operating-room shower was doing so for a reason other than cleanliness. We even joked about it.
The head (Navy-speak for bathroom) was in a building next to our barracks. From my own bunk, long after lights out, I could hear showers running out there, and I wondered who was standing under them in the dark. It seemed like an illegal act to me (I was a careful follower of regulations), but after a month or two I decided that if some people could do it so regularly, I could, too.
Hearing no showers running, I went to the head, naked except for the usual towel, and turned one on. I had just gotten well into masturbation, warm water beating against my back, when a man named Wallace came in from another barracks. We knew each other slightly. I faced into a corner, switched the water from warm to cold, and hoped for the best. The best was better than I expected. Wallace greeted me cheerfully, by name, chatted a bit, and went to work matter-of-factly stroking his penis up to erection. He simply assumed that we were there for the same reason.
There was, it turned out, a small group of regulars who masturbated in the showers, in the dark, sometimes setting a lookout and reaching out to do a little mutual masturbation for variety. I became a member. There were 8 showers in a square room. Any intruder (and they were rare) would find two men (or sometimes 3) in showers far apart, with our backs modestly turned, busily soaping or rinsing. In the dim light and steam, we were even hard to identify.
No one reported this, and it went on as long as I was stationed at the hospital. 6 or 7 men were in the group (whose makeup changed a little when a man shipped out or a new member like me came in), but we understood that 3 in the shower at a time was the limit. Sometimes there was nobody but me. We waited until about an hour after lights out, when nearly everyone was asleep. Among young hospital corpsmen few had to get up at night for a trip to the urinals.
None of these men became my friend, and I saw no evidence that any of the others formed friendships, either. We did not go on liberty together, and when we met in the mess hall or in the hospital streets we were professional, impersonal — X-ray specialist, senior corpsman in surgery, worker in the laundry, and so on. But when we met at night, in the showers, we were cordial fellow conspirators — grinning, watching, stroking, and sometimes reaching out to grasp another man's erect, lathered penis and help it on its way.