Just Pure Pleasure and Joy: Venus as a Boy. {fiction}


A neon sign radiated hot red with the word MALO. Inside, the scent of fresh corn tortillas wafted through the air.

A tatted-up waitress set down two spicy cucumber margaritas at their table. Jack lifted his glass up. “Cheers.”

Isabel halfway lifted hers up and smiled.

“Your neighborhood is really cool,” he said.

“I’ve lived in so many hoods around LA. Silverlake is the first place that’s ever truly felt like home. I mean, there’s a real sense of community here.”

“Seriously. There’s so much to do, such a diversity of people and they’re all young. Nothing like this over in my neighborhood.”

The music inside the restaurant, a mix of The Smiths and old punk, got louder. A woman selling roses, approached Jack. “Una flor para la señorita?” she asked.

“No, gracias, señora,” Isabel jumped in.

Jack smiled at the woman, putting her at ease. “Si, por favor,” he said, ignoring Isabel. With one swift move, he reached into his wallet and handed her a bill. “Quédese con el cambio,” he said looking into the woman’s kind eyes.

“Muchas gracias, senor,” the woman’s smile lingered on him as she walked away.

“You speak some Spanish,” Isabel smiled.

“Un poquito. Viajamos mucho a Mexico cuando era joven,” he said.

She loved it when white boys made an effort to speak Spanish, no matter how badly. For her, it was the effort that counted.

“Well, the rose is a tad cheesy, but thank you,” she said.

He paused and smiled. “That woman works hard for a living. And I wanted to help her. To be one of the strangers tonight that said Yes.”

This surprised her. “That’s really kind, actually. I didn’t think of her at all. Wow. I’m an asshole,” she joked.

“Not at all,” he smiled and paused. “You know, maybe I’m overstepping here, but you’re even more smokin’ hot in person than in your photos.”

“Thanks.” It was only now that she realized how much she’d missed hearing it. It felt so damn good to feel wanted. That feeling that, even in the most crowded of good-looking rooms, a man only has eyes for you.

“Do you believe in fate?” Jack asked.

“Sure,” she replied, a cavalier smile dangling like a cigarette. But not here. Not now, she thought as she sipped on her margarita. A strange question to ask on a first date, out of nowhere. She decided it was best to drop the subject.

“Everything okay?”

“Yeah. Excuse me, I’ll be right back,” she said and made her way to the restroom.

She felt cool and removed, like a single dim star across a black sky. She was recently divorced and disliked talk of fate or any narrative around feeling blessed in love. What a crock of shit. She hadn’t really made much of an effort to date since the divorce. Already this date was feeling like too much. Maybe she wasn’t ready, after all. Maybe it was still too soon.

In the restroom, she splashed cold water on her face, checked her teeth and reapplied lipstick.

“Get a grip,” she said to herself in the mirror.

The truth was, she had been really sad lately — her old identity had been blown to bits. And right now, as she was building this new version of herself, she had forgotten what it was like to just be in the moment and have fun. She just needed to get past this first date, to prove to herself she could do it after an entire decade of being with only one partner.

She had found Jack on Bumble, among what she called the reject pile — this was the selection of men who had swiped right on her but she had swiped left on. She liked his face and did not remember having passed on him before. At first glance, she chose him because he reminded her of a past someone.

That’s got to be a common instinct when picking a stranger out of a pile, right? — she thought as she looked through his photos. But why in God’s name, she wondered, had Jack selected a profile photo he’d taken in a hotel bathroom? Why did so many men do that? Given her aesthetic sensibilities, she considered this as a first strike against him.

But he had a sexy scowl that made her think of a young Clint Eastwood. That scowl was a home run.

Jack had written about his job: he was an air traffic controller at a smaller airport outside of Los Angeles. Outside of writing about his job, he didn’t mention anything personal: likes, dislikes, favorite quotes. “Hmm, could this be a red flag?” she wondered. The last thing she wanted was to date another workaholic. It’d be too much like dating herself.

When she sat back down at the table, Jack spoke right away, “You were the first girl on Bumble that I communicated with, you know?” She wondered if this was true or what he thought she wanted to hear.

“Well, I’ve been on a couple of other dates,” she admitted.

“Any of them successful?” he asked.

“No. One guy literally smelled like a funky cigarette ashtray after a long night at a bar.”


“It really was. I take it you don’t smoke?”

“Hell no,” he said.


“Are you recently out of a relationship?” he asked.

“Divorced a year. It was an amicable split, but still hard, you know? You?”

“Never been married, actually. My last relationship was, oh… about 10 years ago?”

“Oh my god, what?!” she couldn’t help but sound shocked.

“Yup,” he said with an air of freedom.

“Now I definitely think there must be something wrong with you,” she teased.

“I’ve been just really focused on my job. Also, the truth is, the right person hasn’t come along. I’m not going to get into a relationship just to be in one,” he offered.

“No, I hear you. I think it’s cool to be picky.”

“Well, I’m glad you sent me a message.”

“I almost didn’t.”

“Why is that?” he asked.

“Because you only wrote about your job.”

“I had just barely put up my profile. I couldn’t think of what else to write about.”

“That’s fair. At least you weren’t one of those guys who didn’t write anything at all. Dudes with only photos and no words on their profile are all auto-skips for me.”

“What about the guys who communicate only in emojis?” he asked.

“Same category. If you’re too lazy to write anything, then I’m pretty sure you’re lazy. Or hiding something.”

“Or,” he interjected, “Only interested in sex. Guys like that don’t want to be known, right?”

“Probably true. Whatever the reason, If you can’t come up with a short paragraph about yourself, then consider me too lazy to care,” she said.

“When you messaged me, I perked up very fast. I was stoked.”

“And minutes later, there was a paragraph in my inbox. You get an A for enthusiasm. Let’s see if I remember the highlights: Hi, I’m Jack. Wow, your pics are really great. I love animals. Nature. I love music and going to live shows. And sushi. My favorite quote is “Chance favors the prepared mind.””

“Good memory.”

“I actually liked your quote choice very much. Wasn’t it Louis Pasteur who said that?”

“Actually, I stole it from Steven Segal in Under Siege 2.”

She laughed.

They sat at a small table for two — him on one side seated on a chair, and her on the opposite side on a booth seat. When he got up, she assumed he was going to the restroom. Instead, he came and sat right next to her on the booth, all smiles and confidence. He scooted his small plate over and just took another bite of his taco.

“Why did you do that?” she asked.

“I couldn’t really hear you over the music. This is much better.”

She did not protest, she was in too much shock. Given her Fort Knox wall of defenses, she imagined herself getting up to use the restroom again, only this time, sneaking out a back door. Or a bathroom window. But there was something about him that was so disarming and good-natured. So damn likeable.

So she stayed. And he took charge of the date in every shape and form and that was refreshing. He paid and she let him. When they walked out of the restaurant, she left the rose on the table. She noticed him taking note of it and not mentioning it.

They went to see Black Panther at the Vista, an old-timey movie theater she loved. Inside the theater, their arms shared the arm-rest. She couldn’t help but notice his big arms because they were attached to broad shoulders. They were also tan with a pleasant amount of body hair. She wondered if he had any chest hair. She liked the feeling of a man’s body hair on her skin.

The coarseness against her smooth skin excited her.

She thought of an old Woody Allen film, where he labeled a love interest as “polymorphously perverse,” which meant that this woman could get pleasure from even so much as a touch on the knee cap. She remembered how that had resonated with her. “That’s me!” she had thought. These days, identifying with a Woody Allen quote — especially that one — already made her feel perverse.

She touched his arm. They glanced at each other. His hand moved to touch her arm. His hands were big and firm, both soft and rough. Everything about this man oozed masculinity — that to her was sexy as hell. After the movie, they stopped at a bar called the Good Luck Bar for a nightcap. They kissed as if they were alone, not in the middle of a crowded lounge.

She caught a glimpse of all the people in the room and suddenly pulled away.

“We need to stop,” she said.

“Are you okay?” he asked, his voice calm and reassuring.

“Yeah. I’m just not comfortable with this much PDA,” she said self-consciously.

“Okay, no problem.” Any defense on her part just rolled off of him. He could not be bothered or made uncomfortable. His coolness was unfuckable with.

“Can I get you another drink?” he asked.

“I’m okay,” she smiled and meant it. “I won’t sleep well if I have more to drink.”

“Not that I want the date to be over, but would you like me to drop you off at home now?” he asked.

She didn’t want to be alone tonight. She had done her fair share of that for a year and longer, come to think of it. Even in the last year of her marriage she had felt alone. That’s the worst kind of loneliness, when someone is sitting right next to you. Anyway, it sucked. It wasn’t sexy to admit that she was lonely. But she was. And she suspected Jack might be too.

So she decided to say what she hadn’t said to any man for over 10 years.

“Look, I’m having a lot of fun tonight,” she began.

“Me too,” he added.

“Cool. And I kind of don’t want the date to end. So, I’d like to invite you to spend the night. But only if we can agree now that nothing more is going to happen,” she looked at him.

“Okay,” he offered.

“Just to be totally clear and blunt, we’re not going to have sex. I mean that.”

He smiled. “I know you do. Believe me, I don’t want anything to happen that you don’t want to happen.”

“Great. Because if you try anything, I’ll kick your ass out,” she threatened playfully.

He held up his hands as if calling a truce and smiled.

Back in her apartment, they talked and listened to music and started making out. She had fully meant what she said back at the bar. But the truth is, when she felt his package ready to explode out of his jeans, her self control became non-existent. The way he kissed and caressed her, she thought of that Bjork song, “Venus as a Boy.”

He’s exploring the taste of her

Arousal, so accurate

He sets off the beauty in her

He’s Venus, Venus as a boy

She went to her dresser, grabbed an unopened box of condoms, and tossed the box over to him.

“Put one of those on.”

“Are you sure?”

“Oh yeah.”

In bed, he played her like a master musician plays his instrument. Listening to her every sound and responding to her every tremble and squirm, with both focus and abandon. The sucking, rubbing, mouthing and kissing, all in perfect rhythm rising to a crescendo that was so pitch-perfect, it brought her to orgasm. Right after the deed was done, she let out a belly laugh that was just as satisfying.

Her entire body was ringing with joy, a quartz singing bowl resonating at its perfect frequency.

He lay sideways, his head propped up by his arm. He watched her and smiled. “Was that good?”

“I mean, yeah! Isn’t it obvious?” she smiled at him.

“Okay, good, I’m glad.”

“Is it weird that I can’t stop laughing? I’m sorry, I guess I really needed to laugh.”

“And to orgasm,” he added.

“Oh my god, yes!” she turned sideways to face him. “You know, it’s really nice to meet someone who cares about my orgasm as much as his own.”

Suddenly, he roared like a caveman and proceeded to tickle and ravage her. And she screamed and squealed with delight, a child on the playground being chased by a good-natured boy. She tried searching for any memory of a man being this playful with her in bed. Surely someone had, right? Treated the bedroom like a playground?

Sifting through memories of exes, she could not retrieve one single memory of a moment. This playfulness was pure therapy.

When they stopped, she lay back on the bed, dizzy with enjoyment. “Where the fuck did you come from?” she asked.

He sat up. His wavy sandy blonde hair, thick and disheveled, fell over his face.

“Bumble, remember? Ha, I could ask you the same thing,” he replied.

Their eyes locked and she couldn’t resist running her hands through his hair.

“Iz,” he whispered, as if he had been saying her name forever, “you’re soooo beautiful.”

He could’ve been a Roman warrior, she thought. A Greek God. But he was simply too disarming, too graceful. No, his energy was pure Venus. That tenderness in his eyes, how she wanted to believe in it. But she knew it was too soon. Something inside her felt equal parts terror and hope that this could be a true connection. Of course, it was too early for even thinking about love.

But even the promise of such beauty carries with it the thorn of future pain, just like a rose.

After more talking and listening to music, they fell asleep. They awoke in the middle of the night and went at it for a second round. She had, back in her wilder days, experienced a few one-night stands — they could feel dirty and awkward. Or just empty. But this one existed in its own realm of non-definition. Just pure untainted pleasure and joy.

In the morning, before leaving, he leaned over and said, “I had a great time.”

“Me too.”

“I’d like to do it again soon.”

“Really? I kind of thought this might be a one-night stand,” she said.

“Is that what you want it to be?” he asked.

“I don’t know,” she said, resisting the urge to feel hope.

“Maybe you can open yourself up, to this being something entirely different.”

“Maybe,” she said with a pit in her stomach, like she was free-falling.

“So, can I call you again soon?” he smiled, bold and unafraid, as if he had never been hurt before.

She smiled and pictured resuscitating her heart, like trying to get a drowning victim to breathe again. And to her total surprise, the words came out like a sudden intense breath — the first gasp as one comes back to life. Words that could change things forever. “Yes. I’d like that.”

Björk – Venus As A Boy HD/HQ from Farías, J. Eduardo on Vimeo.


Lili Ramirez left a lucrative career as a broadcast producer when she realized something was amiss. While she appeared successful, she was facing spiritual bankruptcy. She had written short stories throughout high school and college but, in the years of the grind, she had lost this most precious part of herself. The lie she told herself was that, eventually, she’d get back to writing. But there was so much noise in her head, she could no longer hear the inner voice. So she quit the ad industry and dedicated herself to finishing her first novel. Through the process of writing fiction and journaling, she rediscovered who she was at heart. Currently, Lili is working on finishing a final draft of her debut novel, writing short stories, and reminding herself daily never to sacrifice her authenticity again. She now lives a soul-filling life of adventure and expansion in Los Angeles.


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