Look, guys, I’m talking about sex again! (This is a study I made of a whale. There are cute little silver fish, too; you can just see their fins and tails.)
That Time When I Worked In Theatre
So a long time ago, I started directing shows. Super small time, you haven’t heard of me, there’s very little evidence. But I was good. So good that old ladies and mid-level managers occasionally tried to throw free marketing at my face after they saw me work.
You Fool, Victor! Everyone Needs Free Marketing!
Yes, yes, I know, but I was working on something much more important than “big success right this very minute!”, and pushing growth without a foundation is really dumb, and a good way to destroy your long-term career.
I decided to think long-term very early in my life. But we aren’t talking about my childhood right now; we’re talking about sex. Ha ha! What a segue, am I right?
Shakespeare And The Sexy Bits
He had them everywhere, didn’t he? Shameless, but oh so effective. Here is Dick, the serial killer, worming his way into Lady Anne’s knickers:
ANNE. Thou was’t the cause, and most accurst effect.
RICHARD. Your beauty was the cause of that effect:
Your beauty, that did haunt me in my sleepe,
To vndertake the death of all the world,
So I might liue one houre in your sweet bosome.
ANNE. If I thought that, I tell thee Homicide,
These Nailes should rent that beauty from my Cheekes.
RICHARD. These eyes could not endure y beauties wrack,
You should not blemish it, if I stood by;
As all the world is cheared by the Sunne,
So I by that: It is my day, my life.
ANNE. Blacke night ore-shade thy day, & death thy life.
RICHARD. Curse not thy selfe faire Creature,
Thou art both.
Here we see Richard retreating while saying intimate things, right up until Anne rushes at him in anger. Then we see Richard step smoothly up into her face and get too close and too calm. This is a recipe for an insta-crush, which Anne immediately develops (and is understandably upset and confused by).
Predators, Honor, And Romance
People usually vilify Dick, seeing as he cuts short the lives of several people in this play, but Richard is an honorable man and uses his pure soul to attract Anne into loving him (she dies in misery because of him, but she is super-duper turned on anyhow).
How, might you ask, is Richard honorable? You know, seeing as he kills a whole bunch of innocents and then does his best to secure a little girl as a second wife.
The Devil In The Character
Shakespeare does something wonderful in his plays; he writes on occasion about honorable men who fall (or are led) into evil ways, and he marks their progress pretty studiously. For example, Claudius (Measure for Measure) is not a bad guy when he is imprisoned; he has gotten Juliet with child, but they entered into a common law marriage, which was an acceptable practice at the time. He turns into ugly places when he tries to pimp out his sister to save his life, but he is not quite a murderer.
Dickie, on the other hand, pushes and lies to get people to murder each other. He doesn’t, as far as I recall, shed blood by his own hand until the end of the play, which is when the darkness overtakes him and he becomes genuinely evil.
Darker And Darker
But, you may exclaim, you promised to talk about sex today, Victor! And now I will explain what growing towards evil and sexuality have to do with each other.
You see, romance–that genuine, fluttery, hot-flashing, touch-me-now feeling–springs from the exchange of internal energy between honorable beings.
What Do You Mean By Honor, Victor Poole?
When a man or a woman extorts intimacy from the body of another, romance dies, and the interaction becomes abusive and ugly. When, on the other hand, the exchange of internal self is autonomous and self-willed, romance abounds.
The more volitional the exchange of selves, the stronger the heat of sex. Now for some examples of what I mean (because intoxicating writing generally does well, commercially).
Valerie hung sheepishly behind the butcher’s; she heard someone coming, and held her breath. Old man Hans came around the corner. He laughed when he saw her, and winked; she ducked her head and studied her books.
“You’re following that young man again,” Hans said.
“Am not,” Valerie said.
“You’d better hurry and slide against him then,” the old man sneered, and he patted Valerie’s arm with his gnarled hand. She waited for the old man to go away, and then went and looked at the bridge.
Frank was standing on the crossing, one leg stretched forward and both arms on the stone balustrade. His dark hair fell in thick curls over his neck. A bouncy woman was just beside him, her hand laid on his arm.
“We’ll see about this,” Valerie growled. She put her shoulders back and stalked towards the pair.
Valerie waited around the corner; she heard approaching footsteps, and held her breath. Old man Hans came into view; she ducked her head and pretended to arrange her books.
“Morning,” Hans said.
“Mm,” Valerie agreed. Her heart throbbed painfully in her chest. She waited for the old man to hobble away, and then crept to the edge of the wall and peered around the bricks.
Frank lounged on the bridge, one knee knocked forward and both arms stretched along the stone balustrade. His skin was like sun-kissed gold, and his dark hair fell in thick curls over his neck. Bridget O’Malley stood in front of him, her whole body hooked forward, as if she thought she would magnetize the young man into falling on top of her.
“Hussy,” Valerie said under her breath. She put a wide smile on her face and swung around the corner, her bundle of books slung carelessly under her arm as she approached the bridge.
Fledgling arousal and romance is best built up by scrupulous attention to the freedom of interaction between the soon-to-be-smooching characters. Extortion kills romance, (and is great, if carefully used, for thrillers and scary bits), and autonomous sharing of the inner self is what builds the anticipation.
You’re reading Victor Poole. There is a good bit of kissing in the last few books of this series. Here is the picture I used for my whale study.