Of course I got bored as soon as the lady became a libertine. I don't want to turn myself on. It's not that she doesn't like sex; it's just that she prefers subtlety, indirection, holding off. Sex toys—always gifts from men who wanted to make me less inhibited—went to a top shelf and stayed there. When I was a young teenager, my mother used to tell me that the world was divided into breast men and leg men, and that I would attract the leg men. I never want to be obvious, so when I'm feeling sexy I try to hide it—to the point where my husband can't always tell that I'm turned on; he once asked if I'd consider holding up a sign. My own sexuality embarrasses me.
If you show up in four-inch heels and a see-through dress, I'll think you're hot. . When a shy girl and a shy guy get together, anything can happen. I don't remember being upset. I don't want to be more aggressive. A shy girl gets hot and heavy about her sex life. Did I want to dust it off and try it? But I'm in no hurry.
Only last week my husband reached for something on the top of a wardrobe and came back with an ancient vibrator. When the boy I was dating brought over his favorite hard-core porno books for me to learn from, I put them aside in favor of A Man with a Maid, in which the innocent virgin is outraged by her captor's lewd behavior. Sometimes the sun shines in Seattle. Pick up any sex manual something I'd never do in public—what would the bookstore clerk think? Sometimes I break through my shyness. I remember thinking, Well, that's it for shorts.
I thought the professor would faint, and who could blame him? I don't have to look to know what's there, and if you tell me it's as lovely as a lotus flower, I won't believe you. But I would never say that to your face, and I'm actually cringing here at my computer at the thought that somebody could walk in. Okay, so I'm a little shy. I wouldn't enter the penis in a beauty contest, either. I liked the Kama Sutra because it made sex seem ornate, exotic; words like penis and vagina were clinical, but lingam and yoni came so to speak with a little mystery. Today you're supposed to tell your partner exactly what will satisfy you.
And if I'm buttoned up in bed, that's not indifference: That's being so turned on that I don't know what to do—yet. In college I wore flowing, ankle-length skirts and beginning in my 30s, long pants. More often, though, I accept the way I am and work around it because, to tell you the truth, I really don't want to change. In grad school my Victorian literature professor read us a scene in which a woman rolled up her sleeve, revealing to her suitor a seductive white arm. Well, you see where I'm heading. Please don't get me wrong: I admire a woman who is sexually confident.
But I'll be more intrigued by the woman next to you who smolders quietly. I love it when movie stars strut and preen—not Gwyneth Paltrow bending like a willow, but Catherine Zeta-Jones leading with her chest. I'm the only person I know who can imagine adding a burqa to my wardrobe. The idea of lying on my back, spreading my legs like a frog, and inspecting myself through a hand mirror has always seemed ludicrous to me. I am not a prude. I don't mind being secretly sensuous, the woman who lets down her hair when she wants to and afterward pins it right back up again. .
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