Well, it's been a full year already since I released my book, The Ones That Got Away – A Dating Memoir, and began this blog. Whew! Time sure does fly.
One year ago I was just getting ready for my annual trip home to the
Support for what I call OTGA (Ones That Got Away) started off strong – reviews were great, people were laughing and loving it. I was thrilled. Who wouldn't be? But then, unfortunately, I hit a little bump in the road. I shared the announcement of my book's release with a woman I know from church. You may already be thinking that wasn't the wisest decision – especially if you've read my tale, but we're pretty friendly and I thought I prefaced it correctly: I'm only sharing this with you because I'm proud of my accomplishment; I'm not expecting you to buy it; it's probably not your cup of tea – especially since things like Sex and the City don't appeal to you. "I'm very candid," I warned as she expressed her interest in it. Well, she bought the book – she and a couple of others as it turned out. Gulp!
So, six months pass and not a word. Hmph? Well, okay, I suppose the rule of thumb is 'if you don't have anything nice to say, say nothing at all.' But, really – nothing? Not a word? Not one single word? This is a funny book – if I do say so myself – how could you not have one word to say?
I've said this before, but it's true so it bears repeating. There's a reason the saying 'if I knew then what I know now' exists. Another true – and apropos – saying is 'be careful what you wish for.'
After six months of wondering, I found out what she thought. She was appalled… horrified… disgusted. Well, that was a far cry from what I was used to hearing: clever… witty… hysterical. I'll tell you what, I like clever, witty and hysterical a whole lot more than appalled, horrified and disgusted. After apologizing for offending her, I couldn't help but remind her, "judge not lest ye be judged," to which she plainly responded, saying she was not judging me – although it was clear that she was. Now, it may be true that she wasn't judging me on my transgressions, but she just couldn't get beyond "why, as a Christian woman, I would write such a book." Before reminding her that my book was a 'dating memoir' and not a book about my Christianity, I half-heartedly defended myself saying, "For entertainment." You know, the OTGA is supposed to be a light, fun read that women – of all varieties – could relate to.
One of the things that surprised her most was how open – and detailed – I was. I had warned her about that. I don't know. I must have a distorted sense of what's private – and should remain private. I have no idea, really, why I'm this way.
I think back to my mid-teen years, specifically to my first gynecological appointment – talk about horrifying. Lying recumbent with my feet up in the air (we've all been there), I could barely breathe as they inserted that cold, stainless steel device (you know the one I'm talking about – looks like a juicer made by Oster). Trying to just get through the experience, I focused on my breathing (shallow) and continued to answer the doctor's get-her-mind-off-of-what's-going-on casual questions.
Gyno: So, what grade are you in?
…pop open the Oster device like an umbrella
Me: I'm a… junior.
Gyno: Do you like school?
Me: It's... okay…
Gyno: Anything special going on at school?
…pushing and probing
Me: I just… auditioned for… Grease
Gyno: How'd that go?
…finger up the poop-shoot
Me: (Gasp! Ohmigod, what the… break out in full body sweat)
Gyno: Did you get a part?
Me: What? Oh… I was cast as Patty Simcox. (Did I just poop?)
After my exam I told my mom what had happened. "Yes, they do that sometimes," she said. Boy, a little heads-up would've been nice. When I told my sister this story, before I even got to the part that my mother knew what went on in there and didn't tell me, Linda said, "Oh, I know – I hate that part!" What?!? Why wouldn't either of these women – the two closest to me in my life – warn me about something like that? Because it's private? Bullshit – this stuff needs to be shared.
I believe this episode could be at the foundation of my open candor. Many of us have similar experiences throughout our lives. Why must we go it alone? Isn't there comfort, safety and community found in sharing? If something happens to you and a friend says, "Oh, me, too," doesn't that make it better somehow? Whether it's made less sad (commiserate over a broken heart) or more funny (swapping an adult poop in the pants story, for example) – it's better. It's better because it's shared and, to me, it's the details that make it fun.
My mom often said that I told her things that "no mother should hear." My mom is a retired nurse so she knows a lot about, say… anatomy. Who better to talk to about varying penis shapes and sizes? Right now some of you may be thinking, "shapes?" while others already get it – because, like me, you've been there. See, the fun is in the details. We're all part of a larger collective called the sisterhood – we should embrace that and be not afraid to share.
I actually thought in the overall scheme of things, my story was pretty tame. After all, I am a monogamous person – just one at a time, please. I go for only one gender: male – no crazy mixing-it-up for me. And, I use just the one hole – call me old-fashioned, I know. Yet, am I proud of everything in my book? Of course not – I've made mistakes. We all have. I wrote to Barbara Walters recently on this very topic – as a fellow member of the Hester Prynne Club for Girls of Questionable Morals, I thought she could relate.
As I mentioned to Susan from church, the OTGA is a story about my dating experiences (and, yes, even Christian women have them) and I think there are many women out there who can relate to this material.
So I put myself out there – completely. 'Brave' and 'courageous' were the words my editor used. I didn't really see it that way at first – I just thought I was being honest – but I get it now. The fact is, whether I shared my story or not, it's still my story – it's still who I am.
I think the following quotes are not only applicable, but poignant:
"Weakness is a greater enemy to virtue than vice"
- François de La Rochefoucauld
"The only difference between the saint and the sinner is that every saint has a past and every sinner has a future."
- Oscar Wilde
"The eye – it cannot choose but see;
We cannot bid the ear be still;
Our bodies feel, where'er they be –
Against or with our will."
- William Wordsworth
And my favorite one of all…
"It is better to be hated for what you are than loved for what you are not."
- Andre Gide
My book has its audience, for sure. Granted, it's probably not found among a typical group of church ladies, and that's okay. My audience is more likely found among a coffee klatch of Cosmo-girls. You know what they say… different strokes for different folks!
And speaking of different folks, I'd love to hear about some of your stories. If interested in sharing, please visit www.honeybeepublishing.com and click on the 'contact me' link. Drop me a line with your best blind-date-gone-wrong story. I will send a complimentary copy of The Ones That Got Away – A Dating Memoir to the person with the best/funniest story. Please realize, though, that I may use some of your material in future posts – so change names if you must (for story only – not contact info, of course.)
Looking forward to hearing from you…