Embarrassing Sex Scenes In Action-Adventure Novels

I’m 56 years old.  I’ve been very happily married for 31 years.  I know about the birds and the bees.  Yet still I squirm with embarrassment when I’m reading an action-adventure novel and come across a sex scene.

It’s all very trite and predictable.  If the fiction you’re reading features a lead female and male character, chances are they’ll exchange a few deeply meaningful glances in the early chapters and then by chapter 18 they’ll be doing the nasty on some desolate Turkish hillside.  And then you’ll quickly flip through the pages of heavy breathing and soul-baring disclosures, hoping to pick up the main thread of the plot again and find out what the Nazi general’s secret was — which was why you decided to read the book in the first place.

Why do so many action-adventure authors insist on including these awkward sex scenes in their books?  It’s not like the movies, where “adult situations” get included to ensure an “R” rating because no one will go to PG-13 rated films.  It’s not like the books are romance novels or bodice-rippers with a bare-chested, long-haired Fabio look-alike on the cover, either.  It’s an action-adventure novel, for crying out loud!

And let’s face it . . . just like most authors can’t write believable conversations, most authors can’t write sex scenes without lapsing into cliche territory.  This is particularly true for practitioners who specialize in the ripping yarns that I like to read.  They may be able to construct elaborate plots about the mysteries of the Masons, but their sex scenes seem so awkward and phony and forced you can’t help but groan in dismay.

So, I’ll be happy to never again read of him “pulling her close” or “two bodies melting together as one.”  I’m happy to take my action-adventure tales straight and unleavened by the sex scenes, thank you very much.

Sidewalk Stumble

I bet I’ve stumbled on an uneven sidewalk hundreds of times — more likely, thousands of times — in my lifetime.  So why do I feel a special humiliation whenever this commonplace blunder occurs?

The scenario is always the same.  I’m shuffling along, mind wandering as I check out the scenery, and the next thing I know my toes catch on an uneven section of sidewalk and I’m pitching forward, herky jerky, looking like a bad vaudeville entertainer attempting some crude form of physical comedy. Oh, and there’s almost always someone getting ready to pass by, usually an elegant, graceful person striding purposefully ahead, who can smirk and chuckle inwardly at my ineptitude.

Whenever this happens, my cheeks and ears inevitably burn with shame.  Why?  No one wants to look like a clumsy fool, of course, but I do clumsy things all the time — whether it’s stubbing my toe on the bed frame or toppling a soda can or taking a bite of a sandwich and getting mustard on my tie.  I also don’t think it’s the public aspect of it, either.  I’ve knocked over bottles and glasses in restaurants without feeling that deep sense of mortification that I experience when one of those all-too-common sidewalk stumbles occurs.

I think the real reason is that walking is so very basic.  It’s one of the first things we learn to do as infants, the building block for all of the higher motor skills like trotting, or skipping, or jumping.  I was a late walker, so the embarrassment factor may go back to the fact that it took me a ridiculously long time to get the knack of balancing on my feet and putting one in front of the other without falling.  Inwardly, I know that if you can’t walk down the sidewalk without almost going face first onto the pavement, you are showing that you lack the most fundamental form of coordination.  You might as well go back to crawling.