Editor’s Note: Earlier this year, Justin wrote Iceland, a blog about his band’s American tour. Justin isn’t on tour anymore, but Iceland continues, twice a week, on City Desk.

“You know what?” asked the gentleman poker player. Because this gentleman had spent part of his life in Jamaica, this rhetorical question was put to the card table in a honeyed island patois. “I’ve never masturbated in my life, man.”

Seven fellow poker players turned from their cards to regard the gentleman who had made this brash, unsolicited statement. Even the dealer, busy shuffling, eyed the alleged nonmasturbator suspiciously.

“Never in your life?” challenged another player.

“Never in my life, man,” repeated the alleged nonmasturbator.

“That’s a shame, sir,” I commented. “You don’t know what you are missing.” I waited for reaction to my comment, which I had deemed quite clever. Unfortunately, no laughter came.

“You never once masturbated?” persisted another player. “Never when you were 15?”

“Never in my life, man,” insisted the alleged nonmasturbator. “I never had to.” By making this statement, the alleged nonmasturbator implied that he had never wanted for attention from the opposite sex. Though many players at the table believed this claim to be dubious, none was willing to challenge the alleged nonmasturbator further. In the absence of a factual challenge, I attempted to make another humorous remark.

“That’s a shame, sir,” I commented. “To love another, it is first necessary to love oneself.” I waited for reaction to my comment, which I had deemed quite clever. Unfortunately, no laughter came.

After the furor over the alleged nonmasturbator’s sexual habits subsided, many poker hands were played, and many hours passed. Late into the night, the alleged nonmasturbator discussed his interest in another poker game that would be held in the coming days.

“Do not doubt that I will be at that next game, man,” asserted the alleged nonmasturbator in his honeyed island patois. “My wife and kids will be away for the weekend, and I will have all the time in the world on my hands.”

“Well,” remarked the dealer, “At least we know what you won’t be doing.” Though many hours had passed since the alleged non-masturbator’s initial disclosure, I recognized that the dealer was referring to this disclosure for humorous purposes. I felt the dealer’s remark was well-timed, and laughed aloud. However, no other player at the poker table had heard the dealer’s comment, and so no other player laughed.

After the poker game, I walked through the black night to my car. The game had been held in a rural subdivision outside the D.C. metropolitan area, where tall trees older than my father and my father’s father grew. The woods were dark, silent, and threatening. “If anyone lurking by my car wishes to cut my Achilles tendon and, while I am prostrate, rob me of my poker winnings, now is the time,” I said aloud to anyone who might be there. An owl hooted in response. No one appeared.

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