From: WRITING PERSONALS
From: Chapter One
I plan to structure the book so that its sexiness, like mine, runs
in cycles--the titillating parts to occur in clusters--say every thirty
pages or so. In other words, I plan to make it easy for the reader
who leafs through for the "good parts," and who becomes exasper-
ated with authors who sneakily situate erogenous zones in symbolic
table settings and landscapes. Such coyness is not fair, any more
than it would be fair for a woman to slip her clitoris under her
armpit, or for a man to tuck his penis away between his great and
second toes. It isn't honest, and I've concluded, after many years of
reflection, that honesty is the primary human virtue. (A sense of
humor is second.) Besides, you can tease a lover or a reader only so
much before discouragement sets in: where is the thin line between
enticement and the-hell-with-it? (Perhaps I will come across the
answer in the course of writing this book. Books, you know, always
educate their authors.)
Of course, I cannot guarantee that the passages that elevate
levels of testosterone or estrogen will occur precisely every thirty
pages, nor will I draw red circles around them as though they were
baboons' behinds. I won't make things that easy for readers. Besides,
my publisher would probably not allow it. It would depress sales.
Why would anyone buy the book if, while still in the bookstore,
one could quickly peruse the prurient parts from beginning to end?
I do want to explain that it was the publisher's idea (actually
the publisher's father's idea), not mine, to begin the book with the
ad at the top of this page. "Grab 'em by the batesem," he said. (He's
Jewish). "Sex is what sells!" Personally, I think that the sale of sex in
book or flesh is not very admirable. And I definitely do not want
my book to end up on a drugstore rack with a couple copulating on
From: Chapter Two,
Back-cover page and where to buy: WRITING PERSONALS
(Lit prof. Guru, Maven, and Friend)
I am quite dubious about our author's proficiency as an investigative reporter. She is possessed of a nature more inclined to gullibility than skepticism, prepared to take words at face value, mistaking rhetorical patina for the color of the substance. This credulity applies particularly to men. About women she can be quite insightful. But a man with a gift of blarney could bluff her for longer than the hour or two she will spend interviewing him.
When she showed me the advertisement she intended to place, I disregarded my usual reluctance to coach or scold her and pointed out its flaws: namely, listing requirements which a respondent could not verify during a conventional interview.
"How could you determine "joyful spirit"? I asked her. "You would have to administer the Minneapolis Multiphasic Personality Inventory or the Million Clinical Multiaxial Inventory.
"The requirements as to height, hursuitry, and physiognomy would be apparent, but for the concealed specifications you would have to meet in your apartment instead of a coffee shop or bar.
"Imagine, my dear, what you would have to do to determine whether the man met your stated qualifications. Let us do as Einstein did when he came up with the General Theory of Relativity--a mind exercise. Imagine this scenario:
"You open your door to the man's knock: 'Hi,' he says, 'I'm Al. I called you about your ad in The Star?' His voice goes up as though asking a question. He's nervous.
"You invite him in with your warmest smile. 'I would like to ask you to sit down and make yourself comfortable,' you say, 'but would you mind remaining standing for a few minutes while I look you over. Would you please remove your shirt? Good. Just as my ad requests, strong arms, well-developed chest but without pectoral muscles that look like iron breasts.
"'Now, uh, what did you say your name was--Al? Would you mind removing your trousers and dropping your drawers?'
"Even if he had no objection to such invasion of privacy, his credentials might not be, what shall I say, right our front. I mean you really can't tell if an applicant qualifies if he is quite understandably embarrassed. On the other hand, an erection might indicate too little embarrassment, a kind of brutishness, a dispassion.
"But, let's say that he weathers the interview with flying colors yet simply does not meet the most specific of the specs. Are you to say, 'I am sorry, Al, but you simply won't do.'
"'Just where,' he might query, 'Just where, just how do I fail?'
"Are you to say again, 'I'm sorry, truly sorry, Al, but it simply is not broad enough by so much as two centimeters'? No, my dear, you are not one to so ruthlessly prick a man's self-esteem.
"Or, let us say that he meets all the mental and physical requirements mentioned so far. How are you to resolve the question of discharge ability? Consider, my dear, that all the other virtues are for naught if that one is lacking. It is absolutely critical, the sine qua non, the ne plus ultra. It is important in exact arithmetic proportion to the excellence of the others. You might think, no, that doesn't seem reasonable. If the person models all the other fine attributes one can do with a little less satisfaction in this department.
"That, I dispute. Just think, my dear. If the person you are to couple with leaves you a little cold in the cerebrum, if his physique leaves a few of your chemical substances untouched; if something about his personality irritates you, then you commence the coupling with a compromise, and a further compromise is not, as your Jewish publisher would say, so gaferlich. But if your partner absolutely fascinates you with his mind, charms you with his spirit, and delivers every enticement to your senses, so that after an evening of dinner and dancing you are in a fine fettle of neurological circulatory and emotional readiness and you retire to someplace suitable, (or unsuitable), to do it, after which you remain in a fine fettle, then . . .
"Just think, my dear. You can administer the MMPI, you can request a nude inspection, you can engage in an hour's conversation, but you simply cannot check for the duration of charge by crudely copulating with every applicant.
"But suppose you are bold enough and foolish enough to do so and thus far have tried out five applicants. You find that the fifth is remarkably close to the image of perfection you have carried in your head for years. Yet a long line of applicants is queued up outside your door as if you were a casting director, and you wonder if an even more perfect perfection could be found among them. So you try one more and then one more. And with each trial that long-ago fifth remains the most perfect. You attempt to backtrack, but he is nowhere to be found, his spoor untraceable as the snows of yester-year, even on Google, in temps perdu. Of if found again, found in the embrace of another woman, whom he finds quite satisfactory, in fact he can scarcely recall the sexual summons he answered so long ago.
"Think! my dear Sylvia, before you place a Personals ad, about the ramifications, nuances, and consequences of each word."