Thursday, July 22, 2010

'Free Fall' Gets Passed around the Table

A group of young adults read sexy passages
from "Free Fall" out loud in a restaurant
while Jim's daughter sat and listened.

A newspaper editor I worked for said, and I paraphrase: Once you write the words down, they no longer belong to you.

I understand what he means. Whether it’s an e-mail or a book or a journal, once I create it, it’s out of my hands. This is true of many of our most valued works, from the children we bear to our signature recipe for coq au vin.

I should not be surprised, therefore, by what happened to my erotic memoir, “Free Fall: A Late-in-Life Love Affair,” a few days ago.

The book is, among other things, a candid and passionate portrayal of my love affair with Jim. The long-distance affair began when Jim was 67 and I was 58. “Free Fall” celebrates adult sexuality and explores major life changes, especially those prompted by increasingly untenable situations. As you can imagine, Jim and I had plenty of life under our belts when we came together, including four grown children.

One of these young adults recently sat at a table in a restaurant with a group of friends (my imagination insists they were intoxicated). The friends took turns reading aloud the graphic sexual passages to Jim’s daughter. My imagination also insists there were plenty of snickers and loud guffaws.

There’s a lot to be said about this incident, from the disrespect paid to the young woman whose cherished father and new lover were the butt of their joke, to the lack of consideration to the literature and the other restaurant patrons, to the possibility that this may have been done while the young woman remained in their highest esteem.

Another of our children, a librarian, had a very different experience. My daughter’s friends bought, read and posted reviews of the book on Web sites like GoodReads. They wrote both of us, sending along congratulations and rave reviews. One of her library manager friends invited me to her library to read to patrons. It was one of the best nights of my life: my daughter, Jim, my daughter’s good friend and a group of interested and open-minded patrons together sharing stories.

Jim was amused and unbothered by what his daughter’s friends did. It’s something men do to each other all the time, he said. They jam you up, test your mettle, play a form of psychological chicken.

As a woman, and the author, my take is different. There are numerous short but graphic erotic scenes in “Free Fall.” A group of young men and women taking turns reading these sex scenes aloud in a public place feels akin to a verbal assault. We all knew that Jim’s daughter had no interest in reading about her father’s sexual activities.

When I asked my daughter what she thought, the first thing she said was, “This is how it is with books. Once you write it and publish it, it’s no longer yours. It’s like a book burning, only mockery.”

In “Free Fall,” I write a lot about letting go, staying open, not holding on so tight to what I think I know. Once again I find there is no such thing as a lesson learned for keeps. You learn a lesson in the moment and relearn it, when the need arises.

Good luck, “Free Fall.”

You can find this blog post on author Joan Price's blog this week. Joan is a leading authority on senior sexuality and fitness. Find out more!

1 comment:

  1. I too would feel the incident as a verbal assault. Actually, if I were a restaurant patron within hearing distance of that table I would probably feel assaulted enough to ask the management to evict them. I'm sorry if Jim's daughter was upset. I'm even sorrier that so many young people today feel entitled to do and say whatever they please in public. More consequences, please!