Just Being Politebyhumminbean©
"Oh my god," I thought. "He's doing it again."
My boyfriend, Jack lay beside me in bed. He was masturbating, right there next to me. He must have thought I was asleep, so I pretended I was. I mean, what are you supposed to do when someone, even the guy you've lived with for eight months, is right up against you and jerking off?
It wasn't the first time, either. Maybe it happened before, but I first noticed it about a month ago. Then, like now, I was vaguely repulsed and horrified. Then again last week, and now this. What did it mean? I did what pretty much any woman would do in this case: I asked my closest friends. Their responses covered the range that had already occurred to me, and just played into my worst fears.
Mindy's response was the most direct. "Ew. Tell him to stop or you're out of there. You mean he's done it before? OK then, he's already had his second chance. Leave. You can stay at my place until you find a new apartment." Thanks Mindy, but I don't want the nuclear option as my only option. I really like Jack, and want to find out what this means before I do anything I might regret.
Jill didn't make me feel much better. "You keep saying how nuts he is about you, but he treats you like this? Something doesn't line up there. Maybe he's just not that into you any more." Jill, he treats me like a queen, and I don't just mean in bed. The way we make love, I just can't believe that.
April came up with something I had already thought about, and hearing it come from a friend just made me more nervous. "He couldn't be seeing someone else? Not Jack." The way she said it meant "Yes, Jack." He was never out late, though, or making mysterious excuses. When would he have time for someone else? Not that I'd know, of course.
Eileen got straight to the point – her point, at least. "Get rid of his stash of porn. Now. It's making him so he can't deal with a real woman any more." Well, all the erotica I'd ever seen on his shelves was very tasteful – gorgeous figure photography, books of classic Japanese prints (have you seen those? Wow), and stuff like that. I couldn't see the harm in those. In fact I liked them too. And, if he got rid of his, I'd have to give up those steamy romances and Tony Comstock videos. I filed that one with under "last resorts."
Edie put it all in my lap. "You're obviously not doing enough for him, or enough of what he wants. You've got to fix that, girl. If you want to hold onto him." I tried that tack for a few weeks – sexy lingerie, new positions, making love nearly every day whether I wanted it for myself or not. That was way too hard on me. He didn't even seem to notice the Victoria's Secret goodies, and I was getting sore and frankly tired of sex. That went in a direction I didn't want to go.
Claire asked, "Is he gay?" Bi, maybe, but I can't believe anyone truly gay would spend that much time loving my very female body. That was a reminder, though. I hadn't asked the one friend who might have some real insight: Gil. He's as gay as they come – not a hair-dresser or anything, but a 100% life-long guy's kind of guy. Why I hadn't I thought of him first? I could talk to him about anything, and get a male perspective but without the macho bullshit. (Every girl should have a gay male friend – too bad there aren't enough for everyone.)
A day or two later, I had him on the phone. "Gil, could I ask you something kind of personal?"
"Go ahead and ask, chica. I don't promise to answer."
"Why do guys masturbate?"
Silence. I was about to start babbling an apology when he finally answered. "I don't think this question means what the words mean." That's the problem with no-bullshit Gil. My bullshit doesn't go very far either. "Are you free tonight? Let's talk."
We met at a nice little restaurant near his place, and found a table in the back corner. He ordered a bottle of wine, and made very sure to keep my glass full. We dawdled over ordering, then sat back. I wasn't ready to open the subject yet, so I looked away from him. A glance at the wine bottle showed some serious damage, and I had just heard him order another. He knows I get talky when I drink.
He sat close and repeated my question in a low voice. "Why do guys masturbate? That's what you asked, right?"
I blushed and nodded. "Yeah, I guess that was kind of dumb. Isn't it obvious."
"No, not at all." Did he mean 'not dumb,' or 'not obvious?' "But I think you had a different question in mind. Like 'Why does Jack masturbate?'"
Butterflies in my stomach, and not just from the wine. "Uh, yeah."
"You caught him at it?"
"Yeah." I hoped he didn't notice me start to sweat. I figured I might as well get the hard part over with. "In the middle of the night. In bed, next to me."
Gil smiled and sat back a little. "Does he know you saw?"
"I'm not ignoring your question, chica, but could I ask you a few first?"
"Fair's fair, I guess."
"Are you getting yours?"
"Oh, yes!" I don't know what I expected to hear, but this question calmed me a bit. "He's the best lover I ever had. I get what I want, and I know there's lots more where that comes from."
"Do you ever say 'no' to him?"
"Once in a while, when I'm really not in the mood or not feeling good. He knows how to get me in the mood, though." I would never have this conversation with anyone but Gil.
"What happens when you do say no? Does he get pouty, or mean, or aloof?"
"What? Nothing like that. He's always good about it. I think last time he offered a backrub instead, and it went on for forty minutes."
"I knew he was good for you, chica. My Bill is like that, too." Always 'My Bill.' I thought it was cute the way he said it. "When you know you can say 'no', you don't want to."
"I know what you mean." I smiled – we've both had boyfriends who weren't good about 'no.' This wasn't helping me any with what I needed to know, however. "Aren't we getting a little far from my original question?"
"Oh, I think we're making good progress on it. Now, what about after your backrub?"
"That practically put me to sleep. A few minutes of snuggling, and I was out for the night."
"What about Jack?"
"What do you mean?"
"If he had his hands all over you for forty minutes, then lay down close to you, he probably had a boner ready to burst. I know I would if it was me and my Bill."
I blushed again, not just from the wine, and looked down. "Well, I guess I did feel something bumping me from behind. But he never said anything about it."
"Jack's a gentleman. He wouldn't. And what about all that 'lots more' you were talking about? It sounds as if he's a high-energy kind of guy."
"High energy. That's one way to put it. If he had his way, I'd never bother getting dressed below the waist."
Gil laughed. "So, where do you think all that extra energy goes?"
"What do you mean?"
"I mean, he'd wear you out, if you let him. All those times when you're not up for it, where do you think it goes? Into a wad of Kleenex and down the toilet is my guess."
His wads of Kleenex ended up in the garbage can the times I caught him, but close enough. "Are you saying I'm not enough for him?"
"Chica, no. I'm saying you're different people with different energy levels. That's not good, that's not bad, that's just the way it is."
That much seemed true, at least. "I'm not a cock-tease, Gil. I wouldn't get him all worked up and then leave hanging."
"I know you wouldn't, you sweetie. That's not what I meant. I meant he gets himself all worked up, and that's a real compliment. And he probably knows as well as I do that there's no hiding a horny mood. If he wasn't Jack, he'd be all over you. That would just leave him frustrated and you annoyed."
"So, I don't even have to be a cock-tease to be a cock-tease?"
"Can we stay away from the blame thing for just two minutes? He likes you, he's infatuated with you, he he doesn't want to pester you when you're not in the mood. So, instead of putting pressure on you, he gets rid of it on his own."
"You're saying he jerks off just to be polite. To me."
"Something like that. His erection isn't your problem. You're not just a sex toy for when he has some extra sperm to dump. You're for making love, not for getting rid of unwanted erections."
I never felt that is was 'just sex' between us. From the very first, Jack cared more about my happiness than anyone ever did before. I never much thought about how he felt when I wasn't up for sex, since he never made a big deal of it. Compared to the conversations with my female friends, this was going totally the opposite direction. "OK, it sounds nice. But why didn't he talk to me?"
Gil put his fork down and looked at me for a moment. "Chica, the thought would probably scare him out of his socks."
"But how do you solve a problem if you don't talk about it?"
"I'd say he's been solving it single-handedly." He smiled at his own double entendre. "Maybe he figured that, if he tried to talk about it, he'd end up with the original problem still in hand, but with two or three new ones to go with it."
I thought about Mindy and Jill, and the rest. With anyone else, maybe even with me if I wasn't careful, Gil was probably right. "Oh. A guy thing, right?"
"A guy would say it's a chick thing, but I think we're agreeing."
"But what makes you so sure about this?"
"Chica, I'm a guy, remember? A fruit maybe, but a guy. And so is my Bill. You think we haven't been through this dozens of times, in both directions? I can't promise you that's what Jack is thinking, but I assure you it's what I think. And what my Bill thinks."
"So I should just send him off to masturbate, is that what you're saying?"
"Send him off? Whatever for, honey? If he's just getting rid of an erection, it's not about you. Help him out. You don't have to get all that involved, just a touch or two in his favorite places, to let him know you care. But it looks like he already knows it's his problem to deal with, not yours."
"This is what you do?"
"All the time, chica. I mean, when his energy level and mine don't line up, which isn't that often. But when we're in different places sexually, all the time."
No wonder my female friends were taking this so differently. It's men we're talking about – creatures from the far end of the gene pool. How could any sane person imagine how a man thinks?
A few weeks later, it happened again. I felt Jack moving next to me, the sheets half off and his breathing ragged. I rolled over and reached between his legs. As I figured, I had his hand instead of his penis in mine. He froze.
I whispered, "Hey big boy, whacha doing?"
"Uh, nothing." Hand in the cookie jar, so to speak, and that's the best he could come up with. A half-beat later, "playing with myself."
"You didn't invite me?"
He stammered, something he never does. "You were asleep. I didn't want to bother you. I was having trouble sleeping and this helps some times."
"Well, don't let me get in the way." I had been moving his hand under mine, and felt his rhythm get started again as we talked. "Is it OK if I help?" I moved to cradle his balls in my hand, the way he likes, and to rub that stiff ridge at the back of his erection. Then I leaned over and took his nipple between my lips. His are a lot smaller than mine, but they seem to give him almost the same feelings mine give me. His free hand hugged my shoulders close.
A moment later, his body curled upward. He grunted quietly, even more quietly than when we make love, and every muscle seemed to tense. The arm around my shoulders held with the all the intensity a man's strength can bring. I could feel his ejaculation, with my hand still still cradling his balls and pressing against his erection. After it finished throbbing, he started to uncoil then went limp on the mattress. I held him for a little while, the whole length of my body up against his side, then reached for the box of Kleenex.
"Thanks." He took one, wiped blindly in the dark, then took another. After three or four more, he wadded them up and dropped them in the trash. "You didn't have to do that ,you know."
"I know." I shifted a little so we had more skin touching. "That's probably why I wanted to."
I don't mean to sound selfish, but I was thinking more about my feelings than his at that point. Did I feel used? No, he hadn't made any request at all. I offered. Ignored? Hardly. I was surprised at how fast he came once I started playing. Intrusive or interrupting? Not with his arm around me like that. I felt like I had done something nice for the guy who's so good to me. With his arm around me and his soft, sticky penis in my hand, it was easy to feel that way. His breathing evened soon, and he went to sleep with my hand still holding him. I was sleepy and didn't have a lot of energy, but I had enough for that.
Next time, just three nights later I woke up in the middle of the night and helped him again (how often had he been doing this, for how long?). A few days after that, I was in a rush to get out to a morning meeting. Instead of our usual play, I just helped him deal with the morning wood. Don't get me wrong, we made love the usual way as often as ever. I wasn't losing out in this deal. But I soon started to feel like this was making love, too. Uneven perhaps, but we can into it with uneven energy levels. I gave him my best, as always, and he gave me what I wanted. Isn't that what matters? If that counts as making love, we were making love twice as often as ever before.
It was only long after when I realized how important this was. I was out of commission for months after I had Jeremy and longer after I had the twins, but that didn't stop us from making love – one way or another. Then he had that blood pressure medication that dropped the lead out of his pencil for a while. It was his turn to take the helper role, then. I had some ups and downs through menopause, he had some medical issues of his own. I'm not keeping score, though. At our age, being able to do anything at all is a blessing. That's what this is about, just doing what we can and loving each other, as we've always done.