Last week I attended a reading in Auburn, a town a little south of Seattle, not like the Seattle bubble where I live. l was with two friends who were the featured poets of the evening. (To protect their reputations, I won't name them.) The reading was held in the back of a diner in a baby-blue banquet room that was flooded with flourescent light. As soon as I entered the room, my eyes began to burn and my nerves began to twitch–ultra-violent light does not work well for me.
My friends read their poetry, and, then the host for the evening, introduced the open mic. I had signed up to read from a new piece, It's Just Sex, that has been accepted for publication in Blue Lyra Literary Review (Summer 2016). The piece is about my attempts to educate my sons on love, sex, and their responsibilities when they are ready to go down that road.
Right after my friends read, the moderator, made an announcement that as it was a mixed-aged group, readers should make sure that their pieces are appropriate for all. I slid my piece across the table to one of my friends, "I think I should pass." She read the first line of my piece–
How the fuck do you talk to teenage sons about their bodies and dating and girls and sex without coming off like Dr. Ruth, or more up-to-date, Laci Green.
My friend said, "Just say f'ing and not fucking." Not thinking clearly, I didn't read down the page to see what was beyond the first sentence. Ask me to chair a meeting or organize an event, and I step up with confidence. Ask me to read my work in public, and pass me a beta-blocker.
When I read, I didn't change fucking to f-ing. "opps," or, maybe I said, "Oh shit," and I started over again. But, I just hurled myself further down hill. The piece continues–
Green is Youtubes sexy squealer–she who causes ear bleeds in her badass videos talking sex, all kinds of sex, straight-up–no bullshit. Check out her video on anal or butt sex, she uses both terms, to see what I mean. Note-to-reader, it isn’t likely that I will be mistaken for Laci–my voice is thank the-good-lord lower, and I am probably older than her mother.
I am not a prying Jewish mother of stereotype, something out of a Woody Allen film. I’m not “a patron saint of self-sacrifice,” as Sophie Portnoy, from Philip Roth’s Portnoy’s Complaint describes herself. I’m not the mom trying to be hipper than I am not. I just want to make sure that my sons keep themselves safe. I want them to know their responsibilities. I want them to know that sex is not just about getting laid.
Let's just leave it that when the 12 year-old poet got up to read after me, I was uncomfortable.. Shit! I was a guest at a reading. When I told my yoga class what I had done the next day, I was informed that Auburn is one of the reddest places in the state. Who knew? Perhaps my next piece for my kids should be on knowing what is appropriate for a particular place.
I'll let you know when the piece is up on Blue Lyra. Just another day in this writer's life. Perhape I need a sign on my notebook that says–Think before reading!