I’m Mallory — Mal to just about everyone — and I made the mistake of introducing my best friend, Les, to Beth, a woman from work. I knew it was a bad idea and I told Les it wouldn’t work, but he insisted. What did he have to lose? he argued. If it doesn’t work, then it doesn’t work. But I didn’t want him to get hurt. I’ve known Les for ten years, ever since I moved here from Canada and was the super shy new girl in 10th grade homeroom. We met the first week of school. After I overcame my shyness, we became buddies — I could talk to Les about anything — and helped each other survive high school. I moved back here a couple of years after college and bam, we were best friends again, like I’d never left. I was substitute teaching until I got my new job, which is where I met Beth. When I needed to find an apartment, it was Les who got me into one right next to his. And it was Les who put in a good word with the landlord, helped me move in, unbox my stuff…everything. He’s that kind of guy, always there if you need something. It may sound meaningless — I know it’s too easy to say it and not mean it — but he’s a sweetheart. And Beth wasn’t a good match.

Les and I saw each other almost every day. We were running partners, 15-plus miles a week. Neither of us cooked much, so we often shared takeout, usually at his place. He loved old movies and had a great set up — big screen, sound system, huge poofy chairs, kind of a guy thing. Les was a software designer and classic films were his hobby. It was how he unwound. At least once a week we would hang out and he’d riff on old movies, most of which he’d seen more than once. He always knew who wrote, directed, produced — all that stuff. I learned a lot and Les could be viciously hilarious talking about movies he didn’t like.

I guess when things started to change was after I broke up with my boyfriend, He Who Shall Not Be Named. On second thought, let’s name him; we’ll call him Shithead. After we broke up, I was pretty down for a while and not very easy to be around, so Les suggested we have a party to cheer me up. Not a party, really, more of a drop-in-if-you-want-to thing, an open house. He invited some of his friends, I invited some of mine, we opened both apartments, had coolers of beer, wine, some munchies, Marx Brothers, I think, on the screen — very casual. Les thought maybe I’d meet someone. Instead, that’s when he met Beth.

Like I said, I worked with Beth. She was a little older and ran a team in Sales. My team did Fulfillment, so we saw a lot of each other. She was lively and social (Sales, right?) and went out with lots of guys. I swear it seemed like a new one every month, and she’d go back and forth between them. She didn’t brag about her love life, exactly. But she’s kind of sassy, likes to talk and she’s matter-of-fact. If you asked her who she went out with, she’d tell you. If you asked what they did, she’d tell you. People at work loved gossip, so they would even ask if so-and-so was good in bed and, you guessed it, she’d tell you. I have to admit her stories were entertaining until Les got involved.

I don’t know who found whom, but it seemed like Beth and Les spent the whole party together. Talking and laughing, they pretty much ignored everyone else — probably quoting movies to each other. The next day we went on our usual run and Les started asking me about Beth. You know, Beth, Beth, Beth. How long had I known her, what did she like to do, did she have a boyfriend, and so on. He even told me she looked like Katherine Ross. He adores Katherine Ross in The Graduate and Butch Cassidy, so I knew he was seriously crushing. I was surprised, honestly. First of all, she does NOT look like Katherine Ross. If anyone does, I do (that is, if Katherine Ross wore glasses). Maybe Amy Adams — Beth’s pretty, I admit — but Katherine Ross she is not. I tried to be helpful and answer Les’s questions, but I didn’t want to get his hopes up. Even more surprising, then, was the next day at work Beth did the same thing — she found me at lunch and wanted to talk about Les. She was not as excited Les was, but clearly interested.

After Les nagged me non-stop, I agreed to invite Beth to my place one evening so Les could just casually drop in with a bottle of wine. I knew what she liked. And I, of course, would just happen to have ordered a little extra Thai. After that, and a couple more meetups, they started seeing each other. Soon they acted more or less like a couple. I couldn’t believe it when Beth referred to Les as her boyfriend — actually she said ‘one of my boyfriends’ — a bad sign.

Les and I kept running together, but otherwise I saw less of him. I gathered it was because he was spending time with Beth. We always talked on our runs, about all kinds of things. But when he started fishing for hints about what Beth said about him, I stopped him. “Hey, I’ll make you a deal, Les. If you don’t ask me what she says about you, I promise not to tell her what you say about her.” He laughed but pointed out, “Hey, I don’t say anything bad about her, so why would I care?” He had a good point. I was a lot more worried about what Beth might blurt out about him, especially about bedroom antics, if they’d gotten there. I really didn’t want to hear it.

I didn’t want to hear it, but I did. One day Beth was talking casually about some recent date. She hadn’t mentioned Les by name, but I was pretty sure that’s who she was talking about. She was really enjoying herself as she described how they were on third base when she called it off. Why? “His dick was way too small!” She lowered her voice, as though telling a secret. “There was no way I would fuck him. Seriously. It’s ridiculous!” Ouch! Poor Les. There were two women besides me in the break room and they loved it, which egged her on. “In fact, if he wants to stay with me, I’m going to lock up that puny dick.” The other two were in hysterics. Not me. I must have looked shocked. Looking right at me, Beth said, “I’ve already ordered the cage.”

Poor Les. I had figured it would end badly. It wasn’t enough to just break up and leave it at that, she had to insult him. I mean, how bitchy is that? I kept waiting for Les to tell me they were through. When he didn’t, I decided he must be really bummed and just didn’t want to talk about it. Two days later, Beth showed me the cage at work. Like I wanted to see that. She said, “I thought you might be interested.” Uh, no. But I couldn’t believe she bought one. I thought she was kidding or just bragging because she had an audience. You know, empty talk. But she had the actual thing. It was stainless steel and really small. She showed me a little lock and key. When I shut my eyes, she said, “Well why didn’t you tell me he had a tiny dick?” Like I would know. I walked away. She laughed and called after me in a sing-song-y voice, “Next time you see him, he’ll be wearing it!”

Well, she was right, though I heard it first from her, not him. She told me she would be over at his place Saturday and why didn’t I come over. She would make him show me. She lifted a thin gold chain around her neck to show off the key, swinging it like a little pendulum.

On our run that Friday morning, I felt I had to say something to Les even though I had promised to stay out of it. It was a little easier because weren’t looking at each other, just running. I blurted out, “Beth told me she made you wear some cage thing. Bullshit, right?” Les laughed uncomfortably. He eventually said, “Well, I’m sort of trying it out. What’s the harm?” I ignored the question, if that’s what it was, and we kept running. Finally I said, “She invited me to join you guys tomorrow. No offense, but I’ll pass.”

So I didn’t go that Saturday and things were sort of normal for a while, but then Les himself asked me to join them on another Saturday. He said Beth was bringing a friend with her and I got the impression that the friend was supposed to be for me. I wondered cynically, is this Beth’s way of being nice to me? Great. Is the other guy locked, too? How’s that supposed to work?

Her friend’s name was Brian, and he actually seemed like a good guy. Good looking, easy going, funny. As for Beth, she was surprisingly turned out — linen skirt, coordinated tank top and button shirt, liner and gloss, and sure enough, she was wearing her little necklace and key. Sheesh. We had takeout barbeque, Les put Chinatown on the screen, and we all sat down to chat and only half watch the movie while we ate. Les had only the two big chairs, but okay, they were big enough to share. Except Beth took the chair with Brian! Not that I minded — I wasn’t looking to claim Brian, but then they started getting touchy with each other. Beth’s hands never left him, and the two of them were whispering and giggling. Before long, she was practically in his lap with her tongue in his ear. I swear I wasn’t jealous, but come on, she’s supposed to be Les’s girlfriend. After half an hour, Beth got up, pulled Brian out of the chair, and dragged him to the bedroom! It had to be the bedroom — I heard the door close. I gawped at Les. WTF?! He shrugged his shoulders like ‘what am I supposed to do,’ and pretended to watch the movie.

I wanted to leave but that would have been pretty rude to Les. So I stayed for moral support but kept craning my neck towards the bedroom, muttering over and over ‘I cannot f-ing believe her.’ Les just sighed and kept watching Jack and Faye. After a while — too long a while — they returned or, I should say, Beth did. She said nothing about it, just that Brian had to leave and had let himself out. Like it was no big deal. I was going to start hollering at her, but Les spoke up so I stayed mum.

“Hey, we missed you, Beth.” [God, why didn’t he slap her!]

She tossed her head carelessly. “Is that so?” Then she smirked, “You had company.”

Les went with it (why, Les?). He nodded and said, “Yeah, we had a little fun.”

She glanced at his groin, then at me. “Hmph. I’m sure.”

Les said sarcastically, “Hey, my tongue’s not locked.”

I gagged. What?! I froze. Beth gave me a look, but I had no idea what she thought. She glared at Les and then walked right up to his face, challenging him. “Okay, then give me some, Lover Boy!” She pushed him down by his shoulders — to his knees — then lifted her hem and pulled his face into her crotch. “Lick!” she ordered. After a few seconds she loosened her grip on his hair enough to pull her panties aside. “Open wide, lover!” she said and started grinding — I mean serious grinding — on his face. Are you f-ing kidding me?! I mumbled something about it being time for me to leave but I doubt either of them heard me. I grabbed my phone and scrammed.

Being home felt completely weird because I knew very well what was happening right next door, only a few yards away. Mind you, I didn’t say I understood what was happening, but I couldn’t get the image out of my head. And so here’s other strange thing. I ran straight to my bedroom, dragged off my jeans, and started jilling like crazy.

This is anonymous, so I might as well confess. I masturbate all the time. Constantly. Once I figured out how to do it, and what happens if you do it right, I couldn’t stop. I live for orgasms. There are three kinds. Mainly just ‘small’ and ‘large,’ but they’re all good. Small is like a perfect salted caramel, or the buzz from a glass of champagne except the buzz is in your clit and spills all over you. It makes you coo and sigh and love the world. Large is more intense and, well, bigger (duh). It makes you moan and groan and clench and not really care about the world. The third type is the best and it’s rare. It’s like a whole-body orgasm. Front and back, top and bottom, inside and out. My pussy gets just…fried — like it’s one enormous clit; my butt seizes up, my boobs throb, my nipples twitch, my abs crunch, my legs shake; I can barely breathe and have to gulp for air. If there’s anything in my bladder, it’s coming out. My eyes shut tighter than tight and I see red. My toes clench and cramp. If there was anything in my butt, like one of those old-timey thermometers, I swear it would break in half. That’s how hard I come. It’s incredible. I call them ‘tsunamis’ and like I said, they are rare. If I have one in a week, it’s an awesome week. One a month is more like it (and I’ll take it).

I didn’t have my first tsunami until I was 20 and had been jilling for years. It took me totally by surprise, but whoa, did it ever get my attention! I have been trying to have them ever since. That’s how I got to be a regular masturbator. You have to keep doing it, you can’t pass up that morning rub or that bedtime jill, because what if this is the one? You never know when it might come. You probably figure that makes me a total slut, right? Or like Beth, always looking for the next guy. Not at all. First of all, I’m shy. If I go to a bar, I might have a drink, two at most, but I’m too bashful to talk up strange guys. After a couple of hours, I realize how much time I just wasted. I could have been home having a tsunami — with time left over — but no, I went to a stupid bar. And second, I’d rather be alone. A tsunami while I was with someone would be mortifying. Can you imagine, I’m spazzing out, probably swearing, maybe peeing and tooting, foaming at the mouth, a total animal. And I want someone to see me like that? No way. I would die.

So it turns out masturbation is really the way to go. Do it yourself. I’m a perfectly normal, high functioning person the rest of the time. I’ll be jilling for the rest of my life, hoping to find the next big wave, but I’ll be doing it alone, even if I get married. I have learned a couple of other things about tsunamis, though. First, the right toy can really help. My favorite is one my sister Dana brought me from Finland. It’s basically a super-soft three-fingered glove, very flexible, with a small disc that fits in your palm and a strap around your wrist. The glove fingers have all these special wires or fibers — the company calls them ‘tendrils’ — and when you turn the thing on, they all just purr. It’s amazing, like turning your favorite fingertips into living vibrators. It has some Finnish name I can’t pronounce. I just call it my Glory Glove. About a month after Dana gave it to me, she called and asked if I had tried it yet. I said something like, ‘Oh, no, I keep meaning to…’ When the truth was, I had practically worn it out.

The second thing is mental. Thinking about something romantic or erotic might get me off with a small orgasm, and that’s fine. But I’m more likely to have a tsunami if the movie in my head is nasty or taboo — something brazen, over the top. Doesn’t guarantee a tsunami, but it’s a better trigger.

That’s why I had to rub off after the scene with Beth and Les. I mean, my God, she took another guy to Les’s own bedroom, and did whatever they did (and Beth’s not shy), then she forced Less to eat her out. And of course in my head, I’m imagining what might be in there. All this, while his dick is locked up and the key is around her neck. And in front of his best friend. Talk about brazen! And yes, nasty. It totally filled my head — me on my bed with my legs splayed, madly strumming my V with the Glory Glove. And no, I didn’t have a tsunami (I was so hopeful) but I did have two good orgasms.

After I put myself back together, I felt incredibly guilty. God. My friend had gotten utterly used and dissed, right in front of me — and he knew I had seen it. Yet there I was using the scene to get myself off. How selfish is that? No way to treat a best friend, for sure. Poor Les. I could only guess whether they had broken up on the spot or were still having a huge fight. Les and I were supposed run Sunday morning. I assumed he would skip it and that was more than okay by me. I would leave him alone. But when I came out to start the run alone, there he was stretching by the walk. I’m not going to lie — it was awkward, but it got a little better once we were on the road. Eventually I said something lame like, “Really sorry about last night.” He just sort of grunted. I tried to sound supportive and positive. “Best to break up and be done with it, you know?”

He understood we were not on the same page, but I did not, until he said, “Well, we’ll see what happens.”

I was shocked. First, evidently neither of them had dumped the other, and I did not see how that was possible. Which leads me to: Second, I obviously didn’t understand either one of them, especially Les. I don’t know if I was yelling or pleading, but I said to him, “Les! Come on! She cheated on you. In front of you. And then made you…you know. How is that not a deal breaker?! And she has you locked. She flaunts the goddamn key!” Then I clammed up.

Les sighed. He ignored the part about cheating and focused on the lock. “I wish you understood, Mal. I mean, I wish I could explain it to you.” [Yeah, me too.] “Beth locking me up? That’s like her saying — no, it’s her proving — that she wants me. Wants to own me. She’s denying the whole world access to me. Which means I belong to her alone. To me…well, that’s sort of incredible.” He was fumbling and I didn’t interrupt, but I thought he was full of BS. Then he said, “And fooling around with Brian? I get what you’re saying, I guess. Trust me, I don’t love it. But she put the lock on me, not him. She may want to play with him, but she wants to own me! Does that make any sense?”

I didn’t answer but I was thinking, hmm, well, no, Les, it doesn’t. Let’s see: number one, she’s a two-timing bitch. Number two, she doesn’t love you. Number three, she’s using you and laughing at you behind your back. Number four, you’re too good for her. I said none of that, of course. I wondered how many people wished they could say exactly all that to their best friend but don’t.

Les said, “I hope someday it will make sense to you, Mal, but meanwhile, I need you to not be mean to Beth, okay?”

I still said nothing, so in the silence he nudged my arm and tried to crack a joke by quoting a movie: What we have here, is failure to communicate. I didn’t feel like joking so he dropped it but asked again, seriously. “Hey, okay? For me?”

I mumbled okay, but he knew I wasn’t happy.

The next day I was still very mad at Beth. I wanted to go into work and scratch her eyes out or slash her tires (yeah, not very creative, I know). But I had promised Les I wouldn’t be mean. Fortunately, she wasn’t at lunch or breaks and I hoped I wouldn’t even see her. That would great. But she confronted me in the parking lot as we were leaving. She marched right over to me. “Did Leslie go down on you? Yes or no?” she demanded, just like that.

Well, hello to you, too, Beth. I stared a second — gave her the stink eye — but then just said, “No.”

“He’s got to make up for that!”

Wait. What? “Beth, no. Nothing happened, I swear.”

“I heard you. But he lied to me. He has to make it right.”

I should have just left, but I was frustrated and tried to explain, “No, Beth, he didn’t lie. All he said was that his tongue wasn’t locked. That wasn’t a lie.”

She gave me a haughty look. “What are you, his lawyer now? He tried to deceive me. He implied it. It’s the same thing.” As she walked to her car she said over her shoulder, “Anyway, I figured he had to be fibbing. He had no clue what he was doing with his tongue.” As she drove away, I was thinking, ‘Yeah, well, what about what you were doing?’ Bitch.

Next time I saw Les I could tell that something was bothering him. We were in my kitchen and he was nervous and fidgety. Pretty soon I found out why. It turned out Beth told him he had to go down on me!! Truth. According to her, he claimed he’d done it when in fact he hadn’t, so now he had to do it for real. Besides, she pointed out (I could just see her evil smirk), maybe he would actually learn something, enough that someday she might possibly, maybe-but-maybe-not, allow him to lick her. I was so fried. This is why you can’t be nice to Beth. Here she was, trying to manipulate Les and me. Like she was going to prove her power over both of us. Sorry, not happening. And plus, what a total freaking insult: I’m supposed to be the practice dummy and she’s the holy prize? He should learn on me, the better to satisfy her? No, no, and no. And aside from that, what the hell was Les even thinking? How dare he tell me all this even if she actually said it? I was pissed and suggested he should leave. He did, after apologizing. Steamed as I was, I admit that I rubbed off later, thinking about someone — okay, Les — licking me and, okay, I came. But I was still pissed.