The Morality of Masturbating Monkeys and Mid-Movie Munchies

Adolescent Angst at Missionary Boarding School

Nick Troy
May 15, 2018 · 6 min read

*To hear my story in my voice, listen along via soundcloud above *


The year was 1997. I was a high school freshman at a conservative Christian boarding school on the outskirts of Manila, Philippines.

Keeping the “fun” in Christian fundamentalism since 1957!

My family was 300km away on a small rural missionary base to the north. I was in a giant house in the suburbs of a tropical mega-metropolis with twenty of my peers and one family (dorm parents) to oversee the chaos.

I lived in Dorm 3 — aka the jungle boy dorm — run by the Mangiamelis, a delightful troop of Italian-American hobbits. Aunt Debi — a wild child who grew up as an MK (missionary kid) herself in Cuba — was da bomb. A nurse who’d seen it all (as she blithely reminded us every time one of us was pantsed in her presence), she was a sassy mother of five who took no crap from adolescent punks and was always up for an adventure. Her co-warden was Uncle Joe, wrestling coach and generally easy-going fellow who always got stuck regulating, disciplining, and cleaning up after our mischief (often instigated by his darling wife). Importantly, he also oversaw productive outlets for our excess energy in the absence of teenage staples like sex, drugs, & rock and/or roll.

Just don’t bleed on the furniture, kids.

The dorm compound was practically paradise. In addition to huge front and back yards, half a basket ball court (best known for the infamous strip-H.O.R.S.E. game of ‘98), and tropical fruit trees galore, we had a pet python named Fido that Amos had caught the previous year and a pet monkey named Abu who lived in a cage by the mango tree. Aside from visibly suffering from a variety of mental disorders brought on no doubt by his traumatic life of isolated captivity, Abu was most well-known for masturbating furiously and constantly. I guess there’s not much else to do when you’re locked in a cage by yourself all day.

Dorm Sweet Dorm. (Not Pictured: Masturbating Monkey)

Upon reflection, our simian cousin (BLASPHEMY!!!!) was merely embodying the unexpressed adolescent sexual frustration of a dorm full of Christian teenage boys, and if I’m totally honest I was probably a bit jealous of his shamelessness. He didn’t feel guilty afterwards or have to subtly search for a moment of privacy in a communal bathroom shared by seven dormmates. Nope. He just monkey-pawed his way to paradise whenever he felt the urge.

Another sinner caught in the act…

His flexibility, however, was the true source of our amazement. He would sit in his cage, fold himself in half, and pleasure himself orally. He didn’t even need to have his ribs surgically removed like the fabled devil-worshipper Marilyn Manson (evil sinner or not, you had to admire the commitment).

Plus, we all knew that God had taken a rib out of Adam to make Eve so there was a vague suspicion that maybe we males had an extra rib down there anyway. Possibly God even left it there specifically so that we wouldn’t spend all day slurping our own sausages. Without it, no doubt we’d all be like Abu, sitting in our cages blowing ourselves all day instead of sitting in our slightly more comfortable cages doing math homework and memorizing Bible verses.

Goddammit, Old Testament. You’re not helping…

Well we wouldn’t. Perhaps the heathens of the world would succumb to the seductions of self-fellatio, but we morally upright young Christian men were shining lights in a dark place. Children of noble missionaries sent to save the souls of savages, we would resist the hypothetical temptation to blow ourselves just like we resisted the temptation to jerk off!

The debate as to whether or not masturbation was a sin raged constantly in our minds and occasionally in our conversations. Not too often though, just in case the consensus turned out to be yes. It was almost never addressed by our elders. Allusions to “sexual immorality” were common and we were smart enough to infer that any sin related to sex was pretty much worse than all other sins. Maybe even combined. Orwell might have put it thusly:

“All sins are equal but some are less equal than others.”

So all sins are equally terrible and God hates all sin, but sins like judgmentalism and hypocrisy were basically required, while anything related to sex — including unintentionally thinking about it — was probably an unforgivable one-way ticket to hell. Needless to say, this was an awesome environment in which to go through puberty.

Virgins 100% by personal choice. Temptresses beware!

But we were up for the challenge! We were noble upstanding young soldiers in the Army of the Lord. We were being tempted from within and from without, by the dangerous cocktail of hormones coursing through our adolescent bodies and by a sinful society telling us to act out our every hedonistic whim. But we would stand strong and not be lead astray from the path of purity!

In December, Titanic came out. It was an epic cinematic masterpiece that all civilized humans had to experience in order to be of any future value to society. But the word on the street was that there was also nudity and even a scene showing simulated acts of sexual intercourse. What’s a good young Christian boy to do?

If you’re going into battle, you’re gonna need armor.

Fear not, dear reader, we had a plan. Having gleaned enough context clues from our concerned elders about when the offending scenes showed up, we simply left the theater before our delicate virgin eyes could be assaulted by Kate Winslet’s bosom / hand on steamy window, returning after a short snack break.

NOT TODAY, SATAN!

This brave action likely saved us from overwhelmingly lustful thoughts that would have undoubtedly lead us down a path of darkness and sin, transforming us into drug-addled sex addicts lying in the gutter pleading for the sweet release of death and eternal damnation. Plus, we got a donut break and an ice cream break in the middle of the film, a tradition I believe should be upheld in perpetuity.

Regardless of your position on nudity-fearing-morally-self-regulating teenagers, I think we can all get behind donut and ice cream breaks. (Apologies to the gluten-free community, the lactose intolerant community, and diabetics everywhere…)

It’s been twenty years now, and while some who knew me then would be concerned about my moral degradation — I’m still not sure how God feels about masturbating monkeys — others who’ve known me since might be surprised to learn I was ever such an upstanding young lad.

But I’ll leave the moralizing to others and stick with the philosophy that’s worked out pretty well for me over these past two decades:

If you’re not sure what to do…………………………………………………..…….
…………………………….….step away for a bit……………..…………….…….
………………………………………………………..have a donut……………….
………………………………………………………………………..…and return.

If you miss anything really important, you can always catch up later…


Special thanks to my sister Al for the divine donut doodle. Follow her on twitter!

And to my hollywood neighbor Josh Heller for first publishing a version of this in a handmade zine for his 1997-themed party last year. Follow him on twitter!


Nick Troy

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Nick Troy

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