With respect to Socrates, my unexamined life is not worth living. The front room is the face we show everyone but we hide our true self in the back room.
Writing on heavy topics has its merits. I get satisfaction creating things more substantial than random thoughts of the day. However, the emotional output can be overwhelming or the response to such an essay can be devastating.
Not wishing to whack my readers over the head with bricks, the following essay contains sexual frankness.
I’m still trying to figure it out at age 40. Ten years ago, I had all but given up on trying to figure it out. Oh please. Five years ago I was still on the verge of hopeless. Much of what drove me to this hopelessness was fear. More specifically, fear of other people’s perceptions of me.
I developed physically late in life and was constantly beaten up in school. Those two things alone had a huge impact on my self-image. I turned inwards creating self-protecting personas. This had an unexpected effect on my esteem when one of my personas turned on me.
Upon moving to London, a tough talking voice with an East End accent ran roughshod over my inner thoughts. Teenage sexual curiosity often met with sneering derision mixed with light coughing (my Cockney Jiminy Cricket chain-smoked Marlboros). As a result, I limited myself to solitary exploration. Only in my imagination did my lust make any sense.
Traditional men’s magazines and Page 3 girls soon led to covert missions to “the upstairs section” of my local video store. Arousing pictures on the video boxes of soft-core pornographic films led to trying to sift my eyes through the scrambled adult cable stations late at night. A chance showing of The Name of the Rose with my family (my mother was a fan of the book and we both liked Sean Connery) including the graphic and sensational seduction of Christian Slater by “the rose” Valentina Vargas not only caused embarrassment for my parents ( “Cover your eyes!” “”I think it’s too late for that.”) but led to repeated viewings and an audio taping of the scene including the voice-over introduction that I would listen to for hours until I had it memorized.
It was around this time my creative writing took on a more focused, and goal-oriented objective. The scenarios I imagined came effortless to me, soon filling an unsuspecting cylindrical games container in my room. Though I had already been writing dialogue in English class to much acclaim (bashfully uncomfortable from the attention) it was during the phase of this not-for-English-class- writing I began to craft dialogue that still makes me melt.
Scenarios I created found healthy companionship in my older sisters’ “novels” by Jackie Collins, Judith Krantz and Johanna Lindsey. Dog-eared paperbacks pulled from their bookshelves perused in the bathroom found inventive hiding spots. “How did one of my Johanna Lindseys get into my bathrobe?”
Many of the sex scenes confused me and too terrified to have any actual high school friends, let alone the benefit of an older brother, the mysteries remained for years. I lay awake at night wondering what exactly Dimitri Stanislopoulos had done to please Lucky Santangelo with his champagne-soaked tongue.
I was not at all ready for college.