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10: October 19, 2008

Consider the Handjob

As Barack Obama was saying to me the other day at the annual meeting of the Guys With Two Memoirs Club, one learns a great deal about oneself in the course of writing two memoirs, and much of it not very nice. In my case, I’ve unearthed a theretofore unsuspected degree of selfishness, an almost constant thread of insensitivity, haunting questions about my racial identity (oops—that one’s Barack’s; I’m always getting us mixed up), and a singular love of handjobs (which probably covers both of us).

It occurred to me recently that both of my books include handjob scenes. In the first, I sing the praises of a Japanese girlfriend who acquired the knack of providing “a rip-snorting handjob southpaw while eating rice crackers and watching the six o’clock news” and note in passing a vigorous “drive-by handjob” administered by a charming neighbor in my boardinghouse.

The upcoming Summer of Marv describes at some length an encounter with a set of particularly oily digits during my late teens at a massage parlor. A paean to the handjob, composed with appropriately Seventies-bound cultural references, ensues:

That the handjob , that quintessence of carnal minimalism, had been so widely relegated to foreplay was, I felt strongly, an injustice on a par with forcing Rick Derringer to open for Edgar Winter.

Of course, this astonishing condescension toward handjobs couldn’t last: There are now websites devoted to the darned deed. And it’s not hard to see why. The handjob is, arguably, the only cooperative sex act in which everybody comes out a winner.

Consider the transaction from the Orgasmatician’s* viewpoint. The handjob is safe. It’s painless. Chastity vows? No problem. In most cases, cleanup is, quite literally, on him. While nudity is always recommended—if for no other reason than to save on dry cleaning (see Lewinsky, M.)—it is often optional. Poor hygiene on the part of either party is much less of an issue than it is in other cases. And if the hand in use starts to go numb, well, chances are you have a viable, well-rested spare. It’s like having a backup quarterback on your team who’s virtually as reliable as your starter. Plus, the sense of accomplishment that one gets from working successfully with one’s hands—well, it’s hard to put a price on some things.

For the recipient, too, most of the above advantages apply. In addition, there’s this: Any portion of one’s Orgasmatician that one would care to peruse can be brought into ogling and touching range without interrupting the process. You can even try to carry on a conversation if so inclined, though it may become a trifle one-sided. And finally, for the untrusting: no teeth!

The act is wonderfully versatile. I have two examples from here in Japan—neither of which, sorry to say, involves me—that testify to just how utilitarian the handjob is.

The first comes from a fairly unimpeachable source, an overview on education in Japan published twenty years ago by a prominent American sociologist. Alas, I’ve lost my copy of it, and the bit I’d like to quote from it—really just an offhand remark in the midst of an otherwise dreary chapter—isn’t mentioned in any online references to the book. But for what it’s worth, here’s what I remember.

Japanese children take entrance exams to get into prestigious junior highs, high schools, and universities. The pressure to pass is especially intense on boys, and it traditionally falls upon mothers to oversee their sons’ preparation for the exams at each stage.

Thus, said mothers and teenage sons spend hours at the sons’ desks poring over practice exams side by side, and in the course of these study sessions the tutor occasionally glimpses physical evidence that the pupil’s thoughts are not firmly locked in on the Pythagorean theorem; and in such situations it is not uncommon (so says this source) for the mother to apply a brisk manual palliative in order to eliminate the distraction.

The male reader can imagine for himself how effective this stratagem would be in his own case, eliminating-the-distraction-wise. Or maybe not.

The second tale comes from a likewise no-longer-accessible source (a Japanese weekly magazine as translated and summarized by a now defunct English website), and yet seems more credible than the first to a long-term Japan resident like myself. At least, this one is much more pleasant to buy into.

As Japan’s population continues to age faster than any in the world, its nursing homes become ever more overpopulated. Harried female attendants have discovered that one quick method for placating unruly male inmates is…well, you’re way ahead of me. It’s the ultimate panacea, if you think about it: raspy, insistent queries about medication, TV volume, flatulent roommates, and the outcome of World War II quickly melt away. Peace reigns.

Thus may handjobs follow a man virtually from cradle to grave.

Let me conclude (since it’s my website) with a personal reminiscence.

This occurred in the period that falls between the cracks of my two memoirs: the last of my senior years at college, to be exact. Owing to the local celebrityhood that I had achieved via my newspaper column, I found myself—to my amazement as much as to that of my friends--in possession of a blonde and buxom trophy girlfriend. Another reference to a Seventies artist will bring home just how enticing this young woman was. Her favorite artist was Barry Manilow, and it didn’t matter. And let me be even more frank. She was beautiful; she was young, she was innocent. She was the greatest piece of ass I ever had, and I had 'em all over the world!

(Sorry, sorry. I just can’t allow a chance for a Godfather riff to pass by. It’s an addiction.)

Throughout our first overnighter, for reasons never explained, I was not allowed to proceed past second base while she eagerly galloped to third. My gallant offers to rectify the base imbalance were rebuffed, so I let her run the show. The result was everything a handjob should be—the at once comfortably familiar and thrillingly different sensation of those four fingers and opposable thumb locking into place, followed by the slow and steady pumping, as if they had a mind of their own…

We dozed for a while, until I woke her with an involuntary poke in the hip. Being twenty-three at the time, I no doubt would have been more or less as frisky had my bedfellow been Abraham Lincoln. Fortunately, it was Debbie and not Abe, and she delivered a repeat performance.

In the next few weeks, Debbie and I moved on to the so-called “better” stuff before our relationship inevitably imploded just shy of the two-month mark. (She cited my impending graduation and departure for Japan; I still think it had more to do with a non-neurotic chap with a pilot’s license. And of course, the Manilow Cloud was always hovering over us, uncommented on but impossible to ignore.) But despite all that followed, the night of the Handjob Doubleheader is the one I hold dear in my memory.

As to where it fits in the pantheon of my erotic evenings, that’s harder to say. It’s sort of an apples-and-oranges comparison, handjobs vs. the so-called "better stuff.". But I tell you: if I had to pick one night to relive for nothing but pure, guilt-free self-indulgence… Well, that one.


* I’ve decided that we need a clinical term to denote the partner charged with providing the pleasure in any sexual act, a generic one that is neutral with regard to gender or to paid vs. voluntary status. This is a work in progress, and I’m open to suggestions), but I’m going with Orgasmatician for now.

(Aside to critics: Yes, I put that “opposable thumb” in there just to set you up. If it’s not clear enough for you, well, here: Opposable thumb? What sort of critters does Muggins usually associate with?)