Scene: A young woman enters the plain room where the meeting is held, obviously nervous. She carries with her an oversized purse and adjusts her glasses on her nose as she cautiously makes her way toward the circle of folding chairs. She takes the only empty seat, lifting her hand in tentative greeting to the other members of the support group.
Hey. Hi. Um…my name is Edie. What else am I supposed to say? Oh, yeah. My name’s Edie, and I am a prude.
[She looks around.] Should I…just keep talking? Okay. Sure. I can do that. I’m really good at talking.
So, like I said, I’m a prude. Which sounds an awful lot like “prune,” and that just makes me think of wrinkly old ladies who wear a lot of purple.
I mean, I love purple—my shirt is purple, see?—but I’m not old. Or wrinkly. I’m only twenty-five. My generation has a lot of issues, but one thing we sure don’t have a problem with is sex. We love sex. Sex is awesome. We have it with all sorts of people in all these different ways, and there are toys for everyone and videos of us banging on the Internet and, like, nothing is taboo. Nothing. I feel so desensitized to it, though. All the sex. I can read about anything, talk about anything—ménages, exhibitionism, BDSM, whatever—and only think, “Meh.”
And still, I’m actively seeking out sex.
Wait, no. That’s not what I meant. Hold on— [She rummages in her bag, which covers her entire lap, until she pulls out a thin, black tablet device.] This. This is what I mean. I’m reading romances, and the best romances have sex in them, right?
But the thing is, for me it’s not about the bedroom acrobatics or the who-can-put-what-where-before-the-other-cries-when. Me and my generation, we’re immune to that sort of stuff, probably from watching too much porn. So the sex in these romances needs to be totally off the charts to grab my interest, because I’ve seen it (and maybe done it) all, right?
No. Just…no. Which is why I’m here. [She adjusts her glasses again.]
I’m here because the first romance I recognized as such was that between Laura Ingalls and Almanzo Wilder in These Happy Golden Years. The Little House books are staple literature, especially for a Midwestern girl like me. I was probably around six or seven when I first read THGY, and the stories spanning Laura and Almanzo’s courtship—starting peripherally in The Long Winter and culminating with The First Four Years—are the only books in the series I’ve reread. More than once. Because those books give me a case of the happy sighs.
I still think about Almanzo Wilder all the time. Well, not all the time, obviously. [She laughs, awkwardly.] But that love story is so sweet and real, and I could totally see him falling in love with her and her with him and it was awesome!
[She realizes she's gotten too excited, her voice climbing in pitch and volume. Clearing her throat, she sinks a little in her seat.]
Anyway, the point is, Almanzo Wilder, if he were a romance hero written by a modern author today, would be so incredibly wonky. No, really. He’s a farmer living and working with his brother—named Royal, of all things—and even though he’s all short and quiet and loner-like, he goes and saves the whole town from starvation by risking life and limb in a blizzard to get food and stuff from some weird guy who’s got food to sell but lives far away. And then he starts chauffeuring this chick back and forth and they talk about his farm and his vehicle, and there are calling cards involved, and stilted flirtation, and lots of awkward silences, and then BAM! the serious romancing starts.
[She is too excited again. Not that she cares.] I’m just gonna put this out there: I think they probably had good sex. Yeah. I said it. I think Laura and Manly—which is an awesomely wonky nickname, right?—had good sex. It wasn’t in those pages, but there’s subtext there, and that subtext is like, “He was manly all the time. Heh.”
…But you’re wondering what this has to do with me being a prude. (I told you I was good at talking.) It’s simple. Now, as an adult, I want to read about the fictionalized Almanzo Wilders and know that they find good love and good lovin’ with women who embrace the fact that these men are a little different.
The sex itself doesn’t need to be the different part. That good sex I think Almanzo and Laura had? I bet a lot of it was missionary. And I bet it rocked their worlds.
Maybe I’ve seen too much raunchiness on the web, and so I don’t look at threesomes and immediately think, “Ooh, sexytimes, they are a-happenin’!” And there are all those positions that look like I would need ten years of yoga flexibility training to master; it’s not hot for me to read about things I can’t possibly-maybe-someday-fingers-crossed do. …I’m looking at you, balancing-on-a-motorcycle sex.
I like normal, good ol’ fashioned, Almanzo Wilder sex. In my books, in my head, et cetera. Where the man can be a titch off but the romancing is always spot-on.
Anyway, yeah. [She shrugs, sliding her e-reader back into her purse.] I’m Edie. I know just about everything there is to know about sex, but I’m a prude. And that’s my wonky little secret.
So. [She looks around the room, eyebrow arched.] Who’s next?