The first time it happened I was alone, looking at porn on my computer, with my door closed. I’d never really been into porn before; judging from the few glimpses I’d stolen from the video rentals of ex-roommates I’d thought it was vulgar and tactless, that it somehow discredited real sex. Even though I knew that sex in porn was very much real in every physical sense of the word, I wasn’t quite able to see it as authentic. The thought that it existed had never truly offended me, fundamentally, politically, personally; I just didn’t feel that it could turn me on. It took one deliberate photo viewing session in the privacy of my own room to change my mind. Uncanny, really. In any case, it wasn’t long before I got tired of looking at pictures. I wanted action. I wanted those bronzed, greased bodies to move for me, to come alive. I wanted to see them come. My computer at the time was an old piece of shit but that didn’t stop me from attempting to download a video; the temptation was too great. I didn’t find the woman attractive; I just wanted to see her move her hips. I wanted to see her get fucked. I checked to see that my door was securely closed and I blasted music in case my roommate came home. I felt excited and slightly guilty in anticipation of images that had no connection to me per se, but which I nonetheless had come to look upon as libidinal education, of a sort. I loved to sit there and take it all in--the movement, the penetration, the inexplicably exhilarating and humiliating thought of the man with the camera—much in the same way that those lip-sticked, tan-lined women loved to take hard, pounding cocks into their every orifice—with a complex mixture of pleasure and pain. But, as the gods of anti-lust and faulty technology would have it, my anticipation did not melt elatedly into tingling fulfillment. As soon as I hit “download” on my screen, my computer was blasted with a horrible virus, eager to shame. Images of women in compromising positions scattered across the screen, but no hips moved; such was the nature of the illness. Later that evening as I tried to type a paper, three new ads materialized every two minutes, competing for my attention. My computer had contracted an STD and it was my fault, for imagining that a version of Norton Anti-virus that hadn’t been updated in at least a year could act as an effective barrier to the attacks of those lustful diseases upon my fragile, outdated machine.

 

It happened again close to a year later, long after I’d upgraded to a new laptop. By this time my penchant for porn was a burgeoning adolescent; my sense of appreciation had grown from a child who is easily discouraged by the inaccessibility of certain sites into a slightly more resilient, imaginative seeker. I now knew that not everything was worth seeing, even though a lot of it still piqued my curiosity. By this time I also enjoyed sex itself more than I ever had. I was having a lot of it, and it only got better. Porn and sex were separate entities for me, and yet, one fueled the desire for the other; they had become the yin and yang of my pudendum, two primal opposing but complementary forces. I had quickly grown much attached to my laptop, and no wonder—it had been a long time coming and it facilitated virtually every task I had to complete. Needless to say, it was also great for watching porn. My boyfriend went away for a month and I watched more than usual. I had papers to write and midterms to study for but first things first: when I got up in the morning it was necessary to get off a few times before breakfast; the food just tasted better. At night before bed I did it to help me sleep.

 

One particular morning while I was seated at my desk, watching my favorite clip of the week, my legs spread wide and elevated, I ejaculated. I had had many wet and wild orgasms before, but never had I dreamed of this. It is not one of those things that we women are taught to reasonably expect, like cramps, or pregnancy. I sat there, mesmerized by my new and more tangible orgasm. The more I thought about it, the happier I became, and the less willing I was to let it rest: this would by no means be a one-time thing. I’d heard stories of women having fluke ejaculations: some skilled cosmic finger finds just the right spot, only for the hand to pull away suddenly and return to the great unknown. Devastating!  So I set myself upon the task, and every day I completed it at least four or five times. After writing a few paragraphs of an essay or looking over a chapter for my chemistry class, I’d take a break to make sure I could still do it. I soaked my chair, I drenched my bed, I sprayed the wall. I learned to stretch like a river. I began to feel a tad smug, addicted to the buzz that evidently only a select few women are privileged enough to wield. So when I woke up one morning and found that for whatever reason I could no longer complete my daily task, I vowed not to start the day until I could. I put my feet on my desk and made sex the champion of my mind. Happily, it wasn’t long before it worked—a powerful stream of warm liquid shot proudly into the air only to land with a vicious sizzle upon my keyboard. The woman on the screen stopped her jiggling to stutter and flicker as my computer began to hum a tune of dread. The necessarily rapid shift from pleasure and pride to fear and panic was too much. I grabbed a nearby scarf and desperately wiped, but to no avail. It had ceased to function. Much like my other computer the poor innocent machine had fallen victim to my nasty, relentless pursuit for sexual pleasure.

 

The technicians all said that spilling water on my laptop was not covered in the warranty. They said I might as well buy a new computer. I walked home that day lamenting and considering: how could I have done what I had done? What did it all mean? Was this some kind of cruel cosmic finger waving it’s disapproval in the face of my ever jiggling sex drive? I thought about how privileged I was that I could spend as much time as I did masturbating. I was ungrateful, that was it. There was some lesson to be found, of this I was sure, and I was determined to find it. I considered using my fast disappearing student loan money to go and purchase a new laptop the very next day: I would buy the exact same model; it would be my dirty little $1500 secret, and nobody would ever have to know. What shocked and dismayed me the most about the whole situation was that it didn’t matter that I’d kept all glasses of water and tea as far away as possible; it didn’t matter that I’d treated my machine with the utmost caution and care, making sure I lifted it gently but firmly to put it in its case. Irrelevant, all of it. Because what had gone and fouled up those electronics was something altogether more internal. It had literally come from my depths. I began to examine what it was that made me feel guilty. It’s not as though I’d purposefully sprayed my keyboard with ejaculate; it’s not as though I had some keyboard fetish. It had been an honest accident. It could have happened to anyone. But this is where my reason failed me, and woe crept in: I doubt it, you freak. I strongly doubt it, my woe seemed to coo. Before arriving at my apartment I ran into a close friend and decided to tell her about it. She laughed, as I’d expected, but when she shook her head and suggested that I practice moderation, I was offended. The search for a reasonable lesson that I recognized in her flippant advice was similar to the lesson that I myself had just supposed held some weight.

 

That evening I went over to my friend Lara’s house to use her computer. I was depressed, and I brought a bottle of wine. When I told her exactly what I’d done that day, she laughed with hysteria that I hadn’t witnessed since the time my little sister fell and hit her head when she was five and thought it was funny; we thought she’d done damage until she’d finally subsided in one last rupture of giggles in a heap on the stairs. “You’re hilarious,” wailed Lara, until she saw that I wasn’t laughing, but smiling calmly. Lara’s new roommate, Mark, who I hadn’t met yet, walked into the room then. After some preemptory conversation which revealed his computer geek status and a glass of wine I told him about how I’d spilled water on my laptop.

 

I can probably fix your computer,” Mark said. “I do this kind of thing for fun.”

 

Really?” I was wide-eyed, hopeful.

 

No guarantee, of course, but I can try, and no matter what, I won’t make it worse.”

Sure.” I trusted Mark.

 

One thing you should know,” he said, “those technicians in the big shops downtown are completely unqualified to be doing what they’re doing—they’re scared to take anything apart, they’re afraid that if they break something they’ll get in trouble. Really, what you have to do is dig right in.”

 

I really appreciate this,” I said as he unscrewed my laptop to look inside. “I’ll totally pay you just for having a go at it.”

 

But he refused to accept money. “It’s my pleasure,” he said. “I get off on this kind of thing.”  With that, Lara erupted hysterically once more, but I shot her the most condemning look I could summon and she quickly stopped.

 

Mark scraped at something with a screwdriver, and I resolved never to tell him what that something was. I don’t know what he did next because I decided to stay out of the way, but when he was done it was good as new. So I’d lost all my data, so I had to start from scratch. At least I’d had the clairvoyance to print my essay prematurely the night before. Things weren’t so bad after all.  I thanked him like he’d saved my life, like he’d restored my sight, like he was Jesus in the flesh and I was a humble Christian, secretly undeserving. I gave him an awkward hug.

 

All the way home I could not believe my luck. A mere eight hours had passed since my irrepressible desires had wrought sheer catastrophe. It was more than I could handle. I wondered what I had done to deserve such a rapid remedy. I wondered what the hell it all meant, fundamentally. It was as though some benevolent cosmic finger had decided I was a quick learner, and was lending me a hand! How silly, I thought, unlocking my door. Cosmic hand my ass. I went into my room, and closed the door. I lay on my bed unmoving, breathing. I wondered what to do. Finally I turned on my fresh new machine, moved my chair away from the desk to the opposite end of the room and watched the screen from afar. This one really looked like she was enjoying it: her huge, hard nipples brushed the kitchen linoleum with every thrust of the man on her back. Her low moans could not be counterfeit; those gasps were as real as my newfound ability to come all over my laptop and get away with it. That redundant cosmic hand was waving goodbye like it was all in a day’s work, nothing serious, like I’d been full of shit all along. I wanted desperately to believe in that carefree, pleasure-giving hand and I pressed myself hard. I entered myself uttering incantations. I was no humble Christian; I was no pussy. I was a stream, and then a river, and a sea. Realizing this made me happy and the more I thought about it, the more joyful I became, and the less willing I was to forget it. I’d been sure of myself many times before only to forget why, within minutes. So I wrote and rewrote the reasons as I moved in time to the breathing of some imaginary audience. When I finally came, the stream was an arc; it sprinkled wet patterns on my rug. If I’d continued believing in the benevolence of cosmic appendages, a flower might have sprouted from its thick red shag.

 

 

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