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How to Do It is Slate’s sex advice column. Have a question? Send it to Stoya and Rich here. It’s anonymous!
Dear How to Do It,
I have a rather uncomfortable situation that developed a few weeks ago. I was outside early one morning with my dog in my own backyard. It was well before sunlight and about 3:45 a.m. to 4 a.m. The dog is older and often wanders around the yard aimlessly while I sit on our back patio, which is surrounded by a fence.
Even though I’m nearly 60, my anatomy works quite well, and I often awake to a morning erection. Usually, when this happens, I simply masturbate, and this helps me last longer and later in the day when my wife and I are intimate. Like most mornings, I had a full erection on this particular morning and had thrown my robe on and taken the dog out. She wandered about our yard, sniffing the various flowers and such. I began to masturbate.
Several minutes into it, I heard our gate open and our neighbor walked through it. She let out a little startled scream, and I looked up in shock and blew my load everywhere in front of her. She quickly apologized and ran back home. I cleaned up and went inside. What do I do now? I’ve been avoiding her and it’s quite awkward as we were good friends. We often barbecued or had beers on our patios. I know she saw everything, and I also never would’ve thought she would wander into our backyard at 4 a.m. What do I do now?
Stoya: OK, so first until about a third of the way through the second paragraph, I was pretty worried about where this was going.
Rich: With the dog?
Stoya: Yes. So this letter was, in the end, a joyous experience for me. It was a whole emotional roller coaster with a twist at the end. Oh, God.
Rich: I think the neighbor has way more to answer for. What was she doing in his yard? What was that about?
Stoya: The first question, 100 percent, is why are you letting yourself into other people’s yards with gates at 4 a.m., two things that make no sense and are inappropriate. You don’t go to people’s houses at 4 a.m., and you don’t let yourself into people’s gates.
Rich: And here’s why you don’t do that—you might catch the person who owns the house masturbating while his dog’s running around the yard. In a way, this situation is perfectly constructed to illustrate just that. Perhaps too perfect. Part of me suspects this is a fake letter, but I think it’s worth walking through nonetheless, for entertainment value alone.
Stoya: People can absolutely see into my windows, so I make sure my curtains are closed if anyone’s going to be walking around naked. But if I had a fence that was tall enough and opaque enough, I would never have clothes on ever, unless I had to go somewhere. I guess in the winter, I would. But really, in the winter I would put my massive winter coat on and go buck ass naked, other than coat and boots, to get the mail or whatever. But you’re right. As a homeowner or renter of a property, as long as the public cannot see you, it is your right to be nude and jerk off as you please.
Rich: We do not get very much in this world. Privacy is one of the few things we can reasonably expect. So, I feel like this is all on the neighbor.
Stoya: It’s 100 percent on the neighbor. I also want to caution our writer. So there’s this episode of Orange Is the New Black, and I am doing an apples to … oranges comparison here. I’m just going to let that one stand.
Rich: No pun intended, but we’ll put it in the column. And then it will be intended.
Stoya: This guy who had been in charge of the prison, there’s a situation—where he is at fault—with a woman who used to work at the prison, and he goes over to clarify things. He’s just had a vasectomy, and one of his stitches pops while he’s talking to this woman who already doesn’t want to talk to him. Then he grabs his crotch because the stitches just popped, and that escalates the situation immensely. So, you don’t want to get anywhere near that kind of scenario, and you want to set the boundary of, “Do not enter my yard without permission,” especially not at 4 a.m.” But you don’t want to explain anything about your working anatomy, your morning erections, or the very sweet detail of how masturbating in the morning helps you last longer with your wife. Don’t mention any of that because then it could get very messy and very strange.
Rich: I think sometimes in a situation, if you’re being compassionate, you do go above and beyond. The ball is technically in her court. She’s not going to take the ball, this awkwardness is still bothering you, and you feel like you can mitigate it. There is a scenario in which it could be dealt with very, very quickly. “I’m sorry if I startled you in some way. I would love to move past that and forget that it happened.” That might be all it takes. Just an acknowledgment and a “let’s not talk about it” because I think that you’re totally right. The less said about it, the better. As soon as you start describing this stuff, then you’re in creepy territory.
And also, I mean, look, I’m not going to judge this guy, but he did cum when she was there, so there was some kind of sexual response there… We don’t have to deal with that. Maybe it was a coincidence. Doesn’t seem like it, but whatever. It is what it is. It happened. It is exciting for people sometimes to be caught. That is a kink.
Stoya: I’m wondering if, separate from the neighbor issue, he wants to ask his wife to set an alarm for a few minutes after he lets the dog out and have her come “surprise” him one morning. Because I wonder if he’s stumbled into a proclivity that he was not aware of until now.
Rich: He very well might have. Overall, I think, the LW could just be straightforward, utilitarian, and vague about this. Acknowledge it, and move on. Hopefully, that does the trick. I think any lingering awkwardness is going to be a result of the neighbor’s shame because she was poking around. She saw something that she absolutely shouldn’t have. She was in the wrong, and she must know that. As wonderful as it would be if the world were full of people who just did something wrong and apologized, unfortunately, the world is not like that at all. Sometimes somebody does a disservice to you and then holds it against you. That’s humanity.
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