This didn’t happen, but I’ve imagined it. How I’d react if I walked in while he was masturbating. I was very careful with that last sentence, careful not to say, "what I’d do if I ever caught him masturbating," because "caught" implies it’s something he shouldn’t be doing. It implies it’s something we should keep from each other. The way we wait until they’ve left the room. The way I can hear him on our hardwood floors downstairs, when he might be approaching the stairs, when I should cover up, when I should stop. For fear of being caught. Living in our separate lives together.
I always imagined if I were "caught" that he’d dig right in, wouldn’t take it personally, but would instead see it as an opportunity. I’m not sure I’d feel this way. It might be a man thing. I think my inclination is to be insecure, to wonder, "what were you thinking about?" But I wouldn’t so much give a shit what the answer was unless I could be a part of it somewhere in the future trying to recreate it. The younger me would have been jealous. The me now would probably just be annoyed. If I walked in, honestly, I might laugh. Inside, I might want to punish him for it. It’s where guilt must come from.
I’ve found evidence, not that I ever needed any. I could talk my way around a textbook, tell you how normal and natural something is, how "healthy," how "good" it is for a relationship and a body. Like milk and it’s clever advertisements and commercials. How great it is because it means he’s healthy; it means he’s not out doing it with other people. It means she’s exploring her fantasies in a safe environment, not acting on them and threatening everything else. Which is a good thing. But it doesn’t feel good when your other chooses other ways of getting off, without you, quicker ways, ways without hassle or too much emotion. It can feel like cheating, and thus, there’s that fear on both sides, of catching or being caught, despite intellectualizing it all as "healthy." What used to feel healthy was so much sex you didn’t have time or cause to masturbate. You kissed on the street, on the mouth, and couldn’t keep your hands off each other. And then it became–not. Not that way, anymore, which of course, given time and circumstances, bills, marriage, children, forever, was normal and healthy and "natural" too. And then you think, I used to say, "I never want to be that couple. That couple who becomes resigned, who pass each other tissues in the middle of the night. I don’t want to be old." And then you catch yourself not just wishing for a different life, but for a time when youth didn’t feel young; it felt right.