Thursday, May 23, 2019

Ed Wood's ANGORA FEVER: "One Delicious Moment" (1971)

Getting to know you... getting to know all about you.

NOTE: This article continues my coverage of Angora Fever: The Collected Short Stories of Edward D. Wood, Jr. (BearManor Bare, 2019).

The full artwork for this story.
The story: "One Delicious Moment," originally published in Pussy Willow, vol. 3, no. 2, April/May 1971. No author listed.

Synopsis: Paula, a lesbian, is obsessed with a mysterious blonde who has been coming into her favorite gay bar for the past week. The woman just sits in a dark booth and doesn't say anything to anyone. Not usually a shy type, Paula has not figured out how to approach this beautiful lady. All she can do is fantasize about her. Finally, Paula works up the courage to approach the blonde. As it turns out, the mystery lady's name is Shirley and she's getting over a bad marriage to an unfaithful husband. What she needs is someone to teach her the ways of lesbian love. Paula is more than happy to oblige.

Wood trademarks: Yes, another character named Paula (cf. "Tears on Her Pillow"); martini (cf. "Insatiable," "Unfriendly Persuasion"); blonde (cf. "The Devil and the Deep Blue-Eyed Blonde"); nipples (cf. "Tears on Her Pillow"); tight sweater (cf. "Like a Hole in the Head"); "globes" as euphemism for breasts (cf. "Howl of the Werewolf"); "rivered" (cf. "Detailed in Blood"); tongue (a word Eddie uses 111 times in Angora Fever); Scotch and soda (cf. "Time, Space and the Ship," "Those Long Winter Nights"); "insatiable" (cf. "Insatiable," Necromania); nylon (cf. "A Piece of Class"); miniskirt (cf. "A Piece of Class"); "Good Christ" (cf. Fugitive Girls); cocktail lounge (cf. The Cocktail Hostesses); fur rug (cf. "Morbid Curiosity"); Shirley (cf. "Morbid Curiosity"); anti-men rant (cf. Drop Out Wife); "pubic region" (cf. "Gore in the Alley"); knitted clothing (cf. "Gore in the Alley," "Hooker by Choice," "Kiss the Pain Away").

Excerpt: "Paula could take it no longer. The trembling in her legs had turned to quick twitching movements. It wasn't unpleasant but the heat which caused the twitching shouted for release, and Paula knew only one way to achieve that release."

Reflections: "One Delicious Moment" must count as one of the nicer stories in the Ed Wood canon. Yes, there are the usual, lurid references to "sexually wet panties" and "pointed nipples." This is still an article in a pornographic magazine, let's not forget. But this isn't one of those Wood stories in which a naive young woman in distress is preyed upon by a predatory "bull-dyke" lesbian. Instead, everything that happens in this story is consensual and mutually enjoyable. As in most Ed Wood stories, there's a twist near the end, but it involves Shirley's past and why she's at this lesbian bar, and the only villain is Shirley's promiscuous ex-husband.

Moreover, the story's most ridiculous line -- "Would you make homosexual love to me?" -- is phrased in such a stilted way because Shirley is so inexperienced and has only been with men like her former spouse.

But speaking of that ex-husband, there's a passage in "One Delicious Moment" that surprised me, pleasantly so. Shirley mentions that her husband "fathered two children," and Paula's immediate response is, "Then you should be home with the kids." What Shirley meant is that her faithless husband had fathered children with other women, but what caught me off-guard is Paula's concern for the poor, defenseless tots. She'd been having incredibly explicit fantasies about this woman all week, but the moment she thinks that some kids might be neglected, her sense of familial responsibility comes into play.

Another surprise here is the depiction of alcohol consumption. Now, Eddie was a notorious drunk for the last few decades of his life, and "One Delicious Moment" is yet another story from Angora Fever set in a cocktail lounge. So the characters are downing martinis and Scotch and sodas as per usual. But none of the characters seem like alcoholics, and there aren't any passages about the "warm glow" they get from whiskey. Then, towards the end, Shirley even says, "I don't drink, you know. Only when I'm nervous. I'm not nervous anymore. Besides, I don’t want to miss a single moment of… of what we will do." So Eddie is acknowledging that alcohol can lessen rather than enhance a pleasurable experience. That's refreshing to read in an Ed Wood story.

Next: I'm taking Memorial Day weekend off. I'll be back to wrap up the last few stories in Angora Fever next Monday, starting with "The Greeks Had a Word for It" (1973).