ERNIE AND ERNESTINA: Searching

Book Two, Chapter 66: Sexual Illiterates

It’s Valentine’s Day. Perhaps this is why I’m thinking of sex. Sex in love.

Even though Ernie was in a relationship in college that led to an engagement and was in two marriages before ours, he didn’t fully understand how a woman feels sexual pleasure.

Neither did I. Clit? I didn’t know that my clitoris would have developed into a penis, had I been male, and is the source of female sexual pleasure. I’d never really looked at my body or explored my body. I didn’t think I had a right to.

Ernie and I rarely talked of anything related to sex. Once he said: “You’re frigid. That’s what you are, frigid.”

For years, I thought female orgasm was a myth. But if it was, I finally asked myself, why are so many women talking about it and writing of it? It had to exist. Even though it didn’t exist for me, that didn’t mean it didn’t exist.

In my late forties I went in search of my clit. It’s not hard to find. It’s where the penis would be if I’d been born male. So I found it and eventually went after my first orgasm. I didn’t tell Ernie, not until he interrupted me one night at my bath. It was an embarrassing moment. I felt “caught”. Instead of its being a cause for celebration — hey, Ernie, I’m not sexually frigid — it was a source of guilt and shame for both of us.

Back when Ernie wrote “adult novels” — erotica — he researched the physiological aspects of sex. I remember his saying: “The heart beats faster. There’s a flush. There’s increased blood flow. It’s akin to anger in its physical manifestations.” When I asked Ernie to describe an orgasm, long before I felt one myself, he said: “It’s tension and release. Tension builts up, and there’s a release.”

But it doesn’t feel like anger or tension, does it, when sex is born of love.

My writer husband’s favorite nickname for me was Ernestina, so in this 3-book memoir, he is Ernie. This is his story, our story, and my story. I invite you in.