Masters of Sex
Robert Long Foreman
Linda Masters almost never went snooping in her husband’s things. She nearly always respected his privacy.
She and Stan had been together eight years, married for five. They were lovers and best friends, and they knew each other better than anyone else in the world knew them.
Still there were things Linda didn’t know about Stan. She’d never asked him about them, preferred to let some things be obscure to her. Every life and marriage should harbor some mystery.
She didn’t know how many women Stan had slept with before they met. She didn’t know how she compared to them, or if any of them looked a little bit like her. She didn’t know if Stan had ever in his life had sex with another man.
Maybe he had, maybe he hadn’t. It didn’t matter.
She imagined Stan probably jacked off when she wasn’t around.
She didn’t mind. She didn’t think about it. It was Stan’s body. His hand. His thing. It was his lotion, too, unless he used hers. Which was fine. It was none of her business.
She guessed Stan must watch porn when he masturbated. They were living in the twenty-first century. Who didn’t look at porn? She sure did.
She didn’t mean to look into Stan’s most recent porn history. She opened his laptop because it was there on the coffee table and she needed to look something up. Her phone was charging in the kitchen, and Stan’s laptop was right there.
As soon as she opened it, there it was: PornHulk.com.
She said, “Christ.” She sighed.
She scrolled down. Because as long as this seal was broken, she might as well see what he had seen.
The last video Stan had watched, the one he’d presumably finished with, whenever he’d last visited PornHulk, was of two men and one woman. One man sat on the couch holding the camera with his penis in the woman’s mouth, while other man thrust himself into the woman from behind. She looked more focused and determined than ecstatic or turned on. In her eyes Linda saw something other than joy.
The woman looked bored. So did the guy behind her. It wasn’t sexy.
The man holding the camera wasn’t bored. He kept breathing into the camera’s microphone and going “Uh,” “Yeah,” “Oh,” and “Ngh.”
There was a comments section. Of course there was. The most recent comment, left earlier that morning, by someone who called himself StanMasters1975, read, “I did this at sleepaway camp July of ’89 with Julie Yarborough and Jared Stack.”
A few more sentences followed, in which the commenter explained who orgasmed (Stan and Jared), how much ejaculate they produced, and what it was like for the three of them later. They never spoke of it again, but sometimes the commenter and Jared traded glances and laughed. Julie never again looked the commenter in the eye.
Okay. This was new.
The commenter was Stan. Linda’s Stan. He’d commented under the name StanMasters1975, and Masters was their last name. He was born in 1975.
Linda had found evidence before, of Stan’s having watched porn videos. She’d never bothered to look at the comments sections of those films.
Maybe he had been leaving comments like this for a long time. Maybe it was nothing new at all.
Linda pressed the Back button on Stan’s browser. She had to look for the button, because she wasn’t used to Stan’s fucked-up browser.
The video Stan had watched before he’d climaxed to the video of the two-thirds-bored threesome was a thirty-second closeup of fisting. It was a loud video with lots of wailing in it, the kind where you can’t tell if the woman in the film is shouting to mask her cries of pain or really enjoying herself. But you’d definitely put money on the first of those two things.
In his comment, Stan had written, “Did this in 2012 with Linda, my wife. It hurt her so I stopped. Will not try again.”
A couple of comments had been posted since Stan’s comment.
One read, “This porn is nice.”
The other read, “My man here has got fists like apples. Apples taste mmm-mmm good.”
Linda pressed Back again. She found another video. Stan had left a comment on it, too, saying he’d done what was in the video, and specifying when that was.
He’d left another comment on the video that came before that. And the one before that.
Linda stopped pressing Back. She put her hand on her face.
Stan was biting an apple in the kitchen when Linda walked in, put his laptop on the table, and said, “I need to ask you something.”
He spun around. He chewed apple and eyed her.
She didn’t usually do what she’d just done, announce that they had to have a conversation. They usually had the conversation without an announcement of intent to converse.
“Did you lick somebody’s asshole?” Linda said.
“What?” Stan said, his mouth full.
“In a bathtub? You didn’t lick a woman’s anus?”
“You said you did online.”
He kept chewing.
“You used your real name, Stan. And your birthdate.”
He took another bite.
“Stan, did you lose your mind? Honey? What if your boss searches your name?”
“It won’t come up.”
“It might. Stan. You used your real name. All it would take is a Google search.”
“No one uses Google.”
“Stan. Everyone uses Google. They use the word ‘google’ as a verb.”
Stan took another bite.
“You said you fisted me,” Linda said. “You said it online.”
“I did fist you,” Stan said. “It’s the truth.”
“I know it’s the truth, Stan. That’s the problem.”
Funny, she thought. I thought he would deny it. Or pretend he didn’t know what I was talking about.
Is he dumb? she wondered. Did I marry a really dumb guy? And only now find out?
Stan took another bite.
“Honey,” Linda said. “I need you to put the apple down. How many comments have you left on PornHulk?”
He put the apple down. He shrugged.
“Like a dozen? A hundred?”
“Yeah what, Stan?”
“It’s a lot.”
Linda started to cry.
“Are you okay?” Stan asked.
“No, Stan. I am not okay. Were all the comments true? That you wrote?”
He looked like he didn’t know the right answer. He nodded, slowly.
“Really? You went to one of those—places?”
Linda brushed her hair back. “The sauna-looking place. Where you pay an old woman, and inside it looks like a sauna but it’s not one? And instead it’s a bunch of glory holes? And one’s got a woman bent over behind it? Another one has a woman on her back? And they’ve got print-outs of photos of their faces above the holes?”
Stan shrugged. “Yeah.”
“‘Yeah,’ Stan? You did go? Where was it?”
“It was before we met. Way before. In Croatia.”
“What were you doing in Croatia, Stan? How did you get there?”
“It was study abroad.”
“You were studying?”
“Not that day. This guy Brent, from Russia. We took turns with one hole that had a lady’s mouth behind it.”
“Stop.” Linda pressed her palms against her eyes until she saw stars. “Did you have sex with a man?” she said.
“Oh yeah. One time. I’m not gay, though.”
“I know you’re not gay.”
“He was pretty. Like a woman. He had these cheekbones.”
“You said that in your comment.”
“Oh my god, Stan.”
“You’re sorry.” She looked at him. “You’re sorry,” she repeated.
“I really am.”
“What are you sorry for, Stan?”
“For leaving those comments. I shouldn’t have done that. And I guess for the gang bang I went to? I felt really bad after that one. Did you see the comment?”
Linda closed her eyes and shook her head.
“It was weird,” Stan said.
She heard him bite into his apple again.
“I feel like Pandora,” Linda said. “I want to shut that box.”
“You feel like Pandora? You?”
“Yes, Stan. I want to go back to fifteen minutes ago. I want to not know about these things.”
“Really? What exactly do you not want to know?”
“Like that you got a blow job from a woman behind a wall with a hole in it.”
“Okay. It wasn’t a very good blow job.”
“That doesn’t matter. You didn’t know that woman. You never even saw her face.”
“You didn’t open Pandora’s Box. I did.”
“You did not!”
“I did! I opened it, like, a thousand percent. Man. I never wanted to talk about this.”
“Talk about what?”
He bit the apple one more time.
“Stan,” Linda said, “if you don’t stop eating that fucking apple—”
“Fine!” Stan cried. “I’m throwing it in the trash.”
He threw it at the trash can and missed.
“I opened your laptop four months ago,” he said. “I know. It’s your possession. It’s your business. I wasn’t snooping. I had to look something up about caramel.”
“Yes, the substance. Do you think I look up individual caramels? Your browser was open already, to a porn site. And I found the comments you left on the porns.”
“Don’t call them ‘the porns,’ Stan.”
“That’s what they are! Look.”
Stan sat at the table and whirled the laptop around.
The apple was still over there on the floor.
He searched for “LindaMasters1974.”
The site that came up wasn’t PornHulk. It was SexHulk. The two sites were awfully similar.
The search results found that LindaMasters1974 had left dozens of comments on the SexHulk porns. Stan clicked one that read, “Tried this. Didn’t like it. May 1990.” The video this comment was attached to was of a teenage-looking woman sitting between two old men in back of a moving minivan. She was wearing a bonnet and giving the old guys hand jobs.
Linda’s face turned white when she saw it.
“Did you really do that?” Stan asked Linda. “With a bonnet on your head, in a van?”
“Why didn’t you tell me you found this?” Linda asked.
“I don’t know. I thought about telling you.”
“But you didn’t.”
“No. I didn’t want to pick a fight with you. I thought maybe it was an art project.”
“An art project? Stan, I’m not an artist. When have I done art projects?”
He reached and grabbed the apple off the floor and took another bite. “Are you not allowed to grow, Linda?” he said, chewing. “You can try new things. Marriage isn’t a prison, it’s a flower garden.”
“Yes, Stan. Yes. I gave the old guys hand jobs. Not those old guys.”
“I don’t know. They’re probably dead.”
“How old were they?”
“Old. And I did the girl-on-girl stuff, too.”
“All of it?”
“My goodness. Did you have to go to the hospital?”
“Yes. It’s all true. I don’t know what to say.”
“There’s nothing to say.”
She pressed her palms against her eyes again.
“Is this it, Stan? Honey? Is it over?”
“Why would it be over?”
“You know everything I did, now, before I met you. I did a lot. I tried to keep it from you.”
“You did a horrendous job of that.”
“You pretty much told everyone what you did. Online.”
“What do we do now?”
“I don’t know. I guess we go and do the things you say you did in these comments. We’ll have to find people to do them with. I think it’s the only way.”
They didn’t do that. Not yet. They had a meeting, later, with their marriage counselor, Phyllis.
They met with her every week, to discuss their marriage. They’d been going like that for six years, for marriage maintenance, to discuss with a neutral party things like the time when Linda told Stan she was faintly in love with another man. It took her thirty minutes to explain what she meant by “faintly in love.” She kept saying it was like a feather that fell through space and landed on a pillow full of feathers that were even softer than the one that was falling. Stan and Phyllis strained to comprehend what she was talking about.
At this latest session, they got Phyllis up to speed with the scale and scope of their current problem. They showed Phyllis the comments they’d left on PornHulk and SexHulk. To ensure she got a complete picture, the three of them spent ten minutes watching the video of the bonnet lady giving the two old guys hand jobs. The men throbbed and came and Phyllis resigned herself to skipping lunch.
“All right,” she said. “Tell me if I’m getting this right. A year ago, Linda, you left comments on some videos, such as that one, saying you did the same things that are depicted in them. Like ‘getting tag-teamed’—these are your words—‘by some underage fraternity initiates at a technical college near my high school.’”
“That’s right,” Linda said.
“And,” Phyllis went on, “you wrote about—your words again—‘getting splooged on by, like, twenty guys with gloves on that looked like bear claws, so it would look like a gang bang of bears.’”
“That’s exactly right,” Linda said. “It was just like what’s in the video.”
Phyllis took a deep breath.
“And you, Stan,” she said, “seeing these comments, which were left on the sites with identifying information, like practically everything but your social security number, decided to visit a site called—what was it? PornHulk? And you left similar comments on films that depicted sex acts you participated in before you met Linda.”
“That is correct,” Stan said.
Phyllis nodded. She took a long drink from her water bottle.
She wished it were full of vodka.
She kept on drinking, for so long that Linda wondered if she was doing it to run the clock down and make the session feel shorter.
Finally, she said, “It seems to me like the two of you need to have a reckoning.”
“You said that two years ago,” Stan said. “And I still don’t know what it means.”
“The both of you,” continued Phyllis, “have to have a long conversation about what it is you want from each other.”
Linda sat back with her arms folded. Stan sat forward, looking deflated.
“I don’t follow,” Linda said.
“I’ve been working with the two of you for six years.”
“So I know you never did any of the things you said you did in these porn comments. Neither one of you did these things.”
Linda smoothed her jeans and leaned forward.
“Phyllis,” she said, “We came to you because we need your help. I thought you would take us seriously. It’s the whole reason we’re here. I am, quite frankly, stunned.”
“Right. Do you remember why you first came to me?”
“Sure,” said Stan. “We were going to replace our water heater and couldn’t decide whether to get one that heats slowly or quickly. I thought the slow heater looked good—”
“Right, Stan. But it turned out there was no such thing as a slow-heating water heater. Right?”
“Right. Yes. I remember, now.”
“But that’s not all,” Phyllis said. “Think back. After we resolved the water heater situation, Linda said she had a different problem. Do you remember?”
“I don’t have any idea what you’re talking about,” Stan said.
“Really? You don’t remember how you said how afraid you were of doggy style?”
Stan swallowed. Linda looked at the floor.
“Stan,” Phyllis said. “Linda. I’m not trying to make you feel bad. That’s not my intention. It’s not my role, here. I would be doing a terrible job if all I did was bring you sadness. I’m only trying to jog your memory. When you first came to see me, Linda had been researching doggy style. She wanted to try it. You, Stan, were reluctant.”
“I was a little scared, myself,” Linda said.
“That’s right, Linda.”
Stan said, “It’s all coming back. I remember.”
“What do you remember?”
“I didn’t want to stop doing it like missionaries,” Stan said. “Because dogs know how to have fun, right? But missionaries know how to change people’s minds.”
“And that in itself is arguable, Stan. But here is what I’m thinking. Here’s why I’m not taking you quite as seriously with these porn comments as you want me to. Both of you waited until you were, what, forty-two? To try doggy style?”
“Forty-three,” Linda said.
“Right. And I’m supposed to believe that one of you fisted a teenager in a sauna? Like in a porn? I’m supposed to think not one but both of you were once the only representative of your own gender at an orgy?”
“Yes,” Linda said.
“I don’t,” said Phyllis. “I don’t believe it. Linda, we spent half a year on your fear of what Stan’s semen would do to your face if it got on your face.”
“I’m still scared of that.”
“And that’s completely understandable. Semen can be gross. It shouldn’t be on your face if you don’t want it there. But my point is, Linda, if you ever got gangbanged like you say you did in these comments, someone would have ejaculated on your face. And you would have probably gotten on your hands and knees.”
“Have you been in a gangbang, Phyllis?” asked Stan.
“Absolutely not. If I don’t feel like I’m in control, I don’t feel safe, and there aren’t half a dozen guys in the world I’d want to be with on the same day. It’s too many guys.”
“Different strokes,” muttered Stan.
“Indeed,” said Phyllis. “And don’t take this the wrong way, Stan, but there is no way you’ve had sex with more than one woman at a time. It has not happened.”
“It wasn’t all at once,” Stan said. He held up his hand. “I was bangin’ the brass,” he said. “You never know what will happen when you’re bangin’ the brass.”
“No one says that. No one. It doesn’t mean anything, and you know it. Linda, the same goes for you. None of these comments are true. Am I correct?”
Linda nodded slowly.
“You are two of the least sexual grownups I’ve ever met in my life, you guys. I’ve told you more than once that picturing the two of you having sex is like imagining two Playskool dolls fucking. Your personalities make it impossible.”
“I don’t think you’re supposed to say that to us,” Linda said.
“This does seem,” Stan said, “highly unorthodox.”
“Never mind that. I’m trying to help you find your way to happiness. Sometimes I have to speak plainly and give you the harsh truth.
“Now. Guys. Our time is almost up. What I want you two to do is go home, forget about these porns, and have a long talk with one another about why you have to engage in this weird Spy vs. Spy behavior on porn sites.”
“What?” said Linda.
“Leaving comments on the porns. Leaving them where your partner will see them. It’s ridiculous.”
“It’s not like Spy vs. Spy, though,” Stan said.
“It is,” Phyllis said. “But we’re not getting into it. There’s no time. I want you to ask yourselves and each other hard questions. Like, ‘What do I get out of this?’ And, ‘What do I want my partner to get out of this? And how does this help them?’”
“Okay,” Stan said.
“Because seriously, Stan.”
“We know, Phyllis,” said Linda.
“Do you? Because this has been going on for six years.”
“We get it!” Linda cried and stormed out.
By the time they got to the car, Stan and Linda’s focus had shifted to something else. All they could think or talk about was what a bitch that shithead Phyllis was, and where she got off talking to her patients that way.
“I will want to keep seeing her, though,” said Linda.
“Of course!” Stan said. “We’re six years in. We can’t switch to someone else all of a sudden.”
They went home and never again mentioned the comments on PornHulk and other Hulks. They didn’t dispute the claim Phyllis had made some weeks prior, about how they did convoluted things in order to keep their marriage interesting and hurt each other in the process in ways that were totally unnecessary.
They both thought about that, but they both ignored those thoughts, just as they’d ignored Phyllis when she’d first said it.
“It’s always the same bullshit with her,” said Linda. “It’s always exactly the same.” She shook her head. “I hate that bitch. Next week, I’m going to tell her.” She started the car. “I’m going to say it to her stupid, ugly, lying face.”
About the Author
Robert Long Foreman’s most recent books are I Am Here to Make Friends and Weird Pig. He lives in Kansas City and online at www.robertlongforeman.com.