On Talking Frogs and Passions Passed
by Steve Meissner
We know that sex sells. No manuscript is considered complete until it includes something to steam the eyeglasses and open the passion spigot. Look at your typical book cover. Lean, hungry-eyed models strut a runway or slink down a street. They may be dressed in a bikini or rags. They drape themselves around a man in a uniform or a designer suit. Or we see pool boys with washboard torsos, gleaming in the sun while cougars purr. Hormone-sodden teens grind and twerk while elders pretend not to watch.
Why? Because sex sells, and if we read a book that doesn’t include at least one passage trying to capture physical love, we close its pages feeling … unsatisfied.
The frog looks up at the old man with soulful eyes.
“Did you hear me?” asks the frog. “Kiss me, and I will satisfy every sexual desire you possess.”
And therein lies a problem. How do we bottle the magic of passion when our own love lives may be empty vessels? How do we describe real sexual chemistry when most of our experiments were spectacular failures? And what do we know about being sexy, anyway? How many writers spend enough time in the gym to create a sultry gleam of sensuality? We may be colorful and creative, but we’re writers. Let’s face it. Few of us qualify as sex symbols.
Haven’t we been to taught to write about what we know? Since few of us are models or sex symbols, how do we do that?
Speaking personally, I’ve reached an age where the fire of lust is at best a warm glow. I’m no hormone-sodden teen. I’m not the college adjunct who had to leave my lust in the car when I entered a classroom fully stocked with tawny young coeds. I’m past the point when I scan a bar and wonder if any woman might be willing to leave with me. I’d rather curl up with a good book – or my spouse, as we watch TV.
The old man looks down and shrugs. He pulls out a cloth bag and gently scoops up the frog. Without saying a word, he places the frog inside the bag.
I’ve never been all that lucky in love. I know that love and lust are essential to the human condition, but how do I describe it? What’s a writer to do?
How do I deal with it? Well, frankly, I use my memories, and my realities, to dust my stories with some passionate spice. My current main character, a stumble-bum lawyer, has a love interest who strongly resembles my spouse, a wonderful woman who is kind to everyone and deserves far more than I can deliver. I rely on my love for her, and my memories of passions passed, to try to capture the chemistry of physical love.
“Wait! Wait!” yells the frog as he slides into the bag. “Didn’t you hear? Kiss me and I’ll satisfy every sexual desire you’ve ever possessed!”
The old man shrugs again.
“I heard you,” he replies. “But at my age, I’d rather have a talking frog.”
For more than three decades, Steve Meissner has watched the Arizona political scene as a journalist, lobbyist, bureaucrat, and even as a legislative staff member. For nearly 20 years he was a reporter, editor and columnist for several publications, including the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Most of his newspaper career was spent at the Arizona Daily Star, where he was a reporter, editor and columnist, and taught journalism for more than a decade as an adjunct at the University of Arizona and Pima Community College. He is the author of Cactus Caucus, a novel about Arizona’s legislative politics, which is available in Kindle format. He is currently working on a second novel about Arizona politics.