One Christmas morning, when I was about 12, I was awakened by the sounds of my two little sisters ripping open their gifts, screeching with excitement at the sight of each new toy. I couldn’t believe I’d overslept! I hopped out of bed and ran out into the living room to get in on the action. I tossed torn wrapping paper to the left and the right as I searched for a present with my name on it. I shoved box after box aside, each of them for my younger sisters.

My mother sat there, congratulating my sisters on all the gifts Santa brought them, never saying a word to me, never saying, “Good morning,” never saying, “Merry Christmas.”

I searched around the tree.

I looked.

And I looked.

Nothing. Nothing for me.

With my heart sunken and my head hung low, I retreated back into my bedroom, closed the door, and cried. Then, I called a boy to make me feel better.

And he did.

He was an older boy who lived in the neighborhood, a boy we called 3B, because his first, last, and middle names all began with the letter B. He was a tall, slender, Puerto Rican kid from New York, and I called him my boyfriend. He was 17 and already a career criminal, but he was sweet with me, and every time I needed him, he was there.

So, that morning, I asked him to meet me on the playground, and like a genie pouring out of a bottle, 3B appeared.

In a matter of just a few hours, I was taught two things: how it felt to experience zero gratification, and how it felt to experience gratification in an instant.

That was the start of a long career of THOTTING.