Image: ©Wolff, 2003

little deaths: masturbating on a sunday
Giovanna Coppola

my mom, the disciplinarian of the house, was strict. this meant that i didn't play with lots of friends when i was little based on my mom's distrust of american households. on friday and saturday nights i would go to my older sister's house and play with my nieces and nephews while my mom and dad worked at their restaurant.

during Saturdays i would lie around the house and read. and my other sister would tell me i was lazy while she went to work at CVS. sometimes i would play with some of the other girls on the street, but they were younger than me and thought i was weird since i went to catholic school. on sundays i would go to church with my family, dressed in sunday clothes and sing in the choir. i would lie around for the rest of the day, spending the afternoon in my room, watching whatever john hughes film was being broadcast on the tv.

my parents thought that i was safe since they knew where i was (either in my room or up in the tree house when it was warm out) and that i wasn't being influenced by a vast assortment of people they didn't know.

so that meant that i was by myself a lot.

being a girl that fell in love for the first time at age seven, (a massive crush that lasted two years), i liked to think about sex. i would kiss various parts of my body, pretending they were somebody's lips, skin on skin, hide under the covers and simulate sex with a pillow, fantasize about getting raped, and at school i would imagine my teacher getting her clothes torn off by a stranger that climbed through the classroom window. sometimes i would lift up the girls' skirts, stick my hand down the boys' trousers, and show my underwear at least once a day.

as i got older and hit puberty, sundays were my day to explore. locked up in my room, my parents didn't bother me and i would look at myself in the mirror, watch my cunt swell as i rubbed it, stick my finger up there, and spread my ass apart to look at it.

i had this tape recorder that i carried around with me to record conversations and little stories, it was also my little child sex toy where i would rub it up and down against my clit really fast to make myself come while recording myself.

my sister once caught me, maybe 'almost' caught me, where she opened the door to my room and found me sitting behind my bed with my jeans around my ankles and the tape recorder in my hand. for her sake we never talked about it.

some would think that going to catholic school spread on the guilt, especially since my big day for fucking myself was sunday. but at first there was no guilt. i mean they tell you that swearing is a sin as well as eating jesus on a full stomach, but sex, or what goes on in the mysterious 'down there' was something that was kept quiet, at least when we were ten.

lucky for the girls, we had katie kearney in our class who taught us the less romantic ideas about sex. her dad was a porn addict and her mother pretty much let her run around and do whatever she wanted. so she would bring porn into school and to our houses and we would all get horny together. if anyone of us got caught at home or school for being too curious (i.e. susan's mom finding videos hiding behind the potted plant), we could just say, "it was katie" with the comfort that we knew she wouldn't get in trouble, or at least that no one cared enough to yell at her.

i remember when me and katie slept over maria's house during christmas break in seventh grade. katie brought over one of her dad's books, "In the Neighbor's Backyard," the first kind of erotic literature (with all the typos) i read. it was my job to read, while me, katie, and maria rubbed our cunts up and down across maria's bed.

i learned most of my words that day -- cum, prick, snatch, cunt, ass-reaming, cock, creaming, clit, blow jobs, 69, and frothy fuckhole (my favorite, i love alliteration). the book had all kinds of sex and positions, from threesomes to lesbian sex, from missionary to doggy style.

we talked about sex constantly after that and everywhere, not caring who heard us. i called john sheehy a cum-sucking gynecologist in front of a lady at the movies and she gave me a disgusting look and told me i talked like a prostitute. john told her i went to catholic school.

when spring came we would read the book at school on the playground near the graveyard. for me, they were the first people i read about that liked sex. of course they were an exaggeration of wanton lustfulness, but shit, they all had a whole day to themselves to do nothing but have orgasms. that was nice. i could relate to that.

later on that year, we had human sexuality classes, where we'd learn about sex with a religious twist. mrs. roache talked to us about it, but she would call it intercourse and make it sound like science.

one day she announced, "i've had intercourse. i've had an orgasm, and one day when you're married you will too."

shit, most of the girls began to laugh out loud and i pounded my hand on my human sexuality book. katie had drawn a big 69 on the cover.

mrs. roache didn't say anything to us, but father andy was invited to our next class to talk about the sin of contraception.

"sex is a beautiful thing," he said, "but there needs to be love and life in it. If you have sex and you use contraception, you and your spouse are blocking life. you may love each other, but if there is no life than sex is a sin. masturbation, on the other hand, is neither love nor life, so it is even more of a sin."

"but you can love yourself," one of us said.

"but it's still a sin."

shit, it was a sin. i mean i could see us reading porn on the playground was a sin, but touching ourselves was bad too? i read once in a teen magazine that masturbating was considered a sin in some religions, but i figured that was one of those sub-saharan tribal religions. but it had to be mine.

i remember playing outside with my dog and having the phrase run through my head that i had lost my innocence. i was twelve and i felt tainted.

and then maria finally ripped up the book, sprinting across the playground screaming and tearing the pages and throwing them in the air. me and katie chased after her and i grabbed the pages and stuffed them into my uniform, praying that the teachers weren't going to find them.

so sex was bad, petting was a no-no, and making yourself feel good was even worse. and god knows what was going to happen to you for masturbating on a sunday.

but after the hysteria died down, a lot of us realized that everything we did was a sin, from chewing gum in class to eating meat on fridays. humans were born with original sin, it was impossible to get rid of.

so we got over it and then felt pretty good that we had bodies. the girls in the class got the ball rolling, so by the time we hit 13 the boys were ready to play.

we were sinners, big fucking deal.++

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