It's an axiom that must have originated in lust. There's no other crazy yearning besides sex that makes people so sure that if they could possess just one thing, their ideal, then their bodies would know true bliss and their minds, a final epiphany.
We imagine, with each new obsession, that our appetite will be sated for all time, and that our itch will melt into a sticky puddle. Free at last, and spent to peaceful exhaustion.
"Introduction" by Susie Bright
What's funny about human beings is that in our search for the perfect sex thing, the partner/position/pornography of our dreams, we never stay in one place. There's nary a moment for reflection before we switch targets.
We laugh at teenagers who carry on as if one kiss, then one date, then one debauched prom night would make everything copacetic.
But really, adults are worse. We blow our fortunes, our families' patience, and our own fatuous minds with schemes to become the perfect object of desire -- or to capture one who is.
Sexual ecstasy is the prize that incites this madness. Once we conceive of our dream, and sample the first taste, we make the nuttiest promises. That's where the "be careful" part comes in. We vow, we forsake this and that, we say "nothing else matters."
We jump off the deck and act as if pulling the cord is just an option. Who's around to see us when we land? Often, we end up on the ground alone, bruised and bloody, still carrying that taste in our mouth...if only, if only, if only. It's salty, all right.
Thank Cupid for novelists, then, who can admit the painful truth we might not confess to our own diaries. A good storyteller will describe a sexual adventure that makes us crave passion and cower before its consequences-- in equal diabolical measures. It's difficult to find that chemistry in a novel. So many writers go overboard in one direction or another.
"Three Kinds of Asking for It is the perfect book for intellectual sex freaks."
— Sarah Silverman
In puritan America, there's a tendency to choke the life out of those who have too much fun-- unless of course, they get down on their knees and apologize for it later. The more rare, but equally cynical, experience is the story of the lovers who get everything they want, wrapped in a bow, and then sail off with their gift, undisturbed by the slightest breeze of conflict. They must be made of Spam.
Luckily, I've found three writers for this collection who bring uncommon originality and authenticity into the sweet mire of erotic trepidation.
In Charmed, I'm Sure by Eric Albert, a single man exasperated with conventional dating rituals meets a modern-day witch who sells him a sex-on-demand "Wish Contract." It seems to be the answer to his libidinous prayers, but then we all know how that fine print can screw you....Our hero is in for more than any megawatt attorney could have anticipated.
In Bending, by Greta Christina, we have the story of a girl who can't get enough of one particular thing. It's bending over-- literally. She's sick of having to say, "Okay, I'm through," when in fact she's never come close to her limit. Unlike most women, she's not prepared to fake and be demure. Her lovers and friends finally devise a scheme to test her endurance, and therein lies the tale.
The story seems so simple-- a girl fixated on coming in her favorite position. (Show of hands, please?) But our heroine's walkabout to understand her desire and her unusual relationship with her lovers are eye-opening in their design. Her romance is with a greater community than two, and her vision is even bigger than her ass-up appetite.
"A must-read in bed with towel nearby. I've been a longtime fan of Greta Christina's writing, and here she is at her very best -- and in excellent company."
— Annie Sprinkle
Finally, in Jodi K, by Jill Soloway, we are introduced to a teenage diary, penned by a dentist's daughter in suburban Chicago. Jodi, our narrator, is savvy enough to realize that grown-ups are fixated on protecting and simultaneously exploiting her every sexual feeling for the "dirty parts" -- but she's not about to leave any predictable droppings behind her.
Soloway has an uncanny ability to get waaaay inside the defiance, self-absorption, and havoc of the horny teenager's imagination. She makes it all seem as close as wet laundry— more than a little sweaty, and impossible to wriggle out of.
"Intense, unjudgmental, hilarious, and wise."
— Alan Ball
These three authors didn't let their hell-and-lust-bent characters get off with anything the easy way. Their bed-tossed struggle was my delight; my vicarious thrills were pushed to their limits. I'm pleased to say I was still left gasping, "Oh yes, I'd do it all over again!" Isn't that what we always long to say-- our parachute billowing around us, barely on the ground, the silk swirling at our feet?
Continued in Three Kinds of Asking For It
Illustration: Edward Hopper, “Morning Sun” (1952)