As you may well know if you have been following me religiously (and why shouldn't you have been?), I've been through higher education, at various levels, three times - racking up a number of pretty useless qualifications - except perhaps the most recent one. Although it does have to be said that one may be more impressed (perhaps mistakenly so) with the certificates sporting logos of both an Oxbridge university and one of the constituent colleges of the University of London, the first time I went to university I look back at with fond memories.
Okay, maybe the final year. I didn't like the first year or the second year.
You know, in small doses.
My problem was that I didn't have that sort of "coming alive" experience that lots of people say either does or will happen at university. H had it, 47 certainly had it (a three-year degree took him eight, but he sweated enough for it), and my sister went to university and came back a changed person, although not necessarily for the better - but at least I now know what ketamine does to a young lady. I started university, however, at the wrong time - when I entered, I had a girlfriend, who promptly dumped me after a couple of months - leaving me without a lifeline. I was in a city that was unfamiliar to me; I had no friends; I didn't like the course... and, most of all, everyone who lived in the same part of hall as me didn't really make much effort to include me in anything, seeing me as rather self-sufficient, perhaps, content with my books, games, music and girlfriend.
I didn't experience a "new life" at university. I didn't even like it. It was a terrible disappointment to me - with the possible exception of the third year, which was different for reasons I can't quite fathom, although it may have had something to do with Japanese.
However, while at university I most definitely did discover a few things about my body and how it works, and my mind, and how that works.
I remember the first club night held in the union bar. It was my first day. I was wandering around aimlessly without anything to do, constantly wondering if I'd done the right thing. I knew the union bar held a weekly night of excessive drinking and dancing to stuff that wasn't really music, but I went because everyone else did, and if I'd done something on my own, one of the fresher reps would have descended upon me like a demented vulture sensing feed and demand that I do everything with the people from my corridor (yes, that actually did happen). I supped my lemonades with quiet dignity and danced like Tim Booth, gaining a reputation at the little oddball without any friends who didn't drink and couldn't dance.
My life is amazing.
Why this convoluted history of my life? Well, I am recalling that first club night, because I used it as a chance to masturbate. Not on the dancefloor, of course. I locked myself in a toilet cubicle, and brought myself to orgasm in there.
Although why this? Why, on my first day at university, did I use a club night as a chance for a sneaky wank in a union bar toilet cubicle, when I could have just gone back to my room and done so there? Or even just not done so? I mean, I didn't need to orgasm. I could have stayed at the bar, drinking soft drinks and feeling out of place, for a while longer. To be honest, I don't know why I did it. I think I just wanted to experience something different - despite the whole being in a different city with different people and different priorities, that is. I was testing the water a little, and although it seems weird, something in me told me that an effective way to test the water would be to go to the club night and wank in the toilets.
It's a university toilet; I'm sure worse things have happened in there.
I did feel naughty, but also wonderfully disconnected. I didn't really gel with anyone I'd met so far, and as long as I found ways to assert my independence, I would keep them to myself. With things ranging from an impromptu trip to Africa, to going on Woodcraft camp without telling anyone, to declaring myself king (yes, really), to buying a DVD of Emmanuelle: Queen of the Galaxy because I wanted to be able to recall the plot, I continually found ways to make myself different... even if I was the only one to realise this (although everyone knew I was king).
Maybe masturbating, hidden, in a union bar toilet cubicle was the start of that. Although maybe not... but if I was going to start three years of almost daily wanking, where better to start it than surrounded by people... even if they had no idea?
Why am I telling you all this? Well, it is Masturbation Month after all. I may as well get into the spirit while I can...