Jason R. Jimenez

Cottage Way House

When I was seven years old I saw my dad masturbating in the shower. He crouched in the stall behind tempered glass. One hand beat up and down in between his legs. I stood silently at the door and watched him.
I’m remembering now that I used to lie in the fetal position inside that same shower. As a young boy, my dad and I moved around a lot. My parents were divorced. When we moved into the Cottage Way house my dad wasn’t even thirty years old. In all the apartments and condos where we stayed I always enjoyed taking showers. I would stretch myself out on the porcelain bottoms and let the shower surround me with warmth. I imagine it was porcelain, but that’s probably not true. More likely it was tile or plastic. Still, I could not be bothered in a shower. My dad probably relished the time he got to spend not attending to a young boy. I would be in there until the water turned cold, until my fingers pruned. I made believe I was a famous baseball player. I broke the single season home run record by a hundred. Isn’t he amazing!? That Jason Jimenez! Oh, no, not that name. I hated my last name. I’d invent something else. I didn’t want to be a Mexican. I wanted to be just the white parts of me. I wanted to be blonde and blue eyed like my mom and my aunts and my cousins. Couldn’t my name be Adams or Steyn, like my mom’s side? Jason Adams would break the home run record, surpassing Hank Aaron, Cal Ripken, David Justice, and even Frank Thomas.
In this steaming world, athletic exploits weren’t enough. I would gather the courage to ask the popular girl if she liked me. Of course she loved me. She had heard about my new home run record. I would act out our lives from elementary school, through high school, some vision of college, getting jobs. I imagined sex and children. I could live an entire life inside a shower.
For a long time, I could lie flat at the bottom of every bathtub. But at the Cottage Way house I was at the beginning stages of a growth spurt. I had to curl into a ball. I would press my cheek against the metal drain cover which was cold despite the warm water. Here I would imagine being in Desert Storm. After I saved a fellow soldier from a grenade, I was shot in the back by snipers. I reached out to the white tiled wall and held my wife’s hand, told her how much I loved her, gave her final instructions for our children. I said goodbye to my children face-to-face. I can make myself cry. My throat clenches up, my face feels flushed. I feel tears running down my cheek, inseparable from the water.
After I saw my dad masturbating in the shower I didn’t stop daydreaming inside the stall. I would now. But at seven years old, how was I supposed to know that my dad had soiled the shower?
Over the summer my dad left me at home alone while he went to work. Friends came over and we played basketball or Nintendo. We rollerbladed or skateboarded down the street to a local Catholic church and watched with wonder the uniformed children who none of us seemed to know. Cottage Way house had a long driveway. Art, the owner of the house, lived there with my dad and me. He was a divorcé too. His son Tony visited sometimes. His daughter Angela rarely came to stay with us. In the long driveway Art kept his speedboat. In the space left of the driveway Tony and I played roller hockey, or we kicked around a soccer ball. We shot at targets and hunted rats with BB guns.
Sometimes Tony wasn’t there and it was boiling hot in the house. My dad instructed me to leave the doors and windows open to let the fresh air in. But, I didn’t like the sun so I turned on the air conditioner and closed the house up and felt my skin grow icy cold. I had to turn the air conditioner off before my dad came home. I don’t remember if he cared or not.
I ate cereal all day, an entire box of Corn Pops, or I would make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich out of an entire loaf of bread. It started out one day with three slices of bread but I wasn’t satisfied so the next day I put five or six slices together. A few days later, after my dad bought a fresh loaf, I put the whole thing together. How many slices of bread are in a loaf? Twenty? It ended up being a huge sloppy mess, but it tasted so good. I stuffed myself and by the end the entire loaf was squished into a soggy stack no thicker than my palm.
After I ate, I sat on the couch and watched television. Some friend had showed me how to get Playboy on the cable box by pressing the A/B button over and over. Images flickered on the screen. A woman’s head then a nipple. The music and their voices. All the while, even though I knew my dad wouldn’t be home until well after six, I felt like he, or someone else, would see me through the window. They would see me sneaking Playboy on our television. They would see me rubbing my hand between my legs. Whenever I felt like it was time to come, I ran to the couch and grabbed my dad’s electric massager. I clicked it on vibrate and hold it against my shorts. Come to think of it, I don’t even think I had erections. I don’t remember them at least. I only remember the feeling of the massager against my leg and cock. Warmth spreading throughout my body and then what must have been an orgasm, although I don’t think I could ejaculate.
When I’m out with a group of friends, most of the men remember pressing the A/B button to sneak some dirty channel onto their television. I think that I should tell them what I did with the electric massager because they probably did it too. Then isn’t the conversation an admission that when our parents left us alone and we pressed the A/B button we masturbated immediately afterward? Did we all learn to masturbate the same way? Watching flickering images of large breasted women in soft mood-lighting stripping out of their power suits, lighting candles and taking bubble baths? Women with perms fingering themselves, answering the phone and asking seductively, “What are you doing tonight?”
When I think about sex I think of static.


Jason R Jimenez is an MFA student at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco. Excerpts from his forthcoming novel, WOLF/catherine, can be found online at Samizdat and the Grade[e]. A collaborative book of writing, SUMMER IDEA NO. 6, and a novella, ELEANOR, will be available this fall. He blogs at anti-climacus.blogspot.com.