On the third season premiere of Girls, an HBO reality show about actual non-fictional women living in Brooklyn, Hannah’s publisher suggested posting the first chapter of her ebook – “about jerking a kidney stone out of some Puerto Rican Jew’s dick” – on Nerve.com. As promised, here it is.
At first, I assumed Jacob was the same kind of ambiguous, suburban, liberal-arts white (the results of an EU-wide orgy which only the most boring delegates showed up to) as me, as most of the people at our college. But his last name was Silverman – no, not really, but it might as well have been – so I figured, at least, that he was Jewish.
Come junior year, every English major was required to enroll in a small advanced seminar, each consisting of no more than 10 largely apathetic students and one increasingly depressed PhD candidate seated around a round table. My seminar met for four hours every Wednesday afternoon. Jacob – who had dark, curly hair and a small scar on his lip that straddled the line between unsettling and appealing – sat directly across from me, to the extent that it’s geometrically possible to sit directly across from someone at a round table. One day, bored out of my mind, I glanced at the pad in front of him. His scrawled notes were a haphazard blend of Spanish and English (“Hamlet’s locura,” “Ophelia se ahogó, why unseen?”). I found this incredibly sexy, like a secret so secret he didn’t even know he’d shared it with me.
I asked my roommates about him that night. One, Christina, recognized the name.
“Jacob Silverman? He was on my floor freshman year. I think he’s part Puerto Rican or something.”
I imagined bringing him home to visit my sweet Jewish grandmother, who – capable of more racist vitriol than seemed possible to fit within the confines of her tiny body – would almost definitely have a stroke, from delight, or horror, or maybe both. I decided I would make him want me, by staring meaningfully at him until he did.
A month into the semester, Jacob asked to borrow a pen. “Uh, yeah,” I’d answered, too enthusiastically. I fumbled in my backpack, so excited that he’d acknowledged my living, breathing, vagina-possessing presence that I forgot I’d only brought one with me. I handed it over with a smile, then spent the rest of the afternoon trying, mostly unsuccessfully, to commit everything our TA said to memory.
Class ended. I shoved my book in my bag and headed for the door, but someone called my name behind me. It was Jacob, holding out my pen. I didn’t realize he knew my name. Flushing redder than the uncapped lipstick that had earlier that day mushed all over the interior of my bag (and persisted, slightly, on both the pen and my fingers), I took it back.
“Do you want to come over later?” he asked.
“Come over? Why?”
Jacob shrugged. “To hang out.”
The thrum of blood in my ears. 20 years of meaningful stare practice had finally paid off.
“Like, when later?”
“How about now later?”
He’d spoken a lifetime grand total of 23 words to me. Like his lip scar, Jacob’s directness was either gross, or hot, or maybe both. I picked hot, and followed him back to his dorm.
In his bedroom – which was altogether unremarkable except for a terrifyingly large Bruce Springsteen poster taped to the ceiling – I kissed him, hard, biting his lip in a way that I thought effectively telegraphed that a) I was a strong, confident, independent woman and b) he was cordially invited to fuck me like a whore. But he pulled away.
“Hannah, I have to tell you something.”
“Is it that you’re circumcised? Or that you’re not circumcised? Because, either way, I’m prepared to be fully open-minded.”
He shook his head. “I, uh, have a kidney stone.”
Admittedly, I had noticed that he didn’t get up once during class, even during the designated 15-minute bathroom break in the middle, as well as the way he’d squirmed, frowning, in his chair. I’d attributed this behavior to his introspective, Byronic disposition. To my surprise, I found myself liking this explanation even more. I understood. I got my first UTI at summer camp when I was 9, when I went two sweaty weeks without showering because I could.
“I’m sorry to hear that,” I said. “I think you’re supposed to drink a lot of water. And cranberry juice, right? My uncle used to get kidney stones, but when he died–”
He cut me off, an embarrassed look on his face. “I think you know why I asked you here. Right?”
“You need a ride to the doctor?”
“There’s things they can do for you, medically, to help, but it’s expensive. I looked it up online. And my parents kicked me off the family insurance, so.”
I looked at him. Maybe another meaningful stare was all we needed to make things right.
“I did some research, and it turns out you can still come when you have a kidney stone. In fact, it’s one of the best ways to pass it. So, if it isn’t too weird, I was thinking, we could, I don’t know. That you could help me.”
It was weird. But, no, it wasn’t too weird. I always thought I could be a doctor, if I weren’t so squeamish about blood or dry skin.
“Okay,” I nodded. “I understand.”
“If you don’t want to do this, we don’t have to do this.”
Without waiting for an answer, he reached, with his right hand, for my right tit. He squeezed it, his arm across my chest like he was swearing the Pledge of Allegiance on my behalf. I hate to admit it, but I wasn’t as conflicted as you might expect. The idea of fucking Jacob’s kidney stone out of him felt kind of like volunteer work, which I’d been meaning to do more of anyway. I began to unbutton my blouse.
He waved me off. “Actually, no, don’t worry about it. Could you just –” He laid back on the bed, gesturing plaintively to his crotch.
“Duh. Sorry. I’ll just – yeah.” I unzipped his fly, revealing navy blue boxers. I took out his dick as gently as possible. When I began to stroke it, he moaned, so I stopped.
“You’ll tell me if it hurts?” I asked.
“Yes,” he said, eyes closed. “Keep going.”
I did. I wrapped my fingers around the shaft and rubbed my thumb on the head. He moaned again, louder this time. In fear, I dropped his cock like a dog turd.
“Bad moan,” I ventured cautiously, “Or good moan?”
Jacob sat up to look at me. “Hannah, it’s a good moan unless I tell you to stop, okay?”
This was good to hear, and I went at it with renewed interest. My handjob technique is something I’ve always questioned, despite the fact that it’s popularly considered the idiotproof, entry-level sexual activity. Even though it’s Ejaculation for Dummies I simply don’t have the fine motor skills to excel at it. Was I absent from school the day in junior high when all the boys and girls were separated and everyone learned about manual pleasure from a staticky VHS tape?
I was so busy thinking about the ninth grade, about the ’90s, that I lost track of time. Jacob’s penis was throbbing in my hand, twitching like he was close to orgasm. I realized he’d started to cry.
“Oh my god! Are you okay?”
His teary grimace was, like most things about him, simultaneously horrifying and arousing. I jerked him off faster, gripping him tighter, as he wept progressively louder, wetter. After a few minutes of this, he came into my hand, and a little onto his navy blue bedsheets (did they match his underwear on purpose?).
Plainly visible in a small puddle of semen was the kidney stone: a tiny crystal, like a chunk of food that had gotten stuck in someone’s molar and stayed there a while. I picked it up to examine it more closely, and – with a strange feeling of pride – to show it to Jacob, but discovered he was still sobbing, face buried in his pillow. It was time for me to go.
“Jacob? I’ll see you in class, okay? Feel better.”
I took the kidney stone with me. I still have it, tucked in a box with old exams and papers somewhere. Disgusting, I know. But it reminds me that – while my parts are more elegantly compartmentalized – men come, pee, and emit tiny nightmare crystals all from the same place. Which is interesting, when you think about it.
(Just kidding. Molly Fitzpatrick really wrote this.)
Image via HBO