LITERATURE: Running With Scissors – Handling Sex Scenes

The chapter is named, “The Joy of Sex (Preteen Edition).” It presents Augusten’s telling of his first sexual experience which involves his giving oral sex to Neil Bookman, a Finch in his thirties who is gay.

It’s a very graphic and blow by blow (no pun intended) description of the act, as Neil forces Augusten, spreadeagled on the bed, his arms held out and helpless, his head banging the headboard. Yet Burroughs handles this scene, which is almost a rape of young Augusten, in a realistic manner that shows the confusion without fear, the physicality and discomfort, the rawness without full understanding of an adolescent who knows, and yet doesn’t know exactly what’s going on.

I feel like I’ve walked through some door, into some room, and I’ll never be able to leave. I feel like nothing is the same. Just like thaat. Nothing will ever be the same again.

I also feel like I can’t ever tell anybody about this. I can’t tell Natalie, although I really, really want to.

What happened has to be all mine.

I feel crowded by this. Like I need to go home and think about it for a week or maybe the rest of my life. How can I go to school in the morning? It’s already after midnight and I have to be up at seven-thirty to make it there by eight-fifteen.  (pg. 118)

As much as Augusten has been through, we hurt for him that this is what his first sexual encounter is like. It is rough, it is not pleasurable, but it is not frightening except for his worry about being unable to breath. It is visual, he is aware of the sounds his mouth makes, he is aware of Neil’s body and his own head cracking against the headboard. He is also aware of a crack in the ceiling visible partly behind (above) Neil and wonders if it crosses the whole ceiling. He wonders if he could peel the paint off in a sheet. In other words, he is not completely in the moment, whether from conscious choice or from the reality of his discomfort.

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