I didn't fully make the connection between masturbation and sex until I was about 15. By about 13 or 14, I began to have my suspicions about it, but I wasn't completely sure until I was 15 and decided to try thinking about boys while I was masturbating to see if it worked - and of course there was no turning back after that. The fact is, my masturbating didn't have a lot to do with explicitly sexual images until then. I had to consciously make them sexual - and at first, this felt like taking an indirect detour. Before I deliberately wrought this change in my fantasies, sex wasn't the point. People weren't the point. Touch wasn't the point and nor was love, attraction or any other form of interpersonal emotion. It was about me and the world, about life and death, the supremacy of pleasure over all those considerations, and about letting go.
I wish I could remember my first time, but it's just too far back. It began before my first memories. I remember always needing to do it when my mum had dressed me in certain clothes. Dresses and pyjamas were ok, but any skirt with a firm, tight waistband or trousers that encased my little thighs would give me the same feeling I now associate with wearing tight jeans - arousal. When it happened, I would go off and press myself against one of my favourite articles of furniture. Yes reader, yes. My first major sexual relationships were with furniture. For instance, if the coast was clear, I'd sometimes crawl under the dining room table and wrap myself around one of the legs and hump it. In my bedroom, I remember forming a very strong and lasting attachment to a corner of a white chest of drawers with a big picture of Pluto on the side. But I think it was the Fourth Banister From The Left on the landing that was probably my all-time favourite household fuckbuddy. It was made of wood, coated in glossy white paint that soon became warm to the touch, and it was square in shape. By God, yes. Very, very square. I know, I know, it sounds devastatingly sexy. And indeed, it was a very sultry object to me and I was often powerless to resist its glorious white, painty, woody allures. I remember that I used to stick my legs around the slender and seductive shaft of the Fourth Banister From The Left and cross them so that they were dangling down into the abyss. I never remember getting caught. I remember always knowing it had to be secret. I wonder about that sometimes. I think perhaps I may even have done it in my pram, before I can remember anything, and my mother might have stopped me and scolded me. Because how else would I have known - at the age of 4 - that I had to hide it? But this is just speculation.
Something I do remember for sure is that I tried to show my little brother how to do it - I would have been about 6 or 7 at the time and he about 2 or 3. I invited him to try the enticing charms of the Eighth Banister From The Left - an attractive banister which ought to have set his pulse racing with excitement. I showed him how to make sweet love to the Eighth Banister From the Left and promised him a big surprise at the end of it. He sat there for a little while, his podgy little legs swinging loosely up and down as he waited for his surprise; and then he just seemed to lose interest. I was highly affronted, as I recall. I felt as though I had just offered to share the most monumental of all life's secrets with him, and he just crawled off in the middle of it in order to satisfy a more pressing urge to drag his Fisherprice tractor backwards and forwards over the carpet. I was deeply disappointed in him. I don't think I managed to forgive him for many years.
I still remember some of my fantasies from this time. Pretty much all of them involved either falling or getting stuck in a tight place. About a year ago, I decided to try out one of my toddler fantasies to see if it still worked and was amazed to find that it did. A classical one had me dangling off the side of a cliff, clinging on for my life. A faceless individual would come by and reach down to help me. To be rescued, I would have to grab their arm so they could pull me up. But then the tingling feeling would begin - it would be something between fear, a delicious, stomach-churning giddiness, a hot sizzling vibration and deep, unfathomable excitement. It was very like the feeling I got when I was high up on a swing and I looked down between my legs just as the ground was rushing up towards me. In the fantasy, this feeling would be so incredibly wonderful that I would stop caring about whether I fell down the cliff, because I wanted it to go on and on. So I'd hesitate, still clinging tightly to my rocky ledge. I'd dangle there in a dilemma, trying to force myself to relinquish the sensation of pleasure in order to grab my rescuer's hand and save my own life. I'd reason with myself. I'd try to convince myself how much I wanted to live, thinking of all the people I'd miss and who would miss me if I died, and I would know that, viewing the situation sensibly, I HAD to grab that hand. The person above me might then say "Take my hand - quick". At this point, I would have to make my final choice between being rescued - surviving, but losing that wonderful feeling - or risking falling down the cliff because I just couldn't resist it; because it was just too tempting and for that all-important split-second, an intense but fleeting pleasure seemed more important to me than my life and everyone and everything in it. The orgasm came at the exact moment when I was making the decision and thinking something along the lines of, "Yes, it's madness, but what do I care?", and as I was climaxing, I would unbend my imaginary fingers and let go of the side of the cliff and plummet down through the air as my astonished and disbelieving would-be rescuer stooped over the edge watching me recede, my clothes flapping around me and my hair swirling around my face. I was always very peaceful and happy at this moment, knowing that nobody alive would ever understand my decision, that I would never see anyone I knew ever again, but that I had made the right choice - the only possible choice.
As a very small child, I don't think my fantasy can have been quite so complex as this. What I have just described was probably the more sophisticated version that slowly developed from some simpler original fantasy while I was growing up. Even today, I find the image a startlingly apt description of the state of mind I - and perhaps all women - have to reach in order to orgasm. Just to be quite clear here: you have to reach this place first, and then you can climax. It's never the other way around: that climaxing induces this state of mind. Not for me, anyway. I'm sure this is why so many women have problems reaching orgams. Men can orgasm by mistake. They have to concentrate on not coming too soon. Women have to concentrate every fibre of their mind and body in order to get there at all. You have to be able focus on the supremacy of your pleasure over all other things and at the same time, to be able let go of yourself so completely that for a few seconds, you couldn't care if you lived or died; and you have to time and control those two complex states of mind and bring them into a perfect alignment.