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Struck by Laurie Stone

I like fear. I like feeling where my skin ends when something strikes it,
scratches it, tries to get underneath it. I like tension. I like the

tension between what I want and what I need.


I fear I will touch too many people. My hand likes to go where it
doesn’t belong. I like the tension between being welcome and scaring
people. It’s such a thin line.


I like cruelty. Doesn’t everybody? A man who has toyed with me gives a
boring lecture, and I’m happy. I feel good. A woman who applauds my
setbacks becomes fat as a hippo, and it’s as if I’ve won the lottery.


I like shoplifting. Chocolate is good. It has to be something I can
palm. I like the tension of eating. I like being seized by a taste. I
like the way semen smells. I like being in a position to be corrected.


When people say they are going away, I say, “I will miss you,” but I
don’t miss them. I miss people I want to fuck. Maybe it’s only the
fucking I miss, or not even the fucking but the idea of fucking. I like
the tension of loving people one minute and forgetting them the next. I

like fucking people I don’t like. I like being wrong about the people I
want to fuck.


I like mother’s milk. I like forgetting whether I’m sucking cock or tit.
I like having my mouth and cunt and ass entered at the same time.


I like being unattached. I like being tied up. I like penetrating a
man’s mouth. I like making the wrong impression.


I met a woman at a party. I thought her head would explode like in a
Cronenberg movie. Every word made her worry about being misunderstood.
She acted like her meaning was too precious to expose. I said, “It’s
annoying to have so little control, but it can be funny. It’s funny if
you’re not shocked.”


My father would say, “You’re due for a licking.” He would take off his
belt and I would see a tongue on my skin. It would hurt. I like not
knowing when I’ll be struck.


When I’m with Oscar, I think I’m welcome when I’m scaring him. I feel
like I’m operating from inside a box. I like being loved for the wrong


I like a smell that is almost sickening. I like a feeling that is almost
painful. I like having the same dream. A man is on all fours, over me
like a dog finding a plaything in the woods, sniffing at it gently and
then licking, having friendly sex that makes me forget whether I’m in
love or not, happy or not, gnawed at by doubts, fearful of disease,

losing money, giving away too much, failing at work, failing in


My friend Iris is beautiful. She has clouds of hair. It’s red,
impossibly gleaming, cascading over her forehead, dancing around her
cheekbones, flying down her shoulders. Her body is lean and statuesque.
Her voice has a laugh. She holds her chin up. She likes being every man’s
desire, but it is not the most important thing. Being every man’s desire
shows her every man’s desire, and she does not like what she sees. I like
watching men fall in love with her. She acts as if she doesn’t care. It’s
like she sprays a circle of whipped cream around herself and they think
they can keep their footing in it. I imagine her cradled and sung to by
men who can talk to cats.


A dominatrix told me she liked living out her fantasies. She said that
all women did not. Some just preferred to play with themselves, as if
thinking about sex were not also a physical activity, as if the mind were
not part of the body. She was aroused by her work. She had nothing else
instructive to say. She thought she had devoted too much of her life to
sex. She had missed out on other experiences. When she named them, they
were dull, like going shopping for linens at Macy’s.


I like being taken from behind. I like the tension of being trusted. I
like prominent veins. I like knowing everyone can tell.


I like women with space between their teeth. Women with whom anything
can happen. Everything they wear looks soft, smells good. They present
their bodies as a gift. They can’t be shocked. They bet on the future.
They carry foreign money. They attract children. Their embrace is like a
silk cord. They make an impression without leaving marks.


I like scars. I like cells that don’t forget. I like fighting sleep. I
like the intelligence of gorillas. I like being bent over a chair. I like

healing on my own.


I was riding my bike up Sixth Avenue on a balmy night, late, so there
were no cars, and I was sailing in that way that makes me forget what I’m
made of. I was wearing a thin jacket I wanted to shed, but I didn’t want
to stop. The left sleeve slipped off, but the right cuff caught on my
wrist, and the next thing I knew I was sprawled on the pavement, my left
hand cut, my left knee showing blood, my left hip bruised. Most of the
damage was to my left hand. I groaned whenever I squeezed the brake. I
thought I should have x-rays, but I didn’t go. The hand didn’t forget the
injury. A place I press below the knuckle sings.


I am looking at a man I slightly know. He is obsessed with himself in
such a humorous way it seems he is talking about someone else. Stray need
makes him sexy. He acts as if his life depends on his attractiveness, and
he seems even to know that this need fuels his sexiness — a type that’s
touching in a girlish way. But he pretends he’s shy. He pretends his
hands are tied. He pretends he has to be seized or drunk. He doesn’t want
to be right about his allure. He doesn’t like the tension of that
responsibility. It’s disastrous to play his way.


I met a man I scared and excited, though many things had the same effect
on him. Fear made him bold. Excitement made him shrink. He flattered and
flirted. He didn’t imagine my loneliness, though he knew I was alone. I
didn’t imagine his anxiety, though he detailed it. I didn’t pursue him,
but I met him when he asked. His interest made me hopeful in a way I
couldn’t control. Each time he appeared, he reminded me he had nothing to
give. I imagined he thought his flame was so tepid it couldn’t hurt. He
sent a gift, signed the note with love, and then he disappeared. When he

resurfaced, my anger was equivalent to the self-reproach he’d tripped.


I like pornography intended for someone else. I like a mind that splits
itself open for me, like halves of a papaya. A man once said he wanted
to eat papaya from my cunt. He said he wanted to shave my pubic hair. He
wanted me to wear a corset. He wanted to have sex that sounded
uncomfortable but wasn’t. His desire was touching in a girlish way. He
liked the scars I had acquired through accidents. He liked giving me


I like the footwork of boxing. I like encouragement that’s like a
corset. I like the discovery of irony by children.


A woman once told me she could think off. Her capacities seemed those of
a mutant or a mythological beast. She could do it on the subway. She
could probably do it anywhere, but she chose the subway because of the
vibrations. She would cross her legs and squeeze her pelvic muscles and
somehow work up a cricket-like friction in her clit, or maybe friction
wasn’t necessary, the mind being sufficient. She would rock, or maybe
not. She wasn’t specific, or I don’t remember. I liked the swagger in her


I like women with passports that are heavily stamped. I like skin that’s
tattooed. I like the consequences of penetration. I like sex that’s
postponed. I like being on the receiving end. I like computers that talk.
I like being slapped across the face. I like mixed origins.


My friend Andy fears that things can’t change, but can only get worse at
a faster rate. He fell in love with heroin, like a princess being
awakened by a kiss. He was committed to oblivion. He bore the

consequences of penetration. He liked sex that would put him to sleep. He
thought of his dick as a needle. Women swarmed to his dead eyes. He liked
women with nothing to lose. His curiosity was sweet. He was afraid of his
ideas. He loved swallowing cunt. He didn’t kill his intelligence. He
treated his body cruelly. Women swarmed to his cruelty. He nursed his
cruelty the way he did his drugs. Women with the power to think off found
him a good fuck. He didn’t feign shyness. He didn’t need to be seized. He
liked killing himself. He liked life. He found contact excruciating. He
kept the smell of cunt on his hands.


I like feeling where my desire ends when something is beyond it. I like
reversing my position. I like when honesty hurts. I like the thin line
between masochism and courage. Oscar says that men and women are at war.
I like knowing I can’t trust him. I told him I believed in change,
though when I gave examples it sounded like I was trying to cheer myself
up. I like separating because it hurts. I like being slowed down. I fear
I will run out of patience and renewable cells. I like disliking Oscar.
It increases my fondness for him. I like not having what I want, because
it’s what I need.

Laurie Stone is author of the novel Starting With Serge, the memoir collection Close to the Bone and Laughing in the Dark, a collection of her writing on comic performance. A longtime writer for The Village Voice and The Nation, she has been critic-at-large on Fresh Air, has received grants from The New York Foundation for the Arts and MacDowell Colony, and in 1996 won the Nona Balakian Prize in Excellence in Criticism from the National Book Critics Circle.
  For more Laurie Stone, read:
Two on One: Survivor
Two on One: Dirty Pictures
Two on One: “Picturing the Modern Amazon”
Eat and Be Eaten

Laurie Stone