Wednesday, March 17, 2010

In praise of trashy novels

Bing was sipping her morning sludge drink of something green and vegetabley and good for her as she stood at the kitchen table, looking out at our yard in the early morning darkness. She glanced down at the book laying on the table and picked it up, smirking a little, as she leafed through it's pages.

I sighed. Waited.

"I don't get it," she finally said.

I asked her what she didn't get, might as well get it over with.

"Well," she went on, her lips twitching, "Last week, you were reading Beckett's Endgame and this week, you're reading...what? Let's take a look." She picked up the book again and held it up for my perusal.

"Here Comes Trouble by Donna Kauffman," she read out loud. The cover of the book sported a man laying in a bed, obviously post-coital, with a bewitching half smile on his I-could-use-a-shave face. Bing looked quizzically at me. "Can't seem to find anything um....meatier...to feast your eyes upon?"

I held up my hands in submission. Guilty as charged. Once in a while, I like to read a trashy romance novel. I just do. Shoot me. I can't help it. I like a good read and sometimes this qualifies as a good read for me.

"Sorry," I told her, blithely. "No apologizing for my reading choices. Sometimes, I just need to wallow in some heat."

Bing shook her head, a little judgmentally, I thought. I didn't much care for the smirkiness on her face either.

"It's just," she went on, "It's just that you can do so much better if you want to read some steam, honey."

I strode over to the table and picked up the gauntlet she had thrown down, unwisely, I thought. I am a good debater and I wasn't in the mood for smarminess or cutting remarks.

I picked up the book and gazed fondly down at the male model on the cover. I sighed happily. "Sorry. No apologies for my book choices. Sometimes I just need....this," I answered, pointing at the dimple in the man's cheek. His facial cheek.

Bing didn't push it. She had already let me know her opinion. Her job was over. She left for work, kissing me on the cheek and telling me, tongue in cheek, that she would be happy to act out any fantasies I had at the end of the day. I didn't answer. No need to.

Because no way in hell is she going to be believable as a champion poker playing hot dude who dresses in jeans and black leather, rides a motorcycle and happens to stumble upon my inn in a remote area of Vermont. Not going to happen soon. Sorry, dawg.

I know it is silly. I know this.

This book is fluff. Silliness. A piece of easy pleasure that is not impeccably written and will win no awards.

But, so the hell what? I LIKE it. I NEED it. On a cold March day when work is over and I am laying in bed, once in a while I just need to read about hot sex between two almost strangers who decide to graze on each other over a kitchen table. And of course, the man has no problem with long, long, long periods of cunnilingus. His penis is large and according to the author, "pulsing with the need to slake his thirst for her mouth"."

Ok. I'm good with that. Actually, I'm not all that picky. I don't need it to be a poker playing man. It could be a poker playing woman, I'm up for that. It is the personality that draws me in neat as a pin. The quiet, well endowed, thirty something stud, who is weary of his Las Vegas ritual of winning millions on a daily basis across a poker table. He wants to get away, to travel and rest his mind, get away from the glitz and the glam of the painted women who keep throwing themselves randily at his manly self. He gets on his hog and rides off into the unknown, ending up at a quaint bed and breakfast in Vermont, run by a tall, quiet, classy but plucky forty something woman with a sad past and a need to be by herself.

Oh yeah. When their eyes meet, it is just a matter of time. They spend a few days lusting quietly for each other as they rescue kittens from trees and prepare dinners together in the inn which has no guests because Vermont is having a spate of unseasonal snowless weather. The first two sex scenes are in predictably real-life horrendous places to have sex: once in the kitchen with him slamming her up against the kitchen wall while she wraps her legs around his waist and the next one, in the shower. I have no idea why this scenario seems to play out over and over again in trashy novels, but it does and it works. Now, in real life...we are talking about major back and butt bruises for the woman and a hellacious backache the next day for the guy. And honestly...does anyone REALLY enjoy shower sex? Really? The only up side is that the clean up process is a snap. The rest of it is a scary slope of trying not to slip and fall or slam your arm through the glass shower door. And no one ever talks about how fun it is when one of you throws their arm up in the air and hits the cold water faucet and suddenly...yep...the proverbial cold shower. Or worse...the hot water faucet faucet and getting third degree facial burns. But...in these novels, it works.

And then, well...the heroine always end up crying in the shower because she never intended to let him see her so vulnerable, so open and aching with the need to get the life fucked out of her. And does the hero roll his eyes and think, "Oh, fucking great....she's bawling...what the hell do I do NOW??" Nope. He is touched, charmed by her womanly weeping and it makes him want to dry them both off with a big fluffy towel and go make her dinner.

Right. Bull shit. But...anyway. Sometimes I just need this nonsense and I am not apologizing. Just like I don't apologize for watching SURVIVOR, AMERICAN IDOL and THE AMAZING RACE, or for liking velveeta cheese or peanut butter and potato chip sandwiches. Or marshmallow fluff. Or some Barry Manilow songs.

Never apologize. Unless you are a Republican. Then, yes, you need to say you are sorry. RIGHT NOW.

I am only half way through the book and I would bet my mortgage that pretty soon some dark evil thing will cloud up their delicious fuck nest. Some creepy person from one of their pasts will show up with a loaded gun and take her hostage, causing our hero to lose all control and nearly kill himself trying to protect her virtue, or what is left of it now that he has pretty much plundered her fields all to hell.

The ending will be happy. I am pretty sure that they will get married. They usually do. You would think that this alone would snap me out of my need to keep reading these books. I mean, I am a married person. Just because you are married, it doesn't give you a license to a blissful life. Nope. It can sometimes boomerang on you big time. Because, as the other half of a couple, you now get to see that whole person that you married, not just the side that plays nice all of the time. You get to see those warts up close and personal. And show yours too.

The romance trash books make it all seem like this could happen to you too and you could easily own an inn in Vermont and get fucked standing up in your kitchen by a stranger who rode in on a motorcycle and paid for his room with a wad of hundred dollar bills and didn't blink twice.

It is called escapism, I believe, and we all need it now and then. Well, at least I do. Just like that grilled velveeta cheese sandwich that I ate for dinner. And the oreo cookie for dessert.

Not that being part of a couple in reality is not great. It is. Sex with someone whom you love deeply and know well can be pretty damn nice. When you are making love and one of those funny sounds comes sliding out of you, you can laugh and whisper, "I swear that wasn't a fart, I swear it!" You can both laugh and go on and nothing is lost or ruined. It's just all part of that soft nest you share, the comfortable one that you depend on whether you admit it or not. You don't ever have to worry about your partner wanting you to dress up like a nurse unless you are both into that (which I am so not, sorry) or endure a long sweaty nasty dance on a sandy beach, because frankly, sand up your crack is not pleasant. You can be yourself and there is a great luxury in that.

But...something in me, in you, in most of us, likes to close our eyes and escape a little bit into a fantasy of boy meets girl or girl meets girl or boy meets boy. It's the human condition and we are all forgiven for being just that: human.

So, tonight, after Idol, I have a date with a book. Do you?

30 comments:

iamheatherjo said...

I'm in the middle of 'Under the Dome' so I'm cuddling up with Stephen King tonight. I'll pass on the Idol though. :)

I never apologize for the books I read, the movies/tv I watch and I especially will make no excuses for the music I listen to.

Oh...I don't apologize for the sports teams I like either. I just won't do it. :D

MmeBenaut said...

I think I've read that book.

Goddess Mel said...

Actually yes, I have a date with a book tonight. I found the entire VC Andrews (except the ones Im looking for) at Goodwill and couldnt resist buying them all. So, Im playing catch up. However, I am giving myself a hard time because i feel I should be reading something else. I need to adopt your stance of not apologizing for what I am reading.

sandy shoes said...

= why I spent a week reading the Twilight series.

Lizzy said...

I actually wrote an essay defending romance novels in a women's studies class I took at university. I like escape literature, it's like candy. You know it's bad for you but you still crave it sometimes.

Eric said...

I started reading Robert B. Parker's "Spencer" novels right around the time he died a couple of months ago, and tho' I don't really enjoy how he goes on about Spencer's girlfriend's dog (I don't really care for that whole relationship sideline at all, actually).
And, from a procedural standpoint, both Spencer and Hawk would be in prison by now...but, yeah, it is just escapism, and I burned through the first book.
So I went to our local used bookstore, where I found that the owner had all the Spencer books (thirty something of them), and I bought 'em all. They're now waiting in a pile next to my bed for me to get to 'em whenever the mood hits.
That's the nice thing about being this age...you really don't have to give a shit about others' opinions anymore. I like things because I like them. I often see these young guys in the cafe or in the coffee shop...you know the ones, I call them EYMWBs, Earnest Young Men With Beards...with their tortoise shells and fuckin' horizontal stripes, and a beanie, always a beanie, and the standard issue tattered copy of "On the Road" or the lasted Dave Eggers.
I always wonder if they are even reading the book or just trying to get the barista, or the random tourist (most of the local women are more into the rich well-endowed bikers that swarm up here for the casino action) to strike up a conversation.

tracer123 said...

Yes, I'm reading a bio on Patricia Highsmith.

Andrea said...

Reading Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert, loved her Eat, Pray, Love. Ironic that her story is so lighthearted through such trying times, or is it just my perspective.

Snooker said...

Dang it Maria, you're making me want to read a trashy novel. More than likely I'll go find some Xena FanFiction or something along those lines. :)

Right now I'm reading "The Forgotten Garden". For some reason I had put it in my Amazon wish list and eventually got it. My only question is, "Did I get the suggestion from your blog"?

Oh well, it is starting out nicely either way.

Rose said...

You're so right, Maria. Sometimes, we just need to escape! I try to tell this to my husband, who is a musician and a music SNOB, when I'm attempting to explain why I might like to listen to some crappy, schmaltzy pop song every once in a while. He just doesn't get it, though. And that's fine, too. I guess he doesn't need the escape.

Must be all that shower sex... :-)

Rebecca said...

I love trashy novels. And magazines. Sometimes life is hard, you don't need to read literature all the time. I love chick-lit populated by middle class white heterosexual women with several children - so far removed from my own life.

greymatters said...

I like trashy hardboiled detective novels, although at the moment, I am reading Terry Castle's "The Professor" . I guess I'm in the mood to read essays.

Annemarie of Holland said...

Haha, had an excellent laugh over this post! Frankly, I have a habit of dreaming up trashy stories myself, which is also a great pastime, but I think I'll head for the bookstore this afternoon and get me something with a bearded six-pack cover!

Wine and Words said...

Bring on the trash. Too bad they don't include center folds.

Anna said...

I've never read romance novels like that. But now I want to. I think I get most my escapist needs met with films, like the Legally Blonde movies or Clueless or Snakes on a Plane.

However, I do have a date with a book tonight. I just got myself Jenna Jameson's "How to make love like a porn star: a cautionary tale" and boy oh boy is it good! No seriously, it's an actual, good, funny, gripping book. She co-wrote it with Neil Strauss, who also helped Mötley Crüe write their book, "The Dirt", which I got a few years ago and greatly enjoyed. I can recommend both!

Rachel said...

LOL, I too am guilty as charged for reading fluff. My latest obsession is the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, which sounds like there wouldn't be much in the way of making the beast with two backs, but it's about vampires and who knew the undead were Sex Gods?? Check them out and enjoy, without shame!!

Jean said...

Love love love the occasional trash novel. In general, I prefer written porn to visual porn. That's a chick thing, isn't it? I can blur the edges, or change the setting in my mind and not have to grimace at a way-too-much-information close up (how in the heck to they get some of those shots, anyway? Please tell me by using a telephoto lens....).

One of the best 'pump primers' (again, the jokes just write themselves!) we've found is to read out loud to each other. Mmmmm.

C said...

you can enjoy any kind of reading that rings your bell!
mine depends on my moods and what i need to get lost in.
nothing is off limits in my opinion.
nor to be frowned upon as we are adults.

childrens reading is a whole other matter.

c

The Brookfield Library said...

Well, dang. I love Survivor and Idol and Amazing Race too, and have even been known to watch that show about the rich ladies in Orange County and NY but I rarely apologize cause I rarely admit it. It's been awhile since I read a romance novel, you sucked me in and so this went on the library list to buy. Sounds like just what I could use right now....a break from the literary stuff and mysteries.

Katie

Raven` said...

Never happened to me in VT--but I do know lots of people who own inns. Believe me, by the time you strip off all your outer layers, you're too tired for kitchen sex.

Fusion said...

I haven't read a book since I came back from Australia, I've just been too busy. Have a least a half dozen to read too.

And I love Survivor and TAR, but Manilow? Mmmm, pass ;)

I loved your quick comment about the Republicans, SO agree with you there...

Gypsy said...

I usually ONLY read trashy novels. Literature, smiterature....sometimes you just don't want to THINK.

I'm reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo at the moment which I'm enjoying.

Anonymous said...

Life being very short, and the quiet hours of it few, we ought to waste none of them in reading valueless books. - John Ruskin

neetzy said...

Well I love Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series. Ranger can stop by and visit me anytime. Joe Morelli's not too bad either!

suesun said...

I have a date with "Reading the OED".... and I'm on the letter X, so I should be able to finish it.

Favorite word so far.... "acnestis: on an animal, the point of the back that lies between the shoulders and the lower back, which cannot be reached to be scratched."

Which regularly translates into, "Honey, will you scratch my acnestis."

Julie Curtis said...

OMG ...

"pulsing with the need to slake his thirst for her mouth"

I dont know if you have an equivalent but thats definitely a contender for ...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Literary_Review#Bad_Sex_in_Fiction_Award

But, yeah, sometimes Trashy Novels just ... hit the spot.

Altho ...

"pulsing with the need to slake his thirst for her mouth"

Naah ... that one would have me hiding under the duvet.

;-)

J

the only daughter said...

Though I haven't read the last 3 (or is it 4?) I have read all but the last 3 (or is it 4) of J.D.Robb's series featuring Lt. Eve Dallas. There are full of hot sex (between a married couple, no less) and others as well as bad ass Lt. Eve kickin' much bad people ass.

I no longer follow Survivor and was never really into A.I. I do love me some Amazing Race.

Let's get it on...aaaahhh baby. :)

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Shower sex was one of the disappointments of my life. I am short. Soapy water which ricochets off someone's chest into my eyes is not sexy, romantic, or even remotely enjoyable. And I have never been able to finish a Thomas Pinchon novel. One person's trash is another's treasure and besides, we can't read Shakespeare all the time.

Miss Healthypants said...

Amen, sistah! :) We all need that escapeism once in a while. No need to apologize for that. :)

Shazza said...

I love trashy lesbian romance novels. They are just fun. A friend of mine and I were comparing her regular trashy hetero to my lesbian trashy novel.

"bodice ripping is bodice ripping no matter what!"

Amen! ;)