What is the feel of one hand tapping?

What is the feel of one hand tapping? Once you master the mechanics of virtual sex, the emotional land mine remains.

Published June 24, 1998 7:00PM (EDT)

How fast can you type with one hand?

If you're like me, who can barely type with two hands, the notion of cybersex has not been very alluring. Barring all the politically correct hysteria that pinpoints cybersex as proof of the decline of Western civilization, I couldn't -- from a technical viewpoint -- really understand how people could type and wank at the same time. For women, unless you had a laptop and could lie down, sitting straight up in an ergonomic chair didn't seem comfortable or accessible, not to mention sexy. And for men -- well, there was the messiness problem, wasn't there? Could you blast your can of air at the dollop of jism sticking the j key to the h key?

But now that it's been breathlessly reported in the San Francisco Chronicle and other esteemed publications that sex is the most searched word on the Web, I began to think that maybe I was missing something. Among other groundbreaking findings, the Chronicle also stated that men reportedly turn to the visually explicit sites while women hang out in chat rooms, talking about sex and relationships.

"I'm shocked -- shocked," I told my friend Jemma, the nanny by day and sexual submissive slave by night. I folded the newspaper and ceremoniously placed it in her recycling bin. "This is what we call a slow news day."

Jemma was brushing her cat and looked up at me. "That's how I got to meet all my friends in the S/M world," she said.

"Really?" I sat down on her futon sofa. "Where? How?"

"Alt.sex.bondage," she said matter-of-factly. "I don't go online at all anymore, but a few years ago I met loads of like-minded people there."

This was a story I'd heard from many of my women friends -- that when the Internet was just rearing its Medusa head so many Gates-years ago, they'd spent virtually every minute online, making and breaking relationships, trying out different roles. "I get the feeling though," I said, "that this cybersex/relationship stuff has seen its day. That is, almost everyone I know jumped into it feet first, got burned or annoyed and jumped out. I don't know anybody who goes into those sex chat rooms anymore."

"Maybe," she said. The cat flipped on its back and stretched its furry belly at Jemma, eyeing her with slavish devotion. "I think it's a great idea, though. There's loads of single moms in there who can't get a baby sitter and who just want some sexy, safe fun. And of course, lots and lots of ugly people who type beautifully but who would never, ever get a second glance in real life."

"Explain to me how this works," I said. "You just write sexually explicit scenes back and forth, taking on different roles --"

"I only have one role," Jemma pointed out.

"OK, so you're the submissive slave, and they tell you what to do? I read, 'As Francesca,' and though I really enjoyed it, I kept getting hung up on the mechanics. I just didn't get how she could type and masturbate and do all the things she was told to do at a given time by her mistress."

"You do a lot of scrolling, up and down," said Jemma. "There's a time lag maybe while you're reading, and climaxing."

"Oh," I said. "I thought patience and the Internet were mutually exclusive."

"The mechanics aren't really the problem. Actually, the sex stuff isn't the problem at all." She was picking out the fur from the cat brush and rolling it into little balls, lining them up next to her. "It's the relationships. I guess it's easier if you like to sign on to the Luscious Big Tits site and have fun with that because then you don't have all the other crap to deal with, all the head games."

"Like what?" We had planned a "Prime Suspect" marathon that night, watching all Jemma's videos back-to-back, but I decided Helen Mirren could wait.

"OK, well, one time the group that I'd met online -- we were all online buddies at this point, all talking about sex but not the S/M stuff -- we were all in our chat room and this new woman came on. Her name was TrackStar, and she was a runner at the University of Tennessee. Really serious competitor, apparently. And she was very friendly and outgoing and everyone really liked her. She started sending me private messages, and she was very flirtatious. At one point, I'd mentioned I wanted to buy these new running shorts that I'd seen at the Nike store, and she went to a mutual friend who lived here in the city, and said, 'Buy those shorts for Jemma, send me the bill, but make sure you get a picture of her in them.' Very flirtatious, fun girl. To make a long story short, it turned out she wasn't a girl at all. A bunch of the women in group figured out she was actually one of the guys in the group, who was playing this role. They trapped him -- got him on the phone while luring TrackStar to type something to one of them."

"A cybersting," I commented. "How do these people find the time to do all this? I can understand masturbating -- well, I can understand the idea, anyway -- but doesn't the phrase, 'Get a life' ever occur to them? I mean, not you, necessarily." Oops.

"No, it's OK. I was bored. They were bored. But -- that TrackStar episode, I have to say that it was disturbing. I don't know why he did that, because we trusted him. Stuff like that happens all the time." She collected her little fur balls and walked to the kitchen. The cat watched her, looking supremely annoyed.

"Another time in our little group," she continued loudly from the other room, "one of the women and one of the guys exchanged photos of each other. They lived in different states, and that happens all the time too. She was attractive, he wasn't, apparently -- he looked like Mr. Magoo. She started not to e-mail him as much. He got mad. She cut him off, and he sent her a vial of his cum in the mail."

"Aaarrgghhh." I put my hands over my eyes. "Helen Mirren, here I come."

"Next thing she knows, she's looking out her window of her office, and he's down there on the sidewalk, staring up at her. She had to call the police. But you hear the bad stuff all the time -- there's some good stuff, people making friends, getting married. I've read about that."

"Are you still friends with that online group?" I called to her.

"No. It got too twisted and time consuming." She came back in the room and plopped next to me on the sofa. "But back to masturbating -- I liked doing that. It was fun, for a while. I still think it's a great idea -- very liberating. Maybe it's also liberating to change genders, but it seems that only the men do it. I had a male friend who would pretend he was a female, and I'd get these instant private e-mails from him saying, 'Help! Help! These women want to know what size of panty hose I wear! What sizes do they come in? What size would I be?'"

"Maybe the women he was talking to were all men too," I said. "Yikes. Life is too short. Give me a visual porn site any day of the week over all this intrigue and deception. I think I'd find that much more of a turn-on, anyway. I like looking at Playboy and Penthouse in real life."

"Very vanilla of you," said Jemma smugly.

As if on cue, we both looked over at her computer, sitting in a corner of her living room, with its own special ergonomically designed desk and backless stool. "A friend of mine used to call the Web the World Wide Wank," I said. But now I felt sorry for the boxy, clumsy desktop, looking as if it too knew it had fallen by the wayside. "Poor neglected thing. If you had a laptop, maybe you'd still be doing cybersex."

"I should probably sell it," Jemma said with some wistfulness. "At one time it was my life. Now I couldn't care less. But -- I got very good at typing with one hand."

By Courtney Weaver

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