Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang
Grand Central PublishingCopyright © 2010 Handler, Chelsea
All right reserved.ISBN: 9780446552448
I was eight years old and well into the third grade at Riker Hill Elementary School when I fell head over heels in love with myself. What can only be described as the “cornerstone of my youth” came unexpectedly out of left field and washed over me like a Category 5 cyclone. Not enough to drown me completely, but enough for me to lose my footing and knock me on my supple eight-year-old ass.
A friend of mine named Stacy Silverberg invited me to a sleepover party at her house, where she was going to teach everyone how to get “the feeling.” I had never heard of the feeling before, but it was definitely something that piqued my interest. Reason led me to assume it had something to do with either a Smurf or a Cabbage Patch Kid, both of varying appeal.
When I got to Stacy’s house, her Jamaican housekeeper, Margaret—or, as I liked to call her, M-Dawg—let me in. Stacy’s parents were always out on the town, and her house was always spotless, which was a nice respite from the doughnut-stained, dog-hair-covered sofas my parents tried to pass off as sanitary.
When I walked into Stacy’s room, there were a total of four girls already there, all facedown on their sleeping bags with their clothes on, violently rubbing their vaginas. I was appalled that no one had the good manners to manage a hello and equally taken aback by the pure ecstasy on all their faces.
I had never planted my face so fast into a carpet in my life. This was what my brother Greg referred to as a “double jackpot.”
“Over my jeans?” I asked Stacy, with my hands underneath me and my head squished to one side.
“Yes,” she told me. “You don’t want to actually touch your own vagina.”
No fucking kidding. That was out of the question. I had enough trouble even looking at my own vagina every morning when I pulled on my Mary Lou Retton underwear.
I had finally discovered what most English-speaking people refer to as the “vagina” but what my family referred to as the “coslopus” (kuh-SLOP-us). I wasn’t prepared for what kind of ride this little magic muffin was going to take me on, but I reminded myself that we never choose who we fall in love with, and I had no choice when my little hot pocket in a pita took over my life for the good part of the third and fourth grades.
My initial feeling when looking down at my private area was one of disgust. From my earlier self-examinations, the only thing I could deduce was that my private area was similar to a pincushion in structure, but less radiant. You can imagine my feelings of conflict when I watched one of my brother’s porn tapes and found out that in a few more years pubic hair would be joining the party. This was obviously horrific news, but after seeing a very special episode of The Jenny Jones Show about a pair of Siamese twins separated at age thirty-four, I had made it a point that I would always look for the positive in any situation. Even if that situation involved me having all of my sexual encounters up to the age of thirty with my sister connected to me. For instance, on the upside, I would be able to hide my coslopus’s contents under the mound of pubic hair that was right around the corner. Were pubes better than just the pincushion by itself? This topic alone plagued me for a fortnight. Pubic hair or pincushion by itself? It basically came down to six of one, half a dozen of another. I learned an important lesson during my third-grade year: Avoid all direct contact with any part of your body you can hide something in, and stay away from Siamese people—and Siamese cats, for that matter.
Had I known as I walked up the hill to Stacy’s house that night, I was about to embark on one of life’s greatest adventures, I would have gotten there forty-five minutes earlier.
“Now,” she explained, “just keep rubbing the outside of your pants so that they rub against it. If you keep doing it, you’ll get ‘the feeling.’ ”
“Can I have a bolster or something for my head?”
“I don’t have any more,” she told me. All the other girls had gotten there earlier. I took my Three’s Company suitcase and placed it under my head for support. After that was drenched, I had no choice but to put my head facedown on the carpet. A lesson I wouldn’t need to learn twice.
Two hours and twenty minutes later, I was covered in sweat, with rug burns on my forehead and both cheeks. I was in a marathon with my coslopus, and I couldn’t break for more than a minute at a time. Every time my eyes would start to roll to the back of my head and I’d feel the exhaustion, I’d get a little tingle and know there was another boom-boom right around the corner. I kept coming back for more. I couldn’t get enough of myself. Who was this girl who had been hiding from me for so long? We were one and the same—soul mates, if you will. The carrot to my clitoris.
Who knew that something I could barely look at could give me such pleasure? Who knew that the little albino pincushion I was carrying around all these years would end up turning into the equivalent of a watermelon Jolly Rancher? How many other women knew about this? And if they did, why did anyone ever get jobs?
After I had completely sweated through my jeans and T-shirt like a rapist, I quickly changed into my Fantasy Island pajamas. “Hold on, Tattoo,” I said, looking at his face printed on the pocket of my pajama top. “I’m about to show you what real paradise is all about.”
I tried every different position I could imagine. I lay on my back and got myself from the front. Then I’d make a backward bridge and get myself from the top. I got on all fours and then took myself from behind, then turned on my side with one leg in the air erect, like a boomerang. Every few minutes I would come up for a couple sips of cherry CapriSun and to wipe the drool off my cheek, and then it was back to business.
I got out my sleeping bag and lay on that for more cushioning. I turned around on my back and kicked both legs out on either side in a split. I tried a scissor kick while simultaneously probing my two forefingers down the inseam of my pajamas and ended up kicking our friend Kim right in the face. “Ow!”
I looked over and realized I had woken Kim up. “How could you sleep at a time like this?” I barked.
“What are you doing?” she asked groggily. “Everyone’s asleep.”
There was no time for sleep. This was go time, and I wasn’t going to let another formative year pass right underneath my nose, or my coslopus.
Not only did getting “the feeling” feel borderline amazing, I felt like I was really recruiting some unused muscle tissue. My little eight-year-old thighs were burning, and the arches of my feet were cramping. I’d have to throw my leg out like a kickstand to alleviate the pressure, but I was hesitant to take a break. What if I couldn’t get the feeling back? What if this was a onetime deal, like a Saturday at the Chrysler-Plymouth Auto Sale?
This is what my phys-ed teacher meant when she talked about “connecting with your body.” This is a fucking connection, all right. Instead of doing pointless stretches and dumb fifty-yard-dash drills, we could’ve been doing a whole different kind of drill that would’ve achieved the same goals, fitness-wise. Climbing those ropes with the knots on them took on a whole new meaning. I would lodge my coslopus on top of one of those knots, stick my legs straight out, and start groaning. I hadn’t felt eroticism like this since I first laid eyes on a Ms. Pac-Man machine, but even that didn’t really compare, because at some point an arcade has to close. I was open twenty-four hours a day.
So many thoughts were running through my head, from unicorns to high-speed car chases to why would a woman ever need a man if she could make herself feel so outrageous? Why did she even need to leave the house? Maybe this is what stay-at-home moms did all day. Maybe they just sat around and played with themselves while watching Days of Our Lives, and then Another World, and then General Hospital. Why would anyone go to college, when you could just meet a guy, send him to the factory, and spin your baby bean all day? The only warning my mother had given me about too much pleasure was with regard to chocolate. “Life is like a box of chocolates,” she told me. “Eat too many and you’ll end up with your father’s tits.”
I didn’t know at the time that what I was doing would be considered masturbating, but I definitely knew enough to know that I needed to be somewhat discreet when accommodating myself. My parents had never had the birds-and-the-bees conversation with me, and neither did any of my sisters or brothers. I once asked my father about where babies came from, and he told me that “sometimes Daddy parks his car in Mommy’s garage.” I had no idea what that could possibly mean, but I never went into the garage again.
The only conversation about a penis I’d ever had was with my next-door neighbor Jason Rothstein. The Rothstein family lived next to us for my whole life, and they had two sons who were good friends with my brothers. My brothers and I were always over at their house until for some reason, one night while playing Tip the Waiter with Jason, he decided to pull his pants down and show me the tip of his penis. I had been sitting Indian style on the floor across from him when this happened, and I was on my feet and out the door before it dawned on me that there should be punishment for this kind of behavior. I turned around, and as he and his penis tip were getting up off the floor, I, in my best law-enforcement impersonation, threw my leg up and kicked him right in his balls. I then did a follow-up with one of my signature back-of-the-head slaps. This has the effect of making you feel not only bad but stupid. It being my first one-on-one penis interaction, I was horrified. Like most unpleasant experiences regarding the penis, the first time is always the worst time.
I went barreling down the Rothsteins’ steep driveway, gaining just enough momentum for me to make a sharp right and run straight up my own driveway and through my front door in less than sixty seconds. I stormed into the kitchen, where my parents were eating dinner. “Jason Rothstein just showed me his penis.”
“What?” my father asked, looking up from his newspaper.
“His penis?” my mother asked, in a way that made me think this was the first she was hearing of this so-called object.
“Yeah, we were in the middle of playing Tip the Waiter, and then he pulled down his pants and changed the game to Tip of His Penis.”
“What did you do?” my father asked me, still holding on to his paper.
“I kicked him in the balls and ran back here.”
“Good response,” he said, looking back down at whatever article he was reading. “Don’t go over there again.”
“Thanks for the hot tip, Dad. Shouldn’t we press charges or something?”
“Press charges against a penis?”
“Don’t you think that would be going a little overboard?”
“No, Dad. I’m eight. Are you familiar with the term ‘molester’?”
“He didn’t do anything to you, did he?”
“No, Dad, but that’s not the point. He’s obviously in love with me. He’s fifteen, and he’s got a crush on an eight-year-old. You don’t think there’s anything sick about that?”
“Oh, please, Chelsea, your mother and I are ten years apart.”
A few minutes later, my sister Sloane came into my room without knocking. “Jason’s asked me to take my pants down three times. Don’t think you’re anything special.”
I was in the middle of organizing my sticker collection and was laser focused and therefore more than a little irritated by her intrusion. “He obviously respects me more, Sloane. Any guy who asks to see yours first isn’t interested in anything long-term. You’ve got a lot to learn,” I advised her.
“Like you know anything about boys,” she told me.
“Oh, really, dipshit? I knew that I wouldn’t be going back over to my neighbor’s house for seconds and thirds after he told me to pull my pants down. You’re a moron.”
“He never told me to pull my pants down. He asked me to, and I declined.”
“So then why do you keep going over there?”
“Because they have the new Nintendo and better games.”
Sloane was pathetic and I knew it, but I also needed her to know it. “Let me fill you in on something, Sloane. I’ll be married twice before you even go on a date. I’m way more fun to be around. Plus, it’s obvious I’m going to have a huge rack. My boobs are going to be way bigger than yours, and I have hips. You have a body like Cathy the cartoon character. Please see yourself out.”
The fact that Stacy’s sleepover came just a few weeks after this incident was serendipitous to say the least. After getting a glimpse of Jason’s penis and accidentally seeing one of my father’s balls at the beach the previous summer, I was pretty intent on never having sex with a man. I spoke to my father at length not only about covering his balls but also how, if he was going to insist on wearing sweatpants, he would have to use support briefs or put one or both balls in a Ziploc bag before getting dressed. I was willing to accept either option, which I thought generous considering my hatred of men in sweatpants. “Even Russians have the decency to wear tracksuits!” I howled.
I was the last one to leave Stacy’s house the next day and didn’t question until much later in life why no one said good-bye to me. I was doing the walk of shame through the woods to my house, wearing my still-damp-from-the-night-before jeans, when I noticed how sore my calves were. What… a workout.
I wasn’t home for an hour before I needed more. I vacillated between wanting to report a rape and feeling more alive than I ever had in my first three-quarters of a decade on earth. I told my mom I was turning in for the night.
“It’s six o’clock, Chelsea.”
“I know, but we stayed up really late and I am… wiped out,” I told her, feigning a yawn, and then I pumped my arm the way one would do when signaling an eighteen-wheeler to blow its horn.
I ran upstairs, took off my clothes, and changed into a clean T-shirt and a fresh pair of jeans. As I didn’t yet have a lock on my door, I propped myself up against the wall next to my door so that I could avoid anyone walking in and seeing me humping myself.
Talk about elevating your heart rate! I felt as if Popeye’s forearms had taken up residence in my calves. This was my first introduction to strength training, and it was unforgettable. If I kept this up, which at that point wasn’t even open for discussion, it was clear that, due to the muscular development in my calves I soon would only be able to wear cutoffs.
With this kind of definition, it was inevitable that I would be approached for soccer, softball, and possibly even water polo. The fact that water polo wasn’t a sport offered at any school wasn’t an issue. After people saw what I was able to bring to the table physically, it would be clear that a team would be started, and probably a league. I began fantasizing about what coaches and recruiters would say to reel me in after I’d fake having interest in athletic pursuits.
“Ms. Handler,” one of the humorless, dykey-looking coaches would say upon approach. “May I call you Chelsea?”
I would say no.
“Okay, well, Ms. Handler, calves and muscle development like that at such a young age would be uncategorically preposterous to waste. You were obviously put on this earth to play soccer.” I would act coy and maybe guffaw, all the while knowing it wasn’t a soccer ball I could handle but a little tiny football hiding right inside my peekachu that I would have all to myself for the rest of my life.
“Ding-dong!” I would say aloud to myself in my bedroom while tapping myself on the shoulder. “Who is it? It’s me again!” Round and round and round I went. Life was better than a box of chocolates, and it was certainly better than my father’s tits. I look back at that time in my young life with fondness, nostalgia, and a touch of disgust.
It wasn’t long before I needed to masturbate all the time. I started coming home from school and watching Oprah in our second living room in the back of the house. The heat was hardly ever on in that room, and I discovered through practice that I could get extremely passionate with myself and heated up quickly, so a cold room was a bonus. I found a small oscillating fan in our basement and would place it six inches in front of my head. I would position my ass directly behind the ottoman, so if anyone walked in, all they would see was my feet fishtailing and my head propped up on a pillow. When my mother would walk in wondering why I was spending the better part of my days in an unheated living room with a fan on in the middle of winter, I would tell her I thought I was going through early menopause. When she explained that I would have to hit puberty before experiencing early menopause, I quickly changed my tune and welcomed her theory. “I guess I’m just bursting into womanhood” became my byline.
When my brothers would come home from college, they would always hang out in the second living room, but that didn’t stop me. I would sandwich myself in between one end of the sofa and the ottoman, and all they could see was my head pop out so I could check to see if they were watching me and wipe my brow with a beach towel. I sometimes wondered if they had any idea what I was doing, but I had grown so accustomed to sexually assaulting myself whenever necessary that my self-awareness became clouded. It never occurred to me that when I got up from one of these positions, the other people in the room would wonder why I was drenched in sweat with my jeans wedged up to my nipples, my eyes crossed, a severe case of cameltoe, and chapped lips. I didn’t care. I had bigger fish to fry.
School was becoming a nuisance. It was nearly impossible to go eight hours without jerking off. I had two options to get me through the day: I could use a ruler under my desk during spelling, because our teacher was always at the front with the big ruler, or I could wait until recess to use one of the metal poles that kept the swing sets upright. I would ride the pole up and down until my neck started spasming; on multiple occasions I ended up head-butting myself into the pole.
One by one, my classmates would dismount from the swings as the bell rang, while I would still be writhing on the pole a half hour later. Eventually a hall guard or teacher would come out and yell, “Chelsea, the bell rang thirty minutes ago!”
“Shut up,” I’d moan. “It’s coming!”
I found myself carving out windows of time in the day and after school for me to be alone with myself. My desire to blow off birthday parties happened to correspond with a precipitous drop in invitations. I didn’t notice that I had fewer friends, and frankly I didn’t care. Like any person in a new relationship, I had eyes for only one person, even though the person I had eyes for only had one eye.
As soon as spring came along, bike rides took on a new meaning. I would bike for hours on the weekends, rubbing my coslopus on my banana seat. I would ride up and down our block, passing our neighbor’s window with my legs extended out to the sides, avoiding any oncoming traffic at the last minute by detouring into a rain gutter. By the end of the school year, I had flipped my bicycle three times and was wearing two silver caps over the teeth I’d lost during orgasms. The vinyl on my seat had started to wear down, so I decided to tape an eraser to the tip of my seat for multiple climactic sensations. I had a basket on my bike and would run out of the house with homework to fool my mother into thinking I was on a deadline.
“My mind comes alive in the cross breeze,” I would tell her.
“How are you able to do your schoolwork while you’re riding a bike?”
“It is what it is, Mom. You say tomato, I say banana seat.”
I would get so excited on Friday nights, knowing that my peekachu and I would be able to have the whole weekend to ourselves. I always had to watch TV while hooking up with myself, just in case anyone walked into my room, which in hindsight seems a little dissonant. Reruns of Three’s Company and Growing Pains weren’t exactly titillating, but I had no idea that what I was doing was titillating, since it didn’t involve my father’s tits. I didn’t need imagery to get my party started. I just needed friction.
I decided to start sampling different clothing options and find out which materials aided what I would later find out were orgasms. One would think that sweats or leggings would be optimal, but one would be mistaken. Too easy. Shorts and skirts were off-limits, as they allowed closer to direct contact, which could result in pole burns or, even worse, me actually touching my own MINI Cooper.
I had graduated to the bed and would lie on my stomach, put the comforter over me to conceal any wrongdoing, and turn my head to the side on the pillow so I could stare straight at my TV. If my neck grew cramped, I would switch to lying on my back with the covers over me. I liked this position because, besides being much less suspicious, it worked different muscle groups.
As with any normal relationship in bloom, we experienced the highs and lows that go hand in hand with the decision to share your life with someone. We spent the summer of ’83 together, which grew more challenging due to the increase in the temperature. There were many times I was tempted to walk away, but I always came back when the sun went down. In hindsight it was easier to stay in the relationship than to jump back into the dating scene. With my invisible friend, Lucy, acting as officiator, my coslopus and I had a commitment ceremony where we vowed to be faithful, even though cheating on me would have been impossible for her, considering she was attached to my groin.
It wasn’t until Thanksgiving dinner in fourth grade that I was confronted about my romance. My parents had invited some family friends over, along with my five brothers and sisters. I was still in a honeymoon period with myself and didn’t take a Thanksgiving dinner seriously enough to not bring my gentleman caller. I had a wooden soup spoon under the table in between my legs, over my corduroys, pursuing my usual enterprise. After several beads of sweat dripped into my pumpkin soup, my father yelled out in front of the whole table, “Chelsea! Stop what you’re doing right now!”
Then my mother chimed in. “Chelsea, that is something you want to do in the privacy of your own room.”
My brother Ray took this as his cue to announce, “She does it all the time!”
The idea that what I’d been doing to myself for the past year and a half had not been a secret by any stretch of the imagination came as a shock to me. I couldn’t believe I’d been outed. I was mortified, sabotaged, and, worst of all, forced to spend the rest of elementary school ignoring my lover and her pitiful attempts to reconcile. Once it was established that it was not acceptable behavior, I had no desire to do it. No remorse. No breakup letter. No counseling. Just cold turkey. “Au ’voir,” I told my coslopus that night before reading my newest issue of Highlights magazine, which I had started subscribing to at the age of three.
I think back with fondness on that year I spent getting to know my hot pocket. While some people and the authorities took issue with it, I considered it reasonable and fair. The way I saw it was, if you looked down and saw a brownie sundae with the works sitting in your lap, day after day after day, eventually you’re going to attack it.
After I was found out, I didn’t contact my clitoris for years. I deemed it untrustworthy and bizarre. I felt the same way about penises. That’s why I gave my first hand job with a sock.
Years later when I moved to Los Angeles and walked in on my roommate masturbating in her bedroom the normal way, naked, I almost vomited. “First of all, ya sicko, you need to put some jeans on,” I told her. “Then you need to find yourself a playground.”