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Soft Core: Jennifer Crusie's Bet Me [Jun. 11th, 2008|11:00 pm]

When you get down to it, what is pornography but a wish-fullfilment fantasy? Usually, it's "boy fucks girl" without any of the foreplay. But there are other wish-fulfillment fantasies than just sex. For teen-age boys, there are super-heroes and sword-swinging barbarians. And for women, there are Romances.

One of you (you know who you are, you wonderful, naughty girl!), in correspondence, suggested I have a go at a Romance and so it was that I found myself walking home from the library with Jennifer Crusies's novel, Bet Me, weighing down my knapsack.

Romances are usually dismissed as "fluff" or "crap" or any number of mean-spirited slurs. And it's true: Bet Me does not deal with Today's Geopolitical Situation, or The War In Iraq, or Global Warming, or anything of that shit. It's unabashedly escapist and unabashably formulaic.

"Minerva Dobbs knows that happily-ever-after is a fairy tale, especially with a man who asked her to dinner to win a bet, even if he is gorgeous Calvin Morrisey."

Minerva is an actuary, working for her father's firm. She's heavier than she wants to be and dresses like a stereotypical puritan. Calvin is a man with a past, a man who has run away from every woman he's gotten close to.

And when she (having over-heard the bet) accepts his invitation to dinner, the story begins. They spar like Care Grant and Kate Hepburn did in The Philadelphia Story.

Min is a 32 year-old woman trying to diet her way to the anorexic American ideal of woman-hood - and failing. She has curves and she's never going to lose them. Cal is a man who tells her she's beautiful as she is, who sees through her defences and who even encourages to her to eat some carbs from time to time.

Nevertheless, complications ensue, her fault, his fault, and (as possibly the weakest part of the novel, due to the machinations of his and her ex-girlfriend and boyfriend, respectively) the fault of plot complications.

Does the boy get the girl in the end? Well, d'uh. It's a Romance. Bet Me is a book full of clever, witty dialogue we can only wish happened in real life; it's monstrous families and the people who rise above their damage to over-come that parental abuse. It's True Love against all the odds, and Crusie does it wonderfully.

If Crusie's Bet Me is not about to knock Jane Austen off her pedestal, it is nevertheless a delightful, a tasty, bit of froth. Despite some of my misgivings about the plot, I was more than able to willingly suspend my disbelief and just enjoy the ride, laughing out loud every few pages.

Why the hell can't Hollywood do this sort of thing anymore? Pornography of the mind, of the long term. It's clever, it's fun, it's a great ride. And what's wrong with that?
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Memo to Self [Jun. 7th, 2008|12:58 pm]
Re: Physical Lines of Communication - Keeping Open, Keeping Close

From now on don't leave your mobile out of your fucking sight. Even when you take a bath.

If you do forget it somewhere, check your messages.

That is all.
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He Looked Like Ronald Reagan [May. 30th, 2008|10:29 pm]
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The trucker reminded me of Ronald Reagan. Maybe a decade younger than Reagan was during his first term as President and with a little less bulk to his body and a hell of a lot more grease in his hair. The hair was slicked up in a semi-pompadour and was, maybe, dyed black to boot.

But I wasn't concerned by his resemblance to a scary US President any more than I was frightened by his archaic hair-style.

I was just grateful he had pulled his 18-wheeler to the side of Highway 17 and kept it there long enough for me to run after him and climb into his rig.

I was 18 years old and finishing up a summer of adventure, tedium and poverty. Actually more tedium and poverty than adventure.

* * *

I had hitched across much of the country, starting out in Toronto and ending up in Victoria, with stops along the way, including nearly a month at my older brother's apartment in Jasper, where I laboured in a couple of restaurants as a dish-washer, campted near grizzly bears and hippies, and miserably realized I had not a clue as to how to approach any of the young women who were having their own adventures out there.

As the summer was coming to a close, I left Victoria with ten dollars in my pocket and hitched across the prairies from Calgary to Winnipeg only 12 hours ahead of an early blizzard. Winnipeg saw me stay overnight with friends and then a long walk back to the trans-Canada highway.

I got a ride almost right away. Young guy - maybe 30 - driving a small, late-model car. Stick-shift and a tach that showed 5,000 RPM. I threw my pack in the back seat and clambered in. Slammed the door and we were already moving.

He asked where I was going and I told him Sudbury, some 24 hours driving down the road.

"I can take you as far as Dryden," he said.

Dryden was good: a three-hour start on the final leg of my journey. Happy, I said so.

"Do you like girls?" he asked in a remarkable non-sequiteur.

"Uh - yes," said. "I like girls."

"I like to suck cock," quoth my knight in suddenly-tarnished armor.

"Oh." What else could I say? I was 2,000 miles from home and had $5.37 in my pocket.

"Do you like getting your cock sucked?"

If you're thinking I didn't like where I saw the conversation going, you're right. Already this summer, back in the middle of Saskatchewan, I had had the dubious honour of hopping a ride and - after we'd got up to speed - realizing that my benefactor did not have just a can of coke between his knees, but also a pale and flacid cock, which he was stroking with a kind of bored attention.

That guy never did directly proposition me, and he was scrawny enough that I didn't feel physically afraid, but his silent stroking was creepy, to say the least.

"Do you like getting your cock sucked?" My new "friend" at least had the virtue of being straightforward.

"Well sure," I said. "By girls."

Maybe a little too straightforward. He swerved his car violently toward the gravel shoulder and pulled to a ragged halt. "End of the line," he said.

I got my pack out of the car and watched as he turned around and - I suppose - resumed his hunt for 18 year-old boys less particular about whose mouth engulfed their tender member.

* * *

It took me two days to get Dryden. The blizzard had not followed me past the prairies, but it was Labour Day weekend and the nights were cold. I finished my meager rations of granola the first night and, the second day, it began to drizzle and didn't let up.

By the time I was dropped off maybe five miles outside of town, I was determined to walk that distance and make a long-distance call to my mother, begging her to buy me a train-ticket home.

I didn't even have my thumb out when the transport pulled onto the side of the road ahead of me.

Like I said, he reminded me a bit of Ronald Reagan but, wet and cold and hungry and tired, I was more than grateful for the ride.

He told me he was going to Toronto, four hours past my destination. "Thank you so much," I said, and told him about my two-day, three hundred kilometer, trek.

I asked him about life on the road, we talked about music, I told him about my plans for high school the coming year ... the usual chit-chat a good hitch-hiker offers someone who's gone to the trouble of picking you up.

When he made his first pit-stop, he bought me a coffee and a sandwhich. Then he told me I could sleep in the bunk behid the cab for a bit, if I wanted to.

Gratefully, I accepted.

I awoke as he was once again pulling into a truck-stop parking lot.

He looked over his shoulder as he pulled the truck to a halt. "I need to get some sleep," he said. He hesitated a moment, then continued. "You can hang around in the front or ... you can stay where you are." There was almost a question mark at the end of his sentence.

"Oh. Oh yeah. I'll get out, man. Sorry."

The truck wheezed into silence. He turned off the headlights as I rose to my knees and began to crawl from the tiny sleeping-space.

He reached out and dropped his palm on my leading hand. "You can stay, if you want. With me."

"Uh ..." I really didn't want to step out into that cold night and stagger off to the highway again, hoping against hope that someone would stop for me.

"Have you ever made love to a man?"

"Uh ... No," I said.

"Have you ever kissed one?"

No again.

"Why don't you try?" He looks like Ronald Reagan! He must be 50 years old! He's a man!

"I guess," mumbled, "I guess I could kiss you." His hand squeezed mine - gratitude? excitement? I didn't know.

I shuffled backwards and the skinny little trucker crawled in beside me. He kicked off his boots and stretch out, reached his arms towards me, wrapped one over top of me, snaked the other underneath to grip my waist.

I sensed, rather than saw, his head move towards me in the dark. Either way, his thin lips soon touched mine and I, hesitantly, took his equally-thin body in my arms.

And I ... let him kiss me. When his tongue pushed between my lips, I opened my mouth.

Truth to tell, he was a pretty good kisser, and his hands were gentle as he found his way beneath my shirt. But I couldn't get out of my mind the fact that, well, he was a man, that he was 30 years older, and that he looked like Ronald Fucking Reagan.

When he reached between my legs and I felt his hand cover my balls like a bony blanket I pulled away from his mouth.

"I'm sorry," I said, "I can't do this."

He tried to kiss me again and, I angled my mouth from his lips. "No," I said, "stop."

"You sure?" he asked. His breath was damp and warm against my cheek; his hand flexed against my ass.

"Yes. I'm sorry, but I just ..."

"Damn," he said after a moment's silent contemplation. He lifted his hand from my buttock and rolled away from me, half-sat in the dark, leaving me room to crawl back into the main part of the cab. "You're gonna hafta sit upright, then. Wake me when the sun comes up."

"You mean I can" -

"I said I'd take yuh to Sudbury," he said, and I thought I heard a ghost of a chuckle behind his disappointment.

I did wake him with the dawn, and he did take me to Sudbury. I was halfway to be being certain (as certain as one can be) that I was an entirely straight man.
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Coitus Interruptus [May. 17th, 2008|06:46 pm]

This is an excerpt from a much longer work, a fantasy/science fiction novel which is not primarily about sex. Amanda and Tom are two young people mysteriously transported to an alien world. Tom was immediately taken captive by slavers. After some harrowing adventures, Amanda has rescued him. The following scene takes place after they have escaped and have found a place to camp for the night.
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