by Tatiana Ryckman

From Fall 2016

I gave a hand job the other day. I rarely give hand jobs anymore, now that I am allowed to have real sex. I still think of it that way—being allowed. But I should be clear: I mean the self-permission to fuck without guilt. I’d been doing it for a few years before, but without the permission of the people who made my decisions for me, and making decisions for myself was a skill I’d had few opportunities to practice. 

So for years I was fucking and notfucking and mostly giving hand jobs because a hand job never hurt anyone, unless there’s no lubrication, like in high school.

You can give a hand job on a bus, in the ‘90s, while Lisa Lobe sings your favorite new song on headphones. When you get home you can dance to this song alone in your bedroom. Years later you can fuck in your bed and when (s)he leaves you can play this song and dance alone in your bedroom. Make a routine. There should be many heart-pumping motions to illustrate the heart-pumping lyrics of the song. If the mood isn’t right, try Merrill Bainbridge. Though her song played 100 times a day throughout the summer of 1996, most people won’t recognize the name. She will be all yours. 

When I gave a hand job the other day I was really nothaving sex, and notgiving a blow job. This was a compromise. You could say I was in a compromising situation. You could say I had gotten myself into a compromising situation. Sometimes I don’t mind compromising, it’s how we all keep getting along. Other times, it’s exactly what it sounds like.

Now that you’re an adult you can give hand jobs on your lover’s bed or on a long drive. You can play that Cardigan’s song because it is romantic and you are feeling romantic.  

The other day I watched the come of the person to whom I was giving a hand job spurt to the rhythm of The Cranberries as it played in my head. This person had no idea, what this person did not know would not hurt this person. Likely this person was imagining me naked, or us naked, or a mutual acquaintance naked or a stranger naked. But I was imagining the music video for the song Zombie. Zombie, I’ve recently decided, is a song about healing. So, I thought, if what I was doing would have hurt someone, I was putting this bandage of The Cranberries over the wound, which at that moment was the dilating hole of a penis.