What Not To Write: Callouses

Book Cover Alert Reader N. answered the call for any examples of What Not To Write with an email message that made my jaw drop. As part of a regular feature here at the Hot Pink Palace of Bitchery (where the drinks are free and the man titty shelters us from the harsh rays of the sun), we’re taking a look at descriptions, both sexual and non-sexual that yanked us out of the storyline.

Some of these examples, such as the comparison of a woman’s hey-nanner-nanner to a horse’s mouth, evoked some irritated responses that the passage in question (the words, not the ACTUAL passage) didn’t bother them. And of course, any sex scene taken out of context is ridiculous, as AgTigress pointed out. It’s true.

But every now and again, readers encounter some examples of description that cause a double-take.

Which is why N’s example was so marvelous.

I humbly submit for your consideration Susan Johnson’s short story “A School for Scandal” in the anthology Perfect Kisses, in which the hero wonders if he is being overly vigorous:

“He wasn’t worried for himself – his penis was calloused from hard use. Her vaginal tissue on the other hand might be more fragile.”

I know. You don’t believe me. But here it is.

Oh, no. Calloused?! REALLY?! To quote Hubby, what was he doing, humping some sandpaper? If it is used so much it develops callouses, I think it might need to be retired.

What does a calloused wang LOOK like anyway?  And would a man use one of those flat razors on it to make the callouses go away? YEESH.

Even if Johnson’s hero was being sarcastic, there’s no way I’m getting that image out of my head (ha ha) any time soon. Sweet holy crap.

Feel free to send over any What Not To Write examples to sarahATsmartbitchestrashybooksDOTcom. Horses with callouses, though, I think we’ve got that covered. (*shudder*)


Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    lizw65 says:

    I think Mr. Callused Penis needs to pay an urgent visit to his physician, as this clearly is the kind of medical issue that could be passed on to Ms Fragile Vaginal.

  2. 2
    MelB says:

    Dear God,  a calloused wang!!! Callouses bear an unfortunate similarity to warts and if I see warts on a wang, it so is not coming anywhere near my southland. In fact, I would start discussing medical treatments, not lurvemaking.

  3. 3
    tricia says:

    And I thought you were going to explain that “callous” means heartless and “callus” is the hard bit of skin. I think people have seen it spelled wrong for so long that they don’t know the difference anymore. I see it everywhere.

  4. 4
    Kati says:

    All I can think is, “Do they make a PedEgg for that??”

  5. 5
    tara says:

    Good god.  CALLOUSED PENIS?  If I noticed something like that on my penis I’d demand he see a doctor, and also demand to know what exactly “hard use” really is.

  6. 6
    tara says:

    Dear god… that should say “my boyfriend’s.”  Am now embarrassed.

  7. 7
    Donna says:

    Yes, out of context things do sound… wrong. I remember this. I knew he was speaking metaphorically & self deprecatingly (although as much time as SJ’s heros spend doin it, maybe not….), but as a comment out of context… Ouch.

  8. 8
    Keira says:

    He’s just hoping its callouses and not genital warts.

  9. 9
    Anon says:

    Callus is the correct noun to use for a hardened or thickened area of skin.


    People mix up callous and callus all the time.

  10. 10
    teshara says:


    Up until then that must have been one lonely man.

  11. 11
    readinginak says:

    That’s just terrifying. Even in a *self-deprecating* comment, the idea of a callused penis is, well, YIKES. And the idea of a callused penis driving into her delicate tunnel of lurve… maybe said calluses will help when he has to drill through the nearly indestructible hymen (which you KNOW is in there!).

    Captcha: call57 (I think it would take 57 times a day, with a vag of sandpaper to develop calluses.)

  12. 12
    AgTigress says:

    Callus is the correct noun to use for a hardened or thickened area of skin.

    For the record, in British English, both spellings are acceptable and correct for the noun, and in fact callous is the more common spelling.  :)

  13. 13
    Mary G says:

    He sounded very callous about his callus. There might be a better way to say that he has way more experience than she does.

  14. 14
    Tasha says:

    I thought this was precisely why lubricated condoms were invented?

  15. 15

    So all his other girlfriends had sand in their vaginas?

  16. 16
    catinbody says:

    I’ve never liked the term “channel.”  Channels are deep, wide bodies of water that can fit entire ocean going vessels with room to spare. So any use of the term “channel” in a sex scene just throws me right out of the storyline, especially if the hero starts navigating it, or plunging into it, or god help us, invading it.  It just sounds like he’s lost at sea, or planning a naval assault or something—I picture bunches of tiny marines running ashore and then start worrying about nasty parisites.  It’s not sexy.

  17. 17
    Jennifer Armintrout says:


  18. 18
    Carrie says:

    Was it a joke?  Please say yes.  But, even as a joke, eewwwwww…I can almost handle the idea of joking that one has a callous, callused, penis, but the fragile vaginal tissue is just too, too much.

    I have 96 problems with this.

  19. 19
    quizzabella says:

    The term “ruptured” invariably pulls me out of an otherwise sexy love scene and into fits of giggles.  This is from “Patience” by Lisa Valdez, a novel which I otherwise rather liked.

    “Sucking in her breath, she hammered against him. …And then she squeezed her eyes shut, and with a long and throaty cry, her clitoris ruptured,”
    Seriously it sounds more like a horrible sexual mistake that would necessitate a trip to the ER rather than an orgasm.

  20. 20
    RebeccaJ says:

    A calloused penis is what a guy gets when he doesn’t use enough lotion….

  21. 21
    Nagaina says:

    Boy, I’m glad that’s a metaphorical thing because otherwise…? I’d seriously have to wonder what kind of funky sex those two were having where his ‘calloused’ wang was not at risk but her delicate vag was. Sandpaper condom? Experimental warming lube? I would be forced to require an extensive investigation into the phenomenon.

  22. 22
    JamiSings says:

    It gets worse from there. I mean “Phallic perfection”? Gag me with a spoon!

    And then her line, “If you could do that again I’d be ever so grateful.”


  23. 23
    Anne Marsh says:

    Uh-oh. I remember that “I’d be ever so grateful” line. It sounds much better in context. I promise. Plus, clearly the calloused quality of the hero hasn’t bothered her too, too much…

  24. 24
    adobedragon says:

    Heh.  This made me think of my grandmother, who used various callus removing products on her feet.  One, in particular, consisted of a little round cushion that contained a callus removing medication. It had a kind of adhesive, so it could be stuck on top of the callus.

    Which immediately leads to an image of the callused phallus covered in a legion of little callus removers.

  25. 25
    Carrie says:

    I don’t want any part of me rupturing during sex, esp my clitoris or, for that matter, my “fragile tissue”.  Sorry, clearly that line has traumatized me for life…

  26. 26
    Rima says:

    Now THAT’S a good way to keep guys from spanking the monkey. Tell them they’ll developed a callused (?) penis and eventually won’t be able to feel ANYTHING. Good times.

  27. 27
    Alpha Lyra says:

    And the irony is that vaginal tissue, made to withstand the stress of giving birth (among other things), is anything but fragile.

  28. 28
    EbonyMcKenna says:

    I am laughing so hard.

    Kind of glad I’m writing younger fiction so all I need to worry about is some kissing and emotions, and none of the ‘going through the motions’.
    I’ve dodged a callused bullet :-)

  29. 29
    dorothea says:

    Oh my god, quizzabella.

    I have just informed my boyfriend that if it is even remotely possible for the clitoris to RUPTURE then I’m swearing off sex forever.

    That is the worst choice of word I have *ever* seen in a sex scene. You win.

  30. 30
    Elizabeth says:

    Oh dear god.

    Me, reading entry: *choked scream*
    Boyfriend: “What?”
    Me: “You really don’t want to know. Really. Seriously.”

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