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Issue No. 17 - Enigma

The Cheeky Shag: Reading is Sexy

The Cheeky Shag: Reading is Sexy

© Paul Mpagi Sepuya Micah, Chicago, March 27, 2014. Courtesy of the Artist

© Paul Mpagi Sepuya Micah, Chicago, March 27, 2014. Courtesy of the Artist

By Baylee McKeel

When they say reading is sexy, I didn’t think they meant it literally.

It was Saturday night when my friend asked me to go to a reading party with her and I thought, wow that sounds lame but why not. We arrived to a thin dark alleyway where she strolled up to a door that appeared as if it would fall off its hinges at the slightest touch. After a light knock, a burly bouncer pulled it open an inch, proving it sturdier than meets the eye. She flashed a little black card, gestured towards me saying “my plus one” and slid in through the slightly larger crack he permitted us to enter through.

“What the fuck Marcy?” was my only response. “Don’t worry, you’ll love it.”

When we emerged from the dark hallway it took a second for my eyes to adjust, and even then I couldn’t believe what they were telling me. Splayed across chair after chair, lounging on the floor, pinned up against walls, on tables, people were reading to one another in hushed tones, and fucking.  

Marcy turned to me “Call me Jezebel, make up your own pseudonym. Do whatever you want, you can always pick up a book and enjoy it yourself. Took me a couple visits to get intimate, don’t hesitate to yell if you need me.” Then she took off, sauntered up to a man holding Charles Dickens and asked “reader or listener?”

I paused, taking in my surroundings.  The couple closest to me was nearly naked; all but the girl’s loose tank top, swaying with their bodies. She was straddling him as he lay on the ground, obviously the “reader”, pronouncing the introductory lines to Dante’s Inerno, the Italian syllables rising and falling with her motions. Across the room there were two couples intertwined on a giant cushion splayed out on the floor. It was difficult to decipher what book they were encompassed in, their moans and sighs, the tangle of skin and flesh so intoxicating that I almost didn’t see the man trying to make it through the last few pages of Grapes of Wrath before he collapsed in a heap of pleasure and exhaustion.

“Reader or listener?” A voice to my right asked. I turned to a man holding Just Kids and Things Fall Apart. “I know it’s an odd mixture but they’re two of my favorites.” Oh, no, sorry. I just … observer?” He smirked, “First time?” I nodded. “Well, pick one if you like. We can just read while you absorb this crazy world.” We sat down next to the Italian girl who was now struggling to keep her screams quiet enough to continue reading Dante, and began Things Fall Apart. He paused two pages in, “Isn’t it great that so many people can come together in their love of literature, connecting on physical and intellectual levels?”

And he was right, the pure ecstasy that was happening around me wasn’t one of pure lust, it was something else. It was a deep, electrifying, explicit connection that flowed through the room. It was a feeling of liberation, euphoria, stimulating every last nerve and every fiber in a tantalizing convulsion of two bodies enveloped in animalistic intimacy.  At that moment I couldn’t help but feel intrigued, drawn to the man beside me, his soft lips arching around word after word in a low, intoxicating melody, a man who just happened to love two of my favorite books.

I went back next week to read Just Kids.

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