"The function of the artist is to provide what life does not." - Tom Robbins

Dry Popcorn

by Sudama Adam Rice

There's something very sad, very melancholy, about not masturbating. That is, about deciding not to masturbate due to the utter futility of the act.

Just the whole deal, sitting in your underwear in your bedroom after midnight listening to useless rock and roll thinking all sorts of midnight thoughts and eating popcorn out of a brown paper bag without butter or salt, just letting your mouth dry out with each bite... The purposelessness which often lends itself to masturbation but finally begins to completely proscribe it. The embodiment of nihilistic solipsism: "I could masturbate, but why?" Why? When pseudo-philosophers joke that that's the only question, they don't realize that the essential core of "why" is "why masturbate."

Dry lukewarm popcorn defies the senses. When you grasp it in your hand it's a jumble of unrelated bumps and spaces which don't tell your hand or brain anything about what you're holding, and when you put it in your mouth it's a curiously intriguing texture which is nothing if not forgettable.

When you say "popcorn" to someone, they don't think of popcorn as such; they think of the butter and salt which appeal to their senses and cravings and the actual exploded kernels are relegated to the role of the unsung humble indispensable workers, carrying the much-sought golden fat and sodium chloride to the lips of a greedy audience. Popcorn with butter and salt is masturbation. Popcorn without is not masturbation--it's very Zen. Without popcorn, there would be no masturbation, but more importantly, there would be no no masturbation. The essence of the yin yang is the dry popcorn sitting by my knees in a brown paper bag as I don't masturbate at night.

Why do we masturbate? Because human beings crave sensation. Pain or pleasure, it often doesn't matter. Masturbation is a convenient, harmless form of stimulation which by definition does not require anything which isn't handy. It's the perfect thing for the lonely-being vaguely sexual, it seems to do something for both the physical and the spiritual desires for intensity and difference that we have. Though it really doesn't do much for either. But it does more than not masturbating.

Just like dry popcorn--there is nothing that you can feel not masturbating in the same way that there is nothing you can feel eating dry popcorn. They're really the same thing. All it takes is some dry popcorn after midnight, and if you think you're gonna masturbate, you've got another thing coming.

You just keep shoving the popcorn into your mouth, each time hoping that something interesting will happen, knowing full well from experience that it never will, because it never does. Masturbation is the same way. Each time you think maybe it'll be different, special, worthwhile, but soon you realize that it won't ever be.

Maybe this is what drives some people to auto-erotic asphyxiation. I don't even want to think about it. Someone should have handed those kids a brown paper bag with dry popcorn and a Dinosaur Jr CD late some night. They would've realized soon enough that there's nothing more to masturbation than there is to chewing on dry popcorn. So why do I do it? I don't know--I'm not even hungry.