So, Monday. At the gym, after class.
And again, at the gym…
I am sitting in the hot tub, warming up, eyes half closed, doing my neck stretches, and two women about my parent’s age get in.
One of them thinks she knows me.
“Hey– are you Cheryl, the chemical engineer?”
“Uh, no. I’m sorry– I’m Amy, the romance writer.”
“Oh, isn’t that nice. Did you hear that? She’s a writer!”
“Oh. A writer. I’m telling you, you should write a book about my life.”
For the record, most writers will tell you that no good ever came of that statement. No. Good. Ever came of that statement.
If someone has a a life interesting enough to be memorialized in biography, they will simply start talking and you will be enthralled. It’s that simple. If someone has to tell you to break out your recorder and your laptop from the bra of your swimsuit, you are in for a very… time. You are in for a very time. That’s all I’ve got.
Or so I thought.
“Romance?” this woman said, “Let me tell you about romance. You might not know it, but I used to be hot!” She is, in fact, a very pretty woman–she told me later she was sixty, but damn.
“I believe you,” I told her.
“I was so cute, Carlos Santana picked me out of a crowd and I took him home. It was funny– he spent the entire car ride talking about how he couldn’t really commit to a relationship, because he had his music, and I was like, ‘Hey, I’m sixteen–I don’t want to get married!’ Or was I fifteen and a half? Either way, he gave me my first oral sex. He was pretty good at it too, but he had blackheads. Probably because he sweat a lot on stage. But yeah. I was hot.”
And at this point, her friend and I were both like this: 0.0
“Yeah, I hitchhiked back and forth across the united states after that. Like three, was it four times? I got raped a lot.”
And again: 0.0
“I’m sorry?” I said weakly.
“But that’s not romance!” her friend protested.
“No, but it’s my life! I got raped three times. No, four. But the fourth time didn’t count. The fourth time it was a Hell’s Angel. He didn’t get me that time. I told him I was going to pretty my self up for him, and my friend and I moved our entire apartment in two hours. We had to. He knew where we lived.”
“Well, uh, that’s awful. I’m so very sorry that happened to you.”
Remember, we are still in a hot tub.
“It is what it is. I’m not much about being a victim. I’m sort of over it. But you know. It’s my life.”
And her friend. “But it’s not romantic!”
“Well who needs romance? My life hasn’t been romantic. Why am I worried about romance?”
“Because that’s what she writes!”
“Oh. I”m sorry. I got lost in the past. Would we recognize your name?”
“Uh, no,” I said, still stunned. Also, I was getting hot–it was time to get out.
“Okay. Well, nice talking to you. Hope I didn’t shock you too much. You know, not romantic, but it’s my life.”
As I got out, I had to acknowledge I was wrong. This woman DID need someone to write her life in a book. Not mine, maybe, but yes. It should be recorded.
Not romantic, but that was really fucking real.