The Shower Drain and What You Mean to Me
I adjust the water to a comfortable temperature and assume the position: feet shoulder width apart with knees slightly bent; right hand firmly planted on the cold, wet, gray tile just next to the shower head; left hand wrapped around the base of my shaft. It’s the approximate position that I would assume if God’s voice were to come across an unseen public address system and tell me to hang onto my junk because he was about to sever the Earth in two with his divine ninja sword. I begin to masturbate furiously. As I do, I try to conjure the images of other women who I’ve seen during the week. From the Starbucks, on a bus, walking out of Charlotte Russe—whatever and whomever so long as it isn’t you. However, in the end, my mind betrays me and stays faithful to you. Yours is the last face I see as I attempt conception with the grout. My entire body goes flaccid as the soap washes away my reluctant tribute to you. The relaxation that I hoped to attain evades me. I feel ashamed and broken. For whatever reason, I just can’t shake you. And while my friends and family will never know about this secret, I cannot avoid this dim reality. In a strange way, part of me is happy that, in the end, I didn’t mentally cheat on you with a waitress from IHOP or the cable news network meteorologist—a sweet, idiotic sentiment.
I don’t know exactly when it stops, but it does. While I still masturbate while standing in the shower, you no longer haunt the sessions. When I ejaculate, I am thinking of any number of beautiful women, and even a few who are not so great. My shower orgasms are strong and fill me with a sense of ease and pride. I look forward to seeing you again, but not for any the reasons that I once did. I want to show you that I am centered, strong, and you cannot rattle me—
Until I run into you one day at Walgreens near the witch hazel.
I haven’t seen you in eight years and you still look amazing, but not quite as amazing. I don’t tell you this, because no matter what I believe you’ve done to me, it would be rude to point out that even your considerable beauty is not timeless. The late nights and recreational beverages have taken a toll on you that no amount of cosmetics, Pilates, or surgery can repair. Don’t get me wrong, you’re by no means repulsive. Quite the opposite. If you were drinking a happy hour martini at TGI Fridays where those Hyundai salesmen always hang out, you’d still get your share of unwanted attention. Yes, you’re still out of their league—but not by as much as you used to be. Starting at about two centimeters below your left eye and running downward, I notice a fissure in your porcelain skin that is betrayed by your foundation. The color of your hair is exactly one shade too dark for your skin tone. Your eyes, once lipid, now seem troubled. On some people, I would call it character, but that word doesn’t apply here. They’re the hamartia of your epic beauty. Tiny faults, but flaws nonetheless.
I start out cool in our conversation, but I slowly unravel. My jokes go from awkward and silly to pointed and mean-spirited. I want to end the conversation well, but I can’t bring myself to stop talking to you. I want the grand coup de grâce, but my mind is getting logy and stupid. In the end, it’s you who first leaves the aisle, wearing that outfit that looks like it came from Forever 21. I glance up into one of those two-way mirrors that the store uses to conceal security cameras and see the same hangdog face that I’ve seen other men wear when they’ve been humiliated. I wonder briefly if some loss prevention worker is sitting at a camera monitor shaking his head—maybe even documenting my failure for YouTube. I walk out without purchasing anything.
My fugue doesn’t end until I’m back in my shower when I finally notice that my right hand has gone pruney as my semen washes down the drain.