WET PAINT: ‘Talking is just masturbating without the mess’

I’ve recently noticed a change in the way people are talking. From the street to the metro and from the library to the grocery store, people everywhere are talking to themselves. While I encountered this widespread habit upon first moving to Montreal and tried to think of it as one of our city’s endearing little quirks, the trend seems to have increased of late. Though still somewhat alarming, I think I’ve come to terms with this penchant for public displays of inner monologue, for as a prof once so aptly put it, “We all have an identity and we all obsess over it, so why not just address it directly?”

An excellent point, but it explains neither the recent increase nor the public aspect. Speaking of interesting Montreal public phenomena, within my first week here, I happened to walk by two separate guys masturbating on their doorsteps-one of them at four in the afternoon on a Sunday.

It all makes me think of a certain Our Lady Peace song hailing from our collective memory of grade nine, where Raine Maida proclaimed that, “Talking is just masturbating without the mess.” Isn’t it funny how people seem to be taking both-if Raine will let me separate the two for clarity’s sake-to the streets and common areas in general?

One of my summer subletters commented recently that she had masturbated one morning to ease some stress, which led to this exchange:

Me: “But I was home all morning and you had your door open all morning. And… wasn’t my door open?!”

Her: “Yeah, I know. (pause). What?! It’s not like I made noise!”

I was taken aback. A creeping feeling, much like the one that gurgles up in your throat if your mom goes into detail about sex with your dad, started brewing; a classic face-scrunching, sideways-squinting glance snuck onto my face.

It’s not just my subletter who wields such a voracious appetite. You know those five minutes they give you after a professional massage to get your Namaste in check before sliding off the table and back into your cold clothes? Apparently the massage was just too good for a friend who had to masturbate right in the middle of flickering tea lights and Enya. To think that I ponder whether to leave my underwear on during a massage.

So can I conclude from this that we’re just not getting each other off anymore? I think I might just have to. After all, a Facebook group called Masturbataholics (no longer anonymous) exists, which is slightly amusing considering that the idea of a closet masturbator is completely absurd. It is something you do in the closet, yet everyone does it in the closet. Cancel the two closets and you’re left with something that’s anything but anonymous. So why the redundancy of this recent outpouring?

Perhaps we’re not getting each other off figuratively anymore either. If talking really is just masturbating without the mess, we’re clearly not making each other feel very good anymore, whether in conversation or in bed. Then again, maybe we are and we’re just learning to listen to all of that inspirational, mass e-mail forward, Lululemon-manifesto type talk that instructs us to love ourselves.

Perhaps it sunk in to the point that we woke up one day and thought to ourselves, “You know, I do have a self. Why not address it and why not love it too? But shit, I’m late for my bus. I’ll just have to do it on the way”.

Hey, don’t tell me; tell yourself. I’m sure you will, mess or no mess.

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