17th Century Adamites, a Christian sect that worshipped in the nude, being arrested in Amsterdam.
Source: Wikimedia Commons, Wellcome Trust
As noted in my last blog, along with my non-fiction books, I write mystery novels (Poisoned Justice and Murder on the Fly from Pen-L publishing). My anti-hero is a San Francisco cop-turned-exterminator who pursues both six- and two-legged pests. Riley is a first generation American, his parents being Irish immigrants. And he’s trying to reconcile Old World values with the fast-changing culture of the 1970s.
In my upcoming book, Lethal Fetish, I explore “the infested mind” in the course Riley’s investigating a series of bizarre murders. In the following excerpt, he’s asking a psychologist to help him make sense of what seems to be unambiguous deviancy. But after she’s explained crush fetishism (in which men derive sexual gratification from watching women smash various creatures underfoot; see my last blog posting, “When Insects Crawl Into Our Fantasies”), the psychologist challenges Riley’s judgments which, I suspect, are similar to those many of us would make:
“You must understand,” Dr. Chen explained, “that what constitutes normal behavior is a cultural construct. In New Guinea, there is a tribe where it is typical for children to engage in sex by the age of ten. Mature women in a South Pacific society have sex with adolescent boys to teach them how to please future partners. Bachelors in a Columbian village copulate with donkeys to avoid the Catholic proscription against premarital sex. And the ancient Greeks found nothing wrong with men having sex with boys. The list goes on.”
“So sex is like food, just a matter of taste?” She cocked an eyebrow and gestured for me to continue. “Most people find blood sausage from my homeland repugnant, and haggis from our Scottish neighbors doesn’t appear on many menus in San Francisco.” Sheep organs boiled in a sheep’s stomach were on par the famed thousand year-old eggs, once a person caught a whiff of sulfurous ammonia emanating from the greenish-black lumps.
“I see your point. The last time I was at the Donghuamen Night Market in Beijing, shoppers could purchase chicken testicles and sheep penis. Or to tap into your line of business, one could also snack on fried scorpions, centipedes, spiders, cicadas, and crickets.”
“And so we complete the circle, eh? Crushing crickets under high heels or between molars is just another source of pleasure.” I rubbed my neck and tried to put together my thoughts, as the good doctor waited patiently. “Look, I can accept that whatever people want to eat is their business, but I can’t buy that ‘anything goes’ with sex. Gays and lesbians? More power to them. Nobody’s getting hurt and somebody’s getting satisfied.” I was thinking of how happy Carol and Ana were together. “But there has to be a line.”
In my next blog, we’ll see where Riley tries to draw the line—and why doing so is not nearly as simple as he might hope. It turns out that not every greasy cockroach or every dark thought needs to be exterminated.