Jonathan: Taiwanese born, Austrian raised, American
From age one until ten, I lived in Austria. My parents owned a string of restaurants sequentially, and I would spend a lot of my time there. A bunch of newspapers were delivered to the restaurant and one of them had a fully nude “Girl of the Week” section every Friday. I would go through these newspapers, find the girl and cut them out with this blue pair of safety scissors I had. I remember cutting them out and very carefully, making sure I followed the contours, even on the nipple.
It’s strange that I remember that part of it. The rest of my childhood memories are pretty vague. Then, I would stash the cutouts in little hiding places around my room. I don’t know if it was a sexual attraction or I just thought they were pretty. I knew only that I liked them, I wanted them, I wanted to collect them.
At first, I kept them in this desktop box where you would keep paper clips and those kinds of things. Of course, the girls didn’t fit, so I had to fold them up. Eventually, my mom found them somehow. She told my dad but he was actually proud. This kind of “that’s my boy,” type of thing. My mom was upset though and told me not to do it anymore. Instead, I was just much sneaker hiding them. Sometimes, I would just cut out a boob or a butt because I thought it would be easier to hide.
After I knew I couldn’t hide them in my box any more, I started hiding them around the restaurant. In one of the restaurants, there was a special table where you had to climb up a ladder to get to it. It was supposed to be a premium-seating place but this restaurant wasn’t really premium so it was never used. Plus, using the ladder was awkward. I would go up there and play all of the time and of course I took my little naked ladies with me. I started hiding them between the cushions in the crease of the booth. Over time, they were found as well. I have thought a lot about it since then and I still don’t know if it was sexual or just fascination.
I also had some kind of ranking or preferences for the women. My favorite was this really leggy one. I had to fold it in certain ways so she wouldn’t rip. She was in the restaurant cushion where my mom found her. I was more sad that she was gone than I was sad that I was caught. They were just gone one day, my parents didn’t even say anything.
I also discovered masturbation quite early. It was great because for many years, I could masturbate without ejaculate. I think developmentally for children, there is always an age when you discover yourself. Parents will usually jump in and give some information or at least say that you shouldn’t masturbate in public or stuff like that. But my parents, coming from post war Asia, were completely unable to have that conversation with me.
My parents actually went to Taiwan because they were forced out of China. There was a civil war where two parties both considered themselves the rightful government of China. The communists ended up forcibly expelling the other group to Taiwan, including my parents.
My parents had this thing where in their childhood, there was this great upheaval and tough times. The focus and the norms were very different. My parents probably wouldn’t even consider sex education a thing. For sure they didn’t receive any, people didn’t even talk about sex. They were also never taught how to deal with children during this phase, so I also got no sex education. I think they just assumed I would learn it like they probably did, through friends and experiences.
The only time my mom acknowledged sex in any way was she told me that if I masturbated, my penis would fall off, or worse. You can imagine how I felt the first time I ejaculated. I was like she was right!?! She was fucking right!! I freaked the fuck out.
Communication with my parents was always a little bit tough. Conversationally, my Chinese is pretty good. If I speak, people think I am fluent. But that’s every day stuff. If you want to talk about deep, emotional things, I don’t have the vocabulary for it. But if I say it in either English or German, my parents don’t have the vocabulary to understand. So there is this big chasm between me and my parents.
Since my parents worked so much at the restaurant, I was left alone a lot. I would get home, go into the living room and watch TV, including a lot of Star Trek. The original Star Trek was pretty sexual. Kirk would battle a bunch of people and then get the sexy alien girl and they would make out. I had a yellow sweatshirt that I would hold the neck and put my arm through and it would simulate a torn shirt. I would just lay in the middle of the living room and masturbate to Star Trek. Also to April O’Neal from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I think that’s why I am into red heads.
Then, when I was ten, we moved to the US, which is another sad story because I was lied to. My parents told me that we were going to go on a vacation. I was super excited because we were going to New York, or at least we were going to Boston, but we were going to visit New York. I thought I was going to see the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles literally on the street.
My mom and I stayed in Boston for six months then we moved to California. That’s about the time I realized this was not a vacation, we were not going back. It was really traumatic. I think my parents were having problems at that point so my mom just picked us up and moved. When we first got to the US, the only English word I knew was “cowabunga,” which was not particularly helpful since I never saw the Ninja Turtles.
When I got to California, it was like being thrown to the wolves. Even today I would say Europe, especially Germany and Austria, are squares compared to the US. I didn’t know any of the social norms or the importance of being cool. In the US, you have to have the right backpack, the right everything. I went in there with my little teddy bear backpack not having any idea what I was in for. It wasn’t that I got bullied but for sure I was seen as the weird kid. I became really comfortable being either alone or with other people who were ostracized. I was always the one who would find the other person who was alone and make friends with them.
I think because I spent so much time by myself, I started to develop an unhealthy relationship with masturbation. When I would masturbate, I would do it because I was by myself and I was lonely. My parents would be busy with the restaurant and even though I had some friends at school, we never hung out after school. Maybe they didn’t want the Chinese kid in their house, I have no idea. If you look at my school yearbook, it was: blonde, blonde, blonde, blonde, blonde, me the Asian kid, blonde, blonde, blonde, blonde.
I had a lot of time being by myself, bored, lonely and here I have this thing that gives me constant pleasure. I think that created a connection between masturbation and loneliness, abandonment and self-gratification. Really not a good combination. While I was in Austria it wasn’t too big of a deal, I was still pretty normal. I think it was when I moved to the US that I really felt that abandonment. So many times I would just go home from school and watch cartoons and masturbate.
I would put on Animaniacs or something like that and the pants would come off. I thought that was normal because I didn’t have any reference to other people and what they were doing. This negative or unhealthy attachment between these emotions and masturbation really persists. Even now a days when I am feeling a little lonely, I get the urge. It’s something that I feel is absolutely a part of me now.
I feel you! I also immigrated as a child. It must have felt very isolating.
For me, some bullying was there too. The language gap around emotions and life philosophy is less, but still very much there, and worse for my younger sister.