Last year Remittance Girl, asked us to imagine what it would be like not to be able to be touched. The idea caught my imagination. “Untouched” is the result
Chapter 1 does what a chapter one always does, it introduces the character, sets up the action and (hopefully) leaves you wanting to find out what happens next.
© Mike Kimera 2009
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Pardon my mirth. I don’t mean to be impolite; it’s just that it hadn’t occurred to me that you’d use video to gather the data for your research. I’d imagined myself sitting on some plastic chair, leaning over a table to mutter my darkest sexual secrets into a cheap audio-recorder. Now I find myself in an armchair, lit to get that late-night we’re-all-intellectuals-here Channel 4 talk-show look.
Why does this amuse me?
Because I’m here to tell you about my sexual life and if I had to sum it up in one image, it would be a camera. I’m not talking about the clichéd metaphor of the motorized zoom lens as the symbol for male arousal, or even the image of the over-weight paparazzi caressing the shaft of his grotesquely extended long-distance lens. The image I have in mind is of a tourist, head tilted back to take in the magnificence of one of the wonders of the world, holding a camera aloft between him and all that splendor, as if only what he sees on the LCD screen is real.
My sexuality is framed by the LCD screen of my imagination.
It withers when confronted with physical reality.
I’m sorry, I tend to head off into Alan Bennett monologue land and lose my focus on the task at hand, as it were. My task, as you put it your ad, is to “share first hand experiences that have shaped my sexual identity and are outside the sexual norm.” So let’s get the formal part out of the way shall we?
I am subject 147. I’m male, 43 years old, 5’ 10’’, 205 lbs, heterosexual and unmarried. I confirm that I am taking part in this sociology study of my own free will and that the material in this interview can be used anonymously for academic research.
OK so back to my sex life. It is fair to say that my sexual experience with other people has been limited. Very limited.
Arousal is not the issue. From puberty onwards my body became a lust-furnace, greedily demanding to be fuelled each day. Yet, although my mind flared with need and my eyes sucked in erotic images as if they were oxygen, it was always my own hand that stoked the flames.
I am, by preference, a wanker.
Yes, I know the politically correct response: wanking is a pejorative term, we all masturbate, it’s nothing to be ashamed of, it doesn’t define who we are, blah, blah, blah. Except, in my case, masturbation is not just the fast-food, self-service option on my sexual menu, it is my entire cuisine. It’s been more than twenty years since I last had any physical sexual contact with another person.
OK, so now I’ve filed myself under F for Freak. I know the image people have of a man who’d rather toss-off than fuck: a sad shut-in, with no social skills, poor personal hygiene and a porn-based concept of women in which the holes are more than the sum of the parts, but that’s really not me.
I’m one of those men that women find it easy to talk to. I listen well, I know how to make them laugh without making them feel uncomfortable and I genuinely enjoy their company.
Women start by liking my mind and my personality and move on to wanting me physically.
It would be an ideal situation except that, for me, the hardwired link that normal men have between lust and the desire to fuck seems to be fractured.
In my case, lust and masturbation go hand in hand in the most literal way.
I find women, the idea of them, the image of them, deeply, irresistibly, unforgettably arousing; I just can’t bring myself to fuck them.
What do I mean by that?
Let me give you an example. Yesterday, seated on a crowded Tube train, I fell in lust with the thirty-something business woman standing in front of me. Shielded from the world by the novel in her hand and the iPod buds in her ears, she was unaware that I was observing her, assembling the details of her appearance and behaviour to build a picture of her sexual potential.
On the surface my lady of the Tube presented herself to the world as competent, professional, perhaps a little distant. For anyone who took the time to look more carefully she had laid a trail of breadcrumbs to another side of her nature. Her minimal make up made her seem serious while emphasizing her good bone structure. Her thick, dark, shoulder-length hair was tied back in a pony tail that invited the mind to envision it being set free to cascade over her shoulders. Her ostensibly conservative business suit was tailored to display her figure, the jacket falling to just above the tight curve of her skirt-clad arse.
She was standing, legs slightly apart, arm raised above her head to hold on to the grab rail, swaying in front of me in time to the rhythm of the train. Her jacket had fallen open, revealing a tailored white blouse that showed off her olive skin and emphasized the slim strength of her torso and the compact temptation of her small, neat, bra-garnished breasts.
But what captured my imagination wasn’t her figure or the tension in her long smooth lightly muscled legs, it was the promise offered by a sweat-dampened strand of hair that had freed itself from the ponytail to cling to her neck.
I closed my eyes and let the fantasy play in the cinema of my mind. We were alone on the Tube and she had noticed me looking at her. The grin she gave me was feral and more than a little intimidating. Still holding on to the grab bar, she hiked her skirt up and placed one foot on the seat beside me, displaying the smooth strength of her thigh above the top of her stay-up stocking. I leant forward for a closer look. She pulled her thong aside and the salt-and-sea scent of her arousal hit me. Her free hand found the back of my head, grabbed me by the hair and forced my face onto her sex. She was not gentle. As the train rattled and rolled, my mouth became her point of balance and her sex became my world.
It was a most satisfactory imagining.
When I opened my eyes, the Tube woman was watching me. She smiled at me. Not a polite, I’ve-been-caught-watching-you-but-I-mean-no-offence smile but a ready-to-be-amused smile that might curve upwards into pleasure.
I got off at the next stop without speaking to her.
Perhaps you feel that I missed an opportunity; that I should have reached out to her, made a connection, taken her home to my bed and had sex that was not imaginary.
If I was normal, you would be right. But I am not normal and it would have been a disaster.
If we had connected, if I had smiled back, if she had talked to me, taken me home, left me in no doubt that she wanted my mouth at her throat and my hand on her breast, that she was waiting, hoping, to pushed down, spread wide and used hard, I would not have been aroused. Cold dread would have risen up my spine, leaving me unable to act. If she had mistaken my hesitant response for nervousness and moved to pull me to her, dread would have been replaced by a rising revulsion that renders me impotent and may make me nauseous enough to throw up all over her.
I am, it turns out, haphephobic.
You don’t know the word? I thought, as an academic, the Greek route would be enough for you to work it out. No? It means I have a fear of being touched. In my case, the phobia is limited to be touched sexually. Thank heavens for small mercies.
Don’t be fooled, just because there’s a word for it doesn’t mean that medical science has any idea what causes it or how to treat it. Of course, what the scientists don’t know, the psychologists are always willing to invent.
So, what would you choose, panic-filled nausea or skillfully administered self-service?
Of course, as a young man I didn’t understand my, what should I call it? Preference? No, too weak a word. Constraints? Too judgmental for our purposes. Let’s borrow from the cannons of self-help (after all, my preference is to help myself) and say I didn’t understand my boundaries.
I was still a virgin when I completed my A Levels in the summer of 1984. At the time I put this down to limited opportunity: I was an only child, I went to an all-boys school and I lived at home with my ever-so-Catholic parents. Plus, I told myself that I didn’t want to get “involved” with a girl that I would leave behind when I escaped to university at the end of the summer. Now I realize that my continuing virginity was an early warning sign that my path to sexual release was going to be a solitary one.
Although my school years were a fuck-free zone, I did actually get as far as kissing a girl or two when I was in the Sixth Form. I was going through a “New Romantics” thing at the time. On a Saturday night I’d head for the local disco looking like a shorter version of Tony Hadley from Spandau Ballet. Well, I had the hair cut and the nerve to wear the clothes and I knew all the words to “True” -.still do in fact.
I’d stand at the bar, pretend I was old enough to drink, and watch the girls dancing ‘round their handbags. It seemed that I was doing the same thing as all the other lads, but I wasn’t. They didn’t look at the girls the way I did. They were searching for a signal that a girl had seen them and might dance with them. I was memorizing every detail of the flow of female flesh in the tidal currents of the dance floor.
There would always be a few girls who were there to dance, rather than to get off with someone. They would disappear inside their heads, often closing their eyes completely and giving themselves up to the dance. I would pick one, usually the one who didn’t stop dancing, even though her hair was damp with sweat and her skin gleamed and her dress stuck to her body, and I would try to picture what she would look like when she fucked. Given that I’d never seen a real girl naked, this required some imagination on my part, but it seemed to me that, for these women, the ones who listened to their bodies, who dived deep into themselves and swam through the music as if being called to a place they could not turn back from, dancing and fucking would work the same way.
None of the women I watched ever gave any sign that they knew how closely I was watching them. None of them even made eye contact. Yet these were the women I would hold in my mind later, alone in my room, as my fingers and thumb tugged and pulled and stroked me to release
There were girls who noticed me; the shy girls, not yet at home enough in their growing bodies to throw themselves into the dance, or not confident enough in their own looks to want to risk being the centre of attention. They would stand beside me, watching me watching the dancers, waiting to be noticed. If they were still there when I’d sated myself with images of swayed hips and flung hair, I would take them somewhere away from the noise and talk to them.
It wasn’t that I wanted these shy but available women to be a surrogate for the sexy but unattainable ones I’d been lusting after. I don’t think I even made the connection. I went with the shy girls because each of them looked at me as if I might be the answer to an unspoken question. Talking with them was intoxicating because I knew I had their full attention. I performed for them, I made them laugh and I had the good sense to ask them questions about themselves and listen to the answers. The girls relaxed and showed me something of their true selves. That was the part of the evening that I enjoyed the most.
After an hour or two of increasingly intimate talk, it would have been rude not to walk the girl home. A tension would build as we walked along in silence through the dark streets. I knew the girl wanted something from me but I wasn’t sure what. Sometimes, after the silence had gone on for too long, the girl would look at me, disappointment telegraphed in her every move, and then make an excuse – a forgotten purse, a suddenly seen friend – and leave me. A few girls were bolder. They would stand close to me, maybe even lean against me, and breathe, “Kiss me.”
In theory, I wanted to kiss them: The idea was exciting. They were soft and warm and they wanted me. But the gap between idea and reality was a deep dark crevasse that swallowed my excitement. When the girl’s lips touched mine, I stiffened in all the wrong places. My arms grew heavy. My body tensed. My mind locked itself into a panic room and watched events from behind glass.
The kisses never lasted long but they always left me numb and clumsy. I would try to retreat with dignity. I could manage it if the girl politely pretended that everything was normal.
I would stumble away from the girl and head for my home. At some point, as the numbness subsided, my walk would become a run. By the time I reached home, I would be eager to cleanse myself of the memory of the failed kiss by summoning remembered images of dancing flesh and tugging at my desire until my stained bed-sheets proved beyond doubt that I was a normal healthy male
By morning I would have convinced myself that the kiss had gone quite well, considering. I told myself that it was my curse to be attracted to nice girls, that this was how nice girls kissed and that the reason we got no further than kissing was that nice girls didn’t do that kind of thing. It was only later that I realized that I walked home with nice girls because they didn’t do that kind of thing.
I’m sure the girls knew something was not right. Perhaps it was that I didn’t hold their hands as we walked or perhaps it was because I didn’t try to touch them in all those soft secret places young men yearn for. Or maybe it was the absence of something that they’d seen in my eyes while I’d watched the dancers but which wasn’t present when their lips touched mine. By the time I broke from the more-expected-than-desired kiss, they would be confused. Some were even angry.
Only one of them, Sharon Hughes, ever walked home with me more than once. If I had been wired normally, she was the girl I would have lost my virginity to.
Sharon had the looks to be one of the sex-goddess-dancers that I obsessed about: tall, deep breasted, with broad hips and a wickedly wide mouth, but Sharon never surrendered herself to the dance or to anything else. Sharon was always in control. That summer she decided she was going to be in control of me.
The other girls that I’d kissed had led me to their homes, within sight of safety and parental support, before making it clear that I should touch them. Sharon was different. She wrapped her arm around mine so that her breast constantly brushed against me as we walked. At first it was just distracting but soon I realized that I wanted her to let go; that I needed some space between us. I was still trying to figure out how to make this happen when Sharon ambushed me.
Around the corner from her house, she pushed me up against a lamppost, put her arms around my neck and pulled my mouth down to hers.
It had never occurred to me that a girl might want to force her tongue into my mouth. I was so surprised to find myself penetrated like this that I temporally forgot how to breathe.
Perhaps mistaking shock for passion, Sharon pressed her substantial breasts against me, clamped her legs around mine tightly enough for me to feel the hard weight of her pubic bone.
I wasn’t sure what was going on but I knew I wanted it to stop. I grabbed her wrists, pulled them away from my neck, a little more roughly than I’d intended and forced them down to her sides.
Sharon stopped kissing me but remained pressed against me. Somehow she managed to make it look as if I was holding her in place. She smiled, squeezed my thigh between her legs, and said, “I’m going to have to watch myself with you. I can see you’d just love to hold me down and make me do things.”
I let go of her wrists and tried to push her off me. As soon as my hands were on her shoulders she slid down my body making it appear that I had pushed her to her knees. She looked up at me from between my legs, ran her hands over the inside of my thighs and then slid them up and back to grab my arse.
My hips shot forward of their own accord and suddenly her face was next to my crotch. For a fraction of a second she brushed her cheek against my still-soft cock. With her eyes half-closed, the tip of her tongue just visible between her slightly parted lips, she looked like a wanton angel bathed in a halo of sodium light
Time slowed and her image burned into my memory with all the white heat of camera flash.
She opened her eyes, looked up me and then, with move that I can replay in my head even now, she rocked back on her heels and pushed upwards, spine straight, shoulders back, breasts rising. My attention focused on her stiff stubby nipples which seemed to be aimed at me like weapons.
Sharon knew what I was looking at.
“See what you’ve done to me, making me get on my knees to suck you off” she said.
I started to sputter a protest but Sharon put a finger across my lips to silence me
“It’s OK,” she said, pushing the tip of her finger into my mouth, “I liked it.”
She stepped back, moved her hand from my mouth to her breast and rubbed the now moist fingertip over her nipple.
“You can see how much I liked it,” she said.
The fabric of her blouse darkened beneath her fingers.
“I think you’re turning me into a very bad girl,” she said, “Now I have to run or my dad will give me hell.”
I stayed with my back to the lamppost, waiting for my pulse to return to normal.
Later that night, as I lay with my fingers around my cock, I knew that there was a possibility that Sharon lived in an alternate reality where she wrote the screenplay of her life. I knew that my own response of flaccid panic was more than a little strange. I pushed that knowledge away and focused on Sharon and what she’d done and what she’d claimed I’d wanted to do.
Slowly stroking myself, I imagined pulling my belt off my pants and using it to bind Sharon’s elbows together behind her back, forcing her amazing breasts to jut forward. By the time I’d gotten to the short strokes, I was pushing Sharon’s head further down my cock with one hand while twisting a stubby nipple with the other. I came so hard that my belly was covered in cum.
I fell asleep wondering if Sharon would be at the next disco.