Tag: 1st person

SNRIs

“You like that?” he said, as one of his silicone-lubricated fingers slipped its way into my anus. I think he was trying to sound suggestive. I shivered, and involuntarily arched my back, rubbing against the soft white sheets. I hoped his fingernails were well-trimmed.

I clenched involuntarily against the one finger as he slipped it in deeper, in and out, perhaps a little more forcefully than I would have liked. “Yeah… keep doing that…” I said. I thought that maybe I should moan a little, but I decided against it.

“Yeah you like that I can tell. I’m gonna stick another one in.” Oh god. I could tell he was really getting into it, going faster and faster. He forced his index and middle finger all the way in at once and I winced, trying as hard as I could to contain my groan of discomfort. This was sadly misinterpreted as a moan of pleasure and he continued, faster and faster. “I can’t wait to fuck this hole,” he said, stroking my thighs. This is kinda hot, I thought to myself. I was praying for this awkward prep phase to end quickly so that he would just stick it inside me already. I don’t know why we even bothered with this finger-foreplay.

Suddenly, he stopped, his fingers still inside me. I looked at him, fearing the worst.

He pulled his fingers right out.

“You need to go to the toilet.”

Shit. Literally. I thought I had prepped properly.

Fuck.

The way tops said it was always the same – always with a trace of disgust in their voice. Fuck you man, we all have to shit… My face turned bright red and I turned away.

“Also, you need to eat more fibre. I thought I hit a rock in there.”

I curled up into a ball and turned onto my side. How mortifying. I’m disgusting. What is wrong with me? I could hear him shifting at the edge of the bed. I was completely soft, and the mood was dead.

I stood up and walked to the toilet, closed the door behind me and sat on the toilet bowl. I knew it was a waste of time. The shit was never going to come out on its own. Even a tablespoon of Metamucil 3 times a day, and 2 coloxyl pills before going to bed every night couldn’t clear this blockage.

Fucking SNRIs.

I reached over to the tap and turned it on, not bothering to wait for it to warm up. I reached under the sink and grabbed the douche, pulling off the hard plastic nozzle in a practised motion. I filled the rubber bulb with the cold water until it was overflowing and pressed the nozzle back on. Luckily my asshole was already lubed up. Thank you Mr Top.

I lifted my right foot up onto the rim of the toilet seat in a half-squat and slipped the douche under me. The nozzle eased in without much resistance. I squeezed the bulb, and the residual volume of air that was in the nozzle pushed up into rectum, like a reverse fart. I hated that feeling.

I shivered and kept going, forcing the water deeper and deeper into my body, in the hope of dislodging the rock-hard lumps of shit the antidepressants had cemented within my rectum. It was like some sort of sick joke from God.

I let the water sit inside me for a minute or so, as though I was mulling some shit-wine, before squeezing it all out, wanting to purge it all out with as much force as my muscles could muster, but also gently, the fear of haemorrhoids in the forefront of my mind.

Nothing. Nothing but slightly tinged water.

Again.

Fill. Squeeze. Push. Fill. Squeeze. Push. Slowly, but surely stripping away the protective mucosal layers of my rectum. At least the water was beginning to warm-up.

After the third time with no success, I reached in with the middle finger of my left hand (the longest finger) and dug around looking for any offending pieces of shit – “digital disimpaction” the doctors like to call it. I reached it quickly, touching the same poop Mr Top had probably touched in his misguided attempt to ease me open. I circled my fingers around its edges, trying to ease it out, dislodging it kindly, squeezing my kegels, and with the gentle force of the built-up douche-water behind, it slowly slipped out, along the line of my fingers, almost slipping into my palm before dropping into the water below, leaving behind it a wonderful trail of slime.

I went into the shower quickly, rinsed off my asshole and my legs in case anything had dripped downwards without me noticing. I grabbed a towel and pat my body dry. Then I washed my hands with anti-bacterial soap and scalding-hot water, finished off with rubbing alcohol and spraying deodorant all over my fingers.

I really hoped he wouldn’t smell shit.

I walked out of the toilet, and saw him against the headboard of my bed, playing with his phone and fondling his still very erect penis.

“Finally! Get over here.” He grabbed me and pushed me on all fours with my ass up in the air. He put a condom on, and slowly eased his penis inside me, moaning as it went in.

I turned my head to one side and rest it on my arms, my body jerking forward with every thrust.

I looked at the wall.

I wish it was cleaner.

Velvet

I am here in San Francisco for work. I decide, this sunny Saturday, to go and see the Painted Ladies, that row of colourful houses, hoping to cross another classic tourist spot off my list after the very disappointing “Asian Art Museum”.

I arrive, snap a few photos, self-conscious at behaving as a tourist does, and quickly walk away, up the hill of Alamo Square Park to see what other views I could enjoy of the city from this elevated spot.

Then I see a fat Jack Russell Terrier leave a group of four picnicking middle-class Asian-Americans and chase after a homeless man, trudging along wrapped in a dirty blue sleeping bag. The dog yaps, barks and snarls as its big thighs chunkily power it along. It seems pretty harmless, being a comically overweight dog, circles the homeless man a few times, continuing to snap and yap. The homeless man seems wary, recoils slightly from the wobbling drool, but otherwise he does not seem too concerned.

An overweight, gay white man sitting on a bench nearby overlooking the grass on calls out, “VELVET. VELVET! COME BACK VELVET.” He shouts, laughing. He looks at the Asians and shrugs, grinning from ear-to-ear, “He just doesn’t like homeless people! I just don’t know where he gets it from!”

They all look at each other and then look at him, and burst out laughing, the homeless man metres away. Velvet circles back round to another group of people, now all white, and they play with him, scratching him behind the ears.

Velvet decides to make another pass at the homeless man who has already begun to make a move down the hill, away from all the happy, laughing wealthy people, the clear blue sky bright and clear, the sights of bridges and skyscrapers all around.

The fat gay man calls out to Velvet again and laughs, repeating himself – “I just don’t know where he gets it from! He just doesn’t like them! I don’t get it!” He continues to shrug and smile at no-one in particular, and no-one seems to find this peculiar. Tourists walk around. Polaroid cameras click and whir, and the wind is quite soft and pleasant.

Velvet jumps onto a nearby bench and plays with a new couple and the same Asian girl continues to watch, and laughs, that same open mouth shrieking laugh. I walk away, to the other side of the part, and I can still hear her laugh, ringing through the air, at what now, I do not know.

A few minutes away, I see a black man, large and bald, explaining to another young Asian-American woman what venture capital firms like to see in start-ups: “autonomous income streams”, apparently. That is, companies into which you don’t have to put any more work to pull out endless amounts of money. She nods. He stares at me as I eavesdrop.

I walk to the bus-stop and I overhear a young couple talk about enjoying the snake carpaccio with white truffle cream sauce.

Then, my phone runs out of battery and I accidentally take the trolley bus in the wrong direction.

What’s in a word? Or in an armamentarium?

This article was (rapidly) rejected from both The Lancet and the BMJ.  I also link here the PDF version for lovers of typesetting and weird humour.

— 

A. Shah Idil*

I was perusing through Brown’s 1998 revision of the epilepsy needs document for the UK [1] when I came across on page 439 a word unfamiliar to my engineer’s eyes: “armentarium”.

I asked the Oxford English dictionary to define the word for me, and it returned to my surprise: “no exact matches”. It did however suggest an alternative with two extra letters: “armamentarium” (from the Latin armāmentum – “arsenal”). This had the meaning: “the medicines, equipment, and techniques available to a medical practitioner” – much more in line with a paragraph regarding new trends in anti-epileptics.

I thought perhaps Brown had made a simple mistake, but a quick search on PubMed delivered 113 articles with the same non-word. Google Scholar gave me 2,390! There have already been a few papers published in 2019 containing “armentarium”, with phrases such as “the therapeutic armentarium”, and “the interventionalists’ armentarium” abound [2]–[5]. If one goes back far enough, we can even find 5 papers with the typographical error in the title itself [6]–[10]!

I believe the error started from one of these five, specifically with Fox’s 1968 paper, with not just one, but two typographical errors in the title: “Endodontic armentarium for the genral practitioner” [sic]. I cannot find the full paper, or even an abstract, so I cannot say if he struggled with spelling or had a particularly poor editor. From there, the error probably propagated.

After a brief investigation I found that there is indeed such a word as “armentarium” – just not in English. It is the accusative singular of the Latin word armentarius, meaning a herdsman, or a cowboy [11].

So, let us then all not be “cowboys” and allow ourselves to engage in the proliferation of incorrect terminology.

*A. Shah Idil (corresponding author, email: a.shahidil@ucl.ac.uk) is with the Implanted Devices Group, University College London, London, UK.

it was the happiest night of my life

Its “It’s” you TWITS

My young mind’s confusion between when to use “it’s” and “its” was forever resolved, once upon a time, in a Year 5 Computer Studies class. We were made to do grammar exercises in a program consisting of dragging and dropping the appropriate words into empty spaces in sentences, having to choose between oft-confused words, e.g. there/they’re and their ilk. My very arrogant 11-year old self breezed through this program faster than everyone else as usual, enjoying all the flashes of 100% and “Great!”/”Well Done!” privately gloating to myself while present​ing airs of humility and studiousness (I mean, I’d been reading gigantic tomes of multi-volume fantasy series for years by now, this was utter child’s play!) right until I was roundly slapped in the face by a big red 0% and all my choices tumbled back down to the selection box, accompanied by an incredibly condescending: “uh-oh”!

I tried again.

“Uh-oh!”

I think I tried at least 3 times before daring to doubt myself, flipping my binary choice, and then felt shame and incredulity wash over me in alternating wash cycles.

I still claim sometimes, until today, especially when I’m drunk and/or feeling particular argumentative, that the apostrophe of “it’s” should be interpreted as possessive rather than contractive. “I bet you it was “ites” once upon a time!”

As I’m still harping on about it until today, clearly I know I’m wrong.

Doughnut

“We have to.”

I looked at him.

“We don’t have a choice.”

I looked away.

“Look. I know it’s fucking awkward. It’s not like I want to do this, but we have to.” I grimaced. “No one else is even awake. No one will ever know.”

I looked at him and looked away again.

I saw a brown spot in the wall in front of me. It looked like the sticky residue of brown tape. I looked at it for a while. I reached down and unbuckled my belt, my hands shaking, my heart pounding against my chest. I undid the button and stood there looking at the spot. It had four sides. Or five. Maybe it wasn’t brown.

I heard him coming towards me and I clenched my fists by my side. It definitely had four sides. I felt him unzipping my pants and I slammed my eyes shut.

…four sides, four sides, four sides…

He started to pull my pants down but they were very tight. My tight brown jeans. My favourite pair of four sides. Pants. I like pants.

Four pants. Pants.

He gave it a one hard tug and then my pants were at my feet, my moist white underpants in a pile on top.

I felt him take my soft cock into his mouth. He started sucking on it, sucking on it like a soggy doughnut. Sucking on my slimy soggy doughnut.

My body shook as my nails dug into my palms. He kept sucking, sucking with disgusting rhythmic pulsating noises.

Shlop.

Shlop.

Shlop.

I felt him touch my belly – then I punched him.

Then it was darkness.

Colouring Pencils

He likes colouring. I’ve seen him zone out when he colours. That stern, worried look on his face goes away, and he seems to just enjoy life. I never see that look on his face, that carefree, child-like freedom, except when he is colouring.

I bought him a new set of pencils the other day. The good kind, Faber Castells. The cheap set he’d been using ran out of red; I noticed he was using pink instead. He frowned a lot when he coloured the firetruck pink.

Do I pay too much attention him?

Maybe.

All the other kids seem to be doing fine, making friends and bullying each other and being bullied in return. But this one kid… he’s different. Too adult. It disturbs me. He doesn’t sound like an adult or talk like one even, but there is something about him that strikes me as so adult-like.

He seems so sensible.

He stopped asking for permission to go to the toilet a few weeks ago. Now he goes whenever he likes. Which is not often really, he doesn’t like to stand out – oh he really doesn’t. It usually happens when he is caught up in something really engrossing, and he forgets to do other things. Once I saw him stop breathing as he did a maths problem, and he gasped for air a minute later. Everyone turned around and looked at him. He turned red as a beet! But when nature calls, nature calls, and he slinks out of the room and out the door, and I pretend not to notice.

One of the other kids, a big boy, Khalid, borrowed his blue pencil once and broke it in half. He gave it back to him broken, and laughed when he asked him “Why?” I told Khalid to apologise, but you know with these kids. Morality always takes a while to develop, and empathy sometimes never turns up. I already show the kid too much favouritism, anything more and I risk overstepping my boundaries as a teacher.

Gosh he looked so heartbroken I just wanted to give him a hug and tell him it was just a silly pencil, and that everything is okay and the world is perfect, but I knew it was bullshit. This kid was just too soft for this world.

Another blue pencil incident and he’d be the one that’d break.

I gave him the new pencils after the recess bell went off. I called him to stay behind. Panic flickered across his face for a fraction of a second before the mask slipped back on. He was so young, but his defences were so high, stone and mortar towering around him.

He took them, and mumbled a quiet thanks.

I’m sure he was delighted.

He gave me a drawing a few days later. It was a nice one.

Holey Net

“You have to continuously make yourself better.”

“What?”

“Every time you leave the house, you have to look perfect. You have to be the best possible you that you can put forward every day, or else you’re just going to go to the bottom of the pile. You’re not getting any younger you know, your days are ticking. You have to work on having the best body you can, the best hair, the best, most fashionable clothes.”

“That sounds like a lot of work.”

“It is a lot of work. But you have to. You know what it’s like. The gay scene is brutal, absolutely brutal. Especially in Sydney. If you can’t handle it, then just give up now.”

“Can’t I just be myself?”

He laughed. “That’s not good enough. Look me in the eye, and tell me what you want. What you really want. You want the hottest, richest, most amazing boyfriend you can possibly get, don’t you? Then you have to be the hottest richest most amazing person you can possibly be. 10’s don’t go out with 3’s honey, sorry. That’s just how the world works.”

“But like you keep telling me, attraction is all subjective. People like different things, people like potatoes, rice, fat, skinny, whatever. I don’t know.”

“You just ask yourself what you think is the best you, and you go for that, because most likely that is a good choice. Right now, you’re like a fisherman, and your net sucks. It’s tiny and it’s full of holes. Go patch it up, make it bigger, and when you chuck it out of your boat it will spread further and catch more fish, and you’re the one who’ll be able to make the choice of the best fish, and reject all the slimy bitches.”

“You sound like a psycho right now.”

“Maybe I am a psycho, maybe I am a bit of a crazy bitch. But guess what? Being a crazy bitch is better than being a loser bitch.”

I looked at him.

“So what do I do?”

“Improve yourself.”

“Should I stop eating?”

“Maybe. Maybe you should start bulking up. What are you into?” I shifted uncomfortably in my seat. “I know you’re not into rice, that’s clear enough from all your stories.” I rolled my eyes. “You’re into muscle daddies aren’t you?”

I grunted.

“The thing is, muscle daddies are usually into other muscle guys. They’re not really into twinks, especially not Asian twinks. You have to bulk up. If you slim down into some little twinky slut all you’ll attract are rice-queens, and you do not want to fuck a rice queen. I will judge you for the rest of your life and deny that I ever knew you. Rice queens are gross, fat and old.”

I considered it for a moment.

“All this sounds so ridiculous.”

“But you’re still listening.” I shrugged. “You know why? Because you know I’m right. I’ve been through all of this before and I know how the game works. You’re new to this, you’re fresh meat. You’re still really innocent, and you don’t know that every single guy out there is a piranha that’s waiting to bite your cock off. That’s why you’ve been having all these guys play you non-stop. That’s why you’ve been getting hurt. You need to believe me and listen to me. You have to learn to be a bitch. I see mega-bitch potential in you. I really do.”

“I refuse to turn into a jaded scene queen, I’m sorry.”

“I actually see you on the path there. I’m trying to save you here. Bitch does not equal jaded. Bitch equals power.”

“So how does it work then? Does a twink grow up into a daddy?”

He shook his head, in disgust, “No, no way.”

“Then how does it work? Can you have a teenage daddy? That’s just weird! Isn’t the whole part of being a daddy being old?”

“No, a daddy is born a daddy. Even when they’re teenagers. You can just see it in them. They have daddy potential. A twink just grows up into a guy. A daddy is always a daddy.”

“So are you into daddies or twinks?”

“I’m into men not boys.”

I burst out laughing.

He shrugged.

Typewriter

The last time I wrote on a typewriter I was living in Bedok Reservoir with our now dead grandfather Arwa Datuk Aman. Our uncle, Uncle Hamdan, who, despite his two adult children, had not yet left home, was the owner of this typewriter, and the funny stories we wrote as young children drained his ink – to his silent displeasure.

In hindsight, I think he enjoyed our company.

The flat at Bedok Reservoir I remember was often full of faces showing other forms of silent displeasure. Mak Long, perpetually upset with Abah, still could not help but ask for his advice on whether it was safe or not to eat mushrooms with some mould on them (“tell her a mushroom is already a fungus”), a grandfather annoyed that his grandson could not read out a phone number in Malay, and eventually a funeral procession of flowers over his silent body.

In the end, Hamdan sold the flat without asking for anyone’s permission.

The silence filled the house in the end.

The Malay word for funeral is “pengebumian” – from the root word “bumi”, meaning “earth”. Thus, a ritual or ceremony to return one to the Earth. 

Damascene Chaos

This small piece of writing was initially written in 2017 for a post on The Wayfarer’s Compass. I am reproducing it here to build up the blog as a writing portfolio. Not my traditional style of writing I suppose, but it does reflect the state of my mind once upon a time. Reading it puts me in a particular pensive mood, so naturally I tend to avoid doing so.

Enjoy. 

Whenever I tell people of my time in Damascus before the war, I inevitably end up talking about the chaos. The mad bustling mess of colours, sounds and flavours, a sensory assault for those of us used to suburban sterility.

Life would flow all around me, through me, and often rudely shoved me out of its way. I learnt as best I could to navigate through it, learnt the ways of the people, the ways of the city, but still I found the disorder and confusion so grating.

But there was peace too.

I lived for 6 months in Damascus, in Rukn ad-Din (where else!) – The “Corner of the Faith”, a little maze of streets centred around Abu Nour Mosque, where people from all around the world came to study Islam – and I truly mean all around the world. I met people from Russia, Daghestan, China, Mongolia, India, Turkey, Thailand, and other places I’d never heard of before. I hardly spoke any English my entire time there. We spoke to each other in Classical Arabic, a strange linguistic bubble with a liturgical language as the lingua franca, and we often liked to think we were speaking as people did in the time of the Prophet. The Arabs looked on and laughed at our Shakespearean formality.

Rukn ad-Din lay at the foot of Jabal Qasioun, a mountain standing overlooking Damascus. There are many legends about the mountain: that it was where Adam first lived, that it was the site where Qabil killed Habil, that is was where the 40 Abdal gather every night to pray tahajjud over the city to safeguard it. It was said that throughout history many a Damascene leader had ascended its stony steps and prayed for rain, for it was here that prayers would always be accepted.

I made many prayers on that mountain once upon a time.

To get to the top of the mountain, you had to pay a man with a ute to drive you up to a certain height, where the roads ended, and then walk the rest of the way. There were always a few drivers around, and their trucks were decorated with fake floral garlands and swathes of heavily patterned red-and-black fabric straight out of a British orientalist’s Bedouin tent fantasy – the kitschier the better.

I rode up by myself regularly, to the bemusement of the Syrian drivers, who either chuckled at my oddly-accented shami Arabic, pelting me with their curiosity or ignored me altogether. Even in the colder months I would walk up to the top with just my heavily worn leather sandals on my dusty feet, bought from Souk al-Hamiddiyya like a proper tourist, and ground into fraying threads like a proper seeker.

When I sat upon that mountain and looked upon the city, I looked upon the world, and felt some of its spiritual magic enter my heart.