Libido: Fiction: Not So Tender Is the Night
Friday Night Bedtime Story, October 20. Print me out... take me to bed!
Not So Tender Is the Night
from The Ecstatic Moment,
edited by Marianna Beck and Jack Hafferkamp
also available in the video
Ecstatic Moments

By Mario Dworkin

It had sounded so easy.

My agreement was that I would be naked and commit to answering whatever questions she asked.

The studio was dark but for the glow of sandalwood candles around her and a cannister flood light that shone down directly on me. I felt like I was sitting in a cage of bright light. I hadn’t expected that, and it made me uncomfortable. Suddenly, I was feeling far more exposed than I was prepared for and that alone made me nervous.

I fidgeted on the pillows she told me to sit on, waiting for my eyes to adjust for the light. She didn’t say anything for quite a while, and I felt pressure grow around me. How many women were sitting there? I wondered. The room was warm, and within moments I felt droplets running from my armpits down my sides. My feet grew clammy. My stomach felt too big. I could hear whispering and an occasional snort of repressed laughter.

I leaned back and crossed my legs and then hurriedly uncrossed them, certain that that posture must make my balls, hanging down below my leg, look absurd.

When she proposed this night and told me what it was I would have to do, I laughed spontaneously. It seemed so silly. I am a big man, used to feeling in charge, especially when I am naked. The women I know like that. But I had never expected to feel this vulnerable when I’d agreed to do this. Before I could ask her if she were joking, she said "Are you afraid then?" What could I say but, "Who are you kidding? Of course I’m not!"

Instead of telling her to sit on her feminist orthodoxy, I found myself intrigued by the idea -- or more accurately I was intrigued by her inner fire. It turned me on. I admit it. I wanted her, and I was willing to act as target practice for her minions.

She runs a theater group that focuses on feminist issues and is renowned in this city as a woman of some small but significant successes and large appetites. Her pronouncements on men are well known, as is her reputation for playing a female Pygmalion with younger women. Of course this has confused plenty of people. Some claim that she’s a card-carrying lesbian while others swear to her clear and unbridled lust for men. But in the lingua franca of sexist verbiage, she was a hot number and no matter which side your chromosomes were on you wanted to dial it.

Working on a rehabbing project for her, I came in expecting to dislike her, to be rubbed the wrong way by her attitude and her dykey little haircut. But I was surprised. I liked her instantly and she seemed to reciprocate. She made it clear that we were working as equals and, after a week of rapid progress, I asked her to meet me for a drink. She looked surprised, peering at me over the top of her heavy art-girl frames, her green eyes wide for a fraction of an instant as she scoped my face.

"Oh yes," she said softly though I caught a bit of a smirk. "That might prove to be an exploration well worth pursuing!"

She insisted on meeting at a quiet bar so we could talk. She looked great, I remember that very clearly, with those great green eyes sparkling. She has remarkable lips, which were very red and very full and despite my best intentions, I was already imagining them feeding on various parts of me. I tried to tell her how good she looked, but she regarded me suspiciously and kept the conversation on me. Where was I from? What did I read? Why wasn’t I married? What were my politics?

Each time I began to tense up during this inquisition, she coaxed me back with a joke, a great one-liner or her disarming smile. She invited me for a nightcap at her place. Her tone was effusive and breathy even, and I went fully expecting to explore various and sundry parts of her. I thought to myself, "She’s not so tough."

But instead of fucking me she insisted on stripping to our underwear and talking -- intensely, passionately -- on the difficulties of communicating man to woman. She largely blamed men, which I find really annoying, but she looked so good sitting six inches from me, legs crossed, breasts moving freely beneath silk, I didn’t argue too vehemently. Her scent made my nose tingle and run. I could clearly see the outline of her sex under skimpy panties and after a while, I took satisfaction in the fact that I could see the silken triangle swell and dampen. I let go enough to feel myself get hard.

When I finally objected to her line of reasoning, which had her back in time mucking around with the Venus of Willendorf and the female earth goddess, her tone took a sharp turn for the scornful. I found myself on the defensive.

"Men have no idea what women put up with. Women put up with all that male ego and childishness because most of us think we need you. So we serve you, thinking you have the key to our happiness -- love, security, family, children, all those fundamental values. We think we’ll earn those things by putting up with men, and then providing maid service on top. That’s why so many women are glad to act as trophies. Let’s face it, sex to most men is the equivalent of squirting jelly into a donut."

I countered that men also have to put up with a lot from women; that we, too, find ourselves pressured by male roles and the demands of the women we choose. But somewhere, somehow in the fog of the wine, the late hour, my desire and her cunning, I found myself arguing that I could handle any criticism a woman could hand out and I could handle any questioning situation she could propose.

"How about nude? An inquisition in the nude. Could you handle that, Mr. Testosterone? "

"You can make book on it," I said, bravado hiding the fact that I was already quite drunk.

"How about if I sell tickets on it? Women only." she said. And when I snorted, she shot back "You’re on, big boy."

"Sure thing," I said, feeling that I was being put on. "I have nothing to hide." We agreed that nobody could touch me, but that I had to answer all questions truthfully no matter how invasive.

And then we put aside what seemed to be our clashing ideals and made deep, grinding love until the sun came up. Then we collapsed into each other’s arms.

That next morning she did not let me forget what I had agreed. I tried to dismiss it, but she was adamant. I came up with a compromise. "If I do it, you’ll have to provide naked maid service for a whole weekend at my place. No underwear," I insisted. She smiled broadly.

A month later I found myself sitting before her and the others -- just how many I couldn’t tell exactly, but I don’t think it was more than twenty -- feeling very foolish and small. I was suffering from a performance anxiety I had not quite expected. I heard light laughter around me, and felt my cheeks and ears flush.

"So!" her voice thundered over an unnecessary microphone through speakers all around the room. "Here we are. Are you ready to begin?"

Looking at my feet, which seemed quite yellow in the light, I stammered a quiet "Yes."

"What!" she roared. "I can’t hear you! Speak up or we’ll never get anywhere here." She was so loud I felt her voice echo in my rib cage. Every bad interrogation scene I’d ever watched on late-night TV came to mind. Instinctively, my hands crossed over my groin. Rude laughter rose in my ears.

"Trying to hide something? Don’t bother, it’s almost too little to see from here," she said in the most sweetly derisive voice I’d ever heard.

I looked down, and she was almost right. My balls appeared to have retracted completely and my dick was so shriveled nothing showed but the head. Suddenly I felt so enraged I rose from the pillows, turned on my heels and headed for the exit. "Find somebody else to crucify, you castrating bitch," I murmured under my breath.

But there was something so nasty in the way she said "I knew you couldn’t take it, none of you ever can," that I wheeled around and stomped back to the little island of cushions in the middle of the room. I sat back down and folded my arms over my chest, glaring out into the darkness.

From then on she was unmerciful. She was expert in pinpointing all my vulnerabilities, cutting them out and laying them out in front of everyone. I was an insipid lover, my ego was as inflated as the Goodyear blimp, and my politics were as anachronistic as the clothes I wore. I belonged in a time-warp -- "back in the Summer of Love with your beads and patchouli oil," she added nastily. My concept of women, she cackled, hadn’t metamorphosed much beyond Lassie’s mother.

"What’s wrong with June Lockhart?" I wanted to say but thought better of it.

Furthermore, I had no class and couldn’t taste a good wine if it bit me. She then rooted around in my failed marriage and nailed me for all the things I know I’d done wrong. When she got through alluding to my "congenital insensitivities" with all the women I’d ever been intimate with -- "no wonder you are incapable of forming any meaningful relationships" -- she started in on my thinning hair and the spare tire I’d formed around my waist of late.

"You know you guys really have some nerve. Your physical ideal of women is usually a cross between a fifteen-year-old and Bambi."

"Bambi’s mother," I corrected her.

"Shut up!" she hissed. "You don’t think we notice your crow’s feet, not to mention your less than Grade-A ass? Women just aren’t as bent out of shape at the sight of imperfection as you assholes generally are." I could hear several of them murmur agreement on that one.

"Lucky for you," I managed to say in a small voice that emanated from somewhere in the Lower Caucuses.

"When your dicks don’t salute you the way they used to, you go out looking for fresh meat. It’s because you guys can’t handle the sight of your own sagging flesh. What makes you think we don’t notice the effects of gravity either? But then we know what teensy weensy little egos you have. If we dare let on that we’ve noticed you’re not quite the Apollo of our eye anymore, your response is to go find some chicklet who’ll barf up the lies you want to hear. And she’ll be so thankful for the experience of coddling your three-minute egg." From the tone of her voice, she could have talked small animals into vivisection.

"Yeah!" a couple of women shouted aggressively in unison.

"Don’t you think the term ‘chicklet’ is rather lacking political, uhm, correctness?" I mustered, hoping to cut the vitriol. During the last few minutes, my hand had been resting on my three-minute egg as if to protect it from cracking open. She picked up on that, of course.

"Do you play with yourself a lot?" she asked, clearly changing her tack. "Bet you do."

"What?" I was stunned by the question. "Of course not. " There was considerable tittering in the room.

"Afraid you’ll get hair on your palms or something? Judging from the tufts on your head, I’d consider it. At least you’d have hair somewhere." The glee that erupted made me think she’d scored a field goal in overtime,

"What do you do, pray for deliverance from blue balls?" someone shouted from the back of the room.

"Wait a minute, I didn’t say I never masturbate. I do…on rare occasions." I certainly did it when I felt especially horny, couldn’t get laid or had trouble sleeping. But I sure wasn’t feeling like making a public declaration.

"You’re a liar," she said sharply. She sounded just like the second grade teacher who had caught me playing with myself behind a bush at recess. I felt humiliated having been nailed for something I obviously couldn’t deny. And here I was again with my pants down, only several decades later. Unlike my second grade teacher, my interrogator’s voice took on a honey-dipped there-there tone.

"It’s okay, baby, we all do it, don’t we?"

"No shit, little beaver," someone shouted while the rest of them cracked up.

"The only difference," she continued, "is that you do it when you want a woman and don’t have one handy. We do it to get away from men -- to have a few minutes to ourselves or to finish what some dude has started and can’t finish."

"It’ll keep your coat shiny," heckled another one of my persecutors.

There was more tittering. "In fact, we wish you guys would do it more often. Don’t you think that if men beat off more often the world would be a much better place, even if we would find the stuff all over our shoes from having to jump over puddles of it? It would significantly reduce the world’s testosterone toxicity. Can I get a witness here?"

Several women voiced their assent. "I’m convinced so many men are violent because they’ve got testosterone-overload. They think they’re born with little steering wheels in their hands or worse -- boxing gloves or machine guns. Pump it out daily and this would be a mellower place." The womenn's laughter was egging her on. "Besides, if more of you did it to yourselves more often, it would make you better equipped to touch us."

The women were laughing and murmuring and moving so much that I could make out shapes on furniture arranged in a semi-circle around me. "It’s really not hard to bring most women to orgasm, you know. You just have to feel what you are doing when you touch us. Yet men seem to have a problem with simple touch. If it’s not too rough, it’s too predictable or too soft or too little. Maybe more men would know this if they would play with themselves more often."

She paused to let all that sink in, and I could hear voices whispering behind her.

"So now I’m asking you again," she said. "Do you play with yourself a lot?"

"What’s a lot?" That got me a little laugh, and I began to feel a little more relaxed until she asked, "What do you think about when you do it?"

"Lots of things." I was hoping to put her off, but I could not.

"Like what?" she insisted. "Do you have your basic variety pack of fantasies involving cheerleaders without panties, truck drivers with hairy forearms, nubile pole vaulters from Sweden? Do you get off reading stroke books, the Story of O or Little Red Riding Hood? Do you consult the notches on your bed board and remember how so- and-so’s nipples hardened at the sight of you, how one had a vulva that could blow smoke rings, or that memorable butt that hovered over your face until you could see all the way to China? I mean what turns you on?"

Her questioning made them all laugh and it took nuclear-level restraint on my part to keep from making a crack about one of those references. But then I remembered where I was sitting. I cleared my throat.

"I like to think back on women I have known who have taken great pleasure in having sex with me. Contrary to your apparent perception, I happen to greatly enjoy the fact of a woman being turned on and satisfied. I like to think of the way her face flushes, the smell of her excitement, the look on her face when she knows an orgasm is approaching. I can get off just thinking about how various people have looked when they were just about to go over the edge."

"So you like to look?" I wasn’t certain how to respond and she read my confusion.

"It’s all right to say yes. Women like to look, too. Did you know that? Tell them," she said of the women in the room.

As she spoke, she rose from her chair to walk behind me. I turned to follow her with my eyes, but she indicated I should face front and answer. I said yes, and she stepped close enough to put a hand on my shoulder.

"Yes, we like to watch, too. Do you mind if I touch you like this?" I thought it amazing she’d ask after what we’d been through.

"No," I said, although I had a gut-tightening feeling that I knew we were about to kick this event to another level.

"Good. I for one very much enjoy having a man lie next to me and stroke himself until he squirts. That makes me very hot. I especially love to see a strong, self-possessed man feel really vulnerable. Do you understand?"

"Yes," I wheezed. I held my breath.

"I think you should try to make us all see that." Her hand moved up my shoulder and was met by the other at the back of my neck, which she began to massage. She leaned close to my ear. "Show us," she said in a voice that sounded like an almost plaintive command. "Do it for us here and now." Her whisper in my ear sent shock wavelets down my spine all the way to the base of my balls. I could feel myself begin to stiffen.

"Good," she cooed. "I forgot to ask you if you use your left hand or right." She put her tongue in my ear.

"Right," I mumbled ridiculously.

"Go ahead," she said. "Show us." She dragged her nails across my chest and pinched my nipples so that every hair follicle on my body saluted. I reached down and felt my hardness, the contours of my circumcised head. A clear glistening droplet had already made its debut.

"I knew it!" she said louder. "You are a show-off, too! You like to feel on display, don’t you?" She passed her fingers under my nose, and I knew they had been plundering in her own luscious parts. I said nothing, but bent to my task. If they wanted a show, I decided, suddenly feeling defiant, I would give them a show to remember. My juice would arc towards them in perfect symmetry and rain droplets of warm come all over them.

I felt a surge of power roll through my body. I rose on my knees as tall as I could get. I wanted them to see it all. I turned so they could get different angles. I was conscious of my eyelids being half-closed, of my chest and leg muscles being taut. I liked how I felt in my hand -- long and hard and ready.

When she slid her hand down my back, over my butt and down to caress my balls and gently finger what the Chinese so elegantly refer to as a "starfish," I roared past the point of no return. After a deep intake of air, the seed of a tumultuous orgasm bounced at the pit of my balls and reverberated around the deepest corners of my guts. I heard myself roar and felt my hips rock back and forth to launch a spasm that was far beyond my control. It sent me sprawling backwards over pillows as if I were holding tight to a flailing fire hose that rose of its own accord to point at the ceiling. I heard gasps as I flew backwards and shot up toward the floodlight.

That was two days ago. I’m still trying to sort it all out. I remember her leading me through a pleasurable gauntlet of cheering women, hands caressing every part as I exited the room. I remember falling into a bed. I remember her kissing me and whispering in my ear that the male sex of the species had hope of evolving.

At this point, I don’t know about evolution. I am having vast, quick mood swings. I go from feeling like a satyr on a roll to the biggest twerp in town. But I also know I can’t wait for her to fulfill her end of the bargain.

Preferably on all fours with her butt up in the air and me holding the feather duster. It’s only fair.