Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Peanut Butter and Broken Glass

While working on a short story, I recently realized I cannot write a sex scene worth a damn, no matter how I hard I try. 

Really.  They come out totally crappy. 

Part of me wants to use this as an opportunity to send out a plea for help from the ladies in my life.  You know, ladies, if you really wanted me to be a better writer you'd come over to my dungeon apartment and help out the scene a bit. 

But I won't do that because I know better.  Besides, careful what you wish for, eh?

I avoid sex scenes.  My characters kiss, a little detailed description of some breathing and body language, and then the scene closes.  We come back and they're putting their clothes back on.  Done. 

When I try to write out the scene with details, it always gets weird.  One time I had to write something kinky.  It was for a writing class.  I was told sex should be dirty and a little kinky.  What ended up was this little gem:

Stefan grabbed Lori's wrist and pulled her roughly towards himself.  She looked into his eyes for a moment then kissed him hungrily.  
"Baby," she whispered.  "This is our only night."  
Stefan tried not to think of her husband and failed.  
"I want you to make me remember this forever," she said.  
Stefan walked over to his closet and pulled out a jar of peanut butter and a bag of broken glass.  
Lori's eyes grew large and her mouth hung open a bit, but she said nothing.  
"Oh," Stefan said.  "I'm sure this will come up a lot in therapy."  

Yeah, nobody liked that scene very much, either.  Personally I found it to be evocative of many post-modern sentiments and a wonderful statement on the creative uses for peanut butter. 

But I was the only one. 

I once tried to enter into a BDSM-themed writing contest.  The editor wrote back to me that my submission was, "bordering on Sadistic and sociopathic homicidal fantasy" and wrote at the bottom of the rejection, "Sex is supposed to be fun!"  

In my defense, I will say that one of the characters did laugh a lot. 

My favorite sex scene ever written was the one in The Eve of St. Agnes by John Keats.   Keats was brilliant in his language, pacing and form.  Technically speaking, it was more of a rape than a sex scene, but I'm sure in 1819 it was the highlight of romance.  Plus, this was supposed to be a dream, so she gives in willingly.  This is why it can be great literature and still be a bit rapey. 

  Beyond a mortal man impassion’d far
  At these voluptuous accents, he arose,
  Ethereal, flush’d, and like a throbbing star
  Seen mid the sapphire heaven’s deep repose;
  Into her dream he melted, as the rose        320
  Blendeth its odour with the violet,—
  Solution sweet: meantime the frost-wind blows
  Like Love’s alarum pattering the sharp sleet
Against the window-panes; St. Agnes’ moon hath set.

Isn't that just the loveliest?  Much better than when I tried writing a sex scene after spending the whole summer reading Kurt Vonnegut novels.  His novels should come with a script for Prozac and other mood-enhancing drugs.  I was less depressed after reading Elie Wiesel's Night while listening to Henryk Gorecki's Symphony No. 3 (Symphony of Sorrowful Songs) on a rainy Sunday afternoon. 

When I tried to write it out, the characters didn't even like each other much.  They didn't hate each other, either.  And their disinterest in each other made the sex so joyless I couldn't help but feel sorry for them.  Killing them off was an act of mercy.  They were eaten by a bear who was angry his favorite tire swing was removed from the oak tree near the woods.  As he chomped bitterly at their flesh, he reflected upon their acceptance and stoic reactions. 

That story didn't sell, either. 

What I'm reading always has a huge effect on what I'm writing.  So you can imagine how fucked up the sex was during my Hunter S. Thompson phase. 

She looked and talked like a Texas debutant.  But this was Day Three of the GOP Convention and she was on Day Two of a meth binge.  The hotel room was completely destroyed as if a twister from her hometown of Tyler, Texas, had done meth right along with her and together they made this awful mess.  

I had gotten myself into this terrifying position because the manic bitch promised me an interview with Senator Smith in exchange for some drugs.  But earlier she and I had done them all and she'd forgotten the whole affair.  Now she was on top of me and screaming Republican gibberish while tearing off her clothing.
It just got worse after that. And note that I never really got into the sex part.  I just can't do it! 

When I play with the language, it just doesn't work.  I'm just not good at softening things up. 

He gently opened her legs to reveal her hoo-ha.  And it was a stunning hoo-ha, indeed.  In fact, of all the hoo-has he had seen in his life, her hoo-ha was the prettiest.    

When I was in college, I had the assignment of writing a sex scene that was supposed to be realistic.  The professor said it should be embarrassing.  No problem!  I have a ton of those stories to tell. 

Instead, everybody laughed when I read it in front of the class.  But that laughter stopped when I began to describe in great deal the horrible things our bodies produce, do, smell like and feel like as you discreetly try to wipe them off your skin. 

The human body really is a disgusting bag of rotting chemicals.  Once you understand that, sex just isn't all that great.  It's a nice idea, but in practice it's kind of gross.  This is another reason I don't ask women out.  Sure, they're wonderful, pretty and full of light--but once you see them without the illusions of fantasy, they are all just bags of slimy, rotting fluids.  Men are, too. 

This is the crux of the whole problem I have with writing sex scenes.  Flesh is a lie.  Flesh is a putrid, fetid prison for our spirits.  So the last time I tried to do any kind of sex scene at all, it read more like an autopsy report done in the middle of the night by a drunken coroner.  Things fell on the floor with a wet splatter, etc. 

This is another reason why I like necrophilia stories so much.  They're already dead, so you can't insult them by holding your nose.  Plus, if you stop what you're doing to wash them off, even the reader understands.  And just by the act itself, you can allow your character a certain amount of insanity. 

I'll end by telling you this story.  It's true, sadly. 

I was in a bar in Albany, Illinois with a friend of mine.  We were intercepting somebody on the way back from the drag races in Cordova.  While at the bar, we joked about kinks and freakish things people do. 

I said, "Yeah, she's a freak.  But she's not into peanut butter and broken glass."

The 50-something bartender, who looked like a surfer girl that had seen plenty of better days, overheard me and smiled.  She said, "Mmm, that sounds kinky!"

I almost named this blog Peanut Butter and Broken Glass.  Truth.   

1 comment:

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