Nose in my book

I’m reading Candy’s copy of Emma Holly’s Strange Attractions on the subway. In light of the debate about sexual language, terminology and propriety, I have to say, reading erotica in public gives me the frequent impulse to make sure I put my clothes on this morning.

Normally I have no embarrassment to read whatever romantic literature I want on the train. I mean, I sat down next to a woman who was, much to the shock and amusement of the women across from her, putting on her makeup and curling her eyelashes while on the train. And the train was moving. It was both fascinating and gross. I mean, no one wants to see eyelash torture devices in use in public, and no one wants to see the covers of some of the books I read, particularly the open-mouthed-clinch covers with the big phallic pillars in the background. I get some raised eyebrows if the cover is egregious, but hey, I don’t care. Anything’s better than curling your eyelashes.

But today, reading erotic literature, with bum humping and S&M and bondage and sex and humpity hump hump humpity hump hump look at Frosty go, I had to hold the book inches from my face. I look at what people are reading all the time. What books, what magazines, what genres – I’m always checking out other people’s reading material, and if someone glanced over my shoulder to the goings-on of the pages I read on the train… oh my.

I wouldn’t have been embarrassed per se, but I would have felt a little naked. I would hope if someone did glance over my shoulder they went to work with as nice a flush to their face as I did. Surely, their poor manners shouldn’t and won’t change what I read.

But I do have to say, reading the naughty naughty in venues where the literary equivalent of eavesdropping is possible and frequent does make a difference in how easily I lose myself in the prose.


Random Musings

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  1. 1
    Rosario says:

    God, yes! Once, travelling on a bus, I was interrupted while reading a steamy love scene by the guy sitting next to me getting up from his seat. He said “Excuse me”. In English! The only reason for him to speak to me in English was that he’d been reading over my shoulder, that steamy, steamy love scene.

  2. 2
    Sarah says:

    Oh my GOSH. I always wondered about that when I read romance novels in Spain. Was there a rogue English speaker reading over my shoulder?

    At least he didn’t slip and say something from the book, like, “Bone me.”

  3. 3
    Megan says:

    I try, really try, not to be embarrassed by what I’m reading on the subway. A couple of years ago, when I first started reading romances again, I’d bend the covers back. But I hated myself for being so hypocritical, so I flaunt the covers now. But if I’m reading a steamy scene on the subway, I usually check on either side of me to make sure my fellow travelers don’t appear to have any interest in me or what I am reading at all.

  4. 4
    Candy says:

    Back before I had a car and rode the bus to work, I’d definitely feel a lot more self-conscious about reading a romance novel than other types of fiction. And I KNOW people read over my shoulder. This one time, I was reading Le Petit Nicolas, a French children’s book. I could sort of feel somebody reading over my shoulder, but I didn’t give a shit—if he wanted to read along about Tonton Eugene’s funny nose, whoop-de-doo. When I put my book down to dig around for my chapstick, the person tried to strike up a conversation with me. He was this older dude, kind of unkempt, BAD breath, and he asked me whether I was American. I said “No, I’m Chinese Malaysian.” And he wanted clarification on THAT because people can grasp the concept of “Chinese American” and “Chinese Canadian” with no problem, but apparently the idea of “Chinese Malaysian” just BREAKS PEOPLE’S BRAINS. So after I explained (Chinese = ethnicity, Malaysian = nationality), the guy sat back, digesting the information.

    Then he leaned forward and asked “So, that book you were reading—was that in Chinese?”

    I had a very hard time keeping a straight face. The best part is, he looked even MORE confused when I explained the book was in French. I think the idea of people voluntarily learning another language just for the hell of it completely shook the foundations of his world.

    After that incident, any time I brought a romance novel on the bus, I’d open it only the teeniest-tiniest crack to make it harder for someone to read over my shoulder. Because can you imagine the kind of conversation some of the wackos on the bus would’ve tried to start up with me if I’d been reading a spicy book? GAH.

    Oooh, my Captcha is Total69. Does anyone else just crack up when they get anything+69 on these things? Because dammit, I do.

  5. 5
    Monica says:

    This reminds me of an article I read in Salon about Zane, the writer was riding the subway and peeked at a black woman reading this:

    “People were fucking anywhere they could find a spot. I fucked three men at the same time on top of the green velvet cloth on a craps table while my cumdaddy feed [sic] his dick to two of the new sorors from the Nashville chapter. They were all on him and I thought they were about to come to blows over it because they were both being so damn greedy with the dick. Can’t say I blame them though cause the brotha did have some good as dick.”

    Zane is the top selling black female writer (seven figure advances) to white romance readers, but I just can’t aspire to the hot-jungle-mama-in-heat heroine, f’real.

    Quote from Salon

  6. 6
    Candy says:

    BWAH! Cumdaddy? I find that word insanely hilarious. “Before the babydaddy is a babydaddy… He’s a cumdaddy.”

  7. 7
    Sarah says:

    “Cumdaddy” sounds like the bass backup of a four-part harmony. “Cumdaddy daddy daddy cumdaddy daddy.”

  8. 8
    Monica says:

    Oh shit, I take it back.  For a seven figure advance I’d junglebunny out with Ebonic flair, with liberal use of the word “cumdaddy,” and for completely free, would make it funny and throw in a plot too.  :coolhmm: 

    Pubs with checkbooks in hand, holla, and   my agent will holla back.  :-)

  9. 9
    Sarah says:

    Candy, I think our next contest might be creative and appropriate use of the word “cumdaddy.”

  10. 10
    Candy says:

    I need to add that word to our random romance novel title generator. “The Astonishingly Hirsute Cumdaddy” has quite the ring to it, doesn’t it?

  11. 11
    Sarah says:

    Oh please, you must add it. If only so I can get “The Crepuscular Cumdaddy.”

  12. 12
    Candy says:

    Done and done! Give it a whirl. I came up with The Windy Cumdaddy and The Fallacious Cumdaddy. Hee!

  13. 13
    SandyO says:

    Candy, regarding laughing at anything with 69 in it reminds me of a vacation in Detroit (yes, I spent part of a vacation in Detroit).  On the freeway is Exit 69, Big Beaver Rd. 

    I wonder how many extra exits had to be built just to get that number?

  14. 14
    Jaq says:

    “The Crepuscular Cumdaddy.”


  15. 15

    When I was in high school and still embarassed about what I read (well, embarassed about everything) I used to use those fabric slipcovers to disguise my Catherine Coulter and Heather Graham novels. 

    I outgrew that, but I still don’t think I’d be comfortable with someone reading over my shoulder on the bus or subway!  Thank God I drive to work, though sometimes I listen to romances on audio with the windows down!  Haven’t noticed any funny looks yet.

  16. 16
    Sarah says:

    I don’t think I could handle an audio book reading some of the purply love scenes to me. I’d lose my cool and giggle like a 12 year old boy.

    “Huh huh. She said, ‘mounds.’”

    And Exit 69 for Big Beaver Road might beat my ultimate roadsign joy, “Big Bone Lick State Park” in Kentucky.

  17. 17
    Sarah says:

    From the Big Bone Lick State Park website:

    “Notable Americans such as Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin personally examined the fossils, many of which are on display today at Big Bone Lick Museum. The scientific community recognizes the site as the ‘Birthplace of American Vertebrate Paleontology.’”

    Not only is there a museum, but it’s a birthplace of bone(r) study. HA!

  18. 18
    Sarah says:

    Ben: “Tom, check out my big bone.”
    Tom: “Lick?”
    Ben: “Why, yes, why not?”

    OK I’ll stop now. Too much caffeine with lunch.

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