Sunday, July 5, 2009
Bring Me Some Water
It is instinctive, even elemental. Ripe, red strawberries make us hungry; the animal in us craves the fruit. The curve of a hip, the arch of a smile, the nearness of another's body heat makes us aware of our sexual desire. The blue waters of the oasis make us thirsty.
Like all living things, we need water to live. Our bodies are largely made of it. Two thirds of the surface of the planet is covered by it. We need it, cannot live for long without it. But what IS it about water that brings us so much pleasure?
Perhaps it is the way water cleanses. When we come home, tired and dirty with the dust of our day's journey, bathing refreshes it. It is a private act, a sensual one, and a not-so-secretly seductive one. How did King David spot Bathsheeba? She was bathing on the roof, and he instantly knew he had to have her. What sells so many copies of Sports Illustrated's swimsuit issue each year? We can see beautiful women's bodies anywhere, but the aquatic settings--the wet sand, the surf, the palm trees--give an extra, special allure. Don't believe me, ladies? Type "beach photos" and your favorite male celeb's name into your search engine and see for yourselves. Hugh Jackman wet is more fun than Hugh Jackman dry.
In the world's oldest tales, waters are personified, the seas are Neptune or Poseidon. To the Yoruba people, the sea is the goddess Yemaya. A Catholic church on Key West is named Mary Star of the Sea. The sea could be mother, lover, or monster.
Water is sacred; there is more than one kind of holy water. Throughout Europe, nearly every river, stream, fountain and well was once dedicated to a god or goddess, nymph, or fairy. You had to ask permission to drink, or to water your horse. You don't want to anger the fairies, and woe to you if you come across a nymph or a goddess bathing.
Water is also the home of the merfolk, the undersea people who sometimes fall in love with us land-dwellers. Hans Christian Anderson's Little Mermaid did. (Can you hear the opening notes of "Kiss the Girl?" in the back of your mind?) So did the French fairy noblewoman Melusine. The love between a mermaid or merman and one of us average joes and josephines has captured the human imagination for centuries. Modern writers of paranormal erotica have given the old fairy tales many new and fascinating twists.
Or maybe we love water because it is simply beautiful. It reflects the sky and the sun; its waves create psychedelic patterns from the clouds. Sometimes blue, sometimes the color of a blazing sunset, it can also be still and clear, quiet and calming. Flowing, it makes music to our ears. Water is romantic, and as refreshing as a melting popsicle on a hot July night.
Bomb Pop by Erin ORiordan: Buy the Book