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Tome On The Range

Short Fiction: 'Smart People Talk About Sex' By Lauren Oyler
Karl Smith , August 24th, 2014 11:45

New writing this week comes in the form of short fiction from writer, editor and newly-appointed chief of the Bookslut, Lauren Oyler

Image courtesy of Alice Connew

Smart People Talk About Sex II

“Oh my God, fuck you!”


“It is gross. I can’t believe you’re being an ass about this.”

“I’m not being an ass.”

“You are. You are smoothing over my subjectivity and ignoring the diversity of proclivities available in human nature, but even so, it’s not like I’m a furry or something.”

“But don’t you the think the ‘grossness’—as you say—is part of it? It’s good because it’s a distinct sensory experience that would ordinarily be considered, okay, ‘gross’ but isn’t because it’s primal—”

“Oh my God, don’t use the ‘It’s natural!’ argument. So is fucking murder—”

“Okay, fine, but that’s not really compar—”

“I think mud is gross. I think being sweaty is gross. I think the noises people make when they’re eating are gross. When I was a child I refused, for years, to put my bare feet on the grass. Again, these things are life as perceived by me, i.e., they are my interpretations, i.e., I recognize that some people feel neutral about them and that some people actively enjoy them. Regardless, you know them about me—”

“Hey, I don’t think that’s—”

“Oh, please! Those fucking smiles. You love me. It’s OK! You are not very self-aware, facially, and everyone loves the puppy story. Anyway—yeah, it’s fair to say you know these things about me. You know I think fluids are gross. We have exchanged many-a wine-drunk flirtation about these quirky fluid-related neuroticisms of mine. Thus, the question is: why should my attitude towards an activity that essentially requires me to act a receptacle for particularly viscous and potentially disease-carrying ones be any different?”

“Because sex is different.”


“It’s not analogous to anything.”

Anal-ogous, more like.”

“Shut up.”


“It just doesn’t make sense how you can, you know, do what we do—”

“Yeah, no, totally: it’s not like I’m not doing it. Clearly. The way that it is an indisputable, no-getting-around-it fact of life, and I understand that it will not be anything besides what it is and that although I accept its grossness as a sacrifice to be made in the pursuit of multiple, many-seconded orgasmic experiences possibly, if we stop to consider, for example, art historical representations, more transcendental than yours will ever be, I still think it is gross. I have come to terms with its grossness as an unfortunate facet of something that, like, ahem, most things, has pros and cons that nevertheless ultimately add up to place it in the benefits-outweigh-drawbacks, okay-I'll-keep-doing-it category. I still go outside after it rains. I still exercise. I still go to restaurants and am able to carry on rousing and enjoyable conversation without being so viscerally, distractedly disgusted by mouth-breathing slurpers of soup that I must leave, faint, or vomit.”

There was a satisfied pause.

“Which is also gross, I might add.”

“Do you think it could just be that you haven’t met the right person?”

“Don’t fish. You don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“I think I do.”

“Oh, do you? Because unless you've received anal sex (and I don't doubt that you may have, it seems plausible but unlikely, but whatever: if so, I assume it does not feel like your default, de facto, and let's say even sometimes fated way of experiencing the world sexually, so please bear that alluded-to sense of helplessness at having been born a heterosexual female in mind as you hear me out), you are probably unfamiliar with what it feels like to get fucked; put on a pair of underwear that are designed to show off your body and are therefore close-fitting and of a fabric not particularly breathable; get into your car; and sit, upright and alert and gravity-servile, for half an hour while the necessary results of that fucking—if it was any good for you at all, not to mention if it was any good in that particularly good way that sex is when it can roam free unconstrained of Latex and worries of unwanted pregnancy—while the necessary results of that fucking slowly, tauntingly ooze forth from your insides and collect in a pungent glob of lukewarm moisture itchy and irritating against some of the human body's most sensitive skin already shaved, stubbled, and chafed on behalf of the very thing that has thrust upon it such potent, prickling trauma. There is nothing more I can really say about it except that, yes, it is fucking gross.”


“What? What?”

“That’s—I feel bad.”

“You should feel bad! I feel bad much of the time! You can handle feeling bad right now!”

“I guess. I just—it seems sad if that’s how you see—”

“Why is it sad? It’s reasonable! Don’t pity me for being reasonable!”

“I don’t think most women think like that.”

“I think either most women would not articulate so eloquently these icky drawbacks or that you’re right. Whatever.”

There was an uneasy pause.

“You look disturbed.”

“I am disturbed.”

“So you get what I’m saying, then?”

“No. Abstractly.”


“You’re really sexy when you talk like that.”

Lauren Oyler is a writer and editor based in Berlin. She runs the Bookslut blog and covers books for Dazed Digital.