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Authors: Michel Farnac

The Pleasure of M

BOOK: The Pleasure of M
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The Pleasure of M
Michel Farnac
(2012)

In this book about pleasure, a peculiar affair between two otherwise married protagonists, he a Frenchman and she a New Yorker, is the backdrop for an exploration of the male orgasm and of the difference in the perception of physical pleasure between a man and a woman.
His ebullient French sensitivities allow her to see pleasure through a different lens and to escape the straightjacket of her catholic upbringing through an enchanted narrative of movies, literature, music, food and sex.

The Pleasure of M.
A
 Novel
 by
 Michel
 Farnac
 
for Catherine
 

 

“Should
 I
 be
 led
 to
 understand
 from
 your
 last
 remark
 that
 no
 man
 has
 ever
 told
 you
 
what
 he
 feels
 during
 an
 orgasm?”
 

It
 must
 have
 been
 at
 a
 café
 in
 Paris.
 He
 was
 a
 snob,
 of
 course,
 but
 not
 her,
 not
 in
 the
 
least,
  and
  it
  was
  usually
  he
  who
  chose
  the
  location.
  They
  had
  a
  long
  standing
 
agreement,
 however
 unspoken,
 that
 whatever
 tricks
 he
 may
 have
 had
 up
 his
 sleeve,
 
he
  would
  never
  lie.
  His
  honesty
  was
  painful
  at
  times
  and
  could
  make
  what
  she
 
thought
 of
 as
 the
 normal
 patterns
 of
 an
 affair
 quite
 difficult
 to
 achieve
 in
 her
 eyes,
 
but
 it
 was
 something
 that
 she
 had
 never
 encountered
 before
 and
 it
 hypnotized
 her.
 
So
  though
  it
  was
  his
  silent
  dictate,
  she
  had
  entered
  into
  it
  willingly,
  almost
 
ceremonially,
 after
 hanging
 up
 that
 time
 when
 she
 had
 furiously
 but
 unsuccessfully
 
debated
 against
 the
 virtues
 of
 unvarnished
 truth.
 

It
 could
 have
 been
 Venice,
 the
 Piazza
 San
 Marco
 with
 the
 Viennese
 wafts
 of
 salty
 air
 
from
 the
 lagoon.
 But
 Venice
 is
 too
 romantic,
 not
 serious
 enough
 for
 the
 intricacies
 of
 
a
 discussion
 about
 the
 ins
 and
 outs
 of
 male
 physical
 pleasure.
 

It
 could
 have
 been
 a
 sunset
 on
 the
 ocean
 from
 one
 of
 those
 fancy
 restaurants
 on
 the
 
coast
  highway
  in
  Malibu.
  But
  LA
  is
  too
  fake,
  not
  real
  enough
  to
  talk
  about
  real
 
orgasms
  between
  educated
  people,
  something
  it
  had
  long
  relegated
  to
  the
  flight-‐
weary
 alienation-‐prone
 auteurs
 of
 the
 east
 coast.
 

So
  it
  must
  have
  been
  Paris.
  They’d
  never
  met
  and
  never
  would,
  so
  each
  time
  they
 
did,
 it
 was
 he
 planting
 a
 décor,
 stunningly
 vivid,
 that
 took
 them
 there.
 It
 was
 as
 if
 he
 
captured
 each
 place
 he’d
 been
 to
 and
 distilled
 some
 essence
 thereof
 into
 little
 vials
 
that
  he
  would
  have
  tied
  to
  the
  inside
  of
  his
  rainbow
  overcoat,
  pulling
  one
  at
  each
 
encounter,
 popping
 its
 tiny
 glass
 cork
 and
 letting
 the
 genie
 out
 as
 a
 whirlwind
 that
 
engulfed
  her
  senses,
  and
  transported
  her
  by
  some
  mystical
  Baudelairian
 
correspondence
 to
 some
 amazing
 artificial
 paradise.
 He
 knew
 exactly
 what
 this
 was
 
doing
 to
 her
 and
 loved
 how
 she
 liked
 to
 often
 mention
 how
 she
 came
 from
 potatoes,
 
her
 way
 of
 reminding
 him,
 as
 if
 it
 were
 needed,
 how
 exotic
 these
 settings
 felt
 to
 her.
 
He,
 on
 the
 other
 hand,
 came
 straight
 out
 of
 a
 book.
 

She
 called
 him
 Michel.
 It
 was
 the
 name
 by
 which
 she
 had
 first
 heard
 of
 him
 and
 this
 
had,
  as
  it
  often
  did,
  caused
  a
  short-‐lived
  misunderstanding
  as
  to
  the
  gender
  of
  the
 
personage.
  Her
  first
  thought
  upon
  hearing
  the
  name
  had
  been
  “don’t
  tell
  me
  this
 
brute
 wants
 me
 to
 talk
 to
 his
 new
 mistress!”
 But
 in
 truth
 nothing
 should
 be
 assumed
 
from
 this
 as
 the
 thought
 was
 indeed
 the
 most
 natural
 one
 that
 could
 have
 occurred
 
to
 her
 given
 several
 facts.
 
 That
 Alexander,
 who
 had
 just
 uttered
 Michel’s
 name,
 had
 
so
  often
  behaved
  with
  her
  as
  a
  brute
  would
  rank
  high
  on
  the
  list.
  Then,
  the
  exact
 
phrasing
  Alexander
  had
  used
  had,
  through
  a
  coincidental
  alliteration,
  given
  its
  full
 
weight
 to
 the
 last
 mix-‐up:
 “I
 think
 you
 would
 enjoy
 speaking
 with
 a
 new
 colleague
 of
 
mine
  on
  the
  studio
  bench.
  He’s
  a
  keyboardist
  from
  Europe
  called
  Michel.”
 
  And
 
finally,
 who
 could
 blame
 her
 for
 hearing
 “Michelle”
 instead
 of
 “Michel”?
 But
 once
 the
 
misunderstanding
 had
 been
 cleared,
 her
 anger
 was
 revealed
 to
 be
 the
 first
 in
 a
 long
 
list
 of
 emotions,
 each
 a
 vividly
 colorful
 pearl
 in
 the
 new
 strand
 she
 would
 be
 adding
 
to
  the
  necklace
  of
  her
  lives:
  perplexity,
  suspicion,
  befuddlement,
  sheepishness,
 
curiosity
  and,
  more
  importantly
  in
  the
  end,
  pleasure.
  If
  one
  were
  to
  consider
  only
 
the
 first
 and
 last
 in
 the
 chain
 of
 words,
 thoughts
 and
 events
 that
 had
 led
 from
 “Find”
 
to
  “Michel”,
  one
  could
  be
  forgiven
  for
  thinking
  that
  Michel
  was
  Alexander’s
  gift
  in
 
direct
 response
 to
 a
 plea
 that
 she
 had
 explicitly
 made.
 But
 when,
 in
 anger,
 she
 had
 
asked
 her
 estranged
 lover
 to
 “Find
 me
 someone
 else
 to
 speak
 with!”,
 it
 had
 been
 a
 
rhetorical
 gesture
 designed
 to
 make
 Alexander
 understand
 that
 she
 needed
 him,
 and
 
that
 even
 if
 they
 now
 lived
 three
 thousand
 miles
 apart
 and
 even
 if
 she
 could
 admit
 
that
 their
 affair
 was
 over,
 she
 could
 not
 bear
 the
 thought
 of
 never
 speaking
 with
 him
 
again.
  Alexander
  had
  understood
  this
  quite
  well
  but
  had
  also
  heard
  the
  plea
  in
  a
 
different
  light,
  as
  if
  she
  herself
  had
  answered
  her
  own
  conundrum.
  He’d
  mulled
  it
 
over
 a
 long
 time,
 going
 through
 a
 list
 of
 every
 male
 he
 knew,
 testing
 in
 his
 mind
 the
 
level
 of
 compatibility.
 But
 nothing
 had
 come
 of
 it
 and
 the
 idea
 had
 lain
 dormant
 until
 
Michel
  was
  hired
  to
  join
  the
  bench
  of
  studio
  musicians
  that
  Alexander
  played
 
saxophone
 on.
 Catherine’s
 continued
 and
 insisting
 presence
 in
 his
 life
 was
 proving
 a
 
crescendo
  of
  alienation
  and
  paranoia
  for
  Alexander.
  He
  had
  made
  the
  move
  from
 
New
 York
 to
 Los
 Angeles
 in
 large
 part
 to
 get
 away
 from
 her
 as
 a
 means
 to
 preserve
 
his
 fragile
 marriage,
 convinced
 that
 he
 could
 only
 reform
 his
 skirt-‐chasing
 habits
 by
 
first
  removing
  from
  sight
  every
  skirt
  he
  had
  ever
  chased.
  Perhaps
  Michel
  would
 
alleviate
 the
 pain
 that
 he
 was
 about
 to
 inflict
 upon
 her
 through
 permanent
 silence.
 
Needless
  to
  say
  she
  had
  no
  idea
  that
  her
  first
  contact
  with
  Michel
  would
  be
 
Alexander’s
  de
  facto
  cue
  to
  never
  speak
  to
  her
  again.
  And
  in
  time,
  Michel
  would
 
show
 himself
 more
 than
 equal
 to
 the
 task.
 

Michel
  called
  her
  Catherine.
  He
  had
  asked
  for
  her
  permission,
  of
  course,
  or
  as
  a
 
diplomat
 might
 say,
 he
 had
 obtained
 consent
 as
 a
 formality.
 A
 month
 or
 so
 into
 their
 
relationship
  he
  had
  realized
  that
  there
  was
  something
  irksomely
  awkward
  about
 
how
 they
 addressed
 each
 other
 even
 as
 with
 each
 successive
 conversation,
 they
 got
 
to
 know
 each
 other
 a
 tad
 more.
 He
 had
 begun
 in
 earnest
 the
 task
 of
 weaving
 the
 rich
 
and
  heavy
  tapestry
  of
  the
  dream
  they
  would
  share
  and
  he
  quickly
  saw
  that
  his
 
discomfort
  was
  rooted
  in
  a
  growing
  asymmetry
  between
  them.
  It
  was
  clearly
 
apparent
 that
 she
 was
 deriving
 much
 more
 pleasure
 in
 speaking
 his
 name
 than
 he
 in
 
speaking
 hers.
 Her
 “Hello,
 Michel”
 dripped
 with
 ever
 increasing
 pleasure,
 becoming
 
ever
  more
  melodious
  and
  lengthier.
  Having
  understood
  this
  and
  considering
  how
 
much
 pleasure
 he
 derived
 from
 the
 rest
 of
 the
 conversation,
 he
 did
 his
 best
 to
 iron
 
out
 this
 kink
 only
 to
 realize
 that
 the
 very
 image
 was
 the
 clue
 he
 needed.
 The
 name
 
she
 used
 was
 as
 a
 fold
 in
 the
 sheet
 he
 laid
 on,
 almost
 impossible
 to
 pinpoint
 and
 yet
 
in
 then
 end
 an
 insufferable
 shortcut,
 impeding
 his
 ability
 to
 have
 the
 real
 her
 within
 
his
  reach,
  a
  façade
  that
  he
  clearly
  had
  the
  right
  not
  to
  be
  subjected
  to.
  And
  so
  the
 
cold,
  wretchedly
  impersonal
  “Hello,
  Cathy”
  became
  the
  luscious
  “Hello,
  Catherine”
 
that
  he
  would
  forever
  cherish.
  No-‐one
  had
  called
  her
  that
  since
  her
  father
  had
 
passed
 away.
 It
 was
 a
 striking
 example
 of
 the
 power
 he
 already
 held
 over
 her
 and
 
liberally
  wielded,
  methodically
  turning
  to
  dust
  her
  every
  defense
  by
  simply
 
obtaining
 her
 consent,
 and
 so
 every
 time
 it
 felt
 as
 if
 he
 was
 calling
 her
 by
 her
 true
 
name,
  a
  name
  for
  her
  that
  he
  shared
  with
  no-‐one.
  Later,
  he
  would
  tell
  her
  about
 
places
  where
  people
  were
  given
  their
  true
  name
  in
  secret,
  revealed
  to
  them
  at
 
coming
 of
 age,
 known
 not
 even
 to
 their
 parents,
 and
 about
 countries
 where
 parents
 
gave
  their
  children
  their
  real
  name
  in
  secret,
  away
  from
  the
  tyranny
  of
  the
 
missionaries
 who
 imposed
 “good,
 Christian
 names.”
 

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