Today’s secret is a bona fide secret, I don’t think I’ve ever told anyone about this and besides me, there’s only one other person, and their family, who know.
I am the author of erotic fiction.
I think I’ve mentioned before that my mum had the sex talk with me and my older sister when I was five and uttered the memorable line ‘It’s not called a tail, it’s called a penis’, followed by ‘Stop laughing Julia’. Can I just state, again, for the record, I wasn’t laughing, I was horrified. Now it makes me laugh and if I have kids, I’m going to lead with that line too, make it a family tradition.
My mum was pretty open about most things, sure, she probably doesn’t love some of the topics I’ve brought up over the years, but I’ve never really been told not to discuss things and as the rabid reading child of a rabid reading mother, literature played a large part in shaping how I see things. She gave me her copies of Hunter S Thompson and Capote, then introduced me to Peter Kocan’s writing, and sat through a parent/teacher interview where my English teacher tried to politely explain that she was happy that I loved reading so much, but also that I’d given a presentation to the class that included discussion about a patient in a mental hospital compulsively masturbating. Sorry.
I also read Hollywood Babylon and discovered that famous people engaged in some pretty bizarre sexual fetishes, none of which interested me, but many of which disturbed me. From the pictures in the same book, I discovered that some “mums” and “dads” like to roll around on fur rugs and piles of money. I found a secondhand copy of the first volume of Hollywood Babylon a few years ago and bought it, so my children can be similarly damaged.
All of this caused much confusion, added to by the fact that Mum had asked me not to discuss sex with other kids at school until their parents had the chance to broach the topic themselves. I kept the secret all the way until year three when finally I couldn’t take it any longer and I finally relieved myself of the weight of this knowledge by taking my friend aside and telling her that she was wrong, babies don’t just appear, it’s not called a tail, it’s called a penis.
To this day, my friend still claims I ruined the innocence of her childhood. Sorry.
This same friend was also a big reader and at some point in primary school we decided that if we could read, surely we could also write, and thus we began our careers, innocently enough, by writing stories in coloured pencil in school issued notebooks and then swapping them.
I don’t know exactly how they became erotic, but evidently at some point they did. I wish I either still had copies or could remember the finer details, but alas, I can’t. All I remember was that hers was about a mermaid (the logistics of mermaid sex still confuses me) and mine involved a female protagonist who had a baby with an alien (so in this case Mum, maybe it wasn’t a penis, maybe it really was a tail). I don’t remember either of us finding it funny, but we must’ve known our parents wouldn’t love it because there was a lot of talk about how we needed to keep the stories hidden.
It all stopped suddenly one day when she awkwardly told me she was retiring as an author.
We didn’t speak about it again until we’d left high school, and one drunken night she told me that one of her older sisters had found the stories, I don’t know which, either mermaid or alien, and had then passed them onto her other sister, who passed them onto her brother, who passed them onto her mum, who was all ‘How do you know about sex?’
Apparently to this day she has to suffer through family gatherings where she is mercilessly mocked and until today, I had plausible deniability, which I hereby forfeit.
The worst part is that I now know that in the interim years when I’d run into her mum or her siblings and I was all polite and ‘How are you? Fine thank you! It was lovely seeing you!’ the whole time they were thinking ‘You over-sexualised beast corrupter of the youngest in our family!’