Category Archives: creative writing

The Preoccupied Sex.


In matters of gender, Billy Joel had already drawn his conclusions; Catholic girls started much too late.

The fact that she had never been Catholic and hadn’t qualified as a girl for at least forty eight years gave rise to her current contemplations.

All the orchestra students were already actively in high school when she’d joined their company and Ron, percussionist from the west side, had produced the first erection ever to have its effect upon her; the fact that he did so from a standing position, feet apart, bound by denim, to the right of the mounted snare was significant. She wouldn’t see a live one for another nine and a half years.

Christian Fundamentalism was all over itself about f~~king. In fact, the most venerated among their entrenched patriarchs were known to equivocate on matters of condemnation by spelling sin: “s-e-x.” In spite of rampant gossiping, slander, and generalized gluttony among its ranks its young were, from infancy, indoctrinated to revile the flesh and anything which felt of it. Subliminally led by Barbie and Ken who, though molded in malleable plastic and shaped to accommodate exterior attire bore neither nipple nor shaft, she would gradually reach her own realization – climaxing on or about age sixty, with the image of a naked Christ on the cross. The Romans weren’t just bulky barbarians; they’d specialized in humiliation. Crucifixion was their preferred mode of execution precisely because it rendered the penis of their perceived subordinate fully engorged.

Art and religion, by rolling definition, would romanticize this harsh reality across the centuries. She was not immune. Christ and any of his images, rendered or imagined, never aroused in her anything but pious empathy for suffering, and dutiful obeisance, and the inspiration of awe. And, none of them were any help when it came to the overtaking ruminations on coitus and its mechanical apparatus. What one cannot know becomes precisely that about which one broods incessantly. 

Mr. Kantz taught history; Mr. Connelly, earth space science. Her classmates seemed distinguishably able to separate the valued from the dispensable. She, on the other hand, spent most of her energy surveying them. Which ones were doing it? With whom? How did they manage? Why did the boy she liked so much seem to want to touch girls who weren’t even smart? The other boys found her a curiosity; a couple of them looked at her with wet, squinting eyes, one in particular, dark, with small cauliflowered ears, a body so big that his legs opened outside of the desk into the aisles. But, most of the time, she fought to remained focused on taking notes and doing the dutiful things which would earn the high grades, for which purpose she had not yet determined. Actually engaging her frontal lobe for such things as critical, let alone divergent, thinking wouldn’t be happening, anytime soon. Art, and the half semester cycle by senior year, allowed temporary respite from all this anguish; the teacher recognized her abilities early, producing all manner of human body parts, cast in plaster, for her to render. The parts located between the thighs were not among them.

By the autumn of her nineteenth year, enrolled on portfolio scholarship in the fearlessly secular SUNY College at Fredonia the universe, ever ready, had ordered a proper introduction. David Small’s Drawing II model was godlike in proportions, of the rarest coloration auburn and green eyed and, gently flexing and stamping his feet, appeared before her with no warning at all.

Loincloths had long since been dispensed with by the life drawing community, even in the educational setting. The man was nude, from the curls on his head to the balls (of his feet). She was enraptured, forevermore.

Curiously, however, this idealized sensibility regarding beauty of form and face didn’t translate. What she had finally seen never reached out to touch her erogenous zones. Aesthetics were stubborn like that, not having been designed to meet need. 
And so, she resumed in the manner to which she had become accustomed. History of Architecture, for whose Ivy League professor she would, as work-study, mount slides ; Energy and Man, the latter a by-product of the conserving 70’s, taught at night by a bearded pot belly likely housed in the hills with, she calculated, a penchant for Spam and farm animals; and, Western Civilization, required after the registrar had determined that she had enrolled as a freshman without having completed sufficient high school credits to graduate. The professor for this course was, she decided, the homeliest man she had ever seen; yet, on a bus trip with the class to the Buffalo museum, she noted his exiting alone at a gated piece of gentrification and, in the next block, the girl with the long honey hair who had always sat closest to his desk and who had brought a large historical volume to share with him getting off next, neither of them returning to the bus en route back to school.
Her daytime lunch partner was a muscular ruddy who’d been to Hull and back on an exchange, he and she sharing the distinct title of being the only two in the entire department who could actually draw. He’d daily recount his nightly escapades with each young woman as she appeared in the Union, describing just short of what they actually did once he’d seen the fine hair all over her body. He lived in one of the old houses in town, with a girl who had big eyes and no chin and who baked cookies every day, again no word on how he might’ve done with her what he may.
By the next semester, she’d moved off campus with three Fundamentalists, one of them fancying herself liberal, allowing her strapping rock climber man to actually spend the night one weekend and ordering a glass perfume bottle shaped like a ghost the size of a man’s thumb from Avon to “give to her mother.” Of the other two, one would regularly entertain her fiance on the living room sofa after dark, the plywood walls separating her bedroom from the sounds emitted therewith utterly useless as any barrier to unbearable and unrequited imagination.
Perhaps it was time to take a transfer to another school.
Her portfolio deemed strong by the drawing instructor, she submitted it to one of the Big Nine and was accepted in short order for the following semester, 3rd year. A tour of the Cleveland campus and its population of costumed characters provoked images of avant garde couplings seen in late night Grade B movies, their unrated references fleeting but memorable. Had the financial aid office of that institute not already bestowed its last penny of loan monies to, as her elder brother loudly accused in person, “minorities”, she would have certainly found out whether half of this could have been true.
Instead, she remained on hiatus for the next two years, working and saving money and maintaining her hymen as intact as it could have been, given the painful injury caused by the steel painted child’s toy on the floor outside of the infant’s playpen for which a doctor had to be consulted. During those two years, she replaced glasses with contacs, got a Farrah Fawcett cut and perm, and had her eyebrows plucked away from center. Men in the office supply store now looked back at her from the front check out to the rear station, strikingly handsome men from the rich suburb, even a prisoner and his escort. She had two dates, one with a boy who took her to a dance club and sat arguing that dancing wasn’t like sex at all, that he never even thought about sex when he was dancing though she would not dance with him or anyone.
The other was a trip to Minneapolis, to be hosted by her elder brother’s college friend who had become a doctor. He had invited her to visit specifically for her 21st birthday, to take her virginity, and he’d said so in no obscure terms. But, as she lay beside his half clothed body, the reality of his heretofore undisclosed debauchery was overtaking as was the large raised mole in the middle of his back, and she came home still wondering about the mechanical apparatus and how the whole act was managed, knowing only that she would have to be provided with some aesthetic allure in the future were she to even reconsider.
By the following fall, she had returned to school, the same one from which she had taken leave two years earlier. This time, her thrust would be music, with the goal a teacher’s degree. Those who can, do; those who can’t do, teach; and, those who have never been told how fend for themselves, grasping blindly in the dark.
Music History was presented in the recital hall auditorium by an already aging professor whose materials included a stereo turntable, a multitude of long play records, a standing microphone, and the magnificent capacity within his cranium for aural detail. Again, she sat, gazing around the room at the college students who played musical instruments, all of them having sex, all of them knowing how, all of them with a clear view of their own goals for the future. Some of them even knew how to play jazz. The imagery was almost too glorious to comprehend.
The number of hours she sat in that class, the number of masterpieces of the musical literature which passed between her ears, the number of opportunities to actually hear and reflect upon the nature of the evolution of the form and structure of music as fine art, the golden chance at actual scholarship, all squandered at the feet of unwitting nymphomania.
Perhaps that about which she would finally know so little was what kept everyone in institutions of higher learning together for one more year.  It had certainly sharpened her powers of observation to the razor’s edge. Instead of absorbing the chronological history of civilization, or the principles of higher maths and sciences, she had become a master of human behavior, a doctor of the art of the human condition.
Whichever the ultimate, ascribed value, by Billy Joel or any number of other commentators hers was the embodiment of a lost generation of unfulfilled women, lives sacrificed at the altar of obsession with that which had been held just beyond their reach.
Until it was too late. 
© 7/4/2020       Ruth Ann Scanzillo.      All rights those of the author, whose story it is and whose name appears above this line. No copying, in whole or part, including translation or transcription, permitted without express written permission by the author. To request permission, please contact:





” The old lady sat

       on her side porch stoop

With a snack and a book

      in the sun

Which was low in the sky

      burning hot on her calves

so the lap cloth she moved

     ’til it hung

Just below both her knees

      shading ankles and feet

Which she tucked underneath

       her chair;

Then a bee smelled the ginger

      ‘tween thumb and finger

And, her afternoon read

      was done. “








© 6/17/2020 Ruth Ann Scanzillo.    p.s. Homage to “The 100 Year Old Man….”  by Jonas Jonasson — a truly hilarious read.



Hog In The Road.


My boyfriend and I fight.

It’s no secret to the few who know us as a couple.

He’s a petulant Aries, insisting on running his own show (the only show); I’m a stubborn Taurus, refusing to be led by the nose, with – thanks to migraine med, Imitrex – a streak of OCD, just to pepper the picture.

Yah. We’re a hot mess.

Today, in the midst of what much of the world is calling the downward slope of the first coronavirus pandemic, our town spiked for the second day in a row and, with only as many contact tracers as tested positive, we’re in for some tenuous coming days facing Memorial Day weekend on the lake.

He was to have spent today with me, at my house. He’d take the truck to inspection by 9:30, walk the dog up State St, and get to his mother’s across town before I woke up. But, the truck service center had its own inspection schedule to delay so his plan, to dig weeds at her place, got protracted into late afternoon.

I’d made a stop over, to take him a small snack and a water bottle, then another and, by the time the case count had come in he was physically exhausted and I was fit to be tied – by floating anxiety. Did he know about ticks, in the overgrown foliage in the backyard? I did; been bitten and infected, at least once. Had he brought his hat? Would he take a couple disinfectant wipes, for the truck when it was done? Would he soap the dog, after?

Sheltering in place, between our two properties – his a spacious country idyll with gardens to till, mine a corner lot in the burgeoning hotbed known as Zone 1 – had felt like a workable plan. And, for about 34 days, it had been. He appreciated the change of scene and close proximity to his mother’s; I appreciated his share of the cooking skill, as close to five star Michelin as any man I’d ever known. Together, we’d weathered it better than our usual score; only two major blow outs, and a couple fleeting grouses. I was sure that, when this was all over, we could make a set of How To videos. You know, for couples. Who fight.

But, once the weather finally broke he’d felt the farm calling and I’d run out of re-organizing brainstorms. Time to seed; time to rent the rototiller; time to acquire more laying pullets. So, he’d been spending more time at his place and I’d been spending more time proclaiming on social media.

Today, he’d gotten stuck and so had I; his day would become about weeding and waiting, mine about wondering and fretting. Then, his phone died.

Being ten minutes apart is nothing, until the phone goes out. By the time the truck was ready, he had reached his limit of tolerance of everything imposing on utter fatigue, including and especially my increasing need for communication. Could I drive him to the dealership? Nope; not even that was within his scope of acceptability. Weren’t we going to spend time? Nah. Change of plans. His. Always his. His show, you know.

He’d called me pale, on my first stop in the full sun. I flipped through the rack and found my best red sweater. Perfect for a warm day without a jacket. And, for the first time in two months, a little under eye concealer and foundation with blusher fixed the aging face. No matter the double mask; I felt ready to present to my man, no matter his sweaty, foul moodshifting self.

Heading back out, I grabbed a can of coconut milk and the container of Clorox wipes he’d given me. We could spend our evening at his house, over a little dinner, and check on the laying hens and the lone chicken’s dog bite in the pen. The drive was one part compulsion, one part commitment; I wanted to finish this day far better than it had begun doing what had always worked for us, in the past – being together.

The drive was its usual 23 minutes beating all the yellow lights. People, everywhere, without masks, a troubling cloud over a beautiful sky. Reaching his driveway I was quietly amazed; the garage door, shut, empty of any vehicle – and, the trailer for bark nowhere to be seen. Hadn’t he planned on getting a haul? What exactly, was going on here?

I left the can of Clorox where he could see it, checked on the injured hen, and headed back into town.

This return trip was always an opportunity for clarity. I could face myself, head on. Compulsive obsession only overtook me under intense externally imposed stressors, and this virus lockdown had tested it mightily. On this drive, I mulled and pondered and ruminated; how could this relationship survive everything that had been happening to us? When would any notion of “re-opening” allow us to resume, and to what degree would we be forced to contemplate our future without it? Where was he, anyway, and why did he leave me adrift on such a lovely day?

Heading north on Cherry was always the final leg, a coast all the way to my street provided the lights cooperated. Now, what was this stopping traffic?

I braked, and peered around to find out. Horns, from behind me; a pickup, off the berm southbound, finally resuming speed. Nobody moving. I waited, for a siren, wondering how I’d heard nothing to provoke it.

Finally, the car in front of me turned out around. The big reveal was upon us all. Right in the middle of old Erie town, former industrial mecca turned faltering resort, and next to the newly glistening facade of our lone, enduring city high school was the biggest, fattest, black hog I’d ever seen.


The thing had just taken two dumps, and was waddling in all directions, sniffing the unfamiliar asphalt wondering why nothing moved under its snout.

As soon as I could, I grabbed my phone for a capture, best possible in that lighting from the restrictive distance of the Pontiac hood, and then proceeded around the animal.

No sooner had I passed through the next traffic light, but this: a monstrously wide semi rig, backing for a turn right in front of me.


Yes. Apparently, even the convenience store had to take a moment during the coronavirus pandemic and refill its steam table. Stop, again; wait, again.

The next intersection was the top of the final hill. Its light remained red long enough for realization to gel. Even OCD and generalized incompatibility were no match for these two gems, little gifts of stopped time, levity in the midst of the grandest test of human patience and understanding I could recall over life as I’d come to know it. Perspective was the objective, after all; where would we go, from here, and who really cared if we did?

Surviving had become both the end and the means to it. Either we did that together, or not. But, better to avoid allowing any more roadblocks to reason, acceptance, forgiveness, and a reach toward unconditional love.

Worth the fight.







© 5/21/2020   Ruth Ann Scanzillo       All rights those of the author, whose story it is and whose name appears above this line.   Thank you for respecting the life of another.