Mirror on the Wall

Rebel Yell was twelve when he saw his first pornographic movie. It didn’t bother him – he knew where babies came from, and had a fairly solid, if untested, appreciation of how people behaved in bed – except for the faces that both actors made during the moments of their orgasm. About the woman he didn’t have much of an opinion one way or the other – how women behaved during sexual climax was a fascinating intellectual problem, but it wasn’t something he felt he could necessarily learn that much from – but the faces the man made he found thoroughly undignified. “Hell, no,” said Rebel Yell to himself, “this won’t stand. No way am I going to be that ridiculous.”

He started masturbating in front of the mirror, forcing his eyes open to study the way his mouth twisted while his penis knocked messily against the door of his hand. He didn’t make nearly the faces the porn actor had, but he still wasn’t happy. He set out to cultivate an air of quiet dignity, of refined gravity, under any circumstances whatsoever.

Years later, when he was balling a girl for the first time, she started laughing. Rebel Yell took it philosophically, but needled her about it afterward. “What was so funny?”

“Your face,” she said, and chuckled in his ear. “I’ve never seen anyone make such a goofy face during sex before!”

“I,” Rebel Yell started to say, then thought better of it. On the whole, he didn’t think he wanted to tell her.