A guide to all the awkward sex scenes in Stephen King’s ‘The Stand’
You can’t write a 1100 page novel without at least some cringe
Warning: this edition of AWKSD gets a little explicit and NSFW. If that’s not your thing, and/or you want to continue to think highly of me, maybe skip this one.
All respect to Stephen King. Seriously. It’s hard to imagine another author who will make as lasting an impression as the original purveyor of mass-market horror. He’s been warping the minds of young readers since the early ‘70s, shoehorning his truly bizarre ideas into the public consciousness.
That’s not to say that Mr. King is not without faults. Lit snobs are quick to dismiss him for his cornball dialogue, regional affectations, inability to stick his landings—all valid criticisms. Let’s not forget his depictions of women and people of color often rely heavily on stereotypes (King can’t get enough of the “Magical Negro” trope, for example).
And then there’s his sex scenes.
I started reading Uncle Stevie when I was about 10 years old, and ravenously consumed his work until I was about 14. I suspect this is about the age range that most of my fellow King-heads also got into his writing, as it seems to be the ideal stage in development where your brain is malleable enough to accept both the real-world and supernatural frights that inhabit his books. In fact, I’m not sure it’s possible to become a King fan as an adult (I’ve tried a few times to get adults into him; all attempts were unsuccessful).
This is all to say that many kids—myself included—were probably exposed to the notion of sex through Stephen King, and I have to say: poor us. His sex stuff is as detailed and emotionally mature as a 13-year-old boy’s diary. It’s like a bubbling cauldron of erotica, grocery store romance novels and the grotesquerie that defines his gooiest creations. Every time I read one his sex scenes, I imagine King cracking his knuckles, leaning into his ‘80s-era Wang Computer, and just letting the magic flow.
I recently read The Stand, because... well, call me crazy, but there’s something about an epic tale of a world-obliterating virus set against the ultimate battle of good vs. evil that seems kinda relatable these days. I’ve also been meaning to pick it up again after my first attempt when I was 11 and made it nearly halfway through before giving up (600 pages: pretty good for an 11-year-old, though!).
I’m glad I finished, though, because The Stand slaps. It’s now my favorite King book, and I was not expecting to feel so affected by his haunting and prescient depiction of a world coming to grips with a superflu (King pretty much nails everything from virus deniers to government mismanagement to media coverage). The scope is epic without feeling unwieldy, and every major character is so well-developed that there’s hardly a slump during it’s 1100+ page count. Even The Stand’s philosophical middle—which explores the facets of rebuilding society—is the most astute and mature writing I’ve ever read from King (I’m sure that’s also where 11-year-old me bailed because philosophy...? BORING!).
But still, you can’t write an epic without getting into some cringe-worthy sex scenes, and The Stand is ripe with good (read: bad) Stephen Kingasms.
And when I say I “read” The Stand, I mean I listened to the audiobook. All 47 hours of it. This method is highly recommended if you want to hear a distinguished voice actor (in this case, Grover Gardner, who’s become somewhat of a paternal figure to me after spending so much time with him) read lines like “Her breasts jiggled fetchingly,” and “Trash froze on his hands and knees. He made wee-wee in his pants.” There were several times when I subconsciously turned down the volume in my car, in fear that someone would hear what I was listening to.
So delightful were these line-readings that I started to record them. The result? A comprehensive primer to King’s awkward fascination with sex, women, and breasts. Especially breasts.
Without further ado, here’s your guide to all the awkward and funny sex scenes in The Stand. These are the highlights, but please watch the supercut at the end of the article for the full experience. Also, there are two horrifying accounts of sexual assault—one between The Kid and Trashcan Man, the other between Flagg and Nadine—which I will not include here.
Thank you, Mr. King. Never change.
Oh, and obviously everything that follows is NSFW
Chapter 10 pg. 100
The girl’s name was Maria and she had said she was a...what? Oral hygienist, was that it? Larry didn’t know much about hygiene but she was great on oral. He vaguely remembered being gobbled like a Perdue drumstick.
Pretty sure King just made this character an oral hygienist to use this joke.
Chapter 10 pg. 101
“Hi, Larry,” she said. She was short, pretty in a vague Sandra Dee sort of way, and her breasts pointed at him perkily without a sign of sag. What was the old joke? That’s right, Loot—she had a pair of 38s and a real gun. Ha-ha.
As you’ll see, King often describes women in terms of what their breasts are doing. I wonder if he reads books with strong women characters and wonders, But wait, what are their breasts doing?
Chapter 10 pg. 102
Her breasts jiggled fetchingly, but Larry wasn’t fetched.
Chapter 10 pg. 102
Several tears ran down her cheeks, dropped from her jaw and plopped onto her upper chest. Fascinated, he watched one of them roll down the slope of her right breast and perch on the nipple. It had a magnifying effect. He could see pores, and one black hair sprouting from the inner edge of the aureole.
Chapter 43, pg. 414
“Hi y’all!”Julie trilled, and ran down the street toward Tom, her breasts bouncing sweetly under her tight middy top.
😬 😬 😬
Chapter 27 pg. 237
A young man munching on Fritos from a gigantic bag told Larry conversationally that he was going to fulfill a lifetime ambition. He was going to Yankee Stadium, run around the outfield naked and then masturbate on home plate. “Chance of a lifetime, man.”
There are a few scenes from The Stand that stuck with me since my first attempt at reading it. This is one of them. Big props to the 2021 CBS All-Access miniseries for including home plate jerk-off guy (a lot of people hated that series, but for the record, I thought it was pretty good).
Chapter 35 pg. 302
His mind went back to last night. She had made love to him with such frantic energy that for the first time he had found himself thinking of her age and had been a little disgusted. It had been like being caught in one of those exercise machines. He had come quickly, almost in self-defense it seemed, and a long while later she had fallen back, panting and unfulfilled.
Another thing that’s stuck in my mind for decades is all the sex stuff between Larry Underwood and Rita Blakemoor, which is basically ol’ Stevie King postulating about how gross having sex with an old person would be.
Chapter 35 pgs. 303 - 302
He remembered an instant of disgust when he saw how her breasts sagged, and how the blue veins were prominent (it made him think of his mother’s varicose veins), but he had forgotten all about that when her legs came up and her thighs pressed against his hips with amazing strength.
Slow, she had laughed. The last shall be first and the first last.
He had been on the verge when she had pushed him off and gotten cigarettes.
What the hell are you doing? He asked, amazed while old John Thomas waved indignantly in the air, visibly throbbing.
She had smiled. You’ve got a free hand, don’t you? So do I...
Now, she said, taking his cigarette and her own and crushing them both. Let’s see if you can finish what you started. If you can’t, I’ll likely tear you apart.
Rita may be old, but King gives her the charity of being good (once) in the sack. Truly a gentleman you are, Mr. King.
Chapter 44 pg. 430
The grass, heavy with dew and smelling sweet, came all the way to her bare shins. It made her think of a time she had run with a boy through grass like this, under a moon that had been full, instead of waning like this one was. There had been a hot sweet ball of excitement in her lower belly and she had been very conscious of her breasts as sexual things, full and ripe and standing out from her chest.
Sorry, but “standing out from her chest” as a description of breasts is Pulitzer-worthy, and definitely written by someone who knows breasts.
Chapter 47 pg. 548
Stu slapped lazily at a mosquito hovering over his chest. His shirt was hung on a nearby bush. Fran’s shirt was on but unbuttoned. Her breasts pushed at the cloth and she thought, I’m getting bigger, just a little right now, but it’s noticeable... at least to me.
The thing I love about Stephen King is he just knows what women are really thinking 100% of the time.
Chapter 22 pg. 187
He felt a terrible and thankfully transient urge to bend down and touch the dead woman’s breasts, to see if they were hard or flaccid.
We’ve all been there!
Chapter 54 pg. 769-770
His fly was pulled down and the Ridiculous Thing, made even more ridiculous by the white cotton in which it was swaddled (thank God he had changed clothes after his shower), popped out like a Jack from his box. The Ridiculous Thing was unaware of its own comical appearance, for its business was deadly serious. The business of virgins is always deadly serious—not pleasure but experience.
“Yes, that’s what I want. And then I’ll take care of you.”
Take care of you. The words echoed down his mind like stones flung into a well, and then he was sucking greedily at her breast, tasting the salt and sweet of her.
She drew in breath. “Harold, that’s lovely”
Take care of you, the words clanged and banged in his mind.
Her hands slipped inside the waistband of his underpants and his jeans slid down to his ankles in a meaningless jingle of keys.
“Raise up,” she whispered, and he did.
It took less than a minute. He cried aloud with the strength of his climax, unable to help himself. It was as if someone had touched a match to a whole network of nerves just under his skin, nerves that plunged deep to form the living webwork of his groin. He could understand why so many of the writers made that connection between orgasm and death.
Then he lay back in the dimness, his head against the sofa, his chest heaving, his mouth open. He was afraid to look down. He felt that quarts of semen must have splattered all over everything.
Nobody in the novel ejaculates more than Harold Lauder, and it’s always upsetting.
Chapter 47 pg. 552
They were bitter fantasies through which every pretty girl at Ogunquit High School had strolled at one time or another. These daydreams always ended with a gathering expletive in his loins, an explosion of seminal fluid that was more curse than pleasure. And he would sleep, the sperm drying to a scale on his belly. Every doggy has his day.
Every doggy has his day. King, you’ve done it again.
Chapter 55 pg. 789
But there was heat below his waist, oh yes. Just looking at the delectable curve of her buttocks in those tiny see-through underpants as she slept was warming him up considerably.
I swear, listening to voice actor Grover Gardner read “delectable curve of her buttocks” has added years to my life.
Chapter 55 pg. 789
Nadine’s eyes opened the moment the door was closed. She sat up, looked thoughtfully at the door, and then lay down again. Her body ached in a slow and unrelieved cycle of desire. It almost felt like menstrual cramps. If it was such a small thing, she thought (with no idea how close to Harold’s her own thoughts were), why did she feel this way? At one point last night she’d had to bite her lips together to stifle the cries: Stop that fooling around and STICK me with that thing! Do you hear me? STICK me with it, cram me FULL of it! Do you think what you’re doing is doing anything for me? Stick me with it and let’s for Christ’s sake—or mine, at least—end this crazy game!
This was the scene that made me nervous other people could hear. Grover Gardner shrilly yelling “STICK me with that thing!” belongs in a museum.
Chapter 50 pg. 643
She was beginning to show, not a lot yet, but Stu had commented on it this evening. His question had been casual enough, even comic: How long can we do it with me, uh, squeezing him?
Or her, she had answered, amused. How does four months sound, Chief?
Fine, he had answered, and slipped deliciously into her.
And that’s all my time! Goodnight, everybody. Don’t forget to watch the supercut for more of these “delicious” gems.
Go to this
OMG. Two musicians I love are PLAYING A SHOW THIS WEEKEND (got a little emotional just typing that). Carrie Feller (of Hexa) and D.WREX, two purveyors of richly dark music, are playing a show at Sycamore Den on Sunday, May 8. The show will be outdoors, and capacity will be limited, but I know not everyone is fully vaxxed yet, so it’s totally understandable if you’re not comfortable with this kind of situation. However, seeing this makes me really happy. Live music is coming back, bbs—it’s just gonna take a few baby-steps, you know? The show is free, and starts at 6 p.m. Wear a mask.
A few days ago, Danzig said something in a Rolling Stone interview about how punk bands like The Misfits couldn’t happen today because of “woke bullshit” and “cancel culture.” Which, yeah, he’s probably right... but is that really a bad thing? I mean, I love The Misfits (some people can’t quit Morrissey; I can’t quit The Misfits), but I also, you know, respect people. The scene Danzig is nostalgic about was built by straight white guys, mainly for the enjoyment and benefit of straight white guys, which I’m sure was really fun in the late ‘70s, but that’s not the punk scene I want now. As we inch closer to being in spaces together again, I think it’s important to think about what live music spaces can be so that everyone feels welcome. I recently read War On Women singer Shawna Potter’s excellent guide Making Spaces Safer, which is a very thorough, DIY guidebook on how to make venues, workplaces and our surroundings as enjoyable and inclusive for everyone. I wish every venue owner in San Diego would read it (and if you are a venue owner and interested, I’ll let you borrow my copy. Or I’ll buy you one).
So the white supremacist-fueled “Recall Newsom” campaign got all their needed signatures, and it looks like we’re going to have an election. This means that Republicans can do the only thing they know how to do: owning the libs with political theater. North County doofus Jim Cox, for example, recently entered the competition with a platform that seems to just be “I’m standing next to a bear.” Yep.
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