We were at Flavia's one day, just shooting the shit, when everybody suddenly started talking about masturbation. The guys were telling us in detail what they usually do and whom they fantasize with, while us girls would only laugh and try to change the subject. When they asked me about it, I said, “Of course I don't do these things,” which was true. I really wasn't into masturbation! Sometimes I'd press a pillow against my hips until I could feel that nice heat turning up, but that's way different from masturbating.

The thing is, I don't try to avoid the subject 'cause I'm afraid of what people may think. I know they wouldn't understand me. For example, I can't tell them that I never think about sex when I'm doing that, because I think sex is kinda... How can I say? It's not vulgar, but it's just trivial to me, you know? Sex is simple: put that thing in there and keep moving. It's so simple animals can do it! 

Instead of sex―and this is something my friends definitely wouldn't understand―I usually think about neckties. Yes, I think neckties are extremely sexy... Neckties are useless and most people don't get that's exactly why they're so sexy. Men don't usually wear earrings, jewelry, or makeup. Neckties are the only totally useless thing they wear, the only thing whose sole purpose is to catch the eye of individuals of the opposite sex. 

You may think I'm crazy, but I believe neckties are the only concession men can make to the female universe. When they're wearing a tie, it's because they understand that some things exist simply to call other people's attention, to tell others what we like, what our favorite colors and shapes are. Neckties are like jewelry: not a professional tool, just an object that shows who you are.

I guess that's why I always used to think of neckties when I'd “play” with my pillow. All I had to do was imagine a charming, tall, strong man loosing up his necktie in front of me and I would let nature take its course. I'd start breathing heavily, then relax and feel my legs tingling. Sometimes I'd see myself unbuttoning his shirt, running my hands over his chest, playing with the tie, rubbing it between my legs... And that would be enough for me to start feeling the “muscle spasms.” A necktie and a good dress shirt: that's all I need to go crazy.

That's why I've always been bummed about the fact that nobody wears a tie when they go out at night. When a guy would come on to me, there was no way of knowing what kind of clothes he wears during the day. Could it be a nice suit and a silk tie? Or just the plain old jeans and T-shirt? 

Soon I learned that every manager, regardless of the department, wears a tie. But, you know, there's a huge difference between those cotton ties that you can find in any department store, and those shiny silk ties that almost blind you when the guy walks past you. 

I'd talk to these men and try to imagine what necktie they'd be wearing back home from work on Monday... I don't know why, but I think those simple cotton ties, those with stripes, wouldn't have the same impact of the silk ones, they wouldn't turn me on as easily. So I'd ask them about their job, where they lived, what their family was like... 

That's how I'd study them carefully and base my judgment on the statistics. Still, it was a hit and miss. That's when I came up with the idea of meeting for lunch. That's just unheard of, 'cause I've never seen this trick in any of those magazines for women. I would start going out with the guy and try to schedule a lunch date. He would sure be wearing his work clothes, so I could collect enough data to make a decision on whether I'd keep seeing him.

Unfortunately, only the married guys would pass the test. I mean, they'd never tell me they were married, but that's something I learned from my older friends. The only two reasons a guy won't invite you back to his place are (1) if he's married or (2) if he lives in shit hole. Deep down, it's all the same, isn't it? I don't like married men... It's not because of the wife, because a quiet wife who only takes care of the children never gets in the way. The thing with married men is that I couldn't fully realize my fantasy: waiting home for him so I could loosen up his tie, unbutton his shirt, and all those other things...

Married men only want to take you to a motel, and that doesn't work for me. I feel like a whore, I can't relax... I don't know why, I never felt comfortable at a motel. My friends say, “But, Natalie, that's the right place to get laid! It's meant for that. There's a bed, hot tub, air conditioning.” It's just that I feel like puking when I think of motel hot tubs. That's another thing I can't really tell my friends, 'cause I know they won't get it.

Well, you can't always get what you want, that's for sure. Sometimes you have to just make do with what you got. When Fábio told me he was the Executive Director at an advertising agency, I thought he probably wore some cool ties―it's okay if they were those microfiber neckties you can buy online. The problem is that later on I found out that everybody at his “cool” company wears a T-shirt, sometimes even flip flops! It sounds crazy, but these advertising guys don't give a damn about clothes. I didn't mind, 'cause he has a Palio and a studio apartment in Copacabana, which he swore it was almost paid off. So we kept going out and I got used to cheap pubs, soccer matches, sex in the car... What was I to do?

Once in a great while I'd get depressed and deeply frustrated. I couldn't understand it and I couldn't avoid it. I'd grab my pillow and think of those men I had seen at conferences at Expo Barra or Sul America Rio. Men who speak low, have a frown on their faces, walk firmly and briskly as if they were always late. Of course all of them wore beautiful neckties. I'd fantasize with one of those men coming home with a red tie, talking about his busy day, how his boss didn't show up and left him in charge of everything, or something like that. Oh God, that turned me on so bad! But I'd always feel bad after the orgasm, wondering why Fábio had stood his ground on the clothing subject. He said neckties were for accountants, that they had nothing to do with an Advertising Executive. I'd ask him, “Not even during a meeting?” He said all their meetings were at a bar because people in advertising can't stand real meetings. Man, that would always bring me down...

Then, one day, there was this amazing opportunity knocking on my door. A friend was getting married and I told Fábio he had to be my date. Everybody knows that it's mandatory that you wear a nice suit and tie to a wedding. I mean, it's written on the invitation: formal dress. 

When Fábio agreed, I started imagining a cute three-color tie, with a well-defined pattern, or even a monochromatic plain one made of shiny fabric, which I also think is super elegant. I tried not to have great expectations, because I knew he didn't have the best taste for clothing. Still, I was sure I'd make my fantasy come true that night. After the wedding, we'd go to his studio apartment and I'd tell him he looked very handsome wearing a tie. I'd slowly loosen the knot, rub the tie all over my body and even do something I saw in a movie once... That would definitely be an unforgettable night!

However, just to make sure, I decided to ask Fábio in advance.

“Hey, Love. You know you'll have to wear a tie for the wedding, right?”

“What? Honey! Nowadays everybody just wears a jacket,” he said.

“Are you crazy, Babe? There's no such thing! Everybody will be wearing a tie! You'll stick out like a sore thumb if you don't!”

It was no use. He kept repeating that he'd only wear a jacket and, after I insisted on the subject, he ended up confessing he didn't even own a tie, that he never needed one before. I had to do something about it! I went to a department store and bought the damn tie myself. I even told my Mom, who said that's how things are these days “Women have to do everything, because these silly guys wouldn't take the initiative.” 

I never paid attention to my Mom's opinion before, but it seemed to me that she was right that day. When I went to the store to choose a tie, I felt something changing in me. I chose a cute maroon one, with two different kinds of white stripes. I can't explain why, but I just didn't feel as excited as I thought I would. When I went to pay for it, the cashier asked me if I wanted to pay in installments on my credit card, but I decided to pay it all at once, so I wouldn't remember for three consecutive months that I had to be the one paying for the fucking tie! I felt kind of weird as soon as I entered my credit card password. I rushed home, 'cause I was afraid I'd start crying right there. 

When I was sitting at the bus, I realized I had forgotten to gift-wrap it. Fuck it! Fábio doesn't deserve a gift!, I thought. There, sitting at the bus, a tiny little tear rolled down my cheek―just like those ones that decide to show up right before your period starts, you know? I dried it away and tried not to think about it. I would soon forget it, maybe later that day.
That's exactly what happened. On Rafaela's wedding day, I had forgotten all about it. There I was, happily dancing and drinking, touching my lover's little tie every now and then. 

Damn you! Pretending you were the one who paid for this tie!, I thought to myself as he'd stretch his neck and raise his chin. At the same time, I was happy because I noticed he enjoyed it and would sure start wearing ties in no time. Ties are magical. Men don't like them until they wear one for the first time. Then, they're hooked for the rest of their lives. I know it because that was the case with my brother.

I was so horny when we got back home. 

“I'm dying to take off this tie,” Fábio said as soon as we walked in.

“Lemme do it for you,” I whispered in a naughty tone while taking him to a corner of the room.

He followed my lead and started kissing me in that special way. I pushed him against the wall and started unbuttoning his shirt, touching his chest, rubbing my face against the tie and biting it a little bit. Thank God he was responding to it! He had a major hard on and I was sure that would actually be the best night of my life! Then I thought it'd better not be the best one, 'cause it should actually be our wedding night... If it were the second best, that would be perfect. I realized Fábio was more than ready, so bent over the table to have the second-best night of my life. 

That was when those weird thoughts started going through my head. I kept thinking about the guy at the store asking me if I wanted to pay for the tie in installments... Then I thought the tie was probably on sale, 'cause I remember seeing a “Now for only...” tag. I couldn't stop thinking about it. What did they mean by “now for only...”?, I kept thinking. I felt terrible for buying a tie on sale! On top of it all, Fábio had the terrible idea of putting the tie around my neck and keep pulling on it like he was trying to guide a horse or something. I asked him to stop, but he didn't.

“Stop! You're hurting me!” I yelled.

“But I'm not even pulling it that hard!” he replied.

Yeah, he wasn't... but I got so mad and I don't even know why.

“Stop it right now! A man who can't even buy his own fucking tie can't ride me either!”

Then he stopped. All I could think was, Where did that come from? How could I say that shit? 

I kept my eyes closed and didn't move for awhile, thinking that maybe he didn't hear me and would just go on. And, if he pulled on it again, I swear I wouldn't even mind. If he called me a mare, a whore, a slut, whatever he wanted, I would just pretend I liked it. And I'd ask for more and do everything for him to forget the shit I had just said. 

Then I felt he was taking the tie off my neck and I felt that it would just be worse if I apologized. He silently started putting his clothes on and I thought I should just do the same. I reached for my panties on the floor and couldn't even look at the tie on the table. I went to lay down next to him, in silence, and remembered we had had quite a lot to drink. It would all probably be forgotten the next day.

From that day on, I didn't think about the tie again. For some time I was even afraid Fábio would break up with me, but then I realized he would eventually forgive me. The following week we were having sex again and, while he was on top of me, I wondered how our wedding would be like. Will I have to buy his tie too or will his parents take care of it? Then I remembered he hadn't even proposed yet and I suddenly started crying.

“What's wrong, Honey?” he asked.

“It was so wonderful, Babe!” I replied. 

I wouldn't dare be stupid again and tell him I was upset and just mess it all up once again.

I have to say I thought about finding a replacement for Fábio, but only married men would hit on me. After a certain age, women are kind of cursed. Every man who shows some interest is either married already or a complete loser who didn't even make enough money for a weekend in Cabo Frio. Besides, breaking up with Fábio would be highly unpleasant, since he had already met my family and everybody asked about him when they'd see me. I'd feel uncomfortable telling everybody it was over.

Today, when I see a man wearing a tie, I just look the other way. Whenever I feel like playing with my pillow, I don't think about ties, expensive clothes or even men anymore. I just rub it and rub it to relieve the tension, and when it's over, I just go about my business, like cleaning the house or doing my nails. 

Then the other day I heard that children usually are the complete opposite of their parents. If the father is liberal and easygoing, the son will most likely be formal, authoritarian and elitist. Well, who knows my son won't be in front of me one day, wearing a three-color tie with a discrete, elegant pattern? Or maybe a shiny monochromatic silk tie? It could happen! All is lost but hope.

RONALDO BRITO ROQUE was born in Cataguases, State of Minas Gerais, but has been living in Rio de Janeiro since 2003. 

He went to the Fluminense Federal University in Niterói, but didn't finish his degree. He used to work at Caixa Econômica Federal, a government-owned financial institution, but decided to quit his job to become a full-time translator and try his luck as a writer. 

He made his debut with Romance barato [Cheap Romance] published by Multifoco in 2010. The first edition sold out in only six weeks. He also published Duplo sentido [Double Meaning] through the Kindle Store, as an indie author. He's currently freelancing as a translator and writing his next novel.

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