I made devilled eggs and it was my first time.‘When the water has cooled just enough for you to place your fingers in them, the eggs are ready to be removed.’
This was not a sensible instruction. I’d been wearing a bandage over my special fingers for three days now. Hours after I stuck my hand into boiling water, I’d discovered the batteries in my vibrator had died.
At the local, my friend sat across from me and nodded sympathetically. She understood the health hazards surrounding obstacles to masturbation. The discussion moved briefly to our limited understanding of Central, Latin and South American Marxism, and touched – as always – on our bourgeois guilt. Then it moved back to masturbation because that was really all I could think about. I stared my poor special fingers. How could I concentrate on Frida Kahlo’s communist corsets at a time like this?
I could see my friend growing tired of our conversation. She started leaving me every few minutes to have a crack at the pinball machine (a new one had just been delivered to the pub. It was based on a science fiction film from before either of us was born.) I knew that if she really cared about my inability to touch myself for pleasure, she wouldn’t have left me for pinball. The third time she disappeared to take her turn, I was forced to examine my own abandonment issues.
I slipped away while she was gone. I scowled at people who made eye contact with me as I made my way home. My housemate and I played a game of Scrabble, then wrote down all the words at the end and turned them into cut-up poems. We thought it would reveal our inner-most desires but instead it drove us to despair about our lack of imagination.
Later that night, a text message:
sorry hun. got caught up in the competition. i came second. story of my life if you get what i mean. i’ll see you tomorrow night and i’m bringing batteries.
I didn’t want her to have the satisfaction of knowing she could win her way back to my heart so easily, so I forced myself to wait twenty-four hours before I replied.