Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The Aphrodisiac

Being a Stephen King buff, I had to indulge myself in the recent broadcast of the made-for-TV movie “Desperation,” written and produced by the master of horror. It was one of those “oops, we’ve unleashed the long-buried evil spirits and we’re in trouble now” stories, decently enough done. The presence of the ever-attractive Steven Weber as lead character Steve Ames did not hurt.

One of the highlights of this movie was a superb scene between Steven and co-star Kelly Overton as one Cynthia Smith. Steve picks up hitchhiker Cynthia on the open road near Desperation, Nevada and the two hit it off before the creepy stuff kicks in; they are quirky but good people. There’s a little flirting between them in the guise of teasing, nothing overt. The fun is over quickly once they start investigating the disappearance of Steve’s boss and end up in Desperation, surrounded by all kinds of evil manifestations.

One of these is an ancient stone sculpture of a sinister creature, which Steve finds on a table and touches. Why he doesn’t back off from the thing immediately is not clear at first. Then Cynthia puts her hand upon it as well, and the problem becomes instantly apparent. This weird object is radiating sexual power, and both of them are in the grip of an overwhelming aphrodisiac.

Cynthia gives Steve a look that would buckle the knees of the most disinterested man. They are on each other at once, groping, kissing, frantic with lust. Thanks, evil ancient talisman! There’s not much sex in Stephen King and it was sure bonus to get a scene like this with Steven Weber!

Alas, the typical horror movie interruption ensues before any clothes are ripped off (this is network TV after all). But this was one of those scenes that can stay with you more than most pornographic scenes manage to do. Why? Well, me being me, I’m going to address that!

There’s something very powerful about the concept of the aphrodisiac, and I’m not talking about prescription drugs taken for impotence here. I mean the magical stuff that works its way over people who had no such intention, are completely taken by surprise, and find themselves helpless. This scene in “Desperation” was a perfect example. Steve and Cynthia are two attractive people obviously attracted to one another, but doing anything about that is the farthest thing from their minds, particularly once they are embroiled in the crisis of finding a town populated by dead bodies.

But in an eye blink, all that changes. Thanks to demonic forces, they find themselves so overwhelmed with lust that nothing matters but sex. Had they been with someone less desirable, that wouldn’t have mattered either. Their wills are at once turned to only one concern: physical gratification.

How liberating is this? In real life, there are always a dozen distractions from sexual desire. If you are just dating the guy, you may be full of doubts as to how safe it is to yield to lust. You struggle with insecurity, shame, pride, etc. Even if you are in an established relationship, you have so many other concerns: your energy level, the kids, your job, the bills, your weight or his, etc. Even during a perfectly satisfying lovemaking session you’ll find yourself thinking about what to make for dinner tomorrow.

How thrilling it is then to imagine being under the influence of an aphrodisiac, to be absolutely single-minded of purpose concerning sex. Steve didn’t have to think about whether Cynthia would accuse him of date rape. Cynthia didn’t have to wonder if this was going to be just a one night stand. Neither of them was distracted by the creepiness of the town or the danger they were in, not even by the fact that an evil force had just seized control of their minds and bodies. There was nothing to think or feel but lust. Just “I feel so good I want to feel better and you make me feel better so let’s touch and kiss and copulate and eat each other alive till we feel total ecstasy.”

Nor was there any problem with either one of them not being the perfect partner. (Not that Steven Weber wouldn’t be, of course.) When your bloodstream is surging with Love Potion No. 9, that warm body next to you is the answer to your prayers, period. You don’t care that you’d prefer someone taller, richer, or less interested in football. He looks as feels as good to you as any man on the planet could.

And even best of all is the fact that morally you are off the hook! No hard feelings or misgivings when you were in the thrall of an evil aphrodisiac, now are there? Such a deal: not only do you get to give in to raw, amoral lust...it comes completely guilt-free.

This whole scenario is so sexually ideal that it turns a person on just to watch it or think about it. Or write about it, for that matter. (My lucky husband tonight.) But as with most really great sexual scenarios, keeping it in the realm of fiction is best I guess. Because the one downside to the aphrodisiac is that it is not consequence-free. As fun as it might be while it’s happening, after the fact one might find oneself in some serious trouble.

But as a person who deals in fiction, I’m thinking just of the upside. And of how I’m going to work this concept into my next story...hmm, yeah, I think I know just the thing...

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