I land in Taipei full of hope and excitement. I'm so happy to be living in a big East Asian city again. It reminds me so much of my time in Seoul, although of course the culture is quite different. I don't speak much Mandarin beyond ni hao and xie xie but I'm going to learn. Taiwan is such an unusual place--colonized by Japan for fifty years, then claiming to be the real Republic of China after the Kuomintang arrived fleeing the Communists, but to this day never fully recognized as a country. Now it's the most liberal country in East Asia, and will probably be the first to legalize gay marriage. And the food, oh my god, I think it's the best in the world. You know you're in a serious foodie culture when even the potstickers from a tiny takeaway are better than the best restaurants at home.
From the minute the plane touches down, I feel refreshed at being out of Raser City, away from the US, ready to start over in a new place.
Although I have never been here before, I have a friend who has offered to help me get set up. Phil, an old friend from Lester State University has been living in the boho Shida district for a year. He's letting me stay with him until I can rent an apartment. This is a lifesaver for me, and a huge favor. I'm super grateful. Also, a little intrigued since I've had a tiny crush on Phil for years, ever since he sprained his ankle and was on crutches for a few weeks.
Apparently, my dev desires make me demented because those few weeks on crutches three years ago were all it took to flip a switch in my brain. Now, the minute I see him again, as I stumble in the door with my huge suitcases, jetlagged and sleep-deprived, all those feelings arise again. Tentatively, uncertainly, but definitely still there. And I know he has a similar, uncertain interest in me because he's secretly intrigued by SM but has never had the balls to tell me directly. He's the guy who once asked if I whack guys on the back of the head with a gardening shovel. What the fuck, Phil?
As soon as I arrive, it's like no time at all has passed; we're chatting away and enjoying each other's company. He looks the same: baby face with blue eyes and floppy dirty blond hair. He's not exactly classically handsome--his ears and nose are big, and his chin kind of receding, but he can be sweet and goofy in a boyish, endearing way. He's the kind of hipster who plays Ultimate Frisbee and enjoys avant-garde performance art in a non-ironic way. His apartment is vintage 1970s, both the decor and the building itself.
It's strangely intimate to be staying in this small apartment with him. He gives me the bedroom and sleeps on the sofa in the living room, but I still see him when he gets out of the shower in a towel and first thing in the morning with him pajamas on. He's more solid and muscular than I realized. The first few days, in my jet-lagged state, I find myself falling for him even more.
I arrive on a Friday afternoon, so the first weekend we just take it easy, and Phil shows me around. He takes me to dinner at Din Tai Fung, which serves the best food I have ever had anywhere. Their specialty is xiao long bao, little steamed round potstickers filled with pork and broth. You eat them with soy sauce, vinegar and sliced ginger--the rich meaty sharp flavors are heavenly. He also shows me the best little café, a Rococo delight with tanks of koi lining the walls, even in the bathroom. The owner, a tiny man with a giant handlebar mustache, plays the baby grand piano that takes up half the room. The hot chocolate is sinfully rich and thick.
Phil shows me the best English language bookstores, the best night markets, and how to navigate the convenience stores, which unlike in the US are actually convenient. I'm heaven.
Then on Monday it's time to start getting settled in on my own and it all goes to hell. First the person who had agreed to sponsor my internship reneges on the deal, then I can't get any bank to let me open an account because of new post 9-11 anti-terrorism rules, and I can't find an apartment with a short term lease. As the week wears on and the defeats pile up, I start to slowly lose heart. On a Friday afternoon, I return to Phil's apartment, having been turned away from the fifth bank that I tried. Phil happens to be at home, and asks how it's going. As I tell him every painful detail, I start to cry. Not just a little, but huge heaving sobs.
"What the hell am I going to dooooo?" I wail, collapsing to the bedroom floor and leaning against the bed. I'm sort of hoping he'll help me out somehow. Introduce me to a better sponsor, point me towards an apartment, anything. But he just gets a funny look on his face and slowly backs out of the room. There are some guys who can't deal when a woman cries. I can see in his eyes that I'm making him uncomfortable, because he feels like he should do something but he doesn't want to, or doesn't know how. He just wants me to stop already.
I feel embarrassed for losing it like this in front of him, and also sad and frustrated that he won't help me. I mean, even if he can't help in a material way, can't he at least offer emotional support? Fucking guys, man. I wish Lulu were here. She would help me feel better instead of worse.
So I put on my big girl pants and deal with it myself. I work all the connections I've got and through sheer luck find someone else to sponsor my internship. Phil finally makes himself useful and suggests trying to open an account at a small credit union, and it works. I locate a better real estate agent and land what seems to be the perfect apartment: fully furnished, month-to-month lease, not too expensive, the kind of place used by businessmen on assignment.
My new apartment is centrally located in the Zhongshan District, actually maybe too centrally located. It's in a little alley just off Linsen North Road, the biggest red light district in Taipei. Whenever I tell someone the address, they look at me kind of funny and ask, "Is it...safe?" Please, I scoff. Even the most dangerous part of Taipei is like a thousand times safer than the safest part of Raser City.
The apartment is on the third floor of a small five story walkup with only one unit on each floor. I get a really good deal on the rent because it's right next to a big construction site where a pachinko parlor is being built. Right now it's just a big hole where they are pile-driving supports. As I am sitting in the apartment with the real estate agent signing the lease, the shockwaves from the pile-driving cause the whole apartment to shake, the papers sliding slowly sideways across the glass coffee table. I wonder for a moment as I sign my name if this is a mistake. But the noise is only during the day, I reason. I'll be out most of the time anyway.
As I'm moving in, hauling my enormous suitcases up the twisting, narrow stairs, the whole building sways precariously, and I curse the construction even more. It's not until I talk to Phil later on that I realize it was an earthquake. Living in Raser City I've felt a few tremors over the years and become inured to it, but Phil has not.
"You know we're due for another big one here," he says over drinks at a little neighborhood hole in the wall. "It could be right now. Or...now...right...now..."
"Cut it out!"
"NOW!" He seems both genuinely nervous and perversely relieved to pass his anxiety on to me.
Once I move into my own place and start working, I fall into a routine and things start to feel more comfortable. I get a pretty white flip phone that is light years ahead of any cell phone available in the US. I get internet in my apartment--staying connected with friends back home helps my emotional state immensely. It's such a change from the year and a half I spent in Seoul where I only had internet at work. I can hardly imagine living like that anymore.
I had been hoping to make friends with local people and not only hang around with expat Americans like an asshole. My internship is ok but not the sort of place to make friends. The people who work there are mostly much older, and the few young people are super weird. I watch one pasty dude drink bottled tea at his desk all day, pouring it into his open mouth without ever touching it with his lips. To achieve this dubious trick, he has to turn his whole head upwards, like the world's dorkiest fountain. The only woman who seems to be around my age wears a mask all the time, the kind people in East Asia wear when they have a cold and don't want to spread it around. Except she wears it all day every day. I never see her without it. None of them seems interested in getting to know me.
Ok, so I'll have to look elsewhere for my social life. I default to hanging around with Phil and his friends, who are all American. Through him, I get to know two women, let's call them Shamela and Malison. Malison is tall and skinny with a bob of straight red hair, and Shamela is shorter with curly blond hair and a little upturned nose. We're all in our early thirties, single, and bumming around Asia as a way to delay adulthood. Like kids a decade younger, the four of us go out drinking and clubbing every weekend. Because I live within walking distance of the bars and clubs, they all stay over at my place, sleeping on the floor in a big pile like puppies, even knowing the construction will wake us without fail at seven am. The pile driving is still going on, making the whole building shake.
Phil has this theory that people who never partied in high school make up for it later. That's certainly true for me.
For a moment when I first arrive in Taipei, I feel like Phil is flirting with me. Or maybe thinking about flirting, or something. We spend all this time together, having long intellectual conversations about art and music and everything. He shows me the gross-out dudebro fiction he writes with friend of his I call Skanthony. I have nothing to say about a short story that is just two guys discussing their shits and who needs to flush the toilet. But when we're all out together in a group, then later having sleepovers on the floor of my bedroom like drunk, oversized teenagers, I feel like there's something between us.
Then he tells me he's started dating Malison. Ok, I guess that flirty vibe was aimed at her. It stings, but I don't say anything.
Right before we all go out for a Halloween party on the last Saturday night of the month, Phil tells me that Skanthony likes me and hints that we should try going out together. I don't know him that well, but Skanthony is my type--blond hair, blue eyes, stunningly handsome with his square jaw and dimple, and Phil seems to be vouching for him. It's always nice when a guy says he likes you. I start to imagine dating him, and strategizing for how to ask him out myself.
Our Halloween plans are to go to a BDSM event that Phil found out about, in a club called Door Eight. Phil, Malison and Shamela show up early at my place to get outfitted for the evening.
I dress up in my red vinyl Betty DeLuxe suit, and add little devil horns and mirror shades. Under the jacket, I wear nothing but a black velvet bra. Malison wears a bright purple pixie wig, and Shamela wears a neon green wig in a long Betty Page cut. Phil looks too plain in his white t shirt and black pants, so we put some blue eye-shadow and pink lipstick on him, but the results are still ambiguous. The makeup is not heavy enough to look like he's cross-dressing or wearing a costume. He just looks like a dude wearing lip gloss.
I brought a few SM toys with me from Raser City, because why the hell not? I let Phil wear my leather cuffs with the d-rings, and give Shamela my riding crop. I take along my little rubber flogger.
Once we are all made up, we grab some potstickers and drinks for dinner, and Skanthony meets up with us at the restaurant. He's dressed as David Beckham, and looking quite like him. Phil hassles him about not getting the memo about the fetish club, but he just waves it off.
I strategically sit next to Skanthony at dinner and try chatting him up. He seems mildly interested. He hasn't been to my apartment before, so to make conversation I start talking about what it's like to live in this neighborhood.
"There are actual hookers lining the main street," I blab. "I didn't realize it at first because they're not dressed up. They just wear sweaters and coats or whatever. In Seoul you knew exactly who the hookers were because they were practically in their underwear with a ton of makeup. You've gotta advertise, right? But these girls just stand there looking at their phones, acting like they're waiting for a friend.When I first moved in, I was like why are all these girls just standing around? But then I saw one follow a guy down the street half a block whining at him while he walked faster and faster, not looking at her. After a few minutes she gave up and went back to where she was standing before. And I was like oooohhhh I see what's happening here. Once I recognized it, I realized there are a ton of them out there every day."
"What, so are they offering to go to a love hotel, or just a handy in the alley?" Skanthony asks. Suddenly I have his full, riveted attention.
"How would I know!" I laugh.
"Well, are they hot? How much do they charge?" He pesters me with questions I don't care to answer. It's repulsive how interested he is in the prostitutes, and I sorely regret even bringing up the topic. Unfortunately to get to Door Eight, we have to take the train, and most of them congregate along the street by the station.
We finish dinner, pay the bill and walk over, as Skanthony talks excitedly about the hookers the entire time. As we near the station, we pass a least a dozen, ordinary looking girls. Skanthony ogles them openly, but they ignore him. Even Phil has the decency to seem slightly embarrassed at his behavior, but not enough to tell him to knock it off.
By this point I'm thoroughly disgusted and have no intention of ever speaking to him again, so it's a relief when we get to the station and Skanthony announces he's not interested in Door Eight and heads off for a train going in a different direction.
When we get on the train, Phil sits next to me and even gives me his scarf to wear because I'm cold, while Malison sits across from us with Shamela. Goddamn it, I wish he would stop giving me these mixed signals. It's clear now that Skanthony was never interested in me, Phil probably just said that to make me feel better or something. Also I can't believe he vouched for such an unvarnished asshole.
Why won't Phil just ask me out already? Normally I wouldn't mind making the first move myself but I'm not going to make a play for him with Malison sitting right there. And these are my only friends here. I don't want to fuck it up and lose them all.
Finally we make it to the club. I've been to quite a few BDSM events in Raser City, but none of them have anything on Door Eight. Even the street fair just before I left seems tame compared to this. The club is a huge room with a low stage in the middle. We ditch our belongings in a coin locker in the back, then get some drinks and head out onto the floor.
There are drag queens of every description, some in the most elaborate wigs, corsets and platform shoes, some in nothing but body paint. There are cosplayers of every description --a big fat dude in a dainty frock dressed as Chii from Chobits, a group of guys dressed as the Sailor Moon squad with giant plastic heads looking like anime characters come to life, a pair of girls in matching sexy Santa outfits, because why not? There's also a big round dude with greasy hair, a tight plaid shirt tucked in to his too-tight pants pulled up too high. He has a number of plastic shopping bags tied to his waist, and no less than three high-end cameras around his neck. He's moving slowly through the crowd like a jellyfish, the bags on his belt swaying as he moves, snapping photos of everyone.
"Look, it's a real otaku," Phil whispers to me.
Pressed right up against the stage before the show even starts is a furry in a well-worn panda suit. The furries I have seen in the US like to wear big mascot heads that look like Warner Bros cartoons. But this costume has a cutout at the face, and the dude has painted his face immaculately black and white. Lower down there is also a cutout at the crotch where his penis is hanging out. The otaku looking dude snaps his photo.
We dance for a while in a group, pantomiming some SM moves. The three of us girls tug at Phil's wrist cuffs, holding his arms up, and pretend to hit him with the flogger and riding crop while he laughs and mugs. Even though this is like the tamest SM play I have ever done, Phil is, unwittingly or not, torturing me with jealousy. I'm sure Malison would never do this for real. I can tell by the self-conscious way she is holding the flogger; it's not her thing. If Phil wants this, why won't he say so?
After an hour or so the show starts. For the first act, a slender drag queen with elaborate makeup and a totally shaved head takes the stage. She's dressed like a go-go dancer in an outfit made from plastic shopping bags. When the music starts up, a syrupy Mandopop ballad, she grabs from a small box affixed to her belt handfuls of flower petals cut from more shopping bags and uses a hairdryer in her other hand to make them fly around her like a dizzying snowstorm, all the while lip-syncing with earnest intensity. It's the silliest, cheesiest thing I've ever seen.
The acts after that are not as charming. There are some uninspired contortionists, a whole lot of needle play and piercing, followed by a very long and tedious oshibari session. It's getting more and more crowded, and the tenor of the crowd has shifted from playful to predatory. Men start jostling and rubbing up against us. By the time the third girl is being strung up in elaborate knots, Malison and Shamela have had enough. We decide to leave.
The three of us head back towards the coin lockers to retrieve our purses and coats, while Phil hangs back watching the oshibari girl.
"Hurry up, I'm getting uncomfortable," Shamela says nervously as I check to make sure we have all our gear.
The lockers are at the end of a long narrow hallway at the side of the dance floor. We turn to exit, and find a cluster of four guys all in the same identical rig--totally naked except for some elaborate harness that goes from their shoulders to their groins, with their dicks supported on little bamboo planks, sticking out like a shelf from their crotches. The lunge toward us, grinning, blocking our exit.
"What the fuck is that?!" Malison exclaims. Shamela just squeals and hides behind us. Malison and I glance at each other then push past the dick shelf dudes, glaring angrily at them and daring them to try anything as we make a dash for the door, Shamela tagging along behind us.
That final encounter seals the deal--none of us ever want to go back to Door Eight again. I know enough about the SM scene to recognize it's not always like that, but the rest of them are turned off permanently. Phil never mentions anything about SM to me again.
One of the things that has kept me going through the rocky first month here was the thought that Warren would soon be coming to visit. Not that we've had any great love affair, but it's always nice to be around someone who finds you attractive, and he's someone from home. I'm really looking forward to showing him around, taking him to all my favorite places. Maybe we could even brave a visit to Door Eight if he was interested.
We've been in touch by email, and lets me know when he's bought his place ticket, but no other details. I keep asking what his plans are but he never replies. Finally it gets to be less than a week until his arrival date.
Hey there, let me know your flight number and I'll come meet you at the airport, I write him via email. Do you want to stay with me, or have you booked a hotel?
I'm staying at a hotel with Keiko while she attends a conference, he writes back. Maybe we could get dinner one night.
This is news to me. Um, what? You said you were coming to visit me. You never mentioned anything about Keiko, I reply.
I'm sorry if there was any misunderstanding, he lies. The purpose of this trip was always Keiko's conference.
I feel like he's just pulled a bait-and-switch on me, and even though we were never that close, I find it unexpectedly hurtful. If he had just said from the beginning that he was coming with Keiko and would only maybe be free for dinner one night, I would have been fine with that. But more than once he said, I'm coming to visit you. When I tried to make plans or mentioned him staying with me, he never said anything until now.
Even more galling, he always signs every email to me "love, Warren." I know he doesn't love me. The only reason he writes that is probably he learned as a child that's how you end letters. If he attached any meaning to the word "love" he wouldn't use it so casually like that.
I'm ashamed at how upset I am over this. It seems so petty. I try to shrug it off, and agree to meet him for dinner. Immediately after I agree, I get a distraught email from Keiko herself, a woman I have only met once, when she was holding Warren's leash as he was roleplaying as a dog at the Raser City Freak Fair.
You have no right to steal Warren from me!! I was his girlfriend first! We have been together for two years, and I know he loves me!!!!! So leave us alone! Why do you keep butting into our relationship? I'm a Japanese woman and we are very traditional. I'm over 40 and you don't understand how hard it is for me, wanting so much to get married. When Warren took me to his friend's wedding in Edmonton I thought for sure he was going to propose. But then I find out after that he is seeing you at the same time. Why am I always the last to find out?
And when he borrowed the cage, I was supposed to be the one to lock him in it. Then I find out later that you did it. Why am I the last to know? It was supposed to be our special thing together!
Now I take him to Taipei where I lived for 15 years before I moved to Raser City, it is MY CITY here and I have been looking forward to showing him around and everything. Then I find out you are here too! Why are you following me and ruining my life? I just want to be happy with Warren and get married to him! Please please leave us alone!!!
I read this screed with my jaw hanging open. Who knew a wedding in Edmonton was such a romantic getaway? Or that locking someone in a human sized cage was a profession of love, or worth fighting over who got the privilege to do it? As the shock wears off, the anger slowly bubbles up in my veins.
I forward the email to Warren and write above it, What the fuck, you asshole! I asked you multiple times if you had a girlfriend and you said no. I even asked if Keiko thought of herself as your girlfriend and you still said no. This is exactly the kind of bullshit drama I was looking to avoid. You lied to both of us, and for what? I don't want any part of this. You fix things with Keiko because I'm not responding to her myself.
You don't understand, he writes back. I can practically hear his whining, wheedling tone through the screen. She needs me. I've tried to break up with her more than once but each time she threatens to commit suicide if I don't stay with her.
I roll my eyes so hard at this I nearly pull a muscle in my face. You're being played, I reply. If she threatens suicide then send her to a crisis counselor and get her mental health help. She's just manipulating you, and it's working.
You don't understand, she really needs me, he repeats. She might die without me.
Who knew Warren the robot had such an emotional, illogical streak?
His email continues, So are we still on for dinner when I arrive next week?
Ah, still as socially graceless as ever.
Hell no I'm not going to dinner with you. I don't want any part of whatever ridiculous, co-dependent, insane thing you have going on. You can take your relationship drama and shove it up your ass. I am done with you. Never contact me again.
Of course as a know-it-all nerd dude, he still wants to get in the last word, so he writes back anyway even after I told him not to.
That's really a very unfair overreaction to this situation. I never said I was going to stay with you. We could have had a nice dinner together. It's too bad you have chosen to descend into profanity and insults rather than trying to work things out civilly.
As much as I am itching to reply with more vitriol, just to show him what kinds of further profanity and insults I can summon, I decide it's better not to. I honestly never want to speak to him again, and I have no interest in hearing more of his bullshit excuses and brainier-than-thou putdowns.
So instead of firing back another email, I stay up until the middle of the night and call Lulu. For some reason I got a land line with a ridiculously cheap international calling plan along with my home internet service. Hours long calls to the US are no big deal, apart from the time difference, so I take full advantage.
"What the fuck!" I rant at her. "I can't believe he dragged me into this stupid fucking drama. If I had known Keiko felt that way, I never would have gone on even one date with him. I know I've made some bad relationship decisions, gone out with guys I shouldn't have, but he was supposed to be the safe bet. Good job, well educated, common interests, friends in common, he's who I should be looking for. But he was lying to me the whole time! I can't believe Marty vouched for that asshole."
"Oy, Marty," she sighs.
"What does that mean?"
"I don't know, I just feel like everyone in the scene talks a big game about being so ethical but when it comes right down to it they create so much drama for themselves. I think I'm just done with it all."
"What? How can you be done? SM is like an orientation. You'll never be satisfied with a vanilla guy," I warn her.
"I'm done with it," she insists. "And you're right, Warren is a dick. I'm sorry you had to deal with all that."
"Thanks. But the worst part is I was really looking forward to him visiting. No one ever comes to visit. I was so excited that maybe he would be different."
"I'll come visit," she says.
"What? You don't have to say that."
"No, I'm serious, I've been thinking about it. It'll be fun. I've already talked to my parents and they offered to help me pay for the ticket. After everything that happened with my brother, they think it would be good for me to have a change of pace, like a fun vacation."
We talk more, and make a concrete plan for Lulu to come visit for two weeks in March. At least that's one thing to look forward to.
As the weather turns colder, I fall into a low grade depression.
The cold is unbearable. Houses here don't really have insulation or central heating. I just have this combo air con/heating thing that blows warm air, but it's located near the ceiling. Running it on heat setting costs a fortune, it only heats the upper half of the room, and the second I turn it off, it's frigid again. I had the same problem in Seoul. I've lived places in the US that get seriously cold in winter, but this is different. Even though the winters here are not as cold, if it's 40F outside, it's 40F inside. I can see my breath in the morning when I wake up. It's the worst.
I try to avoid being in my apartment as much as possible. On weekend afternoons when I'm not at work, I go out to a nearby café to read while enjoying fancy tea and cakes, and try to make it last as long as possible. Anything to stay warm a little longer.
I'm sitting there late one afternoon reading a nonfiction book about single young women in American history. I had wanted to read something totally unrelated to my life, and I thought this would be a fun book on badass flapper girls in the 1920s bobbing their hair and sticking it to the patriarchy. But actually it's a history of the concept of the old maid or spinster, the idea that if a girl isn't married by her early twenties, her life is wrecked.
As I read descriptions of girls who were bewildered to find themselves still single in an era when marriage was mandatory, I start to identify more and more with them. I'm becoming a spinster. What am I doing with my life? I'm thirty-one years old, and I want to be married and have kids more than I can even express. It's reached the point where even saying it makes me a horrible stereotype, so I've been keeping my mouth shut about it.
But what am I supposed to do? I can't will the perfect partner into existence. If I weren't a devotee, if I weren't into SM, maybe I would have found someone by now. But all the guys I meet who are compatible with me sexually like The Mantis are not long term relationship material. The ones I meet online like Atom never take things seriously, and the ones I meet through friends like Warren or Phil, well, don't even get me started on them.
It doesn't help that I'm living in East Asia now. The dating scene here for white women is grim. Most of the expats who come here are like Skanthony, gross assholes who will tell you to your face they don't like white women because we are fat, loud and demanding. They have come here to find an Asian girlfriend who will act submissive and girly-girly, a skinny girl in high heels and a tiny skirt. The joke's on the guys because those girls are usually looking for someone they can boss around.
Despite his shortcomings, Phil is unusual among the expat guts here for dating expat women. At least he's not going through a string of one-night stands with local women like his bro Skanthony. As for the local guys, some of them share the same sexist expectations, although not all. But it's hard to meet them when I don't speak the language. Anyway I can't stay in Taipei indefinitely. My visa term is fixed, and I have to get back to Raser City to finish my degree. Starting up anything serious with a Taiwanese guy seems impossible. No matter how open-minded they are, most guys here are not going to move to the US to follow my career.
Coming here seemed like so much fun when I was planning it but now I feel like I'm frittering away my chances of finding a partner while I'm still young enough to have kids. I thought I was making good choices to further my career, but maybe I should be planning my whole life course around who I'd like to fuck. What am I doing?
I look down again at the book, and read a paragraph about women in the 1920s suddenly realizing they would never marry, and needing to plan a permanently single life without any role models beyond the old maid. Nobody could help them. They just had to rely on themselves. To my shame I find myself dripping tears down onto the page. I hold my head down, hoping no one else in the café will notice.
I went from having tons of awesome sex multiple times a week back home to being totally celibate with no prospects. Again, why did I come here?
Of all the guys in my recent past, the one my mind keeps returning to is not The Mantis, but William. His booming bass voice singing the lines from Figaro in my apartment. His flashing dark eyes and megawatt grin. The feel of his long arms around me. What happened to my dev imagination? Why am I so hung up on this able-bodied, vanilla guy? The one image I keep coming back to is him holding that baby, the tender way he smiled and sang to her. I want to watch him hold our baby in the same way.
At night I masturbate using the purple vibrator I bought with my friends from the fairy sleepover. I get off thinking of William, then after I'm finished, I cry. There is nothing in this world more pathetic than masturbating and crying. I feel ludicrously lame. But the next night I do it again, and again and again.