Paul Feig’s latest volume of unbearable humiliation and sexual inadequacy is reassuring in many ways, for if teenage virginity brings about anything, it is a self-awareness that is often lacking in those who never had to struggle for recognition. I’ve always believed that alienation and isolation in high school, for example, are the surest predictors of later intellectual development, and those who coasted through their salad days with love, admiration, and sexual gratification usually end up broken, battered, and irredeemably shallow. Still, there is a caveat: virginity itself is not enough, for there are plenty of celibate souls who, because of religious principles shoved into their pliable brains from an early age, avoid sex altogether and still end up as worthless as the captain of the football team. No, I am speaking instead of the reluctant virgin; the teenager — usually male — who with every inch of his, uh, being longs for female contact of any kind, and must instead resort to heavyweight bouts of unending masturbation to remind himself that orgasms are in fact more than an urban legend. As such, it is this poor sap, this fringe dweller who would shoot up the cafeteria for one night of bliss, that I instinctively trust to be my guide through the minefields of adolescence. Those who conquered the opposite sex, both early and often, might be sources of envy and resentment, but they can in no way provide us with clues about growing up in pain and discomfort.
Feig was in fact a virgin throughout his years of schooling, and while he was utterly clueless in matters of the flesh, he is only partially admirable in that his Christian Science upbringing often affected his overall approach to male-female relations. In fact, on at least two occasions, Feig would have received at the very least a front-seat blowjob, only to reject the offer out of fear (both of his performance and the wrath of God). Obviously, Feig achieves almost cult status as a fool of the highest order for his avoidance of oral, but it was offered, something a true virgin could only have dreamed about [Ed Note: I’m so fucking guilty it’s sad]. For example, outside of placing catnip on my member and hauling in my aging feline, the odds of my having anything explore that area of the anatomy were slim to none. I mean, the odds were none.
Feig begins his journey with an exploration of his discovery of masturbation, an act that produced what he calls the “rope feeling,” because, “after climbing the ropes in gym class during the second grade, I had unwittingly experienced my first orgasm.” That seems a bit young to me, but he does explain that it was a mere sensation, and no physical evidence of said orgasm could yet be produced. In order to replicate the sensation, Feig would abuse his mother’s fashion magazines, as well as a dirty picture of his father’s he found on top of the dresser. He seemed to enjoy the activity, but as he states, “I knew that it felt great and made me very happy, but so did the act of eating a box of day-old Peeps.” Feig was in bliss until he heard a Jamaican religious broadcast that cruelly stated: for every day you masturbate, God takes a day off of your life [Ed Note: I died ten years ago, apparently]. This shocking revelation began years of bargaining with the deity, and whenever bad things would occur, Feig would of course assume that he was being punished for dropping seed throughout the house. Without exception, I imagine that every young man has experienced enormous guilt for his self-abuse, although Feig is rare in that his issues continue on long past puberty. I too once thought I was a loser for playing with myself, but once I was old enough to know for certain that the warnings of the god-fearing were silly lies (after all, I was myopic, but far from blind), I proudly fucked couches, rubbed against rugs, and pounded furry mittens with the best of them. As a great man once said, “Without God, all things are possible.”
As delightful as an ode to masturbation would have been, Feig also takes us on dates which, though few and far between, were brutal in their cruelty. Take the REO Speedwagon concert, where he appeared to be having a good time, that is until a group of older, more attractive boys showed up, flexed their machismo, and stole his date for an after party. As expected, people like Paul are forced to deal with being the “little brother” or the “good friend”; close and intimate in many ways, but not enough to warrant a naked romp through the living room. So rather than get anywhere with the ladies, Paul continued the journey to the mall to buy books on photography that only happened to contain nudes, just so he could explain his interest away without appearing perverted. Paul also tried his hand at roller-skating, which held the possibility of romance, only to end in more shame and embarrassment. A particularly fine example occurred when Paul wheeled about for the big “dance,” only to be turned down by each and every girl he asked. During this brief scene, I was immediately taken back to my younger days and why I never even bothered to try. Life holds infinite possibilities for pain and sorrow, but few events will ever match the sting of being young and rejected. It was no big deal for me to take off my pants and jerk off while driving home from a friend’s house, or shoot my wad dozens of time at work, but ask out a woman? Too risky, dude. I shuddered at the thought of being laughed back into my cave, but I was equally terrified of a “yes.” Fine, I could take a girl out to a movie and all that, but I was bound to turn her off with my complete inability to make a move that wasn’t officially endorsed, stamped, and run through rigorous clearance.
Paul even convinced a few chicks to make out with him, which seemed excessive for a young man so immersed in a nerd’s paradise, but like so many of us, these “highlights” quickly lost all meaning once the girls involved refused to ever see us again or returned to an old boyfriend. Paul was far from unique in thinking that a first kiss meant commitment, engagement, and eventually marriage, but it still seems odd that we took things so seriously at that age. Some might be dismayed at the explosion of oral sex among kids as young as 12 these days, but there’s something to be said for their casual approach to physical pleasure when just a generation ago, kids envisioned going from first base directly to the altar. If kids today aren’t falling in love at the drop of a hat and can screw like bunnies without consequence, I’d equate that with much-needed progress rather than a sign of the apocalypse. Imagine how much emotional damage we’d avoid if young girls could suck cock and not expect a phone call the next day. I submit that it’s not young sex that shatters the psyche or fosters thoughts of suicide, but young love. Paul’s own life proves that conclusively.
Superstud also follows Paul from Michigan to a summer in California, where he works as a guide for Universal Studios. His journey had something to do with the much-needed experience, but more than that, he simply wanted to get away from a girl he didn’t know how to dump. A nerd, in the position of ending a relationship? If Paul’s tale proves anything about geeks, it’s that they live out Woody Allen’s (and Groucho Marx’s) old joke about “not wanting to belong to a club that would have someone like me as a member.” Nerds eventually armor themselves with self-esteem and confidence (in areas other than dating), but until that point, they have internalized so much of the bullying they receive that they figure it’s best to send a chick packing before she realizes what she’s dating and crushes your ego with the “big scene” — you know, the kiss-off where every inadequacy you’ve ever had, or been suspected of having, is pounded home in a vicious, soul-bearing monologue, usually in a public setting. It may not come for months, perhaps years, but as it will come, it’s best to run away with one’s dignity intact.
Paul also releases many entries from his diary, which demonstrates how masochistic he really is, as there’s no escaping the pathetic nature of his innermost thoughts. From the excess of exclamation marks to his self-righteous references to God (which he now disavows entirely), Paul reveals that when left alone to the privacy of our minds, young males are often indistinguishable from young females. We sound as needy, heartsick, and overly concerned with our physical stature, or lack thereof. The worst entry, however, is when Paul discusses his great love that works at Bonanza, but seeks greener pastures: “I know she’ll get the job. She’s got what it takes. (And extra to burn). If it’s right, she’ll get it. I want only the best and right things in the world to happen to my little girl. God guides and watches us all. Today, I gave her my ring.” And Paul comments, “These last six sentences make me want to get in a time machine, set it to 1981, go up to the nineteen-year-old Paul Feig while he was writing this, and slap the shit out of him.” I don’t know what’s worse, that these words were written at all, or that he was nearly 20 when he wrote them.
Ah, but Paul saves the best for last, in a section named, “Please Do Not Read This Chapter.” Yes, Paul tried to fellate himself, and he recalls every last detail of the experience, which should be familiar to each and every man on the face of the earth, as we’ve all tried. Some more than once (I’ve tried dozens of times, with the distance seeming to get larger as time passes). He theorizes that unless he had a willing partner to step on his back and push things along, it would be impossible to try the “sit on the edge of the bed and lean over” method. I’ve seen Ron Jeremy stand up and manage this feat, but as his cock is longer than most arms, it should not be encouraged among men of mere average stature. Paul relates the rumors of the era, where he heard about men who had segments of their spine removed, or who were so limber from Eastern exercises and such that they could fold over like an omelet.
Eventually, Paul discovers that if he’s ever going to haul ass on his own cock, he must assume the “bicycle” position, where his legs go up in the air and he pushes them down towards the face — fans of Saving Silverman know this as “self-yoga.” He gets closer to the Holy Grail but then tries that fateful move known as “the bounce,” which ends with a disturbing popping sound that may or may not be a broken neck. He imagines what his parents might hear from the authorities: “Your son is dead….He was trying to perform oral sex on himself and the pressure he caused within his brain killed him.” He couldn’t straighten his neck, and had no reason to believe that he ever could again. Suddenly, his mom calls and asks if he’s doing well. Apparently, she had a “feeling” that he had hurt himself somehow. When she says that her own neck hurts, he jerks his head with shock, a move that brings everything back to normal. It’s a well-written scene (perhaps too much so), but it’s plausible because of three key truths: (1) we’ve all tried the self-serve method, (2) we’ve all been injured while seeking bizarre forms of stimulation, and (3) we’ve all been caught. Again, Paul’s pain is ours, and we feel it all too well.
Paul is now happily married and in many ways, hasn’t turned his back on his geeky roots. He proves that we can in fact find what we’re looking for, even if the journey is messy, silly, and full of regret. For me, I’m not embarrassed by my “youthful indiscretions,” because without them, I wouldn’t be the misanthropic bastard I am today. Loneliness, solo weekends, rejection, and finding literally anything that will act as a pussy (hello pot-roast!) might not be much fun while it’s being endured, but it’s the only way to live if you want your later years to have perspective. I’ve been through the valley, baby, and everything since — every book read or orgasm achieved — is pure gravy.