Fifteen years ago I started seriously writing - I have pages and pages of material - one of my personal best (in my estimation) was a piece I wrote entitled Romance and Other Delusions. I wrote this over fifteen years ago - (1) this has nothing to do with my studly current and hopefully last husband and (2) I didn't edit for errors....have a laugh.
In my life I have had three great loves; to read; to write; and to rejoice in the sound of laughter. While I have nurtured two of my loves, sharing them with others, shamelessly flaunting them about; I have kept one, locked in a closet, alone and neglected. I've treated it as if it is forbidden; a love that no one must know about. Well, the time has come to go "public"; I have decided to share my writing skill, or lack thereof, with the masses.
In the past, I have written for my own pleasure and as a deterrent to the high cost of psychiatric care. To begin my writing career, I first had to choose the type of writing I would attempt. I considered the various genres __ should I try my hand at science fiction, mystery or another type of fiction? After weighing the pros and cons of each genre, the only choice for me was romance.
Since I have made and shared my decision with a few of my close friends, I have been asked why romance? The answer is as follows: I have always chosen the road that presented the most challenge. I chose a genre which would be most arduous. That is the reason I chose romance.
Romance, in all actuality, is a delusion and delusions are my specialty -- after all, I think I've been happily married for ten years. Romance, love and sex are foreign to me -- romance having been evasive, love hiding right behind romance (wherever the hell it is) and sex, well I just don't understand what all the hoopla is about.
One might venture to say that it couldn't be possible for a 30 year old woman in this day and age to make that type of statement. In the pages that follow I have recounted various experiences of my life as proof of my statement.
Regarding romance, love and sex, I have had a minimal amount of technical experience and no objective experience. Romance and love I can at least understand. Sex, to me, is like parallel parking or programming the VCR, no matter how many times I've attempted those tasks, I haven't been successful -- either I hit the car in front or back of me when I try to park or I miss the program I tried to tape. I have the same result with sex -- hit and miss.
Perchance my confusion with sex stems back to my mother's wise and carefully planned talk about how babies are made. I quote, my mother, July 31, 1978 2:00 p.m. "Well you see, he puts his thing in your thing and that's it." The word sex or the proper name for body parts were never mentioned in our home. I didn't know what things were but I sure as hell was going to stay away from them.
My father was as helpful as my mother. He died five days before my high school graduation being selfish even in death. Had he one ounce of compassion he would have died a year prior to my graduation allowing me to possibly enjoy life as a "normal" teenaged girl. Maybe then I could have gone to a movie or even a dance or game, but no -- he clung to life right until the end of my senior year. There were boys in high school that asked me out and flirted with me but there was absolutely no chance of being allowed to accept an invitation. My sisters and I weren't even allow to have a girlfriend over or to go visit their homes. Thus, I didn't have all the secret talks girls have about boys. I was kept blissfully ignorant with only my mother's explanation to go on and my parents shining example of love, romance and happiness. Some examples might be found in the physical abuse, abuse of alcohol and prescription medication and the countless trips to the psychiatric floor for my mother.
After my father died my mother went 'man crazy'. If it had testicles and a pulse, it was fair game (sometimes she was lenient with regard to the pulse). Perhaps what caused her sudden attack on anything male and breathing was partially caused by my father. It may have been my father didn't pay much attention to her or maybe he never put his thing in hers after us kids, but who knows. After he died, a turnstile was installed in her bedroom and plans are in the making for a sign that reads "Over 1,000,000 Served". I knew it was time to move out when I was awaken at the tender age of 17 by a burly truck driver asking me for a light. I immediately found an apartment as far away from my mother's house as possible because too many "things" were going on there.
Several years ago she took to the personal ads having serviced all the men in the bi-state area. At one time she was involved with so many men from different parts of the United States, I had to remember them by the state in which they lived, I couldn't remember their names. "Hi, mom, how's Arkansas? Hear from Vermont lately?".
Now she is happily shacked up with a truck driver. She told me all about him over the phone - how wonderful he is, how handsome, he looks like Elvis... I met him recently. He may look like Elvis now if they yank his decomposed body out of his final resting place. In case you're wondering, my mother and reality have never met. His looks do not worry me in the least. It is the way he treats her that troubles me - barking orders, drinking, name calling. If I ever publish the romance I am working on, I will have to dedicate a portion of it to my mother for teaching me beyond a doubt what romance, love and sex are not.
Fortunately, for my sake, insanity skips a generation in my family. Having ruled out my mother's pristine example, I knew I had to learn about amour myself.
So, of course, I foolishly rushed into marriage to the first decent guy that came around. My entire adolescent I longed for a loving family. I wanted and would have a man who cherished me and placed me upon a pedestal. Jack (name changed to protect the guilty - his real name is Ron) professed his undying love for me and I thought I might not get another chance so I accepted. I told him of my total lack of experience and he told me wild tales of his escapades and vast experience with the fairer sex.
Knowing nothing about the workings of the male mind or for that matter any of their other organs or appendages, when Jack and I first started dating I managed to keep him in line except for a few kisses and touches here and there (more here than there). My first clue that Jack may have exaggerated his extensive experience with females should have been when it took him twenty five minutes to try and unhook my bra. I had no idea why he wanted it off, because I was comfortable enough, and I didn't find out that night, because he gave up.
After a few weeks of dating, he got his courage up (so to speak) and began asking (pleading) me to do certain things to one certain appendage. I was shocked at the activity he wished me to perform. He actually wanted my mouth- the same virginal mouth that read at the altar each day at mass during my eight year incarceration at St. Mary's Catholic School - placed on his thing to coin my mother's terminology. If this is romance, I say forget it.
Thankfully I had crisis training, having worked at a hospital, so I told myself, at that time, to remain calm, not to make any sudden movements and to just smile politely and soon this totally deranged man would be out of my apartment. He had to be out of his mind to suggest that I do that to him. I momentarily thought about giving him my mom's phone number but I couldn't even do that to him and realistically the waiting line at her place was too long. So, after playing it cool I got him out of my apartment and bolted my door. I watched his car pull away (jotting down the license plate number just in case). After he turned the corner, I rushed to the telephone and called an older, married friend for comfort. Expecting to receive cries of dismay and words of comfort, I found myself the recipient of her hysterical laughter. After several minutes my experienced friend regained her composure and said, "Honey, they all want that."
MY GOD! Every man expected that! I was never to be safe. Well, I'd just have to join the convent; nuns didn't have to worry about those things. But after some deliberation, I voted against a celibate life with Our Lady of Perpetual Hope. I had waited too long for love, I'd take my chances with the mad man. I decided to see Jack again and exercise extreme caution around him. Since then I have resigned myself to excuses to avoid that particular activity. I've had a sore throat since 1983.
After a lengthy six month courtship, Jack and I got married at the courthouse in our small town amongst cries of horror from his mother. We could hardly hear the Judge due to her incessant wails. You would have thought he was being sent to the gallows instead of marrying sweet virginal me. Well, it seems I wasn't good enough for her baby since she had come to the conclusion that I was a slut. Me, the closest thing to Doris Day in Illinois, promiscuous! She thought I had snared her little angel with my womanly wiles and holding him prisoner with nights of unbridled passion. She had reached the conclusion that Jack and I were sleeping together because each and every time he came over to my apartment he fell asleep, eating dinner he fell asleep, watching television he fell asleep, talking with our friends he fell asleep. See Jack tired, see Jack sleeping, see Jack comatose. There was no way I could wake him either, for once Jack is catatonic there is no hope for consciousness until morning.
Back to the ceremony -- when the Judge threatened to remove her from the room, Jack's loving mother quieted down long enough to allow the Judge to finish the ceremony. Jack promised me a lavish dinner at a fancy restaurant and what I got was homemade barbecue at his parent's cabin (Broken Promise Number 1). I couldn't eat anyway, I was so worried about the wonderful night ahead that he promised me (Broken Promise Number 2).
After two hours of procrastination, I finally found the courage to leave the bathroom and enter the bedroom. I was terrified. After all, he had done this many times before and I was going in there a rookie, not even warming up in the bull pen. I had all sorts of doubts about myself. Would I be any good? Would he be happy? Would I do something wrong? I didn't know.
Exactly fifteen seconds later (with barely an impression in the mattress where I lay), I knew. There was one thing for certain. He lied. He had no more experience than I. I wasted two hours of "prime time" television delaying a major milestone in my life for fifteen seconds of "making love". Jack sure didn't think much of love for he didn't make much of it.
I'm pretty sure we consummated our marriage that night although I'm not positive. Wasn't there at least suppose to be pain? Perhaps my husband believes in the theory that some mothers practice when pulling a bandage from one of their child's limbs, if you pull it off quickly the pain is momentary. That was it, he was trying to protect me. Well, I need no man's protection. I want the pain. Feeling something, no matter if it was pain, was better than feeling nothing at all.
My fervent prayer is that all men aren't so considerate. I hope there are some men who are heartless and can control their bodies and inflict hours (okay minutes, remember I hope to write fiction) of pleasure on their women.
The problem I see is that men are always trying to save time. They know a short cut for everything. A short cut across town, a faster way to do the grocery shopping, etc. Even my employer, a man, is constantly trying to find ways to save time in everything including word processing. When I roll my eyes at all his suggestions for speeding things up, he tells me each time, "Just trying to save strokes." Aren't they all.
Now my dilemma begins, how can I write a sensual scene when I wouldn't know an orgasm if it came up and introduced itself. I'm sure the publishers at Harlequin would reject my manuscript due to the repetitious use of the term "thing". I'm a modest, strictly reared, Catholic girl could I dare type the word nipple or worst yet shaft? The thought of putting adjectives before these words such as throbbing or heated breaks me out in a cold sweat. Poor Sister Mary Agnes is rotating like a rotisserie in her grave. "I'm sorry Sister. I know, five Hail Mary's. Yes and I'll go to confession."
So, I delved in and ordered How to Write Erotica and sent away for a list of "The Most 100 Sensual Words". (This cost me ten Hail Mary's). Now I have the manuals but I still have a problem. I have never been good with "how to" books. I have always learned better with hands on training. Hemingway wrote from real life experience, I would have to be a far better writer, I must use my imagination.
When writing a romance you must have a dark, sexy, handsome, muscular man, well Jack is Howdy Doody without the benefit of Buffalo Bill. Jack is the silent type (note to reader strong is blatantly missing). He won't even give his order to a waitress at a restaurant he defers to me. Just recently, we went out to dinner with my in-laws and to my dismay I heard my mother-in-law order for her husband, too. Good Lord, it runs in the family, must be a defective gene pool.
Upon reflection, perhaps his lack of conversational skills around anyone other than myself is a protective measure, like quills on a porcupine. Jack doesn't have a firm grasp of the English language he refers unwittingly to his "genitals" as his "gentiles". I definitely have to create my hero from scratch. My hero will be based on no one I know.
Second thing you need for a romance is a beautiful, innocent heroine. Easily done.
Step three is passion. Big problem here folks. As for passion, even after ten years of practice, my idea of good sex is dictated by the fact if I'm still awake when he is done. But then how could I fall asleep when I hadn't even had time to take my glasses off? There is a story about a ball player who was so fast that when he would turn the light off as he entered a room, he would be in bed before the room was dark. My husband should have been a ball player.
A rule to live by: A man who can't go the distance should never perform in a room with a digital clock. There are none in our bedroom. We also never frolic near the VCR or microwave unless, of course, it is blinking 12:00 .. 12:00 .. 12:00. Yeah, baby, time stood still for me, too.
Passion must be stoked by foreplay, yet another area in which I am uneducated. Jack's idea of foreplay is when he removes both his socks and his watch (non-illuminating face plate, of course). Having never experienced an orgasm myself, I was curious to at least know what a male's orgasm feels like. I've asked Jack several times what does one feel like and his answer is that it feels like a release. Bodily functions can feel like a release I would like a little more detail please. Perhaps I've had one and missed it. It's hard to catch a bullet.
It scares me to say this, more than anyone could ever know, but the more I think about it maybe my mother was speaking the truth in her description of sex he does put his thing in my thing and that is it! In the movies I see repetitive movement. Richard Gere call my husband.
Once my husband talked me into having sex in the morning before he went away for the weekend with our son fishing (yes my husband's parts are functional he's fast but effective). It took some coaxing people aren't suppose to have sex in the daylight, you know, but it was worth it to get them out of the house for two days.
In the middle of the "heated" (there, I used it) action (approximately thirty seconds in) I started screaming. He was proud and beaming. Nine years of hard work (an investment of one hour and two minutes total time) and he had finally given me the ultimate gift. He gave me a leg cramp. I was trying to roll over and tell him okay we could do it and he caught me in midroll with my leg twisted. It broke my heart to tell him the truth, but if he thought he had succeeded well it wouldn't be fair. He wouldn't reach for the gold, he would never build up endurance. He had to know the truth. Didn't he?
But, I let him have his delusions too. Every year on his birthday I give him a couple of "oh babys". Lucky for him I talk fast if I stuttered or had a sexy, southern drawl he would barely get an "o"___. Before I receive countless letters from sex therapists worldwide explaining that it isn't healthy to fake an orgasm __ STOP. I am a writer not an actress. Even Jack knows the difference between an 'oh baby' and the wailing and screeching made in the thralls of passion. Another note to any therapist with their pens poised, Jack doesn't have a medical problem and I am a warm and loving wife. Jack has no desire to master an activity in which he, alone, attains satisfaction.
In an effort to provide him with some assistance, I purchased How to Satisfy a Woman Every Time and Have Her Beg for More. Allegedly this book guarantees successful results. I marked the sections he should first read quietly to himself, then read out loud for maximum comprehension. After he was finished, he was requested to come immediately to bed to practice what he read before all the details would escape him. With what appeared to be crib notes in hand, he began. Let's just say I've returned the book to get my money back.
Recently, I had a reunion with a few friends (two males and one female) from my single days. The subject eventually rolled around to sex. These males boasted about their prowess and how they always satisfy their women. Of course! It is always the men you haven't been with or will never be with who are good. Not that I believe their tales, I'm from Missouri "show me".
Obviously my life's experience in the romance department is lacking. Accordingly, I must rely on the many wonderful love stories I have read to conjure up the feelings of a woman satisfied. This wasn't going to be an easy task, but I knew that going in. Good things in life are worth working hard for. Wine improves with age, perhaps Jack will. If not, perhaps Our Lady of Perpetual Hope will still have a bed for me. I'm as close to a 30 year old virgin as they are going to get.
With trust in my God-given talents, those being imagination, strength and patience and dismissing anything I learned from my family or husband, I penetrate (good word) the unknown confines of romance. I now know what Columbus felt like sailing for unchartered lands. Romance take me away!
Enter a tall, dark, virile hero. Perfectly muscled, gallant and bronzed. He gathers his beautiful heroine in his strong arms and whisks her away to a night of passion. She, of course, is a virgin and he, of course, erupts multiple orgasms on this her first encounter.
They find themselves forced apart. Just when you fear there is no hope, that they must live a life apart yearning for each other, fate strides in and brings them back together for a lifetime of romance, love and unquenchable passion. He spends his days worshipping, protecting and dwelling on her every word as she does for him. This is how it should be and this is how it will be at least in my mind and in my heart.
That is why I chose to write a romance.
Exit Howdy Doody.