Flash Fiction Friday: A Pretty Face

(Source image: “Hillary” by Bradley Thurber)

He acknowledged the absurdity of requesting admission to his own car, especially since he was holding the keys.  But each time he unlocked the door – going on two hours now – she locked it again.

Demanding that she let him in hadn’t worked.  Though he knew she’d be able to detect the scent of desperation, he adopted a conciliatory tone:  “Baby, please!  I’m already late for work!”

 “I’ll open up if you let me drive.”  He’d refused the first ten times she asked.  Now, though, he saw that it was the only way.  When he promised, she shook her head.  “Keys.  Now.”

He proffered his keys toward the open passenger window.  She snatched them and quickly started the car.  By the time he realized what was happening and made for the door handle, she was gone. (135/135)

Behind the Scenes 

This story was much easier to write than some I’ve done for Flash Fiction Friday.  On a couple occasions, I dated the kind of woman who might have locked herself in my car, cajoled me into relinquishing the key, and then driven off without me.  (No, that never actually happened.)  Because of this, I decided that rather than crafting a story about a guy who spends a carefree day tooling around the countryside in his impeccably-maintained 1952 Hudson Wasp with a beautiful, shapely woman in the passenger seat before pulling onto the side of a rural road for some sex, the story I told would be the exact opposite.  I’d question what that says about my attitudes toward women, but I have to think that anyone who’s read this blog for any appreciable length of time knows that they’re generally positive.

No, this dark story stemmed merely from a desire to think outside the box, so to speak.  My first thought upon seeing the prompt photo was that the girl depicted sure was pretty.  Dark, lush hair.  Attractive eyes.  Rich, red lips.  Sexy stockings and heels.  Bonus points for having her skirt hiked up a bit, revealing a lovely backside.  Numerous happy and sexy stories flashed in my brain as I took in the scene.  Ultimately I decided to go a different route.

The required phrase this week was “…the scent of [noun]…”  Rather than using an actual scent – perfume, the woman’s hair, sweat after a particularly vigorous episode of backseat sex – I knew as soon as I decided which story I would tell that it would be a metaphoric scent.  Once I began writing, it was clear that I would refer to the scent of desperation.  The first draft of this story, in which I ran out of words three quarters of the way in, included the required phrase from the beginning, but I forgot about it when writing the final draft.  While proof-reading, Jill reminded me of the omission, and I had to trim a few words.

Deleted Scenes

None, though I can admit to having a difficult time making the story, as originally envisioned, fit within the 135-word allotment.  Certain bits of plot detail, notably why the male character didn’t just open the driver’s side door, push his girlfriend aside, and get in the car, had to be truncated or excised completely, as did mention of whichever deep-rooted self-respect issues made him powerless to demand better treatment.


The song I heard in my head as I wrote was Johnny Rivers’ 1966 hit “Secret Agent Man”, specifically the line “A pretty face can hide an evil mind”.  I even used a portion of that line for the title.  However, other than that line the song didn’t fit.  Additionally, I considered Bel Biv DeVoe’s 1990 song “Poison” as the line “Never trust a big butt and a smile” seemed to fit the story perfectly.  However, as a musical genre I don’t think new jack swing fits either.  “Female of the Species”, by Space, had already been used in a previous Flash Fiction Friday installment, and I saw no reason to repeat myself.  Since I keep coming back to guitar heavy rock, “Bad Girlfriend” by Theory of a Deadman, or “Crazy Bitch” by Buck Cherry would provide a suitable audio track.

If you’d like to take part in the fun, or see who else participated this week, check out Insatiabear.

Bedding Christine

Last week, I wrote about my former boss, Christine.  As I mentioned in the final paragraph of last week’s post, Christine and I eventually gave into the sexual tension that I’d like to believe was simmering beneath the surface from the first day that we worked together.  Over the course of the past week, I felt as though I’d set up the pins but had yet to actually knock them down.  Because of this, I am going to tell that story today.
Two years after the incident I described in On a Break, I was twenty-six, on the cusp of twenty-seven.  I was single, my girlfriend and I having taken a permanent break, and I worked at a different job.  The specifics of that job are irrelevent, but it’s worth mentioning that I was making less money, and for a couple months each year I would supplement my income by returning to my old job four nights a week in order to help Christine and company get through a particularly busy stretch.
One evening, while I was alone in the office, Christine called my cell phone.  She was at Costco picking up provisions for the next day’s Executive Board meeting, and asked if I could help her unload her car when she arrived.  I said of course, and she asked if I needed her to pick up some fast food or anything.  I was touched by her offer – Christine was always very sweet – but I told her no thanks  as I’d picked up dinner on my way in.
Most evenings, the time flew by as Christine worked late right alongside me.  We’d talk shop, discuss movies we wanted to see, or rock out to Metallica and AC/DC right at our desks.  But for the past two weeks she’d been leaving work before I arrived.  In theory I enjoyed the solitude as it allowed me to work unfettered, but in reality it was boring and lonely.  Seeing another human being for even five minutes, while carrying cases of sodas and pallets of bottled water, was a nice diversion.
Forget sex; that hadn’t even crossed my mind.  Yeah, I still had the hots for Christine, but rather than it being an everpresent phenomenon as it was when we worked together all day every day, my attraction to her had for the last couple years been on the back burner.  Besides,  at the moment I was hung up on a cute young barista who worked at the Starbucks a block from my apartment; Christine was, I’m sorry to say, old news.
But she didn’t look like old news when she walked into the office and strolled across the common room.  Her brown hair was tied back in a pony tail, her eyes unobstructed.  Her lips were soft, shiny, and pink, curving upward into a pretty smile when she saw me.  Her expression was warm and inviting, more of a friend than a boss.  I asked her how she’d been.
“Not too bad,” she said with a shrug.  “Things have been so hectic with the kids the last few nights.”  Her tone changed to one of urgency, almost excitement:  “Oh!  You know Greg moved out, right?  Did I tell you?”  She had not, and I told her so.  “Yeah, three weeks ago.  We’re taking some time apart.”
“That sucks,” I said, even as I realized that she didn’t seem upset.
“It’s just temporary, but we hope it’ll be for the best.”  She walked into her office, while I resumed my filing.  As I worked, she called out to me:  “Have the janitors been by yet?”
I leaned into her office doorway and replied that they had, about forty minutes earlier.  Christine stood in front of her window, closing the aluminum mini-blinds.  “Forty minutes,” she said absently.  It didn’t warrant a response so I didn’t give one.  She turned to see me in the doorway and invited me in, adding, “You want to fuck?”
I hesitated a couple seconds before giving her a noncommital “Sure.”  I didn’t want to sound too eager, certainly not as eager as I felt.  I’m not sure why this was, but the last thing I was hoping to do was betray the reality that what I was thinking was more along the lines of a sure and gleeful “Hell yes.” 
Christine wore a long-sleeved white sweater that flattered her curves and made her pillowy breasts stand out beautifully, and a pair of black jeans tucked into matching boots that reached mid-calf.  Not for long, though.
She spoke again:  “Turn off the lights.”  This time without hesitation, I flipped the switch on the wall and Christine’s office was suddenly dark.  The only real light came from the fluorescent fixtures on the common room ceiling, but for good measure I shut the door, leaving the room even darker.  Faint blades of dying daylight cut between the blinds, casting strips of vague illumination on Christine’s desk and on the walls.  She gestured to her desk chair, and I sat.
My eyes adjusted to the darkness.  In front of me, Christine was a fuzzy specter, slowly lowering herself to her knees.  My cock sprang up as I felt her hand on my thigh, and she placed her other hand over it, cupping it and caressing it.  
“Is this okay?” she asked.  I was surprised by the question; I didn’t expect her to second-guess herself.  I attempted to tell her that it was, but for some reason I couldn’t make any words happen.  Christine took my silence as tacit approval, and opened my jeans.  Her grip was confident, firm but not tight and certainly not uncomfortable.  She gave me a moment’s worth of pumps, raising me to diamond-hardness, and then replaced her fingers with her tongue.  She licked with long, elaborate strokes, the sort with which a child might lick an oversized lollipop.  Even though it was almost totally dark in the room, I imagined her licks to be showy and exaggerated, even theatrical.  
She closed her mouth around the head of my cock and lowered her head, drawing in my length as deeply as she could.  I felt her nose press against my stomach, my cock reaching the very back of her throat.  She held this position for a few seconds, then came up for air gasping and panting.  In response, my cock throbbed for attention.  I took off my T-shirt and tossed it in the general direction of Christine’s office door.  At the same time I felt her mouth once again encircle my head.  She sucked vigorously this time, her lips not reaching the base of my cock but instead moving faster, paying particular attention to the sensitive frenulum, and then my balls.
Christine worked her hands into my jeans, and with a tug she signaled that she wanted them gone.  I raised my ass off of her desk chair and she pulled my jeans to my feet, leaving them bunched up atop my shoes.  She gave me a few more licks, and took her mouth away.  I was disappointed momentarily, my mood lifting when I heard the clatter of her belt being unbuckled.  This was going to be very, very good.
I felt her bare legs against mine, and then her hands on my shoulders.  She drew her nails gently down my chest, then leaned close and pecked softly at my neck in the darkness.  Soon her lips found my own, kissing me with passion and desperation.  She clung to me like it was the end of the world.  Her lips tasted like wild cherry as her mouth opened, and her tongue felt just as good as it had on my cock.  I groped in the darkness for her full, generous breasts, feeling a surge of triumphant joy as I found them.  Her skin was soft, delicate like that of a ripe plum as I caressed them, my thumbs coming to rest on her nipples.  

She raised one leg onto the chair, and I felt her bare foot against my hip.  I wanted to caress her thigh, maybe find her pussy in the dark and see how wet she was, but I didn’t.  As our kiss intensified, I hoped she would just get on the chair and straddle me, but she didn’t.  Eventually she worked her leg behind my ass, and climbed up so that she was sitting on my knee.  She took my hand in hers and we traced a path down her stomach, coming to rest where her legs met.

I could feel her heat on my fingers as I deftly parted her lips, her wetness engulfing me.  I pressed two fingers into her as with my thumb I stroked her clit.  Christine still held my hand, now guiding me in order to show me exactly what she liked.  She moved her hips in time to my rhythm, the intensity of our dance growing by the second.

“Do you have a condom?” she asked when our lips had finally parted.

“Yeah, I said, trying to think of a way to gracefully retrieve my wallet from my jeans, still down at my ankles.

Christine dismissed my efforts, fumbling on her desk for her purse.  Mere seconds passed before I was wrapped in latex and deep inside her, her ass bucking up and down against me as she rode each upward thrust.  She was energetic, and had no problem taking what she wanted.  She asked me to stroke her clit again, and the sounds she made told me that my efforts weren’t wasted.

The first time she came, she nestled her head against my shoulder, burying her mouth in my neck to stifle her cries.  Her pussy clenched around my cock as her body rocked slowly against my own.  She undulated against me, and soon she was climaxing again.  By her fourth, she was sucking my neck insistently, and when she had her fifth, I came right alongside her.  I wasn’t expecting that.  My groans were deep and intense, cacophonous yet somehow in harmony with Christine’s own sounds of release.

She remained astride me as we caught our breath, then returned her mouth to my neck.  Her kisses were gentler now, like a gazelle grazing in a field.  I felt beads of sweat dripping from my forehead into my eyes and down my nose, and I tried to shake them off without distracting Christine from what she was doing.  She stopped kissing my neck and kissed my mouth instead.  I held her close, feeling her breasts against me, our hearts beating more or less in sync.

Finally, she spoke:  “That was fucking great.”

Though Christine and I maintained a working relationship for a couple more years, that was the only time we ever had sex.  I often wish I’d gotten to lay Christine in a bed, or maybe on a sofa or some other place more comfortable than her desk chair in total darkness.  In fact, maybe I should have titled this post “Desking Christine”.

Why Jack is the Way He is

In 2000, my friend Joan asked if she could interview me for her human sexuality class.  Her assignment was to examine a case study (i.e. me) and determine the extent to which the individual’s sexual attitudes were shaped by social and environmental factors.  My reputation for being sex-positive was fairly well-known even in my early twenties, though I wouldn’t have called myself “sex-positive”.  Back then I was just a guy who liked sex.  Needless to say, I was happy to be her interviewee.
We met for drinks late one night after she’d gotten out of class.  She was married, and I got the distinct impression that her husband wasn’t crazy about our friendship, though I later found out otherwise.  Such was my ego, I guess, that I thought every woman’s spouse considered me a threat.  Which is not to say that I wanted to be a threat to anyone’s marriage.  It didn’t help that Joan spent the evening looking at the entrance to the bar.  I assumed she was paranoid that someone she knew would see her drinking with a guy who wasn’t her husband.
The interview was fun.  Until then, I’m fairly certain that I’d never talked so openly about my sexual self with anyone, not even women I dated seriously.  I don’t know what made opening up to Joan relatively effortless, though I’m guessing it had less to do with the fact that we were drinking than it did the fact that I had known her for more than a decade, and wasn’t trying to get in her pants.  
A few weeks ago, I came across Joan’s paper in a file folder overloaded with my old college homework assignments and papers.  I enjoyed reading it, as there were some details of my past that I’d actually forgotten about.  I am sharing it here for your reading enjoyment.  The footnotes are my own.

For this assignment, I have chosen to write about my friend Jack.  Like me, Jack was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area.  As an only child, his immediate family consisted only of his parents and himself.  However, during his youth and adolescence, Jack did have regular contact with aunts, uncles and cousins on both sides of his family.  Jack attended a Catholic preschool for two years, but the remainder of his education, from kindergarten through twelfth grade, was spent in public schools.

Jack’s religious training consisted of a mere two years of C.C.D, during which time he made his first confession, and received his First Holy Communion.  He has never made his Confirmation, a requirement of the Catholic Church.  His family attended church services semi-regularly during Jack’s childhood, although in his early adolescence and teenage years, his attendance waned, until by his own admission he only attended church for Easter and Christmas Eve masses.  Although currently living within walking distance of his local parish, he says that he has not attended mass in two years.

Jack believes that his exposure to religion, and Catholicism in particular, has definitely affected his sexual attitudes and values.  But rather than inhibiting him in any fashion, the repressive nature of the Catholic religion has only served to make him more aware of, and interested in, his sexuality.  “The Catholic Church is notorious for its reactionary outlook on human sexuality,” he says.  “The official position of the church prohibits everything except old-fashioned, lights-out, missionary position husband-and-wife sexual intercourse.  Sex that occurs for any reason beyond procreation is frowned upon.”  As a result of what he perceived as the church trying to implant guilt in individuals who simply want to enjoy themselves sexually, Jack vowed not to let anyone dictate the limits of his sexual expression.  When presented with a list of sexual practices the church frowns upon, Jack acknowledges that he has tried most of them.  “Except same-sex interaction,” he says, almost apologetically.  “For all my liberal sexual openmindedness, it’s not really my thing.”

During his youth and adolescence, Jack received expressions of affection from both of his parents.  His mother was better able to display emotions than his father, who was raised by parents who simply did not feel affection for one another, and thus did not show any.  He recalls seeing his parents hugging and kissing, and admits that this shaped his attitudes about romantic love.  However, in virtually all respects, his mother was the one who initiated such expressions.

Jack’s parents never spoke to him about sexuality, although this was not due to any unwillingness on their part.  When they tried to explain sexual intercourse with him (with Jack’s mother leading the talk), he refused to participate due to embarrassment.  Although unsure as to when this took place, he guesses that it was probably during elementary school.  At this time, he already had a good idea as to the generalities of sex, having learned as many children do from his peers at school.  He learned the specific details from library books read during his early adolescence.

During his earlier childhood, one clear message his parents tried to send him was that nudity was a bad thing.  They did this by forbidding him from watching any movies in which an actress appeared nude.  However, he did not accept this message, and realized not only that his parents must have been wrong, but that they were hypocrites, since they allowed him to watch movies with violent scenes.  Jack realized that his parents were simply not going to change their feelings about this matter, but he did not let their feelings influence his.  As he got older, he secretly sought out books and movies that contained female nudity in order to satisfy his curiosity.  Today, Jack seems to have no hang-ups regarding nudity, either his own or anyone else’s.  

“It’s not like the naked body is something that is inherently sexual,” he says.  “I can see people having hang-ups about sex, because that’s the culture we’ve created for ourselves.  But nudity has nothing to do with sex, really.  Sure, people are frequently naked when they have sex, but it’s not an equation.  I understand that society says we have to cover up.  I get that.  But the notion that nudity is something to be ashamed of, or apologize for?  Or be squeamish about?  I’m not down with that.  I never will be.”

As a child, Jack was aware of gender expectations and roles.  However, he did not feel constrained or limited by his gender, and consciously tried to override such programming in order to experience a fuller, more diverse life.  He played with action figures, enjoyed video games, and in social settings with other boys sometimes played more politically-correct variations of “Cowboys and Indians”.  He also spent time playing house with his female cousins.  Although he liked sports, one thing that Jack couldn’t fathom was the expectation that he constantly play football.  “I love watching it,” he says.  “But every time I went to a friend’s house between, say, fifth grade and eighth grade, they always wanted to play football.  It didn’t matter if there were two of us or six.  I was like, ‘Jesus, give it a rest!’”  

There was no sexual experimentation during this stage of Jack’s life.  Still a shy person by his own admission, during his early development Jack recalls wondering what it would be like to kiss a girl – although at this point he never thought about going any further.  He felt nervous and recalls being afraid that he wouldn’t know what to do.  As he entered puberty, Jack noticed the various body changes he had read about earlier, and had come to expect.  His feelings about the opposite sex gradually became more sexual in nature, and he discovered deliberate masturbation – as opposed to early childhood experimentation with the genitals – at age eleven.  At first he considered it simply an enjoyable practice.  It took him awhile to actively associate masturbation with the sexual feelings he had been feeling for some time.  He had his first orgasm from masturbation at age twelve.

Jack also places what he calls his first “real” kiss at age twelve.  The girl he kissed was a school friend who had expressed an interest in kissing him.  Excited, Jack obliged, though the kiss was simple and closed-mouthed.  When asked by the girl to “go steady”, Jack balked, citing the fact that they were twelve, he didn’t drive or live within walking distance, and therefore didn’t see any way of making a dating relationship work1.  The first time he participated in sexual experimentation, he was fifteen years of age.  While making out with his then-girlfriend, she let him feel her breasts beneath her shirt and bra.  At the same time, she caressed him through his jeans, and the relationship progressed from there.  The two lost their virginity to each other the following year.  

“The first time was really exciting,” Jack says, somewhat wistfully.  “You know, we were sixteen.  As far as we were concerned, we were ready.”  Although neither he nor she knew as much about sex as they might have, or thought they did, it was an enjoyable experience for both.  In Jack’s opinion, having sex brought them closer together.   Although they had been dating for more than a year, Jack chose this occasion to finally tell her he loved her, something he had been aware of for some time.  He proudly states that they used protection every time they had sexual intercourse.  “I trusted her implicitly.  I didn’t think in a million years that she would ever cheat on me.  I just didn’t want her to get pregnant.” 

However, she did cheat on Jack, something that hurt him deeply.  Although their relationship was on-again, off-again for awhile, Jack cared about his girlfriend very much, and claims that he was entirely faithful to her.  When she admitted to having slept with other men while they were dating, he broke up with her on the spot.2 This occurred just as Jack was entering college.

During his first year at junior college, Jack dated more frequently than he had in the past, and broadened his sexual horizons with several different women he met there.  With good humor, he admits that he cannot recall all of their names.  “I wasn’t looking for commitment at this point,” he says.  “I was totally jaded and the last thing I wanted was to be hurt again.  I wanted the sex.  Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to be loved.  But I was eighteen.  I wanted to get laid, and I didn’t want to have my heart broken again.”  

Jack continued having relatively loveless sex through his first year of college.  During his second year, he was reluctantly drawn into another relationship.  Although the relationship seemed to have potential initially, it was built primarily on sex.  Jack describes the woman as “crazy”, though he declines to elaborate.  “I’m no psychologist,” he says with a sigh.  “To the layperson, she was just crazy.”  Prompted, he suggests she may have been bipolar, though he admits to not knowing exactly what that means.  He confesses that he spent too much time with her, and after being hurt once again he fell back into the pattern in which he found himself after his earlier breakup.  Even more determined not to become emotionally involved with a woman, Jack resumed dating casually.

Last year, Jack met a woman in college.  They have been dating for “several months”.  Although I note that he has referred to this woman as his girlfriend twice, he’s not ready to classify this relationship as serious.  Time will tell if the “relationship followed by casual dating” pattern repeats itself yet again.  Jack notes that their dating relationship was not built on a foundation of immediate sex, but rather one of apparently-mutual respect.  They met in an English literature class, and found that they have some favorite authors in common.  They also share musical interests, and an enjoyment of cooking.  

Jack laments that he and his girlfriend – there’s that word again – do not have as much sex as either would like.  This is due not to any apparent sexual incompatibility or lack of desire, but rather to the fact that both live at home, and weigh themselves down with so many work and school obligations that they have difficulty setting aside sufficient quality “alone” time for themselves.  “That’s okay though,” he says confidently.  “Neither of us is complaining.”

He estimates that they have sexual intercourse on average of once or twice a week.  Since they live an hour apart, it is difficult for them to get together at opportune times.  Typically when they have sex, it occurs at Jack’s house.  The typical sex session lasts an hour or so, as his girlfriend inexplicably has a curfew.  On occasion they have an entire weekend to themselves, though such an arrangement requires that she lie to her parents about who she’s with.

The woman he has dating has tried using birth control pills, but had an adverse reaction to them.  She plans to talk to her doctor about depo provera, although Jack doesn’t know when that will happen.  In the meantime, they usually use condoms.  Jack admits to not using them with 100% regularity, and acknowledges the risk.  However, he feels like he can trust the woman he is with.  He is optimistic that his trust isn’t misplaced.  

Jack considers his most enjoyable sexual experience to be the first time he had sex with a woman he met at junior college.  She was somebody who he had classes with during his first semester, and found immensely attractive.  During his second semester, he got to know her better, and eventually he entered into a brief sexual relationship with her.  He found that she possessed a tremendous sexual energy the likes of which he had never encountered before.  As he puts it, “She was a few years older than me, and she came across as very free-spirited and, for lack of a better word, wild.  I had all of these preconceptions about her sexually, and I was delighted to discover that they were very real.”

Although he is reluctant to classify any of his sexual experiences as being poor or negativeJack considers one experience, with a girl he met in Southern California while on a trip, to be a bad one.  She was staying at the same hotel where his mother was having business meetings all weekend, and the two spent the majority of their time together in her room, exploring their sexuality.  Jack enjoyed the sex, but considers it a bad experience because he finds it depressing in retrospect.3  “We used each other, pure and simple.  I don’t even remember her name.”  At the time, he recalls that the casual encounter was a tremendous ego boost.

When asked about his favorite fantasy, Jack says without hesitation, “Having a threesome with two women.”  He has fantasized about such a scenario for years, and says that several of the women he has had sex with were interested in it as well, although nothing ever came of it.  His current girlfriend is sexually attracted to women, although she has not yet acted on this attraction.  Jack wonders if his threesome fantasy will finally come true.  He also wonders, when push comes to shove, if he actually wants it to come true.  He enjoys the fantasy, but for all he knows he might like it to stay that way.

In ten years, Jack considers that he would like his sex life to be as enjoyable as it is currently.  Regardless of whether or not he is in a sexual relationship, or just casually dating, he would like to be sexually active, and to have had a threesome, or some other variety of group sex.  

I believe that Jack’s sexual attitudes were determined largely by his upbringing.  His adult sexual life was shaped not only did the positive aspects of his upbringing such as his parents’ openly affectionate nature, but also the negative aspects such as exposure to the repressive nature of the Catholic church.  He is determined to fight such negativity and live his sexual life on his own terms.

I chose to interview Jack for this assignment because although we have been friends for twelve years, however, we have not had the opportunity or the need to explore our sexual histories with each other at length.  We had very little knowledge of each other sexually.  Because of this assignment, I learned a lot of things about Jack that I never would have guessed.  We have grown much closer than we ever were before.  At first, I was somewhat embarrassed about doing this project with Jack.4  However, his outgoing nature made it much easier for me.  He opened me up and made me feel comfortable in talking about my sexuality.  In addition, he was able to talk frankly about his own, and his sense of humor added a lot to the experience.  This assignment was fun.

1I may have omitted the fact that I told the girl that she was too short for me.
2I may have also omitted the fact that I cheated on her as well, possibly before she cheated on me.
3I’m not certain why, at the time, I viewed this experience as depressing.  I suspect it has something to do with the fact that I was being unfaithful to my girlfriend.  I’m certain it wasn’t because we used each other, or because I can’t recall her name.  I’ve had many similar experiences since.  Maybe I classified the encounter as depressing to Joan so that she’d think I didn’t like meaningless sex.
4She couldn’t have been that embarrassed, considering that we’ve masturbated in close proximity to one another.

Slut Pride!

Of the two of us, I’m probably not the best person to analyze the word “slut”.  You know, seeing as I have a penis and all.  
While perusing EdenFantasys* I came across an article that suggests that, rather than embracing the word “slut” – a currently-popular movement to “take back” a piece of so-called hate speech and remove its power – women should abandon the term altogether.
I took some issue with this suggestion.  As the writer points out, there is an egregious distinction between the way society views promiscuous men versus how it views promiscuous women.  When I was single, I found it unfortunate that a woman who casually slept with me might be judged harshly for doing so.  My feelings weren’t entirely selfless; while I most certainly find society’s repressive double-standard a difficult thing to accept and my heart goes out to the unfairly-labeled fairer sex, my unwillingness to embrace such a double-standard stems partially from the fact that shaming women for their sexuality meant that they might conceivably abstain from having sex with me.  And that was simply unacceptable.
Efforts to take back the word “slut” are much like any other movement to reclaim a traditionally hateful or oppressive term.  According to Dossie Easton and Catherine A. Liszt in their 1997 book The Ethical Slut, the word refers to “a person of any gender who has the courage to lead life according to the radical proposition that sex is nice and pleasure is good for you.”  Under this definition, a slut has sexual agency and confidence, and disregards social and religious norms regarding sexuality.
I agree completely with the writer’s suggestion that women are partially responsible for the slut-shaming that continues almost unchecked in society today.  While the neat and tidy definition of sex-negative misogyny primarily involves men, the truth is that for every Rush Limbaugh, there is an Ann Coulter.  It is often the mothers of young women who, in their efforts to define gender roles for their children, raise them in a fashion that may preclude them from enjoying sex, or even viewing it as a healthy part of life.  Additionally, while I don’t consider sex the sacred act that I’m guessing most people do, it is potentially a life-changing one.  By steering them away from sex, especially at a young age, well-meaning mothers are trying to prevent their daughters from making mistakes that can alter their entire universe in ways they can’t possibly comprehend.
It’s not entirely their fault; for generations we have been taught that behavior that is acceptable for men should not be enjoyed by women.  This isn’t surprising in the least.  Double-standards are a way of life.  Given the stigma attached to sex in American society, as well as a culture that discounts women’s issues to the extend that a female rape victim is in many cases more likely to be blamed than her male rapist – a culture that denies women their right not only to reproductive health but also to equal pay – and you have an environment that is not exactly warm and welcoming to the notion that women should be treated with dignity, much less lauded for the breadth of their sexual experience.
Granted, I don’t think that most sexually-active women really want to be lauded for having a lot of sex.  I’m guessing that most of them would settle for not being considered sluts by judgmental people who either don’t understand or prefer not to acknowledge how important sex is to the human experience.  Just because a woman knows what she wants and is unafraid to take it is no reason to call her a slut.  In a perfect world, a woman who is unafraid of her body and her sexuality, who has sex with who she wants when she wants, wouldn’t be called a slut.  She’d be called a leader.  She’d be worthy of respect and even admiration, because I believe that a person who is unafraid of sex is more likely to practice it responsibly.
The writer goes on to state that, whether deliberately or not, the mothers of boys perpetuate the “slut” label in order to keep their sons from marrying women who are damaged goods.  The fallacy of a sexually-experienced woman being somehow damaged notwithstanding, I take issue with the writer’s comparison of sexually-promiscuous women to gold-diggers.  One is in control of her own sexuality and takes what she wants.  The other is in control of her significant other’s bank account and takes what she wants.  I fail to see any real similarity.
It’s not that I necessarily feel that the word “slut” shouldn’t be unofficially abolished.  (For the record, I don’t lean toward that conclusion.)  But I don’t feel that the writer provided a sufficient case for doing so.  At the end of the article, the writer mentions “the branding of women”, and suggests that women need to change in order to allow the feminist movement to make necessary strides toward true equality.  There was a time in my life when I might have agreed with this, when I might have preached patience, or a less-militant stance, to those facing oppression.  But now I cannot in good conscience suggest that those under the thumb of mainstream society simply tolerate intolerance until their oppressors have a change of heart.
I’m all for taking power away from judgmental, sex-negative people.  The thought of stymying the sort of individuals who would use the word “slut” to oppress by showing that their words don’t hurt you is an appealing one.  This is my main argument for co-opting the word “slut” rather than doing away with it altogether.  Just because women and sex-positives refuse to own the word doesn’t mean that those who view a woman’s sexual agency in a negative fashion are going to lay down their verbal weapons.  In fact, refraining from using the word would only give this group additional ammunition.
Once again, I am probably not the best person to analyze the word “slut” and its effects.  To the best of my knowledge I’ve never been called a slut, certainly not to my face.  But I can’t see the purpose of eradicating the word completely, at least not for the reasons suggested in this article.  Dialing back the rhetoric is no better than tacitly allowing the oppression to continue.  Rather than forcing women to rebrand, I say we force society to rebrand.

*We no longer support EdenFantasys, and therefore the link to the article has been removed. You can search for it on your own, but we wouldn’t recommend it.

Flash Fiction Friday: Stairway to Heaven

(Image source: “On the Stairs” by Samantha Wolov)

Before they could make it up the stairs they fell to the ground, peeling off each other’s clothes in a fit of frenzied passion.  They kissed hungrily, desperately, their hands pawing at each other’s flesh like playful kittens.  She found herself frantically trying to lower his double knit slacks even as he reached beneath her skirt to pull her panties aside.
The shag carpet ensconced her as he opened her.  His first thrust took him deeper than she thought possible.  The hair on his chest was rough and scratchy against her breasts, his lips pleasant and soft on her neck.  As she clasped her legs around his back, she was glad that she’d drawn his house key from the bowl. (120/122)
Behind the Scenes
I wrote this week’s Flash Fiction Friday challenge in a matter of minutes; other than my usual momentary “What three words can I cut to make it fit?” conundrum, it was one of the easiest ones in recent memory.  In addition to the photo prompt, participants were asked to write a story that was between 68 and 122 words, and incorporate the phrase “…rough and scratchy…”
The first thing I think of when I see the prompt photo is “crazy seventies hair”.  That’s not to say that the photo was taken in the 1970s, or even that it is meant to represent the 1970s in any way.  But for some reason the unkempt mop on top of the gentleman’s head makes me think of that glorious decade that saw my birth.  There really isn’t anything that specifically identifies my story as being set in the 1970s, though chest hair, shag carpeting, and the last-minute mention of the hookup occurring at a key party seems to cement it firmly in that era.  There wasn’t sufficient room to mention any other period detail.
It bears noting that I originally planned to use the required phrase to describe the shag carpeting and not the gentleman’s chest hair.  But it’s been years since I’ve had contact with shag and I don’t remember what it feels like.  Are the fibers all that scratchy?
Deleted Scenes
None.  I had no delusion that I’d be able to write more than a relatively small passage, and budgeted my words accordingly.
It’s got to be “The Hustle”, by Van McCoy.  It was in my head the whole time I was writing.
If you’d like to take part in the fun, or see who else participated this week, check out Insatiabear.

On a Break

The summer I turned twenty-four, my girlfriend and I took a break.  We’d been together for a year or so, and we were pretty serious.  We weren’t exactly talking about being together forever, but we cared about each other – the word “love” had been spoken – and we enjoyed our relationship.  So why were we on a break?  As with the other breaks we took, this one was because we both wanted to have sex with other people, but the thought of having an open relationship simply didn’t occur to us.  At any rate, even if it had I question whether we would have been able to handle it ethically and respectfully.  We certainly wouldn’t have been able to deal with the judgments of others if the nature of our relationship was found out.

My boss, Christine, was thirty-four.  She was very attractive despite her advanced age – which, I must point out, was younger than I am right now.  She had long brown hair, pretty eyes, full lips, and smooth, unblemished skin.  She usually wore thin white blouses and long, billowy skirts with boots.  Sometimes she wore tight jeans.  I’m pretty sure that she was the subject of every single work wank I carried out at my desk while employed there.  It didn’t hurt that, despite the fact that she was married with two kids, Christine was a die-hard party girl.  At least once a week, she’d take the office staff out for drinks.

While out at a bar one night,  Christine kissed me.  On the lips.  It was sudden and quick, just slightly more randy than a familial peck, and nowhere near the full-blown makeout session that I would have preferred.  For the last couple hours she’d been drinking some concoction that included Galliano and vanilla liqueur; I was under no delusion that the kiss had been motivated by passion for sexy twenty-four-year-old Jack, or that that Christine had somehow forgotten about her husband watching the kids at home.  I knew it was the alcohol.

Christine apologized.  “I shouldn’t have done that.”  I could tell she meant it sincerely; while she didn’t blush, she couldn’t look me in the eyes.  Despite her tendency to cut loose and party after work, Christine was the ultimate professional.  Other than putting on her headphones and rocking out at her desk, she was very big on protocol during business hours.  I knew that the guilt she was feeling came from the perceived lack of professionalism in what she’d just done, moreso than it did in the violation of her marital vows, or in the thought that she’d crossed a boundary with regard to my own relationship, which she knew was on a break anyway.

“No harm done,” I said.  It was true.  She and I were the only ones there.  The other person who was drinking with us had gone to the restroom.  It hadn’t even occurred to me that Christine had deliberately waited until we were alone, which I suppose would have made the alcohol less responsible than I previously thought.  After a few seconds’ silence, I added, “I liked it.  I’ve wanted to kiss you for awhile.”  I omitted the part about her mouth not wanting to be my first choice of places to kiss.

It was a two-block walk back to the office.  We cut through the parking lot, and our drinking companion got into her car and left.  I was about to do the same when Christine asked if I could help her with something in the storage room.  Oh fuck, I thought.  Here it is.  I’d read enough Penthouse Forum to know where this was going.  In fact, I vaguely recalled a porn film I’d seen in which a young office boy was seduced by an older woman in a position of authority.  In fact, if I recall correctly they were doing something in a storage room when the sex began.

As she unlocked the building, I anticipated ripping the blouse off of her fine form, letting it fall forgotten to the floor.  As we walked down the hall to our office door, I anticipated peeling off her nearly-skintight jeans, revealing long, slender legs that would spring open instantly.  Once inside the office I anticipated the taste of her pussy on my tongue, and wondered if she trimmed, shaved, waxed, or did none of those.  I imagined that I could already smell her arousal.  I remembered the condom in my wallet; it had only been there a week or so.  I wondered if Christine carried condoms.

She led me to the storage room.  “Can you get a new toner cartridge down?” she asked.  Interesting lead-in; I was surprised that she didn’t begin by removing my jeans and giving me head.  The night was young; obviously that would come later.  I brought out the ladder and set it up in front of a large cabinet that almost reached the ceiling.  I climbed up four rungs and took a new toner cartridge from atop the cabinet, then brought it down and handed it to her.

As I put the ladder back in its place, I asked her if she needed me to install it for her.

“No”, she said, heading into the copy room.  “I can manage.  Thanks for getting it down.”

She wasn’t carrying herself with the air of a woman who wanted to get laid by a guy ten years her junior.  I hated mixed signals.  I still do.  I followed Christine into the copy room, where I found her installing the toner.  I wasn’t exactly sure where to go from here.

“You sure you’ve got that?”  Dumbest question I could have asked.

“I got it,” she said, closing the front panel on the copier.  “All done.”  I stood there for a moment, awaiting her next move.

“So are you sticking around, or – “

“Yeah, I’m going to finish up printing these reports before I go.  I’ll see you tomorrow.  Sorry again about earlier.”  Christine took playing hard to get to an entirely new level.

Christine and I eventually did have sex, though not for a few years.  I’d left the job, she and her husband were estranged, and it just sort of happened.  If it didn’t, I might have titled this post “The Second-Hottest Girl I Never Fucked.

Flash Fiction Friday: On a Summer’s Day

(Source image unknown; provided some time ago by the lovely Lexi)

The shorts were tight, her denim vest hugging her breasts.  She liked the looks she got from men as she walked.  Soaking up their lascivious smiles, she flipped her hair seductively, returning their hopeful winks with a hint of mischief.
As she reached the end of the boardwalk she unbuttoned her top, pretending not to see their wide-eyed stares.  She let the garment hang from her shoulders and unbuttoned her shorts, dropping them to the pavement.  She wore no panties.
Casting the top from her shoulders, she stood at the edge of the boardwalk and leapt into the water. (99/100)
Behind the Scenes
For the first time in eight weeks, this Flash Fiction Friday prompt was provided by Insatiabear.  The requirements were one hundred words or less (barely made it!) and the phrase “…a hint of mischief…”
I looked at the prompt on Tuesday and didn’t immediately have any concrete thoughts of what the story would be.  I liked the idea of portraying the young woman as a free spirit, the sort who might walk through a crowded public market or other venue – in this case a boardwalk – so scantily clad that most would consider it indecent exposure.  However, after taking a long look at the prompt photo the story wasn’t exactly writing itself.
I returned to the prompt on Thursday during a rare half hour of silence, and simply began writing.  In this case while the story didn’t write itself, it was more or less effortless.  While the hundred-word limit added to the challenge, I knew going in that I wasn’t going to be able to get too in-depth.  What resulted was less a story than a vignette, a window into the life of the character depicted that provides insight into who she is, and hopefully leaves the reader wanting more.
Deleted Scenes
As is my bent, I planned on ending the story with some manner of twist.  I considered that the young girl’s shameless striptease and au naturel swim is actually a figment of her imagination, and she’s stuck working a desk job on the hottest day of the year – a job that coincidentally happens to overlook the thriving boardwalk where her imaginary walk occurred.  Additionally, rather than being the sort of vibrant, adventurous woman who would take such a walk, in reality the protagonist is a frumpy, unconfident person who aspires to that sort of freedom.  In the end, I couldn’t make it fit.  It’s just as well; the story works as a vignette.
The story originally began with “She traveled along the boardwalk, feeling the warm summer sun on her skin.”  This was cut due to lack of space.
This vignette is all about confidence.  I considered Liz Phair’s “Extraordinary”, but given the overly mainstream feel of Phair’s 2003 self-titled album from which it came I considered that “Extraordinary” would’ve made the preceedings feel like a chick flick.  From a musical standpoint a better fit might be her 1994 song “Supernova” – the tempo seems a better fit – even though it’s a woman’s ode to a prospective lover and not an ode to herself as is “Extraordinary.”  For a more fast-paced, urban accompaniment, Neneh Cherry’s “Buffalo Stance” would work as well, especially with its “Who’s lookin’ good today?” refrain.
If you’d like to take part in the fun, or see who else participated this week, check out Insatiabear.

Ten Reasons to Have More Sex

While visiting my parents, I stopped at a drugstore.  The free publication rack at the front of the store near the exit featured a local magazine called Family Health & Wellness.  This is the sort of publication that covers health topics such as choosing the right optometrist, coping with menopause, and the importance of eating dinner together as  a family.  People read the well-meaning advice, feel better about themselves, and patronize the magazine’s sponsors.  The status quo is maintained.

The headline “10 Reasons to Have More Sex” caught my eye.  And why wouldn’t it?  It was placed conspicuously on the cover, in glaring yellow type.  People are repressed, especially in the overwhelmingly conservative locale where my parents live.  Said people will pick up a free magazine that has the word “sex” on the cover.  Though I didn’t expect to read anything particularly salacious, or for that matter anything I didn’t already know, I nonetheless took a copy.  I could admit to being skeptical before I read the article, or for that matter before I even opened the magazine.  What sort of cutting-edge sexual advice could I possibly glean from a free magazine I got in one of the most conservative parts of California?

The first thought that ran through my head upon seeing the headline was, Why do people need to be given reasons to have more sex?  I can think of numerous reasons why more sex is a good thing, though the physical enjoyment I take from sex itself will always trump any others.  Fucking for cash?  Hey, that’s great.  I’d love to try that.  Fucking to save the world, or to end war or global famine?  Talk about noble, selfless reasons!  Fucking to spite someone else?  Hate to admit it, but I’ve done that.  More than these or any other conceivable reasons, though, I love sex because it’s fun.  Even were that the only reason to fuck, it would be enough.

The article opened on a two-page spread showing a middle-aged couple about to get busy:  Bland, white-collar husband runs his hand through the hair of his bourgeois forty-something wife as she tugs on his loosened necktie.  Their faces are close, though not close enough to kiss.  Nothing against the two models who presumably met the day they posed for this photo, but it features all the romance and eroticism you’d expect from a Viagra commercial.  The caption in the corner of the photo promises “10 Mind-Blowing Reasons to Make More Love.”  They are obviously talking about sex in the context of a stable, committed relationship.  That’s understandable; a publication that focuses on health and wellness (family health and wellness, for that matter) is probably not the place to seek advice on late-night bar hookups.

The introduction makes evident the tone of the article:

It’s been a long day and you’re wiped out.  Your boss was breathing down your neck all day, the kids have a science project due tomorrow, the dinner dishes are piled in the sink, and you just want a minute to relax.  The obligations of everyday life are wearing you down, and nothing sounds better than an hour on the sofa with your favorite television program.  But the feel of your significant other’s hands caressing the back of your neck [suggests] he or she has other, more intimate, activities in mind.  Before you mutter an unenthused, “Not tonight, honey,” we have 10 reasons you should turn off the TV and turn down the lights for a little “somethin’, somethin’.”

This, in and of itself, is the crux of the problem.  People don’t prioritize sex.  They’re too tired or stressed out.  They’re stretched too thin.  Television is the higher priority for much of society.  Heaven forbid we miss American Idol because we’re engaging in recreational, non-procreative sex.  Yes, we all have DVRs and can watch it anytime we like, but if we don’t watch it tonight someone on Facebook might spoil who was eliminated, and that would ruin the whole season.

I’m not going to bother listing the ten reasons to have more sex according to the article.  Suffice it to say that the reasons involve things like exercise (“it’s like a workout…in bed”), boosting one’s self-esteem, and general health concerns.  Some of the advice is fairly common-sense:  Reason #4 is that during sex endorphins are released, which create euphoric feelings, making it a natural anti-depressant.  Reason #7 is that sex is an investment in one’s relationship, and that by having sex a couple reconnects physically, and strengthens their bond.  Reason #9 is that regular sex can lead to greater or more visible affection between partners, demonstrating to the kids that romantic love is healthy.

Not all the advice was necessarily correct.  One of the reasons listed is that frequent sexual intercourse reduces the risk of heart disease.  While this is technically accurate, the article states that it’s not solely sexual activity but rather any increased physical activity that curtails such ailments.  Additionally, the article cites studies that claim that regular orgasms (two or more per week) lead to increased prostate health.  The article then acknowledges that the studies’ findings are actually inconclusive but recommends more frequent orgasms just in case.

Look, I’m not one to complain about non-harmful sex advice.  Whatever reasons people want to use to justify frequent sex, I’m all for it.  The way I see it, if more people were not only having regular sex but actually enjoying it and not feeling guilty about it, the world would be a better place.  People in general would be happier, there would be less war – or none at all! – road rage would be a thing of the past, and you’d have far fewer overcompensating dickheads making public policy that affects the lives of the disenfranchised.

The biggest problem I have with the article, though, is that “It feels great!” is the tenth and final reason.  It’s not the first reason.  It’s not even the ninth reason.  It’s the last one!  The article treats it like an afterthought, stating incidentally that “sex is a normal part of being a healthy person, both emotionally and physically.”  And while this is undoubtedly true, that should have boosted it a lot higher than #10.

Why does “It feels great!” have to come last, after all the bullshit cajoling of the previous nine reasons?  Everyone reading the article is aware that sex feels good.  In fact, it’s probably the first thing that most people think when they hear the word “sex”, if their minds aren’t clouded by a lifetime of societally-imposed shame and guilt.  Trust me, no thirteen-year-old in the midst of puberty wants to have sex so that he or she can enjoy a life free of atherosclerosis and hypertension.

Do we really have to tell people to fuck their spouses so they won’t die of cardiovascular illness at age fifty?  Are we really telling people to fuck their spouses so they will be confident enough to excel at work and be promoted?  Sure, these are semi-valid reasons to have sex.  But I’ve got to think that if this manner of persuasion needs to be employed, the recipient isn’t really into it in the first place.

I’m all for positive representation of non-procreative sex in the media, especially in the religious-conservative community where I found the magazine.  But while articles like these are promising, we have clearly not moved past all of our hangups.  Why can’t we simply acknowledge that sex is fun and that it feels great?  Why must we placate the masses by rationalizing that sex is about anything other than physical and emotional pleasure?  Why must we first tell them that it’ll fix what’s wrong with their marriage, get them into shape, and facilitate good health before lowering the boom?

Ultimately my disappointment is not in the article, its author, or the publication itself.  My disappointment is, as always, in the society that has made tiptoeing around the issue of sexual pleasure somehow necessary.


Flash Fiction Friday: Model Release

Source credit: Met-Art.com

Trish didn’t want to get naked.  That was evident by the way she kept her legs crossed in front of her, purse clutched tightly to her body.
“Why don’t you lose the purse?” the photographer suggested.  Trish swallowed hard, but then followed the direction she had been given.  Her hands trembled as she relinquished her purse.  Her eyes betrayed fear, even shame.
Trish knew that nudity was stipulated in her contract.  She had already accepted payment in exchange for baring all.  But she couldn’t clear the mental hurdle staring her in the face.  Beyond her own fear, she worried about what her parents would say if they found out.  
“You’re nervous.  I know you are.”  The voice was warm, reassuring.  “Look, fair is fair.  If it’ll make you more comfortable, I’ll take off my clothes too.”  Trish looked up.  “I wouldn’t ask a model to do something I wasn’t willing to do.  Would you like that?”
Trish nodded.
The photographer quickly got undressed, then stepped behind the camera.
“Your turn,” she said. (172/175)
Behind the Scenes
This week, Ram the Sunlover‘s Flash Fiction Friday assignment featured the above prompt photo and the required word “payment”.  Additionally, rather than a maximum word limit, a range of between 171 and 175 words was imposed.  In the past I’ve been accustomed to writing Flash Fiction with either no minimum word count, or else a much wider range between minimum and maximum.  The narrow range required careful writing and very deliberate wording.
It is not necessarily a judgment of the prompt itself to say that I found this week’s challenge relatively uninspiring.  Although I spent more time than usual pondering the photo and considering possible story threads, I was unable to come up with any solid ideas with my usual speed.  There have been weeks in the past where it took a long time to think of a story, but this week I questioned whether I’d be able to do it.
I’m not sure why this is; I found the image itself aesthetically appealing, and briefly considered having the young lady pictured be a photographer at a department store photo studio.  This could have made a semi-comedic story; people come in to take family portraits only to find that the photographer is naked.  But I abandoned the idea when I acknowledged that while there are some Flash Fiction Friday regulars who could pull off such a radical idea, I’m probably not one of them.
Despite the image of a naked woman behind the camera, I chose to leave the gender of the photographer ambiguous until the final line of the story, wherein the revelation that the photographer is female is something of a plot twist.  The title, “Model Release”, refers less to the legal document signed by the subject of a photograph allowing its publication than it does to the model’s eventual willingness to be naked on camera.
Deleted Scenes
In writing this week’s story, I managed to pace myself pretty well.  In fact, I brought in the first draft at 169 words, two words short of the minimum.  Thus, there is no material written for this story that didn’t make the cut.  However, before coming up with the idea I actually used, I had a completely different idea – more like a seed, admittedly – that I actually wrote half a paragraph of before losing interest.  I’ll have to keep it handy should it fit a future Flash Fiction Friday prompt.
“Porcelain” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers.