I have this friend. He’s a little bit chubby and he sweats a lot and the other thing about him is that he’s right into porn. Sometimes he watches it four times a day, maybe he watches it more than that – I really don’t know – but one thing’s for sure: he doesn’t bother hiding it.

We’ll be at a bar, for example. There’ll be women. But too few maybe. Or not of a kind appealing to him. “Slim pickings,” he’ll say. “Yeah,” I’ll say, not knowing how to overcome my shortcomings either. After a moment of calculation – one of those awful little minutes where you question your worth – he’ll say, “Right! RedTube it is”. Then he’ll drain his beer and leave.

This happens a lot these days. And it makes me wonder: what if porn’s hindering his chances of meeting someone special? I don’t claim to know what ‘special’ is exactly; I can’t understand women and never have done. But still. A man needs to keep on searching, doesn’t he? A man needs to keep on hoping that one day, in some conspiracy of chance, a woman will come into his life and finally give it meaning.

Or something like that.

Last weekend my friend and I went for a steak and chips and midway through our meal I said, “All this porn you watch.” And he said, “Yeah?” And I said, “What’s with all this porn you watch?”

He laid down his knife and fork and reached into his mouth, politely enough, to remove a piece of gristle.

“Look man,” he said. “Sex is great, OK? Porn’s not better than sex or anything. But why would I spend hundreds of bucks on drinks, searching for a stranger, when I can go home and watch porn for the price of a text message?”

“Because,” I said, “with the stranger you could fall in love?”

This rattled my friend a bit. He gazed away from me, over my shoulder or something. Then he looked back and said, “Um. Fuck that.”

I can’t complain too much, though. I mean, with him going home early all the time there’s less competition for girls. That said, it’s not easy meeting someone on your own. Night clubs don’t seem to work like that. Women don’t seem to want to talk to the loner with the nervous voice leaning against the bar, then standing upright out of self-consciousness, then leaning against the bar again out of self-consciousness of the initial self-consciousness.

After our steak and chips I convinced him to come out for a bit. We agreed on Rocket’s Club on the off chance girls would talk to us there. Half an hour in, my friend went home to wank.

I was pissed off. He stranded me on the dance floor with a full glass of bourbon and the DJ playing a dance track, all synths and tinny drumbeats that made you feel anxious. But I had to stay. I needed to try and meet someone that night, reach through the void and touch someone.

I approached a blonde coming out of the toilets. I didn’t know what to say so I just went, “Feeling a bit fresher now?”

This didn’t work well at all. As I was making my way back to the dance floor, she pointed me out to her friends. I wasn’t close enough to hear precisely but I’m fairly sure she said, “That guy’s fucking weird.”

This wasn’t great for my confidence. I went home feeling pretty bad about myself. It confused a man. Made him think perhaps there wouldn’t be the kind of love he’d always hoped for. Am I ugly? Do I repel women? Or is it just my desperation? With all these thoughts upon me, sloshing about inside with the bourbon and the beer, I opened my laptop, dimmed the lights and downloaded some porn.

Last weekend my friend and I went for a steak and chips and midway through our meal I said, “All this porn you watch.” And he said, “Yeah?” And I said, “What’s with all this porn you watch?”

Now I don’t want to sound like I’m back-pedalling or anything, but it was damn good. Really. It was exceptional porn. It was so good that the next morning I called my friend to talk about it.

“I watched some great porn last night,” I said.

He coughed into the phone. “Oh yeah?” he said. “Tell me about it.”

“Well. I was all alone. And I thought, I might watch a little somethin’ somethin’.”

“I know that story.”

“Have you heard of Cleopatra Cameo?”

“The Clam?! You have good taste pal. If you like, I’ll bring my laptops around some time.”

“How about tomorrow?”

And that’s how it came about that my friend knocked on my door on Sunday morning with two computer bags flung over his shoulders and a stack of DVDs in his hands.

“Come in,” I said.

He stood in the hallway eyeing me, rigid with tension, a sly grin on his lips. We went into my bedroom (the TV was better in there) and sat on my bed.

The Clam started out in taxi shoots. Taxi shoots turned into amateur bedroom videos. Soon after she was picked up by Tits Buzz which basically launched her career. The Party Room series was the best, in my view. Although my friend maintained her earlier work in the back of London black cabs was where she worked the hardest.

“See that, man,” he said, pausing on a frame. “That’s what it’s all about. The look on their faces when they’re just getting started.”

He said this in an urgent manner. As if he’d never told anyone before. As though the meaning of it were somehow big to him.

“It’s the look on their faces, man. It’s the look in their eyes when they don’t know what they’ve gotten themselves into. You know what I’m saying? You know what I’m talking about?”

“I think I see what you mean,” I said.

The day shone bright outside. I got up and closed the blinds. We sat in the dark, our faces lit by naked flesh pounding on the screen. About halfway through the Clam’s oeuvre, my friend said, “Let’s wank.”

“Huh?”

“I can’t sit here any longer without wanking, man. You don’t have to watch or anything. But if I wank you may as well wank too.”

He unbuckled his belt, the tip of his tongue poking out of his mouth. I turned away from him. I thought about getting off the bed and leaving the room but I didn’t want to offend him. Also, I kind of saw his point.

So we wanked.

I did my best to avoid eye contact with him, though every now and then… We did our best to avoid eye contact. Afterwards, we leaned back into the pillows and just stared at the ceiling for a while. I had this strange urge to reach out and take his hand.

We watched a bit more porn, mainly softer stuff: less graphic, more artistically designed. By the time he left, it was twilight.

“Good session,” he said, standing on the front porch, a rinsed-out sky behind him.

“Yeah,” I said. I had no idea what else to say.

I watched his chubby frame amble down the footpath. I felt pretty weird. Like I’d just done something I’d never do again. A one-off experience with a friend. I went back into my room. The bed was still warm from where we’d been sitting and sunken, too, from our weight. On one of the pillows my friend had left a DVD, the cover scrawled with black texta. It said, “The Clam – Complete Works. Party on Brutha!”

It wasn’t as though I had anything else to do, so I slid the DVD into my laptop. And there she was again. Kneeling before three men in the back of a taxi, her G-stringed arse to the camera. Round, white and cleft in two.

The taxi whizzed through foreign streets, the windows down and the sky beyond them grey and thick and close yet distant and the wind was in her hair, pulling at it like fingers. She turned to face me, covered in a glistening web. One of the men grabbed her chin and tilted it to show his work off. Another one put his knee against her cheek. The third man spat at the place where she was kneeling, crouched on the floor of the taxi which kept driving on. No matter what was happening in the back of it. No matter what things were being done. It just kept driving on.


Dominic Carew is a lawyer and writer from Sydney.