"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Monday, October 27, 2014

Avoiding The Occasion of Sin–Keep Your Hands To Yourself

“Idle hands make light the Devil’s work”, intoned Father Brophy from the pulpit at nine o’clock Mass.  As usual he was resplendent in his silk robes, gold crucifix, and embroidered chasuble. He paused to adjust his long sleeves and to smooth out a stray wrinkle which had been missed by the rectory maid. “And busy hands in the wrong places grease the skids to his fiery Inferno.”

Timmy Brixton knew what was coming – another one of Father Brophy’s harangues about self-abuse, the ‘unholy concatenation’ of impure thoughts and deeds. Timmy at age 14 had been heir to the sins of the flesh since two years ago when he first discovered this, the most unexpected and wonderful pleasure of his young life.  It was even more of a surprise because no one had told him about it – God’s secret he supposed, a gift under the Christmas tree, a surprise package of ecstatic good feeling.

He became quickly addicted and wouldn’t have been able to stop even if he had good reason to. Although he heard Father Brophy bang on about the sinful practice, Timmy for the life of him couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about.  God had created Man in his own image which meant part, parcel, and mechanics; so whatever Man did should be all right with Him.  Of course murder, theft, and covetousness he could understand.  These were crimes against society and moral law let alone punishable acts; but the release of sexual energy?  How could that possibly be a sin.  If what the nuns had told him in Catechism class was right, then God had the same equipment as men did; and women, too, for that matter.

So far, the sexual trajectory of Timmy Brixton was no different than any young adolescent.  He pleasured himself whenever he could – at the movies, in school, and even in church. The problem was (although Timmy didn’t consider it a problem) that he was more interested in the girls he conjured up in his fantasy than in flesh-and-blood reality.  He imagined Sybil Birnbaum coming in the front door on a wave of perfume and cigarettes, hair up and styled, mink coat long and so fine that it caught the light of the candles like a mirror, long gold earrings and her sensuous mouth colored only slightly with lipstick. As she walked into the living room, she let her mink coat drop to the floor to reveal her perfectly smooth, white, naked body.

Or Nancy Billings, the Latin teacher who came to his house to tutor him on the third declension. She came up to his room, knocked lightly on the door, and sat beside him on the bed. He could see her breasts through the light silk blouse, and tasted the sweetness of her breath as she leaned over him.

Or Marilyn Monroe, the sexiest woman on earth, who let her long blonde hair fall on his face and shoulders as the kissed him with her warm, full, sensuous lips.

Marilyn Monroe

In other words, why bother with the pimply, dumb, and lifeless girls of the seventh grade when he could have sex with any woman in the world?

His father began to worry when Timmy turned down invitations to the Holly Ball, the Sylvan Meadow Cotillion, and the Farmington Gala – Christmas events were the young girls and boys of West Hartford, New Brighton, and Avon paired up, shared kisses under the mistletoe, and sat under the bare oaks of the garden.  Mr. Brixton had no idea what was going on in his son’s head, but as his diffidence and indifference to girls increased, he felt the boy needed a talking to.  This was the Fifties, after all, and Haley Brixton was worried to his bones that his son was queer.  He had no idea how to breach the subject, as taboo as it was in those days, so he beat around the bush so circumferentially that Timmy had no idea whatsoever what his father was getting at.  Even if he had, he would have been unconcerned.  Every single one of his sexual partners had been gorgeous women.

Even in real life he was warm, attentive, and solicitous to the girls in his class.  He wasn’t indifferent to women – not by any means. It’s just that they couldn’t possibly compare to the sultry beauties of his daydreams. Joanie Brand’s teeth were a tad horsey – long and overexposed.  Betty Grayson’s nose turned left.  Erica Noyes’ cheeks were so plump and rosy that they reminded him of the Red Delicious apples his father bought at Roger’s Orchards.  And these were the attractive girls in his class.  The dogs were an ensemble of bulge, stringy, and unkempt.

Because Timmy was so confident of himself and his sexuality, his indifference to girls was a titanic turn on for them.  They had to have him, and their attention and bitch-in-heat overtures made him the envy of his male classmates.

Timmy had no idea at the time that he was actually on the cutting edge of what was the most significant social revolution since Robespierre.  The final elision of mind and computer would transform reality into virtuality. Everyone could live in the virtual fantasy world of their own creation thanks to the deciphering of the electrical code of the brain.  All those synapses fired for a reason, created images, thoughts, and sensations; and once they were deciphered like the double helix, they could be manipulated, mediated, and turned into limitless programs of virtual time and space.

In simpler terms, a man entering this virtual world – one which was indistinguishable from the ‘real’ thing – could sleep with the Duchesse Anne of Bretagne, stroll through the formal gardens of Versailles with Marie Antoinette and make love to her in the royal bedchamber, be oiled and perfumed by the geishas of the Emperor of 17th Century Japan, or eat foie gras, truffles, and foraged sea grass with a Hollywood starlet.

Timmy – Timothy as he was known in his adult years – was one of the Google programmers who worked on the final interface of mind and machine and wrote the most sophisticated software programs to accompany the radical hardware connections developed in Switzerland.

Every night, Timmy slipped into his virtual world via a simple portal connection to his brain - the preying mantis goggles and virtual reality helmets were things of the past – and chose his fantasy. If Googling was impressive in the early twenty-first century, it was nothing compared to decades later when surfing the web meant travelling into history, finding a site, and then reconfiguring it to one’s own pleasure and fantasy.

Timmy was fortunate to have gotten his Uncle Preston’s genes and at 98 was still going strong with a mind as acute, perceptive, and disciplined as it was in his twenties. He continued to program at Google, and within a space of less than ten years, the company had millions of subscribers who had chucked ‘reality’ in favor of virtual worlds never before imagined.

Timmy had seen this coming.  Americans, he knew, would be a captive market. Everything they did from building outrageous copies of French chateaux, Spanish villas, and Moroccan Kasbahs to groupie obsession with Hollywood glitz and glamour was already a dalliance with virtuality.  More and more people became engaged in interactive social media and plugged themselves in to every form of media available.  In other words, they increasingly had no use for the hard, concrete, smelly, and palpable.  Virtuality was fine with them.

Of course the Church was outraged, and Pope after Pope railed against the distortion of God’s creation.  What control could they have over the spiritual destiny of anyone if people carried out their own spiritual quests in the Himalayas of their virtual fantasies?

Despite the fact that the Church played a speed-up offense in the second decade of the century and talked warmly about gays and women, they could not shake the sexual sin thing.  God created a man and a woman to join in sexual congress for the sole purpose of producing a child of God, and that was that.  It had been so since the Gospel of St. John, and it would be forever more.  And, as Vatican spokesman said when the Church finally caught on to what virtual sex actually meant – none other than self-abuse – “Keep your hands to yourself” or words to that effect.

It was too late of course. Self-pleasuring was the sine qua non of virtual sex in a virtual fantasy; and advances in brain electronics and chemistry were such that crude personal manipulation was no longer necessary.  The same brain-computer link which enabled the powerful software developed by Timmy Brixton, could also activate the pleasure centers of the brain to produce endless, infinite orgasms with no sweat.

Almost near 102 and still alert as ever, Timmy thought of Father Brophy and his sexual harangues at Sunday Mass.  The Catholic Church could certainly use more priests like him although, of course, his breed had died out years ago.  In fact the Church became quickly supernumerary as individuals found their own salvation and redemption and entered a virtual world without crime, sin, or delinquency; and there was no escaping the fact that masturbation – finally, twenty years after the new virtual software had been introduced, the Church brought itself to say the word – was here to stay.  Of course it had always been there, but no one, let alone the Vatican had any idea that it would become central to the Brave New World that had arrived.

Most of the rest of us who knew Timmy thought he was nuts at the time.  What could have been better than to feel the actual tits of Nancy Billings or to get under the skirt of the hot Jewish princess, Sybil Birnbaum?  Yet, for those of us old enough to witness the revolution in which Timmy Brixton played such an important part, we had to admit that he had always been on to something big and we were proud to know him.

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