‘No, Isaac, I don’t want to sniff your finger…’
Isaac Asimov had some of the scariest sideburns in history. Not since the days of Victorian England, the Wild West or Leslie West’s Mountain has a man maintained a successful career as a writer while weighed down with such a virile, hirsute growth. Maybe like Samson whose flowing locks gave him strength, Asimov’s side-whiskers gave the author an indefatigable drive which enabled him to write or edit over 500 books in his lifetime. 500 books, that’s the equivalent of a small-town library.
Amongst all the various tomes Mr. Asimov produced were his noted works of science-fiction and science fact, and there were also his decidedly lesser-known volumes of obscene poetry which he collected together in a series of books starting with Lecherous Limericks in 1975.
The collection begins with:
There was a sweet girl of Decatur
Who went to sea on a freighter.
She was screwed by the master
-An utter disaster-
But the crew all made up for it later.
Which Asimov explains:
“This one marked the beginning. I composed it on the Queen Elizabeth II when returning from a visit to Great Britain in June 1974. When I recited it, everyone laughed. Since that time I have been writing down limericks. I wasn’t going to let myself forget them and lose laughs.”
This first volume was soon followed by More Lecherous Limericks in 1976, Still More Lecherous Limericks in 1977, A Grossery of Limericks written and compiled with poet John Ciardi in 1981, and finally Limericks, Too Gross again with Ciardi in 1985.
On the back dust-jacket of A Grossery of Limericks, Asimov explained his talent for writing rude verse:
ISAAC ASIMOV: “The question I am most frequently asked is ‘Asimov, how do you manage to make up your deliciously crafted limericks?’
“It’s difficult to find an answer that doesn’t sound immodest since ‘Sheer genius!’ happens to be the truth. It is terrible to have to choose between virtues of honesty and modesty. Generally I choose honesty which is one way (among many) in which I am different from John Ciardi. Not that I mean to impugn John’s character, of course. I am sure he would choose honesty too, if he knew what it was.
“The last time someone asked him how he managed to compose limericks, John said, ‘What are limericks?’”
To give you an idea of the quality of Asimov’s naughty verse, here’s a short selection from A Grossery of Limericks, with a couple by John Ciardi.
There was a young woman named Rhoda
As sweet as a chocolate soda.
It was such a delight
To screw her at night
Then once more at dawn as a coda.
107. TEMPTRESS OF THE NILE
Cleopatra’s a cute little minx
With a sex life that’s loaded with kinks
Marcus A. she would steer amid
The palms and Great pyramid
And they’d screw on the head of the sphinx.
108. WE ALL GET OLD
There was an old lady of Brewster
Who would mutter, whenever I gewster,
“You’re losing the knack,
Or you’re missing the crack,
‘Cause it don’t feel as good as it yewster.”
Where Asimov’s are crude, Ciardi’s rhymes tend to be high-falutin’:
59. There was a young lady of Florence
Who could not abide D. H. Lawrence
When invited by Frieda
To follow the leader
She expressed what is best called abhorrence.
61. The once-steemed Lady Hortense
Contracted from one of our gents
A social bequest
She passed on to the best
With what we feel was malice prepense.
62. There was once was a girl who drank gin.
That isn’t too bad to begin,
Shows a high correlation
With behavioral lapses called sin.
And two more from Asimov to finish:
109. SHE’S NO DOPE
Upon high Olympus, great Zeus
Muttered angrily, “Oh, what the deuce!
It takes spiced ambrosia
To get the nymphs cosier
And Hera supplies grapefruit juice.”
111. OH, DADDY!
A pious young minister’s pappy
Had a sex life, diverse, hot, and snappy.
It shocked his dear son
When he had all that fun,
But it made girl parishioners happy.