Do you remember good old vanilla lust? Before FSOG or A.N. Roquelaure’s Beauty Trilogy? Before music videos full of lewdly prancing, half-naked androgynous bodies? Before twerking and sexting? Before being gay became a fashion statement? Do you recall watching your next door neighbor hang her undies or wash his car and thinking you were going to die of desire? Do you remember when sex was rare, when it was private, when you dreamed about it non-stop?
Julius Addlesee’s collection The Sweetest Thing will take you back to those days. Although the characters and situations in this book vary, all these stories focus on mutual heterosexual lust, seasoned by serendipity, affection, and, in many cases, lingerie. Julius’ characters often start out lonely, but when a carnal opportunity presents itself, they seize it with both hands (and get other body parts involved as well). Although most are set in contemporary times, these tales feel old-fashioned because the characters experience desire in such an enthusiastic, uncomplicated way. No one takes sexual pleasure for granted, but no one questions it, either. There’s no guilt, no angst, no inner conflicts other than some occasional embarrassment at having one’s arousal unmasked.
There’s an innocence about these tales. The mostly male narrators display a sense of wonder when confronted with the glory of women. Characters linger over foreplay, delighting in the tastes, smells, and textures of their partners, who tend not to be model-thin or movie-star handsome but who are nevertheless almost unbearably desirable. Sex is special, a sweet mystery to decipher, a gift waiting to be opened.
In “There Comes a Time,” for instance, we meet twenty five year old Justin. “Life had conspired to make him a virgin, or rather, to keep him a virgin.” His buxom, fifty-ish neighbor Brenda knows just what to do about that problem.
Neighbors help one another out again in the exuberant “Mrs. MacLeod.” In this case the protagonist is a widower who admires the lady of the title as she walks by his house each day:
His late wife had accused him many times of being a tit man. He was a tit man. He loved all the other bits, too, but it was a woman’s boobs that always drew his first glance. That, or rather those, were what made Mrs. McLeod special. Hers were big. By most standards they were too big, but when you’re a real tit man, it’s hard to ascribe the words ‘too big’ to any woman’s breasts. Hers fascinated him.
He never missed his sightings of them. She was perhaps five-eight, and although wide of hip and heavy of bust, she bore herself with considerable grace. Her breasts varied their position on her chest, no doubt depending on her choice of bra. Their bounce factor varied too, for the same reason, of course.
One glorious day, he’d seen her obviously braless. Just the once. She’d no doubt realized, as did Reg, that her breasts were too heavy to be free like that. But their heavy movement and very, very obvious nipples had been a remarkable sight. The next day, he’d even set his alarm clock - just in case. But there’d been no repeat of that delightful performance, that morning or since.
Julius likes his ladies with plenty of flesh. Age doesn’t really matter. His heroines may be fresh and sassy or mature and nurturing. In “Happy Birthday, Mr. Hewitt,” a voluptuous twenty-something woman shows up in Graham Hewitt’s office, dressed in a garter belt, lacy black stockings and a tiny thong, and proceeds to give him a very special birthday gift – only to discover her services had actually been booked on behalf of Graham’s twin brother Gordon. In “Perfect in Every Detail,” orderly and somewhat repressed Milly receives a box of exquisitely detailed, penis-shaped chocolates, mistakenly delivered to her confectionery shop rather than to the adult toy store next door. When she returns them to their rightful owner, she is introduced – much to her eventual delight – to the real-world model for the candy cocks.
Some of the stories, like “The Airman and The Lady” or “Six Miles High,” focus on chance encounters or once-in-a-lifetime adventures. Others, like “Crumpet Buttered Lips,” “Waking Dream” and “Her Fuck Was Coming,” offer peeks into the lives of established couples. Even when the couple involved are strangers, the tales in this collection take a romantic view of sex. More often than not, there’s at least a hint that the wonderfully satisfying sexual encounters chronicled in the story will be repeated in the future.
One of the more unusual stories, and one of my personal favorites, is “Time Travel Made Easy.” This scifi fantasy takes place two centuries in the future. Fertility has dropped dramatically. The narrator works in the “Female Acquisition Department,” where androids deliver healthy young women fetched from the twentieth century. The females’ eggs are harvested before they’re returned to their own time. Due to a system glitch, copper-haired Arabella shows up in the acquisition pod – a woman from 1699 rather than 1999. Born in a benighted time when women were property and men were more or less brutes, Arabella has never experienced foreplay or the pleasures of a considerate lover. As you might guess, she turns out to be a fast learner.
Another favorite was “Pussy-holic,” about an author of erotica who is more of less stalked by one of his fans. Together, they act out what had previously been only fiction.
The author is very much present in these tales. His personal feelings about women – something just short of worship - blaze bright in every story. In addition, several of the stories feature historical or cultural notes, especially the tales that draw on the author’s own career in aviation.
Overall, The Sweetest Thing is an arousing and entertaining, if unfashionably straight, book. It left me with a sense of nostalgia – as well as an appropriately moist pussy.