Love & Sex

Jack’s Naughty Bits: Almudena Grandes

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Jack's Naughty Bits
There are the great literary themes you learned about in high school — man versus nature, man versus society, man versus self — and then there is the epic struggle of this week's excerpt: man versus hair. Hair is an anarchist, an outlaw, a weed. Like liberal ideas, the more you try to keep it in its place, the more it sneaks through, making a muck of things. My own body is under daily pilatory siege: first the beard, then the nose hair, recently a back hair or two (dear God) and now, a few years into my thirties, earlobe hair. How can this be?
     As a man, hair is a source of near-constant vexation: first the teen traumas around wanting pubic and chest hair to prove one's virility, then the slow realization that every new body hair signals one fewer head hair. Hair on men migrates, as the head-and-shoulder evidence of any Greek isle beach would attest, and it's hard not to think that the little buggers are moving to the wrong neighborhood.
     On women, of course, hair is a more tangled issue, both personally and politically. To shave or not to shave, and what — these questions trace out party lines, even in this decade. Porn and the mass media seem to suggest that men would have women shave everything south of the pate. I disagree. My ideal? Legs, shaved; pubis, trimmed; underarms, either way.
     Nor am I particularly wedded to variations one way or the other, except regarding the pussy. A shaved muff (and how, etymologically, can it still be a muff if it's shaved?) strikes me as an odd, even a sad thing. Somehow, I don't want a pussy to look vulnerable, and I certainly don't want it to look child-like. To me, the hair of genitals means sex, means, "Now. I'm ready." And could this not have been the biological function (for what other reason are we furry down there?), to signal to our primitive progenitors who, if dragged into the shadows of the cave, would propagate the tribe?
     My sociobiology might be a little shaky here, I realize, and my aesthetic preference might be in the minority. Apparently, a lot of men really do like the babyface-vagina thing, and a lot of women find it sexy too. I present as evidence a scene from Almudena Grandes' 1989 The Ages of Lulu, which won an award in Spain for best erotic novel. It's a pretty sexy book — if you like that kind of thing — especially during Lulu's early encounters with Pablo, the friend of her older brother who becomes her sexual mentor. In their first meeting, Pablo takes the fifteen-year-old Lulu back to his apartment and then preps her in a way he finds suited to her age. Like Buck Mulligan at the beginning of Ulysses, he comes "bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed." I suppose the antidote to innocence lost is innocence faked.



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From The Ages of Lulu by Almudena Grandes
Translated by Sonia Soto

He was standing there, with a tray full of things, watching me move my lips, maybe he'd even heard me, but he didn't say anything. He walked across the room and sat down facing me, his legs crossed like an Indian. I thought he was going to eat my pussy — after all, he owed it to me — but he didn't.
     He took off my knickers, pulled me abruptly towards him, making me lean my bottom on the edge of the armchair and opened me up even wider, placing my legs over the arms of the chair . . .
     He took a sponge from the tray, plunged it into a bowl of warm water and started to rub it against a bar of soap, until it was frothy . . .
     I couldn't believe what he was doing. He'd put out his hand and was soaping me with the sponge. He was washing me as if I were a little girl. That threw me completely.
     "What are you doing?"
     "None of your business."
     "It's my cunt, what you do to it is my business." My words sounded ridiculous, and he didn't answer . . .
     He took a razor blade out of his shirt pocket. "What are you going to do with that?"
     He gave me his best "don't worry" sort of look, although he kept a firm hold of my thighs, in case I tried anything.
     "It's for you," he answered. "I'm going to shave your cunt."
     "No way!" I flung myself forward with all my might and tried to get up, but I couldn't. He was much stronger than me.
     "Yes." He seemed as calm as ever. "I'm going to shave it and you're going to let me. All you've got to do is keep still. It won't hurt. I've done it loads of times . . . "
     "Why are you doing this?"
     "Because you're very dark; you're too hairy for a fifteen-year-old. You don't have a little girl's cunt. And I like little girls' cunts, especially when I'm about to debauch them. Don't worry, just let me get on with it . . .
     "There you are, Lulu, almost done. That wasn't so bad, was it?"
     "No, but it really itches."
     "I know. It'll itch even more tomorrow, but you look much prettier." He'd leaned back for a moment, to look at his handiwork, I suppose, before disappearing once more between my legs. "Beauty is a monster, a bloodthirsty deity which demands constant sacrifices, as my mother says."
     "Your mother's an idiot," I blurted out.
     "No doubt she is . . ."
     He kissed me twice, on the inside of my left thigh. Then he put his hand out and took an amber-colored glass jar from the tray, opened it and dipped in his fingers, the index and middle fingers of his right hand.
     It was cream. A thick, white, fragrant cream.
     His fingers slid over my newly shaved labia, leaving the cream on my skin. I shivered again; it was ice cold . . . "Aren't you going to rub it in?"
     "No, you do it."
     I stretched out my hand, wondering what it would feel like . . . I found it hard to stop. The temptation was too strong, and I let my fingers slide inside, once, twice, over the swollen sticky flesh. Pablo moved closer, inserted his finger very gently, then removed it and put it in my mouth. As I was sucking it, I heard him murmur, "Good girl."
     He was kneeling on the floor in front of me. He took me by the waist, pulled me towards him abruptly and made me fall off the armchair.
     The shock was brief. He handled me with great ease, in spite of the fact that I was — am — very big.
     He made me turn around and kneel, my cheek resting on the seat, my hands barely touching the carpet. I couldn't see him, but I could hear him.
     "Stroke yourself till you're about to come, then tell me."