TFW You Realize That Sharing The Details Of Your Sex Life With Thousands Of Perfect Strangers Is Way Less Terrifying Than Sharing Them With Those You Know IRL

[image by Alex Proimos, via Flickr]

Fifteen years ago, I came home from college with a trunk full of vibrators, condoms, and a riding crop, plus the beginnings of a sex writing portfolio. My dad made jokes about it. And my mom decided to operate under the assumption that it was just a passing phase. (Though she still made photocopies of my very first print clip—in Playgirl magazine—and passed it around to her friends and colleagues.)

A year later, I met the man who would become my husband. I often think that, if I’d married anyone else, my career might look very different right now. But Michael has been nothing but supportive of my professional pursuits, even when it’s caused him some small bit of embarrassment, or when it’s forced him to push against the bounds of his own comfort levels.

In the years since, my parents have mostly stopped reading my work. (They say it’s because they’re not on Facebook. Uh huh.) And, for the most part, I don’t mind. After all do I really want my mom to know about that time I…? You know what? Never mind. I’ll save it for the book.

Speaking of the book. Last year, I read Sara Benincasa’s Real Artists Have Day Jobswhich included a line I found both hilarious and prescient:

Eventually I told enough stories and got enough people interested that a company said, “We will publish your book,” and I said, “Oh, thank you,” and they said, “Now go write it,” and I said “Oh, fuck.” Then I wrote it.

It sounded, to me, like an incredibly authentic recounting of events and reactions. Except that, when someone told me, “We will publish your book,” and I said, “Oh, thank you,” I wasn’t worried about writing the darn thing. It was already 99 percent written.

Instead, I had the realization that people who knew and loved me might read the book, whether because they were truly interested, or because they just wanted to support me.

“Oh, fuck.”

When I told my parents I had a book deal, my mom asked, “Will I be able to read it?” (By this point, she’s resigned herself to the fact that I write about sex, though she usually describes my work to others as being about “women’s health.”)

“I think the question is: ‘Will you want to?'” I replied.

“Oh god,” she said, rolling her eyes.

Last weekend, I went to my childhood best friend’s daughter’s birthday party. We’ve been a part of each other’s lives since we were 5. We’ve been a part of each other’s families. “Congratulations on your book,” her brother said to me when we ran into each other by the booze stash (essential at preschoolers’ birthday parties). He looked nervous or embarrassed or possibly a mixture of both.

“Thank you,” I said. “I’m excited.”

“I have to say…” he said. “I was a little uncomfortable reading the book description.”


Me out loud: “That seems about right. I think most people who know me personally would rather not know those intimate details of my life. And to be honest, I feel more comfortable sharing that stuff with total strangers.”

And then we both laughed and awkwardly parted ways so I could suck my beer down as fast as humanly possible.

It’s quite the conundrum. I write this stuff in order to break the silence around sexuality. To destigmatize it. But at the same time, when it comes to those people I know personally, I prefer to pretend that they lead completely asexual lives. It all just seems…TMI.

Welp. A former writing professor of mine once told my class that we should write as if everyone we know and love is dead.

That way, we won’t hold back.

I suppose I took that to heart. Now we’ll all have to live with it. 😉

For book-related updates, you can certainly check back here. But you can also follow my Facebook page or sign up for my Tiny Letter. A DIRTY WORD will be published by Cleis Press in Fall 2018.