Sex and the Single Sphere, with added Beer


99 Bottles of Beer on the WallThis fanzine brought to you courtesy of Mike's last secret assignation in Belgium and the following breweries: Duvel, Gulden Draak, Grimbergen (Dubbel), Westmalle (Trippel), Haecht (Wit) and Leffe (Blonde).

Also Fullers' 1845 and Winter Warmer, Shepherd Neame Spitfire, Bishop's Finger, Vaux Waggle Dance, Hopback Summer Lightning, Jenlain, McMullen Harvest Moon, Ash Vine's Hop & Glory and a few others.

Missionary Impossible

As noted in the editorial, I'm now feeling quite pregnant. It's fair to say that Pod will put in an appearance before the next issue of Plokta, and possibly before many of you receive this issue of Plokta. And I'm beginning to question some of the things they told me about pregnancy. In particular, I haven't noticed any signs of blooming. Well, perhaps a little blooming, but predominantly effing and blinding.

All the books on How To Be Pregnant have a long list of common minor health complaints during pregnancy. It's true that these are, indeed, minor. None of them will cause you major long term trouble, and they're the sort of thing that any one of would be shrugged off without a qualm, and even two or three could be taken in one's stride.

However, one of the Things They Don't Tell You is that you don't suffer from just one, or even just two or three. You get the lot. We'll start with an entire gamut of digestive disorders, all of which are caused by a Pod occupying the space in your body that used to be taken up by your digestive system. You can't eat very much at once, you could make an excellent sideline living selling natural gas, you have the worst heartburn in the history of the planet, iron pills do things to your digestion which are quite unsuitable for mention in a family fanzine, and you get through an almost unlimited quantity of moist toilet paper. And remember that nausea that went away after four months or so? It's back.

Meanwhile, they mention that your gums may bleed slightly when you clean your teeth. I'm seriously considering buying some raspberry flavoured toothpaste so that this "slight bleeding" doesn't leave me worrying about haemorrhage on a daily basis. My midwife informs me that my ankles are swollen. I've been unable to see my ankles for so long that I hadn't realised. The cure for swollen ankles is of course sleeping with one's ankles higher than the rest of the body. Meanwhile, the cure for heartburn is sleeping with one's head propped up on pillows. Perhaps if I had a V-shaped bed?

They mention that you might have to get up in the night. I do. It's not so much the getting up in the night, though; it's the waking up and realising that the reason I've woken up is that I need to turn over and I can't quite manage it. Sleeping on one's tummy is of course a complete non-starter, as is sleeping on one's back (far too precarious). Which leaves you with one side or the other, both of which are only marginally uncomfortable. But unfortunately, there is no straightforward method of moving between the two. So every so often, my body wakes me up and says "Oi, why don't you turn over now? It will only be excruciatingly painful for a minute or two. And by the way, did I mention that the heartburn was raging again?"

As well as it not being comfortable to lie in bed, it's not comfortable to do anything else. Walking leaves you exhausted after, oh, five minutes or so. Less if uphill, or even up the slightest slope. Sitting in different positions just gives you a choice assortment of interesting aches and pains; by varying one's position it's possible to spread the load between lots of different parts of the body over the course of the day. The only time I'm completely comfortable without any pain of any kind (apart from the heartburn, of course) is when I'm in the bath. I've been taking a lot of baths recently.

My fingers are stiff and sore (a byproduct of swollen ankles, apparently); but at least I didn't make the mistake of one proto-mother, who went out and bought a larger wedding ring when she found that she could no longer wear hers, and has now found at eight months pregnant that the larger ring no longer fits.

Meanwhile, people keep telling me how healthy I look. Personally, I'd settle for looking like a total wreck but feeling a sight better.

But the worst thing is definitely bonking. The books explain that sex is perfectly safe right up till the end of pregnancy. This is true to some extent. It's perfectly safe for the mother, and for the baby. But the bloke is quite likely to be contorted to such an extent that he does himself an injury. This state of affairs creeps up on you gradually. At the beginning of pregnancy you can pretty much proceed as normal; that is if you find time for lovemaking in between feeling exhausted and throwing up lunch. However, by the time a few months have gone by, you suddenly realise that something is coming between you, as it were. One day you decide that the heretofore cosy and comfortable missionary position has suddenly become noticeably uncomfortable and uncosy, and several other common sexual varieties are substantially lump-impaired.

Meanwhile, the books on How To Have A Happy Pregnancy tell you cheerfully that many couples find pregnancy an inspiring time sexually, and use it as a chance to develop their sexual repertoire. They say that many women find that they want sex more whilst pregnant. Tellingly, they all go on to mention that if you find you're not in this category, it's a good time to make sure to have lots of hugs and cuddles instead. Now, don't get me wrong; I'm very fond of hugs and cuddles. But I've found, over the years, that they are not in fact an adequate substitute for a good shag.

And how do you accomplish the aforementioned good shag? Well, I'm not entirely sure. What used to seem mostly effortless and a great deal of fun seems to now start with a protracted negotiation stage where we go "well, perhaps if we propped up half a dozen pillows like this then it wouldn't hurt for a few minutes?" It all seems to be a bit of a competition between one's hormones and one's backache.

They don't call it the Golden Shot for Nothing
"Left a bit... right a bit... Bernie, the bolt!"

None of this would matter terribly much if, as an imminent mother, I had lost all interest in sex. However, as far as I can tell, pregnancy is like alcohol; it stimulates the desire but takes away the performance. I'm finding I want to have sex all the time. In theory, you understand. When the opportunity actually arises, I remember just exactly how much trouble it is, and tend to change my mind. Instead, I've been having lots of erotic dreams. For some reason, I star in my erotic dreams in a noticeably non-pregnant form, whereas for all the non-erotic dreams I seem to be as bumpy as usual. Suddenly I worked out what it was that they meant when they said that many women found they wanted sex more. They didn't mean that they were actually getting it more. A short survey on the Internet mailing list of women expecting babies in January revealed exactly zero women who were having more intercourse; a goodly many in the "so long I've forgotten what it was like" category, and a fair few saying "well, I don't have a partner, and have you ever tried picking up a bloke while eight months pregnant?" And one woman who said that her sex life had never been better. Of course, she's in a stable relationship with another woman.

The perfect solution would clearly be that old science fictional staple, zero-g sex. All the advantages of the bath, but larger, and with no taps. Of course, there is the problem with zero-g that it tends to make people nauseous, which wouldn't do much for people who are nauseous already. But nevertheless, I was thrilled to see a Smirnoff promotion, the grand prize in which was a week's zero-g training including zero-g flights of oh, a couple of minutes. Now I just need to explain to Steven that he needs to drink vodka for two to help us win. And keep it down to ninety seconds or so, of course.

-- Alison Scott

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