Picture this: you swing by to pick up your mom after her monthly Ladies’ Night meeting, get introduced to all of the nice, affable women in attendance…and immediately get told that their book club is looking for something to read soon, so we don’t suppose you’d happen to have a copy of your erotica trilogy on hand, would you, dear?
Well…no. Generally speaking I don’t walk around carrying
pornographic paperbacks, even on nights when I’m not going to be meeting some of my mother’s acquaintances for the first time. Perhaps especially on those nights.
I must say, though, that my mother’s on-the-spot impersonation of a man selling knockoff watches out of his trench coat was dead on. And funny. Funnier still because I can actually picture her flinging her winter jacket open to expose a dozen copies of my book, hawking my wares in back rooms and book clubs whenever the mood arises. We’ll get to that point, I’m sure. If she asks me to accompany her on a shopping expedition for a new (read: bigger) coat, I’ll know we’re there.
It’s a strange experience to walk into a busy restaurant and have an entire table full of women immediately turn to look at you as though you’re either a depraved individual who has been discussed exhaustively (thanks, Mom) all evening, or you’re the holder of the Holy Grail. The utter shock expressed by everyone – my mother included – when I indicated that no, I don’t actually carry my business cards with me, either, left me feeling rather taken aback. I guess I should start stuffing my wallet…? These occasions do, after all, seem to be springing up when I least expect them.
My cards are starting to become akin to condoms. You should always have a few on hand, just in case. And those times you don’t have any are the ones when you’re really gonna wish you did.
Not that I’m speaking from experience, she says, whistling innocently.
Anyway, back to the point.
I got a message from my mother late last night, after she’d been out celebrating Robbie Burns Day with a few of the same ladies I met a couple of evenings ago. She’s run out of her stash of my business cards again (honestly, to whom is she passing these things?? I could half imagine her shoving a card into the kilt waistbands of every musician as they travelled past her table while piping in the haggis), and one of the paperbacks she’d set aside for the book club came back home with her…because it requires a personal inscription, not just some impersonal autograph. Who knew I was so popular? (Not I!)
There’s just this terrifying moment when you realize you’re standing there, in that crowded restaurant, trying to prepare a group of virtual strangers for the very particular taboo subjects explored within the book in which they’re so interested. You’ve gotta know there are servers passing by, catching bits of this exchange and wondering what the hell kind of conversation is being had among all of these well dressed, civilized women out of the blue. You can hear yourself justifying what you wrote and even warning people away from it, to some degree, and yet you can’t shut up. It’s like those dreams you have where you’re trying to walk down a hallway but you never get anywhere because the hallway keeps getting longer. You just keep talking and you dig yourself deeper (and make your book sound about a thousand times more scandalous than it may in fact be…which is scary unto itself).
So now this cult-like following my parents are actively cultivating has evolved into something even more and stranger still: I’m experiencing it in person. No more will I just hear about all of it secondhand. Oh, no. Now it’s as though people think of me as J.D Salinger and they’re determined to not allow me to limit my presence to just one appearance. I sense a lot more requests from my mother in the future to be the one who picks her up from various events, just so I can pop in and update everyone – many of whom I will likely never have met before that moment – on how my latest erotica series is going. This means I need to work on my stand-up delivery as well as honing my writing skills, you realize. At some point I may actually become the event.
I jest, of course, because I’m well aware of how fortunate a position I’m in to have parents who not only like me as a human being but who support my impractical, artsy vocation…even with it hinging on smut. High fives all around to parents who can get behind that at all; there aren’t enough gold stars in the world for parents like mine, who not only tacitly support what I do for a living but actively participate, even though neither of them ever wants to read any of it themselves.
And I’ve gotta say…I’ve never been so glad that my mother isn’t into book clubs as I am right now.
P.S. If you’re looking for something new to read that isn’t mine, you simply must check out Greer Hartley‘s just-released book, BITTEN. You’ll laugh and then you’ll wonder if it just got really, very hot in here. Trust me on this one. Pick it up. Look at this cover and try to deny yourself. I dare you.