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HabO: Creaming

Lurker Y wrote in with one of my least favorite phrases describing feminine arousal:

I am usually a total lurker but i have been looking for a book I read years
ago and its driving me crazyy so i had to email you.

it is about a retired football (i think) player who gets a job (maybe in the
real estate or construction area) and he works with/for a women who went to
high school with him. she was more of a nerd in high school but she had a
crush on him, he never noticed her till now etc…

i think it was published in the eighties, i dont remember a cover, character
names or any other helpful info…

I do remember she tells him that in high school at some pep rally or parade
or something he picked her up and she “creamed herself” i HATE that phrase but it stuck with me

hope you can help!

Lord almighty how I dislike that phrase. It’s right up there when a heroine weeps and not with her eyelids, either. Anyone remember this book?



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  1. 1
    Laurel says:

    No idea but a hearty amen from the congregation on “cream” used in verbal form under these circumstances. Ick.

    And ditto on weep. All I can think is “some penicillin might clear that up.”

    There should be a list out there of words used to indicate arousal that are distinctly non-arousing. Sort of a writer’s manual of “GS vs. STA.”

  2. 2
    KimberlyD says:

    Nope. But I did read a book last night where “creamed” was used several times, and a few of those times was in actual dialogue between the hero and heroine. He also “slanted” his mouth across hers throughout the whole book. After the 5th time, it started to look and sound really weird.

    P.S. I will not ever be HABOing the book I read last night because I don’t really want to reread it ever again.

  3. 3
    Flickers says:

    oh gross cream at least its not as bad as … as they kissed the fragrant fluid essence of her feminine arousal was released. what it was in a tank somewhere and he found the tap? yeesh

  4. 4

    OMG!! It sounds like a number of Sandra Brown books. Her characters are always creaming, old school style!

    WHERE THERE’S SMOKE opens with the hero and another woman (not the heroine) in bed. This woman, who is the town harlot, naturally, describes a time when the hero picked her up and kissed her after a football game.  She said “she creamed her panties”—those exact words. 

    The other details aren’t the same.  But this type of scene is a Brown staple so you might look at her other titles.  Breath of a Scandal maybe.  She published tons of category romances in the 80s and single titles in the 90s.

    /fangirl out

  5. 5
    Isabel C. says:

    It doesn’t squick me out, particularly…

    …but it does remind me of “Greased Lightning”, which is not necessarily what I want to be thinking about when reading sex scenes.

  6. 6
    Donna says:

    Or Angela Knight. And I’ll take creaming over dripping any day of the week. One of the few times of declined to finish a book was because of it’s over use and the disturbing images the word evoked. That’s an STD reference if ever I’ve heard one.
    Re the book: I’m gettin a LoveSwept tingle in the back of my brain. Other than that, no help.

  7. 7
    Donna says:

    Oh, sorry for the inappropriate apostrophe. It’s early.

  8. 8
    cate says:

    Not a clue about the book, but I’m another reader
    who shudders at the use of “creaming” & “weeping!”
    Creaming is now equal first with “moist” as my most
    disliked word in the English language

  9. 9
    laurad says:

    I cook for a living-to me, “creaming” involves an industrial mixer, sugar, and lots of butter.  Weeping is peeling onions.  Dripping is a mess that has to be cleaned up.  None of those words make me feel the sexy. 

    Now, seeing a man scrub pots, that’s sexy!!

  10. 10
    DreadPirateRachel says:

    “Creaming” is the worst. “Weeping” makes me laugh, but “creaming” makes me cringe. If it’s used more than once in a book, I won’t finish it.

  11. 11
    Jennifer Armintrout says:

    It seems like whenever the subject comes up, no one really likes the idea of women getting wet.  No creaming, no weeping, no fluid… is it really the words that are being used, or a subconscious problem with female sexuality that has been ground into us?  I read this site a lot, and I see a lot of people having problems with the way female sexual response is described, but far, far fewer problems with phrases like, “His cock got hard,” or “his groin tightened”.

  12. 12
    Silver James says:

    I’m curious. All these words put readers off…What words would you use in their place? What words describe the female sexual response in a way you as a reader find sexy?

  13. 13
    MelB says:

    I hear you, Jennifer. I’ll admit to a few cringes when I read female arousal, but only when I see words like gushing, sopping and pouring. I have no problem with cream or creaming, moist, damp, etc. because how else are you going to describe it? Women get wet when they get aroused there’s no way around it. Somehow saturated, sodden, soggy, drizzling, humid and aqueous just don’t seem so romantic or arousing. What words do women prefer when reading graphic sex?

  14. 14
    Jeannie says:

    Let’s just go with “wet” and leave it at that. Short, to-the-point yet still sexy.

  15. 15
    Isabel C. says:

    Good point, Jennifer. And good question, Mel.

    I don’t like moist in any context, but damp or wet is fine.

  16. 16
    Dora says:

    I’m fine with feminine arousal. I even want to know about it. But I think so many authors have trouble communicating it that they fall back on ye olde hardened nipples and, as Jill called it, “old school creaming”. (Please, please don’t ever say that again. It sounds like something someone’s grandmother would do.)

    There used to be an author I read (can’t remember her name) who was AMAZING at painting female arousal without resorting to copious fluids. She’d write about feeling your skin tighten, being unable to catch your breath, muscles fluttering, etc. All of this I found a lot sexier than the alternative. It’s like…

    “He looked at her, his eyes glinting like the freshly laid backsplash in that Tuscan kitchen she’d always wanted, and she watched his hair toss in the wind like a wild pony leaping after a butterfly. And then she had to go clean up because she’d creamed herself.”

    Maybe it’s the implied sloppiness I have a problem with? I dunno, again, different strokes, etc.

  17. 17
    Leslie says:

    Yeah, not down with the “creaming” –  b/c it seems to be a description favored by teenage boys. The judicious (by that I mean not in every darn scene) use of “dripping” in erotic romance is less of an issue – if there were not some serious arousal, I imagine many of the activities would be just plain painful or unappealing.
    Terms I don’t mind:
    slick, wet, damp, ready (good in less explicit fiction b/c it is descriptive without reference to fluids)
    I remember reading a couple of romances with a lot of humor where the heroines’ disgruntled internal monologues included something about needing new panties – in the context of the books it worked. One of them may have been the always-funny Shelley Laurenston and maybe the other was a Lorelei James.

  18. 18

    Thank you Jennifer!  I was thinking the same thing.  In fact, the tuna kiss discussion last week (or whenever) also rankled.  SB Sarah, can we celebrate female sexuality sometimes instead of squicking on it?  Women and girls have enough body issues without constanty being told that vaginas are yuck.

  19. 19
    DreadPirateRachel says:

    It seems like whenever the subject comes up, no one really likes the idea of women getting wet.  No creaming, no weeping, no fluid… is it really the words that are being used, or a subconscious problem with female sexuality that has been ground into us?

    It’s definitely the vocabulary. I have no problem with female arousal; I like reading about it as long as it’s a good description. For some reason, “cream” in a vaginal context makes me think of infections, and weeping makes me think that the heroine is subconsciously terrified of sex. Weeping = not good.

    I’m curious. All these words put readers off…What words would you use in their place? What words describe the female sexual response in a way you as a reader find sexy?

    I think part of my aversion to these descriptors is that they seem insufficient (also icky, but that’s another argument). There is so much more to female arousal than just getting wet. The psychological component is equally as, or I would argue, more important than the physical one. I can be physically ready, but if my mind is not engaged, it doesn’t matter how cunning of a linguist my partner is, I’m not going anywhere.

    So often sex scenes focus purely on the physical without ever getting inside the heroine’s head, and when they do, it seems like they have to rely on words that are as trite as their narration.

  20. 20
    Ana says:

    As a reader, I imagine it must be really difficult to write a sex scene and make it sound and feel sexy.  I don’t really see the issue with “creaming” as being about whether female genitalia is inherently gross or not.  For me, it’s more about the associations conjured by that word.  It reminds me of terminology we used in junior high, it’s just not sexy to me.  It snaps me out of the story instantly.  But I have no problem with the words, “moist,” or “slanted,” or “wet,” “damp,” etcetera because I have no weird associations with those words.  For the record, I also have a problem with how some male orgasms are described.  I really don’t like the term, “burst,” to describe it.  All I can think is Yikes!  That must have hurt.

  21. 21
    Jennifer Armintrout says:

    Thanks, Jill, I thought I must have been huffing paint thinner or something.

    Dora, to say that you’re fine with feminine arousal, just so long as vaginal lubrication isn’t mentioned is exactly the kind of thing I’m talking about.  You’re obviously not fine with it, because female sexual response is “sloppy” and you don’t want to hear about it.  That’s not your fault, it’s the fault of the way we treat female sexuality in the west, that women have gross, nasty genitals that no one could possibly find appealing.  The male-approved beautiful parts, hard nipples, flushed skin, all of that is okay to us, because we’ve been conditioned to believe it is beautiful.  All the other parts, those are okay to be squicked out about because everyone has told us they’re nasty.

  22. 22
    Dora says:

    … nnnnoooooooooo, no, pretty sure I’m fine with being turned on. Again, I didn’t say I was fine with it as long as lubrication wasn’t mentioned. I said that writers tend to fall back on excessive lubrication as a sole means of indicating desire. You can totally tell me about how wet your heroine is, and that’s great, but for me there’s so much more to the human body than “getting wet” as a means to communicate arousal. 

    My point is, you can be sexy, and you can be wet, but being wet isn’t the only way to be sexy. If all you can say about the heroine is that she’s “dripping”, it’s just not interesting to me, and because you’ve removed so much more from the equation, such as other physical sensations, I have nothing to connect it with.

    Frankly, I don’t think not caring for certain descriptive terms over others means I have a problem with my sexuality. I also dislike the word “engorged”, because it’s weird, and “Gary Busey” because… well.

  23. 23
    diremommy says:

    I don’t have a clue what book this is, but the few Lora Leigh books I’ve read have had women “Creaming” left and right, I felt like I needed highwater boots and a life vest, so much creaming and dripping was going on.

    I LOVE the new trend in romantica of using dirty words but I absolutely HATE all the creaming and dripping and weeping that’s going on these days.

  24. 24
    Jenn LeBlanc says:

    cream |kr?m|
    1 the thick white or pale yellow fatty liquid…

    Right there. That is more yeast infection than arousal. The technical definition. It isn’t just a descriptor, but a word also carries a technical definition that can make you woozy.

    I had the most difficult time in the world with these descriptive words, and moist got nixed pretty quick as well.

    It isn’t just the era a word comes from it’s the actual definition of the word that can cause a wicked twitch.

    Wet means wet. Moist, kinda refers to something that is not quite fluid but gooey. And no a penis should never burst, that is a quick ER visit for sure. I think writers need to think about the actual definition of the word used, outside the context they use it in, before deciding on that descriptor.

    (that includes me, as I had a line that stopped several in their tracks, before I thought about it.)

    Anywhoo. :)

  25. 25
    Jennifer Armintrout says:

    I’m sorry, Dora, I didn’t mean to imply that you, personally, have a problem with your sexuality, but that western culture has a problem with female sexuality.  I just felt that your response exemplified the attitude that all of us, no matter how sexual of a person we are, are exposed to.

  26. 26
    Nadia says:

    “Creaming” has not just the adolescent-boy-smack-talk association, it also makes me think of Old Skool Catherine Coulter.  Then I giggle.  So that one’s all about the word itself.

    The gushing I also have a problem with.  Maybe it’s just me, but while I’ve been slick, moist, damp, wet, humid, and maybe even sodden on a good night, I’ve never to my knowledge gushed.  Just too voluminous a description.  And when it’s overused (yes, looking at you, LL), it becomes unintentionally comic.

    Every now and then I’ll read an explicit scene from the hero’s POV where he internally (and sometimes out loud, rawr!) describes the heroine’s aroused nether bits in detail that is tres sexay.  The moisture is just part of that description, not the sum total.  Throw in some pouting, flushing, fluttering, swollenness to go along with all that liquidy goodness.

  27. 27
    cate says:

    @Jennifer Armintrout, I spend my working day up to my
    up to my armpits in female & male genitalia – Not a
    good visual,I know.
      The reason I have a problem with creaming/ weeping/
    dripping et al, is because, as I work in a GUM
    clinic (genito-urinary medicine). I hear those words
    uttered by some extremely puerile individuals in
    relation to their SO’s, or their one night stands !.
      I really wish someone would use a little imagintion
    when describing female arousal, there are some
    wonderfully lubricious terms in the thesaurus,
    without reverting to high school cant, which- personally-
    I find – to use the verncular- chavvy.
      So, come on writers,  find some new euphemisms for
    vaginal secretions, & leave the cream in the fridge !!!

  28. 28
    Dora says:

    No worries, Jennifer. :) I just get prickly when it feels like people are putting words in my mouth, but I should have been clearer to begin with.

    Frankly, I’m also not saying I think authors should STOP using those terms. Just because I don’t enjoy them doesn’t mean I think other people shouldn’t as well.

    But HEY SPEAKING OF ON TOPIC. I wish I could be of more help with identifying this book. But. Um. It turns out Google is… uh… shall we say less than helpful if you try and run a search for “creaming”, whatever other keywords you use. Sorry, I fail. :(

  29. 29
    Jennifer Armintrout says:

    But the problem seems to be that any description of wetness, aside from “wet” is someone’s squick.  It’s either too juvenile, too sloppy, too unimaginative… my point is, no matter what you call it, someone is going to have a problem with it because in Western society we have a problem with women being sexual creatures, full stop.

  30. 30
    Jennifer Armintrout says:

    Dora, it’s no big.  There are definitely words and descriptions that get me when they seem to be trending… “plum colored head” to describe an erection has always made me think of someone slamming their dick in a car door.

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