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The Perils of Jerking Off in the Dial-Up Era

Just hearing the dial-Up tone used to give me an erection.

I'm tired of hearing thirtysomething dudes rattle on about how in their day they discovered a decaying lingerie catalogue in a bush, and how 13 of their friends shared it in strict rotation, and how they treasured and debased it until it disintegrated back from whence it came, and how internet-bred kids these days just don't understand the struggle.

That may be true: Today's teens are probably jerking amok, reaching second base with their widescreen smart gizmos and fiddling with more leisure and convenience than their forefathers could possibly have comprehended. But I'm a 90s wanker, meaning my generation was jacking off blind through the birth of the internet, which came with its own complications. No one taught us the rules. It was a brave, sticky new world. We trespassed on the living room PC nightly, in constant fear. Raiding the web for whatever slowly buffering flesh we could get, clumsily sweeping over our digital footprint as we stroked.


I think back to busting that first mythical, quaking nut. I'd patiently buffered a 30-second clip of some hot, semi-clothed women making out. With my mum cooking just yards away, it was a hurried, unromantic affair. She was around the corner in our kitchen/dining area. Sounding like ET in a food processor, an insuppressible, otherworldly yelp tore out of me, accompanied by six generous teaspoons of quivering, pent-up euphoria that felt like they'd changed the course of history forever. "Sammy, dear?" my mum said. From somewhere deep within my jizzy daze, I answered, and so began the nervy game of high-stakes deception.

That was jacking off back in my day. Computers were crazy expensive, so there was but one sacred, communal access point, and attempting to covertly extract an orgasm from it was a delicate operation. Most acts of self-abuse went down under the cover of night.

This was the age of dial-up internet. Like's Pavlov's horny dog, I used to get solid wood just hearing the clank of the dial-up rhythm scratching through my speakers like a robotic ménage à trois. Yeah, that's it. Go on. Dial. There's none of that tantalizing foreplay with the instant access of high-speed broadband.

Disabling the parental lock was child's play. Suckers. I can't imagine any firewall ever standing between a horny teenager and a solitary nipple. Next, I'd use some unloved search engine (shoutout to so my mum wouldn't receive suggestions like "huge tits porn tits free tits" when asking Jeeves, "How do you search the internet for pictures, Jeeves?" The present-day dolphin flogger can simply cloak his seedy searches with "incognito mode." There's no art to it.


Then came the dispiriting, left-handed trawl through site after site of booby-trapped links and cartoonish fonts selling empty promises. I would wait a horny lifetime for a page to load, all the hope and excitement draining from my screen-lit face when met with another request for credit-card details.

See, kids, this was long before your Youjizzes and your Redtubes, with their infinite selection of smut, spanning every disturbing sub-category a visionary pervert could think up. Nowadays, the only complications with internet porn are pesky pop-up ads from Party Poker or an occasional libido-draining glimpse into some haunting fetish that seems too damn niche for the main page.

Normally, I would end up settling, quite happily, for re-re-re-rewinding a stamp-sized 20 second montage; or a dependable, pixilated GIF of bouncing tits; or a slideshow story of photos that loaded so agonisingly slowly it felt like I was cautiously rolling up a blind to leer at them.

Once I had my target acquired and paper towels on hand, I'd review the exit strategy with the rigor of a parachute instructor with OCD. Then,  to save crucial seconds, I'd rest the cursor on the X in the corner. Not unlike Rambo, I'd close the downstairs door to serve as a tripwire. If I decided to take a chance with some volume, I'd go for a single earphone popped in the ear furthest from a likely parental intruder. There is an art to locking your right ear into meditative focus, while your left is lost in the volley of overdone "FUCKYAH!" "OH-YA!" "YAH!" "OH-FUCKYAH!"


Back then, every wank had to be orchestrated with the urgency and precision of a prison break.

​These were the frontier days, long before your double digit Mbps speeds.  The internet crawled like a castaway toward a mirage. While my moist finger madly jabbed at the mouse, the screen always decided to freeze on a super close-up of a great, yawning vadge. It was during these heart-stopping moments that I would hallucinate the sound of my mother's voice or my father's footsteps coming down the hall and pound the X button while frantically shoving my dick inside my pants.

Back then, every wank had to be orchestrated with the urgency and precision of a prison break. Today's generation are able to buff their bananas at total ease, browsing complacently on a smartphone from their executive jerk parlor. They only get a faint taste of that old-timey panic if they accidentally blast an orgasmic wail out through their speaker system.

Then there was Limewire, a file-sharing service that popped up out of nowhere with the potential to change the game. The idea of owning your own clip that you could watch whenever the mood struck, no wait times involved, seemed almost too good to be true. And in some ways, it was. With dial-up's glacial pace, the luxury of a four-minute clip could take hours. I'd nest on the spinny-chair like a protective mother goose, attempting to hold off challengers to my throne with sulky adolescent bullshit.


Aside from the waiting time, Limewire was a masturbatory minefield. Two videos of a similar name could vary from scenes resembling an 80s power ballad video, to amputees and crutches colliding in ways I've almost successfully forgotten. There is a lot of talk of the potentially damaging influence of grotesque and easily-accessible porn on today's youth, but at least the little bastards can pick and choose. They aren't locked into a perilous, erotic lucky dip, where they've already invested two and a half long hours and are more or less committed. I'd bury those ungodly clips deep within an elaborate Russian doll network of code-named folders.

Well, it seems I've come across exactly like those old dudes reminiscing semi-fondly over their tattered, communal catalogue. I bet in the 1800s, people would spin yarns of the five-knuckle shuffle in the pre-photographic era. "You don't know shit about the struggle. I used to bust my nuts over drawings. I'd have to sketch the bastards myself, and then jack off to them". My sympathy goes out to the next generation, caught banging the air, with their head in a virtual reality visor.

In any case, I'm due an article-completion wank in the privacy of my own bed, using my accessible laptop, and some porn tailored to my mood. I might just kick back and reminisce to the dial-up rhythm, see if it stirs my love for the game, like I'd imagine seeing muff-heavy retro porn does for the ancient masturbators of yesteryear.

Yeah, that's it.

Follow Sam Briggs on Twitter.

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