She said pussy.
I said cunt.
Just a minor misunderstanding in our confused exploration of the world of lust.
Sexual semantics the way Brits and Americans differ on their pronunciation of the word ‘tomato’ maybe?
For her, pussy was playful, gently sexy, fond as well as provocative, almost an endearment.
To me, it just sounded downright vulgar. A word used too often in bad X-rated movies with inane and damn inappropriate canned muzak on the soundtrack to accompany the vaginal hydraulics on open display, or whatever other orifice the action chose to feature in intimate close-up. A very American word.
Maybe she’d had too many American correspondents or cybersex partners on the Internet.
Pussy just reminded me of cats. I hated cats.
In her opinion, cunt was too direct, too offensive, too raw.
For me, it was something natural, honest, and a matter-of-fact word to describe the female sex, a body part which never failed to fascinate and obsess me. I was naturally aware that there were a further hundred or more names for it, descriptions and euphemisms and such. I even had a book on my shelves which gloriously listed them all, with origin, language and etymology analysed in cod scholarly fashion. Don’t ever fault my research.
I did not believe in fancy words that skirted the subject: a cunt was a cunt was a cunt.
And each successive one I encountered was so blissfully different, a brand new experience, a source of wonder and delight, shapes, colours, shades, odour, variations, taste, texture, all worthy of a thousand narratives. There was little need for words to map a woman’s sex as far as I was concerned. Just too many words to describe it that confused the issue.
Don’t get me wrong: some men are born tit men, leg fetishists or arse lovers; and, for me, the eyes and the face were always the first features to catch my attention in a woman. Cunt, of course, came later. Or in many cases never, as my relationship didn’t always necessarily carry me so far.
It was a body part you graduated to with honours in your rite of seduction. A supreme reward and thus unique. Private. Shockingly incomparable.
So, imagine my surprise when, towards the end of a routine e-mail one day in late spring, Milduta wrote me that she had just shaved her pussy.
Three weeks earlier we had been in New York, staying together at a small hotel on the borders of Greenwich Village. We had spent almost a week there, her first ever visit to Manhattan, and between feverish bouts of fucking, had walked miles, browsing shops, me gleefully buying her clothes and silk thongs from Victoria’s Secret, eating too much Japanese food, seeing movies, visiting museums, hunting down bars where they served fresh carrot juice which she could down by the gallon, discovering to our mutual surprise how well we fitted together sexually and emotionally. During our sex games I had often trimmed her, taking voyeuristic pleasure in thinning her pubes so that her meaty gash was openly revealed in its full glory behind the protective curtain of her curls. I had, almost jokingly, suggested not for the first time she shave her genital area. She had declined with a knowing smile, yet again pretexting the discomfort of the hair growing back afterwards and how her skin often reacted with undue irritation and unseemly pimples. She’d had experience of this when she had briefly lived with a Swiss banker in Zurich. A dominant personality, he had required her to be shaven below. She had, initially, obligingly played along with his desires, still at a stage when she was testing the nascent relationship, unsure whether it held the prospect of becoming a permanent one.
With a laugh, she had also revealed that the banker shaved around his cock and balls, so that their smoothness had matched. An image that often fanned my erotic imagination.
My first reaction when I read her mail was to guess she had met another man.
Surely, when a woman reveals her intimacy so openly, it is for a man. Why him and not me? But she assured me she had only done it on a whim. Waxing her bikini line in the bathroom one morning, she had miscalculated and depilated unevenly. Getting rid of the rest was just a way of putting things right, she said. And it felt so sexy, she added. Not like in Switzerland where it was part of sexual compact. Now it was just for herself and no one else. She felt so naked below when riding her bike to the nearby town where she did her food shopping, and arousal came so easy in the knowledge of the secret she harboured down there. She sounded both amused and amazed that it should be so. I could have told her that long before, my fascination for smooth pudenda having steadily progressed from airbrushed models on pornographic playing cards to hardcore movies and evocative nude photography.
I wondered when I saw Milduta again what the effect on my libido would be to witness her naked cunt without its curtain of soft, darker curls. The only women I had ever known with smooth vaginas had been so from the outset of our affairs. Would knowing the ‘before’ and the ‘after’ of a woman’s genitals have the same erotic effect on me? A thought that nagged me for weeks to come.
I wrote back, asking her to stay shaven until we could find the opportunity to meet up again.
‘I’m not sure,’ she answered.
It was that hesitancy that triggered my suspicions and the fear soon gripped me of losing Milduta, that I would never rest my eyes on the wonderful vision of her cunt in all its splendid and utter nudity.
I’d always known our relationship was far from exclusive. There was no way it could ever be, due to our personal circumstances.
<… oh, u know, I just shave my pussy… lol… is feel so sexy…>
Well, she certainly chose her moment, didn’t she?
Life is not a movie.
The choices are always far from clear cut. The villains walk in various shades of grey and the solutions to problems are complicated as hell.
Actually, films make it all look too easy and their subtle art of deception warps the mind, soon beginning to affect your actions in most insidious ways. You are not a character in someone else’s plot, and there is no certainty of three acts and a happy-ever-after ending. You have no control of the situations, whether good or bad.
Life is a mess and makes no sense and often feels like an accumulation of clichés; at any rate, that’s the way it looks if you consider the whole thing with some degree of cynicism (some might actually say realism). So it is no sin to accept the ambiguous romanticism and peacefulness of the images flickering on the screen, because you aspire to goodness, to happiness, and the conscious retreat into daydream or fantasy is such an easy road to follow.
Life made easy.
It begins like a movie. With a wide screen and a sumptuous wash of music, massed strings – or more likely synthesiser chords in this day and age of budget consciousness – eventually rising to a majestic crescendo. Random images coalesce and a melancholy sort of melody emerges from the unformed wall of sound… ‘Porcelain’ by Moby maybe, or the sad tones of Nico as orchestrated by John Cale, like the soundtrack for an imaginary western, the climax of which might prove particularly bittersweet: a gunfight, lovers parted by fate, hearts asunder, a desert, a ravine, a tear.
It’s a tune that aims straight for the heart but hints at further sadness to come, further down the highway. Sadness, yes; because tragedy is much too strong a word and the world we live in is so full of incomplete people, with small hopes and minuscule epiphanies that pale against the true suffering that always seems to occur elsewhere in the lives and countries of others. Some might even state that there are no tragedies for people like you and me, just minor inconveniences.
The credits of the movie roll at last, rising from the heart of the music, and indistinct shapes emerge out of the blurry chaos that occupies the screen and its rectangular geometry. Panavision format, just like in the good old days.
A woman’s voice is heard, plaintive, across the gradually fading sounds of the poignant music.
Is she singing? Crying? Sighing?
Has she a quaint, breathless and somewhat exotic foreign accent to your practised ears?
A voice that evokes longing.
To which you invariably respond with open heart. Lowering your defences. Revealing your fundamental vulnerability.
Fool that you are.
Jack had struck lucky with the dotcom boom.
As an inveterate book collector, he had never been particularly interested in technological developments, even if his interest in science fiction went back to his childhood and he knew his Arthur C Clarke from his Philip K. Dick and his William Gibson and appreciated the subtle difference between steampunk and cyberpunk, hard science SF and space opera. Actually, he had almost moved straight from manual typewriter to computer word processing, with barely a couple of years working with an electric typewriter, because of his natural reluctance to accept change.
He found computers to be alien and unwieldy but his collection was growing out of control and he had to somehow come up with a system to catalogue his considerable holdings of books and old magazines, let alone the ongoing new publications that flooded his mail box on a daily basis since he had been reviewing the stuff in a weekly magazine.
He had used filing cards but the system wasn’t working and proved impractical when it came to cross-referencing short stories in anthologies and magazines for easy
He’d asked around and found that most other collectors suffered from similar drawbacks.
In the absence of anything on the bibliophile market that could respond to his needs, he tried, by trial and error and conspicuous consumption of unreadable manuals, to devise a software programme that would work on his domesticated Apple and somehow tame the database beast to his finicky satisfaction.
Much to his surprise, a year or so later a random conversation at a book publication party at the Groucho with an executive from a newly launched Internet sales company led to an expression of interest in the system he had cobbled together and, six months later, he pocketed a large cheque which, for the first time in his life, afforded him a life of gentle financial ease. He left his job as Export Director (Europe and Africa) for a middle-sized American food raw materials and ingredients group, and abandoned a rat race he had never truly enjoyed.
He decided to stick to what he knew best and opened a small bookshop.
This gave him more leisure time to read, grow his CD collection to book-like proportions, research, travel America several times a year, scouring old and dust-ridden second-hand book emporiums for further gems and curios for his personal shelves and, of course, the store. A life he would only have dreamed of ten or fifteen years earlier. But the lack of urgency and the reassuring financial stability soon alerted him to the level of raging dissatisfaction brewing inside him. He’d divorced some years before, amiably. There were no children so no one had really been hurt. His fault, of course. A wandering eye, too many opportunities in hotel lounges and bars during his export travel days and nights.
He missed marriage.
Hated being alone. Knew that it brought out the worst in him.
Lust. Laziness. And an overflow of tenderness.
Like all men with talent, Jack had many flaws. He was realistically aware of the fact and often listed them distractedly against the screen of his mind as he tried to reach the refuge of sleep. But the worse trait was how he romanticised over women time and time again, never somehow learning from his experiences. A problem that annoyed the efficient businessmen in him like hell. But this perception of his shortcomings didn’t mean he could change the way he acted and felt when a particular woman came across his path and had his chords and other attributes twitching…
He knew all too well how the emotions women created inside his head and body invariably skewed his perception of them and coloured all his relationships.
Recognising this and knowing the existence of this fatal Achilles heel still could not prevent him from making the same old mistakes over and over again.
Was it the way he had been brought up?
The fact that his father never had the guts, or the time, to tell him about the birds and the bees? Or treated him like an alien form he couldn’t really understand, this little boy with dark curly hair and repressed feelings, always with his nose inside books or his sports magazines and with little interest in the activities his father could approve of?
This child who, silently, furtive like no other, would mentally store and interpret all the distorted facts about the way men and women coexist and war from telltale stories circulating amongst school kids, or accept as gospel the fantasies of life provided by the wide-screen Cinemascope Hollywood romantic comedies he would invariably watch on his weekly Thursday afternoon outings to the local cinema.
He often tried to puzzle out how this fundamental flaw at the heart of his being had come to be.
Education? Family life? The lies of films and fiction? A particular woman? But which: the first girl he had coveted from afar? The first he had kissed? The first he had slept with? The first who had dropped him?
Or, more likely, the first young woman who savagely, unknowingly wounded him, his emotions scarred by her betrayal, the first he had felt longings for.
Yes, that was more likely, he knew.
London. His final year in high school. A large, high-ceilinged room in a meandering South Kensington flat and a dozen or so teenagers sitting in a circle on the parquet floor.
Sometimes, Jack would wonder whether his recent life would have been any different had he remained in his marriage, managed to salvage it from his mistakes and his wife had produced children. Would it have tamed his emptiness or made it even worse? Pure speculation, though, as two successive ectopic pregnancies had put paid to that possibility just three years into the marriage, adding sorrow to the sadness of his failure to make the relationship work.
He was not unattractive, he knew, in a rugged and intellectual sort of way. ‘Your looks always remind me of a wild and impetuous Hungarian pianist,’ a close woman friend, not in his sexual circle, had once told him. This had amused him mightily. Better than being compared to Mel Brooks or Charles Aznavour, as had also happened once, much to his puzzlement and irritation.
When women he chatted with online asked him to describe himself, he invariably would inform them that he was neither Brad Pitt nor Frankenstein, before supplying the tiresome and customary statistics. None ever queried whether he was referring to the sad Baron or the eponymous monster he had unwittingly created.
The joke served him well quite often.
Click to visit the ‘Kiss Me Sadly’ page
Also by Maxim Jakubowski
Life in the World of Women
It’s You That I Want To Kiss
Because I Thought I Loved You
The State of Montana
The Erotic Box Set
On Tenderness Express
About Maxim Jakubowski