Dispatches from Suburbia

If I played an instrument, I would have a band called "The Simon Thomsen Sex Tape"; and other musings, rants, and disconnected ramblings.

Friday, November 10, 2006


"There are many things that we would throw away if we were not afraid that others might pick them up."
--Oscar Wilde
The following is an excerpt from a short story I am currently working on. I recently realized that much of the fiction I write is about characters discovering themselves as sexual creatures. I think that means I've got to get my head out of the gutter. Anyway, the piece is called "Chemistry." Enjoy:

Excerpt from "Chemistry"
In college, Stewart thought he would one day be a famous chemist, perhaps win a Nobel Prize. But he had always been the shy type, too bashful to go out and make his mark on the world, too scared to even apply to grad school and maybe one day apply for a research grant.

Instead, Stewart graduated and, rather than leave his hometown for bigger, better things, he took the path of least resistance. He applied at a job that would involve his degree in chemistry and at the same time (hopefully) put less pressure on him than a Nobel Prize would. He knew that there was no way he could gracefully handle himself in the public eye. Besides, Stewart had always respected his high school teachers, especially the late Mr. Higgins, his own high school Chem I teacher, the very teacher Stewart was now replacing.

Still, Stewart often sat in his small apartment and stared his poster of the milky way floating over the words "Dare to Discover!" and hated himself for his cowardice, his lack of assertiveness, his bashful nature.

He had always approached the opposite sex in the same passive manner that he approached his job, yet this didn't stop him from yearning for some kind of actual romance. Sometimes he found himself deep in conversation with his hamsters, Einstein and Kepler, and he'd stop mid sentence with the realization that he was completely, painfully alone.

His first serious (or, at least slightly serious) relationship took place during his unenviable high school years. When he was a junior he'd begun dating Cynthia Walters, a redheaded trumpet player in American High's band. After a year of dating, he lost his virginity. As they sat on Cynthia's parents' large bed, Stewart had been petrified that he would frighten Cynthia with a wrong move, or perhaps her parents would return home or, even worse, he'd come too soon. Cynthia, on the other hand, seemed frustrated but at least patient with the bumbling Stewart, and when they finally made it beneath the covers and removed their clothes, Stewart had trouble finding her vagina and Cynthia, also a virgin, seemed afraid to even guide him with her hands. Stewart hovered over her in terror and realized that this was not what he’d been expecting throughout his boyhood fantasies—expectations that involved excitedly tearing clothes from one another, a beautiful seductress (perhaps multiple seductresses), and the time of his life. Instead, he found these countless obstacles—his fear, awkwardness, and shame—along with this frightened redheaded trumpet player who, like him, had to have been horrified by the entire experience. Once it was finally over their strained conversations became even more unbearable. Stewart had been humiliated, as had Cynthia, and they broke up shortly thereafter.

Stewart had very few sexual experiences beyond this. His relationships in college were almost nonexistent, for he could not bring himself to simply say Hi to a girl, though he’d always wanted to. In his classes he'd find an attractive one, and rather than spark a conversation, he'd sit and stare, making up in his head the girl's life story. This one is tired of getting her heart broken, he might decide. She’s waiting for a guy like me to take her away, to show her a good time, to make her realize that there are men in the world that can make her happy and, by God, I am one of them. He imagined scenarios in which he made girls laugh, scenarios in which he effortlessly seduced them and made them squeal with passion and delight.

In the real world, he never attempted seduction or even tried to get a phone number, for fear of betraying the bumbling fool that he knew he was.

By the time he graduated, Stewart had stopped even imagining. He'd been broken and accepted his loneliness. Relationships weren’t for him. He was not cut out for love.


At 7:55 AM, Blogger Michelle's Spell said...

Love this one! Great picture and quote.

At 10:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oscar Wilde is my dead hero! Cher is my other one. Anyone who is 400 years old and still look 35 rocks.

Great story. You just added to my daily work avoidance!

At 1:38 PM, Blogger Bird on a Wire said...

Glad to help out, Dallas.

At 3:55 PM, Blogger JR's Thumbprints said...

Nice description of Stewart. I'd like to see him in action fumbling with his date and talking his way to first base with a weak bunt to the pitcher's mound.

At 4:05 PM, Blogger Bird on a Wire said...

Thanks, J.R. Good suggestion. I'll continue toying with this one.

At 8:21 PM, Blogger Laura said...

Good story. I like your description of the
awkwardness felt between Stewart and Cynthia while they experienced sex for the first time.

At 1:55 AM, Anonymous Mike The Chemist said...

I really enjoyed this excerpt. Esp. the glimpse into Stewart's fantasies of his female classmates. I want to see the entire story after this semester is over.
It is bizzar seeing American High material in fiction form.
What was the experience like - transporting these T.V. characters into the realm of fiction?
You have inspired me.


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