By Molly Freedenberg
I've recently realized that Ellen Sussman's Dirty Words: An Encyclopedia of Sex (Bloomsbury, 2008)  was a strange (good? bad?) choice as the first book I would read on the bus during my first month of car-free living in San Francisco. And not simply because the subject matter of an anthology of essays inspired by words like "cunt," "fuck," and "dirty sanchez" might have the potential to turn me on, which could either lead to embarrassingly obvious physical symptoms (flushed cheeks, unusual frequency of crossing and uncrossing legs), or simply the frustrating reality of wanting to do something (get off) somewhere I can't (the bus).
No, the main issue, I discovered, is the chapter heads. Each new section starts with the word in question, big and bold and impossible to miss. CUM! HAND JOB! VAGINAL EJACULATION! It's as though the designers wanted its visual impression to say, "Hey! Look at me! I'm a dirty book!"