All about Jane
Suppose you are Dick, or any man, smitten with a certain woman. Let’s call her Jane. Lovely Jane. You think maybe Jane notices you. Or maybe she doesn’t. In either case, you want her to. In fact you don’t just want her to. You need her to. Because if Jane pays attention to you, everything will change: the color of the sky, the amount of rainfall and bumblebees in spring. Even the stock market and the crime rate will be affected, and the number of digits in pi and souls that make it into heaven . . .
The problem is: Jane doesn’t know you exist. Maybe you’ve never said hello to Jane. Maybe she’s already taken, already in love with someone else. Poor Dick. You don’t have a chance. Nevertheless you can’t get her out of your head, now can you? So what’s a poor Dick to do? Pine? Worry? Jump off a bridge? Send flowers, chocolate, wine, seven pairs of silk underpants, each embroidered with your phone number?
But what do you want from Jane? A note? A smile? An evening on the town? One night of bliss?
No, of course not. You want everything. Nothing less. Nothing she gives you will ever be enough. There is no such thing as enough.
Alas, woe is you. Whatever your question, Jane’s answer is no. You know this before you even ask.
Sometimes you lie awake and talk to the darkness. Hello Jane. This is the night talking.
Other times you beg your mind not to talk to Jane, and not to think about Jane, and not to think about not thinking about Jane.
One day you visit a therapist who asks, what are you afraid of, Dick? What is the worst thing that could happen?
Your answer? To live in a world without Jane.
from Midlife Crisis with Dick and Jane
The Last Time
One rainy autumn evening I sat in the Arabica Coffee Shop in Cleveland, Ohio, drinking cappuccino when I noticed that everyone looked sad. And then I knew something. It was like a revelation. I suddenly knew that all the people were starved for orgasms. The situation was alarming. I sipped my coffee and stared at the wan, orgasm-less faces. I thought: men and women cannot live by bread alone. That very day I went to the bookstore and bought a book about people who have no orgasms. Only then did I realize that many live without them. It’s a tragic situation. I couldn’t bear to think about it.
Imagine. A child could be planted without even a sigh. The child would know in his blood when he was born that he had been conceived with orgasm. It could damage a young and tender psyche for life, rendering him impotent and her frigid. A person might live in a therapist’s office and never be cured. How many children have the gall to discuss their parents’ sex lives? But all children know. Girls and boys need only look at their parents. Consider the stony-faced couples eating eggs in silence, glaring at the morning newspaper.
Now I can never see the world in the same light. Whenever I go out, I watch people. I even ask the man and woman in the street, When was the last time you had an orgasm? Of course they don’t answer. They look back at me with the chronic look of orgasm starvation.
from The Book of Orgasms
A woman had always yearned to have a son. She was elated when she read the following passage in the book, Levitation, by Steve Richards: If a man and a woman are both breathing through the same nostril at the moment of conception, the child will surely be a boy. But, if the man is breathing through one nostril, and the woman through the other, the child may be of either sex.
Now, the woman reasoned, if she and Luther could only get their nostrils in sync. But sadly, she had never heard of the third nostril that opens only once in a lifetime. Nor did she know that under every breath, there exists another breath, with another story, which always begins with the birth of an unwanted princess.
from Spontaneous Breasts
Orgasms are bad news. In the town where I grew up, people didn’t allow them. They nipped them in the bud. Men and women dressed in heavy black cloaks. On windy days they looked like dark sails on the streets. By the time I was twelve, I wanted an orgasm. Just one, I said. I knew it was a bad idea. Wise men tried to convince me to behave. They explained that men and women were made in the image of God. We must live godly lives. God never had an orgasm. Neither should I.
I did my best to remain orgasm-less. But curiosity got the better of me. One day I felt one. Fresh, alive, pungent. My soul left my body at once. It caught fire like paper. My face gave me away. Suddenly everyone knew. Especially the men. And such men! They were so obliging then. When no one was looking, they took off their coats and ties. They took off their white button-down shirts, their trousers, their shiny wingtip shoes, and their skinny black socks. The men became acrobats in disguise. How could I have ever guessed? And how could one, or once, have ever been enough? Like little hors d’oeuvres! I could not help myself. I consumed them all. Though I was careful to examine each one carefully, and with utmost respect, to inspect their colors and sizes and shapes and flavors. Oh yes, I said, and thank you, and please, and yes.
And so it was that I came to write A Field Guide to Nudes. A Field Guide to Desires. A Field Guide to Orgasms . . .
I was so busy with my research, I had no time to reflect. No time to consider the consequences of my acts. Of course I should have known. The people were outraged. They came to my home and broke down my doors. They chased me into the streets and out of the city gates. Now I can never go back. I live alone with my desires. With my dreams that never stop dreaming. With these orgasms that never stop singing my name. Yes, it’s a fact! Whatever they say, I can only sigh. Whatever they wish for, I just say yes. Yes! I say yes. YES! Again and again, I say yes. And I will say it for you if you ask. Yes! Yes! YES!
Nin Andrews is the author of several books including The Book of Orgasms, Spontaneous Breasts, Why They Grow Wings, Any Kind of Excuse, Midlife Crisis with Dick and Jane, Dear Professor, Do You Live in a Vacuum? and Sleeping with Houdini. Her new book, Southern Comfort, is just out from CavanKerry Press. Visit her website.
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Beautifully written prosepoems, superb. But oddly not erotic. At least, not for me. Rather the mores of society, what religion does. And surreal, like a dream about orgasm and upon waking writing the dream down remembering what the real was like. They seem removed – and I could almost hear a Laurie Anderson performing them with the irony that is hallmark of her work. No Anais Nin here, but perhaps that is intentional. So in a strange way, I'd venture to offer that the poems embody what they speak of – the repression of desire, a heinous status quo agreement.
that's one heck of a reading . . . I'd have to agree, for the most part
“The Lovers is performance piece based on the poem by Dorianne Laux. It examines the ecstasy, complexity and contradiction of female sexual experience.” I found it hard to watch, and not reflective of my experience which is, by contrast, a melting. But the video is very interesting, never-the-less. And perhaps, where a more hard-edged expression of female sexual experience is the aesthetic, appropriate as a comment here. Female orgasm:
I've tried to read these poems in the light of your comment and I just can't get to your conclusion. I don't know what your “status quo” of sexuality would be, or how such a theoretical or Kinsey-esque notion would apply here.The joy and humor in these poems is unmistakable. Even if you want to say that they come from a place of repression (not the first thing that comes to this reader's mind, and certainly not heinous), they do move in the direction of a joyful attitude toward sex. That joy and that movement is clearly expressed.