Haven’t you heard? “Three months” is the new “next week.” I meant to write this post back in March, some time. But life happened, as it is wont to do. I wanted to a tribute piece for Bertrice Small, who had recently passed. She and her whole Skye O’Malley saga were most educational to me as a high school girl. But then I saw that the quirky and often hilarious Jenny Trout had already done a tribute, likely in a far more eloquent fashion than yours truly would have pulled off. So I pulled out, so to speak. And now the immediacy is lost. But definitely check out the O’Malley family, if only to get a kick out of the elephant tusk dildo and pony-play orgy. (Sorry, Fifty Shades was shocking? Skye was getting her spank on when Edward Cullen was just a sparkle in Stephenie Meyer’s eye. Oh, wait, not Edward…CHRISTIAN GREY was a sparkle…never mind. There was no resemblance between those books, as Chedward never sparkled .) Here is the cover of All the Sweet Tomorrows –think it’s book two, but it’s the best– and hopefully they haven’t modernized it over the years:
So. Binge-watched Season 3 of “Orange is the New Black” this weekend, and realized I needed to edit my blog post on Why I Write Erotica, Part II. To those of you who share my addiction –I’m guessing there are many– you’ll know by now that ****SPOILER ALERT**** Suzanne, a.k.a. “Crazy Eyes” (advance notice to the PC police: don’t crucify me, that’s the name of the character, I am not a writer for OITNB) writes an erotic-bizarro-science fiction story in installments, which her fellow inmates clamor for. They hound her to write more pages, as there is a waiting list, and people can’t get enough of Captain Rodcocker. Then it all gets shut down by Healy, and yet another woman’s voice is silenced.
I flashed back again to high school, when I started writing hot scenarios based on the “bodice rippers” I was reading, starring my friends and their crushes in erotic throes of passion. They were about three pages apiece, and girls were clamoring for me to “do one for them,” which they’d take home to “enjoy.” In retrospect, I should have charged $1 a page, like Anais Nin. Ah, well. Anyway, in addition to keeping me writing, it got me started on a novel called No Strings Attached, about some poor sixteen-year-old girl who unwittingly loses her virginity to a very sexy (in an 80’s way; black jeans and long, blonde hair with a silver BMW) male prostitute. I read it out loud, a chapter at a time, to my gaggle of girlfriends, who would sit in a little circle and push me to write more during study hall. It was a blast.
Did anyone take high school drama? And have a teacher who would occasionally do improv exercises for the first part of the semester, then just turn the class into a study hall or turn on the VCR? Mr. Murphy* was one of those. He’d spend the 45 minutes ducked behind a wall of books at his desk (which was adorned with a poster of the Serenity Prayer) and read or something, while students would quietly goof off and flirt. I was starting to scribble a new naughty tidbit –which was actually for myself– and left for the bathroom before I made it through the first paragraph. The boy who sat behind me (whom I would later date) stole the composition paper, which at that point only said, “I gasped as ______ lowered me down to the hay.” When I returned, Murphy pointed at me, and gestured to come with him. He was fuming, and would not answer me when I kept asking “Where are we going? Am I in trouble?”
Mr. Murphy brought me to the guidance office, and slammed down not just the would-be sex scene, but a collection of my interpretative essays from his poetry class, which he’d apparently been hoarding. As I was very into Freud at the time, pretty much everything was a penis, natch. We had two counselors, one of whom was CJ, which stood for “Creeping Jesus,” and the other was Ms. Merrill, one of those sweet women who still wanted to change the world. Luckily, CJ was busy, and sent us to second-in-command. Murphy told said counselor that I was “sick” and “needed help”…then stormed off. Humiliated, I burst into tears. She looked over my stuff, told me it was fantastic, and said, “He has a problem. Not you.”
I will never forget that. Rest in peace, Dee Merrill. You were awesome to me. You changed my world.
She paged my father (he taught English and was very proud of his writer-daughter), who came to the office, hugged me, and helped me chill out. After school, some kid named Mike came running up to me, very excited, and said, “Your dad’s got Murphy pinned to a wall….I think he’s going to punch him!”
This post is getting long, so I’ll end the story there, and just say that the entire experience only reinforced my desire to write whatever I wanted, trust my voice, and believe in my peeps. Incidentally, when Angels’ Prey first was published by the now-defunct Noble Romance, I dedicated my book to Mr. Murphy.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go crank out some pages. Dorian and Lily are waiting, and they aren’t up for my excuses.
*some names have been changed