When I found out about this week's topic, I blushed. I'm not the best at writing sex scenes; in fact I try to avoid it at all costs. I did write several in an unpublished novel where the mother in the story lost her virginity in her basement, resulting in her getting pregnant. Her daughter (the result of basement sex) lost her virginity on the football field with her boyfriend. The big difference? Her daughter had the Pill, plus condoms. Rick Perry and Santorum would not approve. For the most part when sex is involved with my characters, I do the Scarlett O'Hara route: I have them wake up happy clams in the morning and let the readers make it up in their heads what happened.
When I was twelve I read Princess Daisy. Oh my. No one could write sex scenes like Judith Krantz. Be it Daisy's prince dad having sex with Daisy's (based on Princess Grace) mom, Daisy having sex with the handsome gentleman who won her heart, and countless other sex scenes. I read it shocked. Then I showed it to Meranda, then several other girls in my English class. Let's just say this: Book reports that month were a bit more exciting than usual.
However if I had to name my favorite sex scene, it would be in The World According to Garp by John Irving. It's not romantic, it's not Jenny and Oliver, Scarlett and Rhett. But God, it's funny.
Jenny Fields is working as a nurse in Boston in the 1940's. She treats soldiers coming back from the war, and tries to be kind yet practical with them. Some of them were Goners, dying from their wounds. One of those Goners is T.S. Garp. T.S. stands for technical Sargent, and he's definitely a Goner. He can only say his name, and it's a matter of time that he dies.
Jenny wants to be a mother, but not get married. She wanted to live her own life, which makes her a joke in the hospital. They call her "Virgin Mary Jenny" and she feels frustrated. However one day she notices that T.S. Garp is known to, oh how do I say this? He's known to have those types of dreams that you don't want anyone else to know about, and for sure you do your own laundry the next day. An idea comes to Jenny. She knows she has to act quickly for he is going to go any day.
The actual scene is short, to the point. It happens quickly. When he's done, Jenny asks him if he was okay. He says one word: "Good." Mission accomplished! Jenny finds out she's pregnant while T.S. Garp becomes a Goner for sure.
What I love about the scene is that it is unromantic, yet comical. Jenny is the type of woman who knows what she wants, and doesn't care what anyone else thinks. She goes her own way. This is still a radical idea in 2012. Imagine how it was in the 40's.
Jenny gives birth to a healthy baby boy which she names T.S. Garp, who goes by Garp. He goes on to write novels on his own, while his mother writes a memoir that becomes a hit. There are times he's jealous of her, yet she is always there when she needs him. The last time he sees her, he yells "I never needed a father!" Meaning, you were enough for me.
Maybe not Judith Krantz, but that moment with Technical Sargent Garp provided layers of material and character development. And that's good writing, good storytelling.
Causes Jennifer Gibbons Supports
Gilda's Club, Greenpeace, Rosie's Broadway Kids,Westwind Foster Family Agency, Amber Brown Fund, Linda Duncan Fund for Contra Costa Libraries