I got up early this morning to meet my Pilates client on the upper east side. I hopped on the 6 train, and just for the record, getting on the subway during the morning rush hour is like taking part in the running of the bulls. You can easily get gorged in the behind if you’re not careful.
I sat down across from a boy who must’ve been 11 or 12-years old. He was reading, The Doomsday Conspiracy by Sidney Sheldon – a twisting plot of a worldwide government conspiracy that could lead to the end of the world. I thought it was an odd choice for an 11 or 12-year old. Not that I know what your average, less than average or above average, 11-year old reads, because I don’t.
What I do know is that Mr. Sheldon created the television masterpieces, “Hart to Hart” and “I Dream of Jeannie.” The way I see it, Christina Aguilera owes Sidney big time. I also know that Sidney didn’t start writing books until after he turned 50. Whew, I still have a few years to crank one out.
I couldn’t imagine how an 11-year old boy found his way to Sidney Sheldon, but I admired this pint sized rebel. It reminded me of myself. For once upon a time, I was a rebel. I stepped out of my fifth grade reading curriculum by studying and memorizing Judy Blume’s masterpiece, “Forever,” thanks to my neighbor and fellow Yonkers street gang member, Stacy Dominguez, who gave her copy to me.
“Forever” was the story of Katherine and Michael’s first time having sex. That book was my sex education. God knows my parents never sat me down and explained anything. Either they were in denial or too hung over. Anyway, that’s what the World Book Encyclopedia was for.
I underlined the dirty parts in “Forever,” or what I thought were the dirty parts, and I brought the book to school to share with my friends, because I’m a giver and a sharer. My friends and I gathered on the blacktop at recess, and being the public speaker that I am (read: attention monger) I read the dirty parts out loud with the confidence of a prepubescent Tracy Lords.
“Then he was on top of me and I felt Ralph, hard, against my thigh.”
In the book, the Michael character named his penis Ralph and ever since then, whenever I hear the name Ralph, I think cock. Ralph Lauren, Cock Lauren. Cock Machio. Cock Waldo Emerson.
“Just when I thought, Oh God…we’re really and truly going to do it, Michael groaned and said, “Oh, no…no…I’m sorry…I’m so sorry.”
Write what you know, Judy. Write what you know.
My friend Jennifer, okay, that’s a lie. I don’t have a friend Jennifer, I was just trying to protect the innocent. My friend Leslie (sorry Leslie) wanted to borrow the book, so I lent it to her. The following day in school, I was called into the nurse’s office. And there was Leslie, Leslie’s mom, my mom, and the school nurse.
Leslie’s mom was pissed. She was appalled that her daughter was reading a book about sex. Clearly she was in denial as well. I was such a smart ass at the time, not like I am now, and thought the whole incident was funny. I’m sure the expression on my face said, “Bite me.”
The nurse looked at me and said, “Forever is inappropriate reading for someone your age.”
I looked at her. “Inappropriate? My parents roll joints before family car trips. My dad wears nut huggers, and carries a man bag. I think we have different definitions of inappropriate.”
Then she looked at my mom, waiting for her to say something parental. All she could say was, “I’m just glad she can read.”