sex


Tannahill, Reay. Sex in History. Bath, England: Scarborough House. 1982.

Sex in History was a bestseller for Tannahill back in the 1980s, translated into 11 languages. I totally missed it, even though I was a sexually obsessed twentysomething in that decade. I found this cracked, fading, lonely copy on the shelves at my library. I took pity on it and brought it home for a few weeks. Here’s a snippet from page 104, on Athenian prostitutes:

There were streetwalkers, too, with a novel soliciting technique that worked well on unpaved surfaces. One streetwalker’s sandal has survived the centuries. Studded in reverse on the sole is a message that would print itself on the roadway for the next passerby to read. The message, of course, is “Follow me.”

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A buncha notes and stuff for a story I’ve been working on since, like, forever

Tuesday, March 10, 1992
1:23 a.m.

I Was a Man Trapped in a Woman’s Body

Steve was beginning to bore me. He’d given me two years of domestic bliss—a place to crash when my parents were driving me crazy, some great homemade chili, and the biggest penis I’d ever had inside me.

But now he was driving me crazy. When I first started dating him, he used to wear his “Holiday in Cambodia” t-shirt to class all the time. Sometimes he wouldn’t change it for a couple days. Such a geek. We used to go slam dancing together, and then we’d wake up the next day comparing our bruises. Sometimes we’d sit in the dark for hours together listening to Joy Division, not saying anything. But I think he really got turned off by the scene the time Ted and Charlie—the Deadly Duo—beat him up on the dance floor. [more here]

Anyway, I still loved him, and I still loved to fuck him, but I needed some supplementary excitement. Not another boyfriend, mind you, just somebody I could go to shows with, get drunk or high with, have a blast with, and fuck. Steve was and always would be my baby, my rock of security. But he wasn’t making me wet the way he used to. Maybe it was because we cared about each other so much—our feelings went way beyond the physical.

I needed somebody I could go crazy with and have wild sex with, but not somebody I thought would fall in love with me; hopefully, somebody I wouldn’t even have to be friends with for very long—a fuckbuddy. Before too long, I had narrowed my

2:40 a.m.

search to one or two likely candidates. There was one guy in the art department who seemed pretty cool; he lived in a closet in the art building and he rolled his own cigarettes. There was a guy in the film department that I liked. But my friend Colin knew this guy named Reed who just totally weirded me out. He wrote the names of his favorite bands on his jeans in magic marker. He dyed his brown hair blond and didn’t make any attempt to cover up the roots. I knew I had to have him one bright, sunny April day outside the student union. Colin and Reed and a bunch of their friends were sitting outside the union trying to look cool. Then Reed started slapping his pants for no apparent reason.

“What the hell are you spazzing for, Weed?” I asked him.

“Because I set my pants on fire over in the philosophy building, and thought I had put it out,” he said.

“So you walked halfway across campus with your pants on fire and you didn’t even know it?”

“Yeah.”

“What the fuck for?”

“To get some cool holes.”

“Wow, that’s really charming, Weed” I said. He gave me a very pissed-off look. I practically came on the spot.

———–

Saturday April 4, 1992

No. I think this will be a third-person narrative called “Men Trapped in Women’s Bodies.”
———–

The parking lot was black, grimy, its surface uneven, with big chunks of asphalt lying about, disintegrating. Reed lay on the hood of Sam’s car and stared at the roofs of the buildings that hemmed in the lot on three sides. On the edge of the nearest building’s roof he could make out the exhaust fans and ventilation ducts climbing up the wall. He fantasized about the structure’s decaying supports finally rusting away, so that it would come hurtling down upon him as he lay there helplessly atop the car, killing him instantly. Then a corner of the air duct would pierce the gas tank with a shower of sparks, igniting a conflagration that would engulf him and burn him beyond recognition.

[Wednesday, July 8, 1992; 12:21 pm]

After his eight or 10 hours of non-stop ecstasy with Lisa (Jill?), the first thing he did, while he was still at Jill’s house, was call Gail, just to sort of clear it with her. Of course, Gail started screaming at him over the phone the moment he told her, and Jill/Lisa, sitting there watching the whole thing, couldn’t believe he could be so stupid. But hadn’t Gail said he could see whomever he wanted? He didn’t think there should be a problem, and yet here were these two women telling him what an idiot he was, both of them sounding very convinced of their own reasoning. In the year or so he had been with Gail, his confidence had grown more than it had in the preceding 19 years of his life. Within a couple days, he was almost back to where he had been before he met her. He felt like a desperate old man who takes his life savings from under his mattress and blows all but the last $100 in one weekend in Atlantic City, and then finds out later there’s a warrant out for his arrest for passing counterfeit bills.

[August 1992]

This guy dates this girl who treats him like shit. She’s also dating someone who she’s already been seeing for two years, but she doesn’t tell him about her new guy. She does, however, tell her new guy everything about her old guy, and I mean everything. She tells her new about her sexual exploits with her old guy, she tells him about her old guy’s penis size, and compares her new guy’s penis to her old guy’s penis in unflattering terms. She talks about her sexual exploits with her old guy in front of other people when her new guy is present. She tells her new guy about how her old guy is such a genius, about how he’s so sweet.

She is the stupid force of life except when she has complex explanations for her behavior, which he can’t refute – it’s life explaining itself, and you can’t argue with it even though it makes no sense. When he tries to subdue an elemental force of life, he suffers profoundly, i.e., he gets hurt real bad.

[Tuesday, August 18, 1992; 3:15]

Intelligence vs. bewilderment

What if you take someone who is intelligent, but who has lost touch with his intellect (why?) and appears stupid or drugged?

Just don’t have too much of any one thing – good, bad, whatever; if it seems like too much, throw something else in.

Sexual addiction

[Tuesday, August 25, 1992; 11:20 am]

If it starts making too much sense, stop. It’s not lifelike.

MC felt that the best solution would be to have the building collapse on top of him.

I Was a Man Trapped in a Woman’s Body

The system – have one lover who’s stable, but not exciting, and then have other lovers to fool around with and

2.14.1993

That morning the trees would have their long-awaited revenge on our good friend Reed. It was as if he’d given them the opportunity to return what he’d bestowed on them, as if they’d saved the gift of vomit with which he had presented them those many months ago. Now, full of legitimate malice, they exacted retribution on the gross insult suffered by one of their numbers. Reed imagined that they had communicated the news of his unprovoked attack by means of their root system, through which every tree no doubt was interconnected with every other tree in a vast, omniscient network. He hoped he’d paid his debt to their silent society. He felt like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, who, after she’d plucked an apple, found herself surrounded and restrained by a small group of deeply offended trees. He tried to remember how she got herself out of that one.

Actually, I’m lying. Reed didn’t think of Dorothy at all. For once, his thoughts were focused on the present moment, though still completely on himself. Considering the graveness of his circumstances, however, that was entirely understandable.

Though he’d spent the night outside in near-freezing temperatures, he slept soundly because he’d passed blind drunk. When he awoke, he started to shiver. The first thing he noticed was the chain-link fence and the Holiday Inn on the other side. Then he looked down at his insufficient jacket and saw that the left sleeve was soaked with vomit. Surely, I’ve earned a little sympathy, he thought, without knowing he was thinking it.

He stood up. As he did, he felt the hollowness in his gut, the exhausted feeling in his digestive tract. The feeling was getting more familiar all the time.

He walked out to the highway, the highway that had no need for him, the little shit. Here, among the people who worked for a living, he had no business, no business at all. He felt he had to apologize for every incompetent moment he spent with them, here among these people who knew how to do things, except no one needed them to do those things anymore. No one needed him, either, but for different reasons.

He walked south along the shoulder. At a pay phone, he pulled out a quarter and called Lisa. He never thought he’d hear her sound as nervous, upset, concerned, frantic as she had sounded last night (except she still had to be funny); she sounded the same way now. She agreed to meet him at the McDonald’s a few miles down the road. He thumbed a ride with a man who asked him if he ever had a blow job. Are you offering me one, or am I supposed to give you one? he wondered. Since the second possibility was too horrible to imagine, Reed responded to the first, saying yes, he’d had them, but he preferred to get them from girls, thanks for asking. A blow job’s a blow job, the man said. Reed stared ahead, finding comfort in the wipers wiping the drizzle from the windshield of the man’s car.