A Letter to the “Secret” Masturbator

by Martha Polk

Dear Sir,

Do you remember me from last night? I was the jean-jacketed, sass-mouthed lady sitting with that big hairy dude who we will call ‘Jugg’ because that is what I was sure his name was for our first three dates. And you, you were the one two seats away masturbating while staring at me. Do you remember this? I was talking about the Cat Who Can’t Wake Up video, which led, obviously, as most things do with Jugg, into a discussion about talking animal videos and just talking pets in general, and I actually used that phrase, “in general,” causing me to reach the drunken conclusion that I’m actually soberly re-reaching now, namely that the phrase “in general” is used to indicate “in real life” or “off-line” so much now that I bet these phrases’ meanings will totally collapse in on themselves by 2030, the same year that ‘probly’ gets into the dictionary.

And you were the one reclined, but still somehow hunched in a cliche of perversion, staring at me and touching your penis. Is it all coming back now? Sorry I left in such a hurry!

When I finally attended to my gut-stirring intuitions and hazarded a glance your way, thereby noticing that you were, in fact, unblinkingly focused on my own personal face in your masturbatory fervor, well I didn’t know what to say!!! All the normal pleasantries (e.g., “what’s your favorite cat vid?”) seemed not to apply! I was really at a loss! Now sir, since you have introduced a certain level of, um, intimacy into our relationship, I feel I can admit something that really gets at the core of me, Martha E. Polk, a thing that really pounds against this ole ribcage if you know what I mean. I just hate having my words taken away! For they are my joy and my fisticuffs, my pride and my armor. But so your erect penis and the methodical way you were handling it while concentrating on my face and jean-jacketed breasts — when these things rendered me speechless, with nothing left but eye-rolling and head-shaking and beer-slamming, and then finally half-assed gesturing so that Jugg could get a load of what was going down, well, I felt a little robbed, and a little, well, yes, huffy at you sir! And so I did slam my beer and grab my bag and throw some cash for the bill at Jugg because he is so very poor. And I did accidentally swing my bike helmet into the neighboring table’s ketchup and mustard squirters and then charge out into the fresher, less predatory air. I took in such deep breaths because nothing steals my voice like the firm-jawed focus of a tyrannical masturbator, sir.

When Jugg came out a few minutes later, we kicked brick walls and smoked cigarettes and made out and made a billion jokes because I don’t know Jugg well enough to corner him and tell him that your eyes, sir, and their unfettered will to take me in and use me all up for your own public power-trip boner, it reminds me of another guy — maybe you know him?! — who, at a prominent New York repertory film house, turned to face me as the movie began in the unsettlingly vacant theater and stared at my shape through the intermittent glow and shadow of the film, all to conjure the same sort of public power-trip boner. And he stared and stared and masturbated like mad, and I had again lost all my words so I just tried to watch the movie, but then, of course, I had to leave. And actually come to think of it, that guy — and not to bore you or insensitively group you all together into one big rapacious clusterfuck — but that movie guy reminds me of another guy who we found committed to some pretty serious autoerotic acts in between the stacks at the University of Minnesota library.

We were just 16, there on our research field trip (!!!) for our Advanced US History Seminar, and I remember being shocked not by a dick in the library but by, more specifically, this kind of indecency amidst the US history/James Madison/Alexander Hamilton/Federalist Papers, Interpretations Of section, and how that meant that gross, sexually unpredictable men could also very much enjoy discussions inspired by The Federalist Papers and how that meant that perverted men were hiding pretty much everywhere, including in plain sight all the time and how this meant that, geez, all of mom’s warnings about ‘guys in the neighborhood’ weren’t just overprotective gobbledygook but sadly legitimate acts of fear regarding the sneaky, lurking perversions of seemingly normal everyday people, e.g., American Historians. Do you see, sir, how you’re part of a larger tradition? Without even getting into the guy who made me, at age six, say my name and then breathe into the phone for five minutes or the old slow-driving/smoking guy who made me first realize I had budding breasts or the guy who just last year punched me on the 2/3 train, etc., etc., ad infin. — do you see that you are part of something bigger? That your stare and your calculated boner in the bar continue a rich and thriving tradition of harassment so effective that I still, after all this tortured experience, just head out into the night and gulp down the wind before writing you a fake letter on the internet that probly only smart girls will read.


Martha Polk writes about women and movies.

Photo via Flickr