Embarrassment is a sensation we all share as human beings. It can come from many different sources and for a lot of different reasons. And it can be caused by our own doing, or from something we had no control over.
We’ve all experienced it, and we recognize it in others as well. The rosy flush in someone’s cheeks. The warmth in our own when we’ve being hit. The drop of a chin, the shrinking into oneself, or even the complete retreat from the situation.
While there are several different reasons I’ve been embarrassed in my life, exposing what I write to the people who are closest to me is not one of them. Except for one person… my grandmother.
I’m not embarrassed in anyway by what I write. But my apprehension in telling my grandmother comes from many different places. She’s ninety-seven after all, from a different generation, and a very different background. Although she has all her marbles, I figure her understanding and acceptance of what I’m writing and publishing will be limited, and I figure her opinion will be made with spitfire speed, because I not only write smut, a great deal of it is gay smut.
I’m in my forties, so my acceptance of sex and what is acceptable has been nurtured from a relatively young age as society has become more gregarious. My acceptance with homosexuality has been nurtured by an open-minded mother and a society that was becoming receptive to the idea of varied sexual orientation, as well as its understanding and acceptance of love that shares the same body parts.
My children are one step better in this long process. Their exposure and understanding of LGBTQ issues has been miles head of my own as a child and as a teen, and compared to my grandmother’s generation, not even in the same atmosphere.
When I was in high school, there was no one openly gay. But my daughter and son have had gay and trans friends since grade seven. My grandmother… she’s never known anyone who is gay, and once told me that she didn’t even know that the term meant anything besides happy until she was well into her thirties.
So where does that leave me?
The woman was farm-raised during the depression. She had a father who had no problem telling a woman where her place was, and a mother who had no problem staying there. My grandmother raised six children, saw her husband off to war, buried him at fifty-two, married again, and buried that man as well. She has said her final good-bye to all her family, all of her friends, her youngest son, a daughter-in-law, and a son-in-law, and she’s watched the health of her own children fail, while she has remained spry and vocal.
And now she has a grand-daughter who is writing smut. Oh, the horror of such an unforeseen turn in life.
I always figured I would just wait until she died to publish; then I wouldn’t have to suffer the embarrassment and judgment. Unfortunately, it didn’t look like the woman was going anywhere anytime soon. And as the years crept by, it looked like I might go before her if I was to wait much longer.
It was my father, her eldest, who finally pushed the subject of what I was doing to the surface a few months ago at a family function. I was thankful for the assistance, as it felt like I couldn’t do anything about it once it was out there. And I was stunned by her reaction.
She seemed impressed, if not somewhat proud that I was pursuing a writing career.
“Do I get to read it?”
I couldn’t help but blush and cringe. “Ah, I’m not sure it’s something that you’d like, Grandma.”
“Why? I used to read a lot.”
“Pretty racy. It’s a romance, but… it’s got gay characters as well as straight, as well as a lot of sex.” I bit my cheek, waiting. I think she did the same as she hunted for something to say before she broke the silence.
“Well, I’m not that sheltered. I’ve read racy love stories before.”
It bit down harder because nineteen forties racy, and twentieth century smut, are nowhere near the same beast.
“Grandma, this might give you a heart attack.”
She laughed, and much to my surprise added. “Might spice things up. And at my age, I could use it. What better way to go than reading something dirty.”
I couldn’t help myself, I laughed with her, and my cheeks became hotter as I imagined my grandmother reading what I’ve written. Oh, the horror of such an unforeseen turn in life, once again!
I was never close to her when I was young, but the woman is the strongest I know, and I have grown to appreciate and admire her, and I’m glad that she has lived long enough for me to truly know her and love her for who she is and what she’s brought to this world through her long life.
There are always surprises in life. Even when you figure you’ve seen it all, heard it all, experienced it all, someone or something surprises you. Or perhaps, stuns you.
So, have I given her a book yet?
The answer is no.
I have to find some way of bringing her in the twentieth century first - she still fights with her VCR - and then I will have to explain what an e-reader is and how to use it. All of which would be harder than exposing what it is I write.
But I think I will still hold off giving it to her, as I would like to have her around for a bit longer.