Jack’s Naughty Bits: Rita Mae Brown

Pin it

Jack's Naughty Bits

A few months ago, during the Republican Party nomination race, I got a call from a journalist asking about John McCain. The decorated pilot had apparently just expressed alarm that there were computers in public libraries that kids could use to access pornography. The journalist had called me because, as the editor of Nerve, I would apparently try to defend freedom on the Internet from conservative politicians seeking to restrict it. Instead, I said that if John McCain didn’t know how to find pornography in a library without computers then I’d be happy to give him a tour. Or let any thirteen-year-old kid do so.


Even in junior high most of us knew how to find our way around the stacks, from the Art Nude books in the photography section to the genitalia chapters in anatomy manuals to novels like Rubyfruit Jungle or Deenie to anthropological spreads in National Geographic. What McCain didn’t realize is that porn isn’t just triple-X pictures, it’s whatever works for whomever is using it. The harder it is to lay your hands on, the more it counts. A little work, like Saint Augustine said about reading the Bible, makes it a lot more interesting.


Well, the three and the one have switched places in my age, but it’s clear that my reading habits haven’t changed that much. I’m still going to the library to get my jollies, but those jollies — hopefully — have gotten a little more sophisticated. Which inevitably means that the pleasures of such books as Rita Mae Brown’s 1973 Rubyfruit Jungle are more nostalgic than actual. But no matter, Brown made the bold step of including lesbian (and straight) sex in a breezy coming-of-age novel; in doing so, she helped a generation of women understand the normalcy and legitimacy of woman to woman desire and embrace their orientations. If now it seems a little dated, it’s only because none of us are thirteen anymore, and we know our way around the library a bit better.


From Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown

Holly lived on West End Avenue in a big apartment with lots of old molding on the ceilings and parquet floors. A monstrous silver Persian, Gertrude Stein, greeted us at the door and she was pissed that Holly stayed out so late. On our journey through the apartment we found a trail of feline discontent: a chewed slipper, a shredded corner of the rug, and when we passed the bathroom we saw that Gertrude Stein had pulled the entire roll of toilet paper off the roller.


“Is she always this vindictive?”


“Yes, but then I look forward to her little surprises. You know, of course, that we are heading toward the bedroom and that we’re going in there to make love?”


“I know.”


“Then why are you walking so slow? Come on, run.” Holly trotted into a bedroom boasting an enormous brass bed with a plush maroon bedspread. Halfway to the bed, she had her blouse off. “Hurry up.”


“I’m going slow so as to not arouse Gertrude’s suspicion in case she’s the jealous type.” Sure enough, Gertrude was paddling after me with hostility in her slanted eyes.


“You’re safe. Gerty will only try to slither between us.”


“Wonderful. I’ve never done it with a cat before.” Holly had all her clothes off and was rolling down the bedspread. She was more beautiful out of her clothes than in them. I tripped getting out of my pants.


“Molly, you really should dance. You’re all sinew and muscle and you look terrific. Come here.”


She pulled me on the bed and I was close to passing out from being next to six feet of smooth flesh. She was running her fingers through my hair, biting my neck, and I started floating on hot energy. She had a soft, thick afro which she slid all over my body. And she kept biting me. Her tongue ran along the back of my ear, into my ear, down my neck, along my shoulder bone and on down to my breasts, then back up to my mouth. I lost track of linear sequence after that, but I know she put the full weight of her body on top of mine and I thought I was going to scream she felt so fine. I ran my hands down her back and could barely reach her behind she was so long. Each time she moved I could feel the muscles under her skin fluidly changing shape. The woman was a demon. She started slow and got wilder and wilder until she was holding me so tight I couldn’t breathe and I didn’t care. I could feel her inside me, outside me, all over me; I didn’t know where her body began and mind left off. One of us was yelling but I don’t know who it was or what she was yelling. Hours later we untangled ourselves to notice that the sun was high over the Hudson, snow was falling in the river and Gertrude had devoured my right shoe, my only pair.

last week next week

Jack Murnighan‘s stories appeared in the Best American Erotica editions of 1999, 2000 and 2001. His weekly column for Nerve, Jack’s Naughty Bits, was collected and released as two books. He was the editor-in-chief of Nerve from 1999 to 2001, before retiring to write full time and take seriously the quest for love.

Introduction ©2000 Jack Murnighan and, Inc.