What do you get if you mix testosterone, digital technology, alcohol and dope? Bad grammar. Let me explain.
It's Friday night and I'm up on the 29th floor of a crumbling 60s high-rise off Yonge Street. I'm with two guys from work, Carl and Ming. We teach English to immigrants.
Together, we've disappeared from a staff party and ended up at Carl's no-frills bachelor pad (leather couch, Mapplethorpe bodies on the wall, lots of Ikea particle board), splitting a bottle of vodka. Carl is between women, I'm separated, and Ming's wife and kids are in China for the month. We're all free.
By drink three or four, Ming is jumping around in white socks, playing air guitar to Neil Young, while Carl gropes for the essence of a lifetime of fucking: "Tits matter." He dismisses pretty faces (my choice) or nice legs (Ming's) as mere ornaments. Tits are the only real things you can hold on to.
"When you think of it, what else is there but tits? I mean, we spend our whole lives trying to get inside women's pants, but once you get there, what have you got? Nothing, there's nothing there. Just a crack in the flesh, a big void."
Only another bottle will get us past that metaphysical abyss. The last thing I can remember saying before dozing off on the couch is "Vive la void!"
When I come to, Carl and Ming are sitting in the bluish glow of a computer screen and the place smells of dope. "Tell her," Carl prods Ming in the strangled voice of someone sucking back on a joint.
"Could you stand up, please?" says Ming.
"Not like that!" Carl objects, choking on his smoke. "Talk right into the mic or else she can't hear you. And keep it simple." To illustrate his point he barks, "Stand up! Come closer!"
I'm behind them now and can see a woman on the screen. She looks about 16, blond, in a short skirt and long leather boots, swivelling her hips in front of a bed to a thudding beat. A flashing banner along the bottom of the screen has Russian letters and lots of dollar signs. Ming throws me a big, drunken smile. "Vive la void!"
"Hey, talk to the bitch," commands Carl. "Time is money."
"Take it off!" Ming's voice is still a bit tentative, but he's getting the hang of it. Her breasts bob around in a garish, pink light. "They're nice and big," Ming says triumphantly to Carl.
"Get her to rub them," Carl shoots back, but Ming hesitates.
"What do I say?"
"Rub... Your... Tits!"
"Okay, okay," Ming giggles. "Do you want to try?" he asks me, but Carl says the rule is one customer at a time.
Ming takes a deep breath and says the magic words, but the girl starts pulling off her panties.
"What's her problem?" says Carl. Ming repeats the order, but this time she lies on the bed.
"Maybe it's her English," I offer, which sets off a round of guffaws.
"We could do a lesson plan: English in the workplace," says Ming.
"Actives and passives," adds Carl. "I screw. You are screwed."
But soon all eyes are back on the screen. "Natasha" is lying naked on the bed stroking her cunt. Ming looks at Carl, who says, "Tell her to spread her legs."
"How do you say that in Russian?"
"How should I know? Spreadski legskis."
"Spreadski! Legskis!" Ming shouts into the mic.
"I was joking, for Chrissake," says Carl.
"I don't have any better ideas," says Ming. And then into the mic, "Open legskis! Spreadski! Spreadski!"
For a moment nothing happens and then, like a little miracle, her thighs part. Carl gives Ming a high-five. "You see," says Ming, nodding sagely, "it's all a question of communication."
Too bleary and drunk to be horny, I call a cab. Meanwhile, the master communicators are trying to get their cyber-toy to rub her cunt and moan.
This time pidgin English isn't working, so Carl gets Ming to do heavy breathing.
"Get her to imitate you, just like we do in class." By the time the cabbie buzzes, Ming is hyperventilating, the computer mic stuck halfway down his throat. As I shut the door, a cheer goes up: they've got their moans.
I wonder what they'll do for an orgasm.