|Just do it!|
For example, when I was fifteen, my grandmother gave me a box of books she no longer wanted. I was thrilled until I opened the box to find that they were all romance novels from the early 1990s. I never read any of them... I sold them all at a garage sale a few years later. I felt kinda icky knowing that my grandmother had read these semi-erotic tales and found them good enough to pass on to another reader, but I also felt guilty knowing that she had given me books and I had snubbed them. Fortunately, she never asked what I had thought about them, but I still felt like I had done something wrong by not accepting a gift.
I'm not going to lie, I usually think I'm "better" than genre fiction, especially anything female-oriented or romantic. I was raised on classics and "literary fiction" (whatever that means) and am probably what many would consider to be a book snob.
That's not the end of it, though. One of the books she left looked particularly worn, and, inside the front cover, a page number was written... Yep... she had marked one of the hottest, wildest sex scenes in the whole book. And then had given that book to me.
I was mortified. How would I confront her upon her return? What if she asked about it? Was this all a trap?
|It's a long way down.|
Thankfully, when she came home, she didn't say anything about her books. I thanked her profusely for allowing me to stay in her home and she thanked me for watching it and everything was fine, but, I am still troubled about it to this day. I can't make any sense of it, but that may just be because I'm a stranger to the genre.
What is the proper etiquette when it comes to romance and erotica? Is there just some universal unspoken agreement in which you know that everyone everywhere has at least a passing interest in sex and it's cool if we read about it? Or is there a seedy underworld where people are buying and trading erotica in secret, pulling volumes out of hidden trench coat pockets in dark alleys?
Is it common practice to share "used" erotica?
I just don't know.
So, I've compiled an almost fool-proof guide on what to do if someone (most likely an old lady) gives you smut this holiday season:Please note that this guide is intended for people like me who have no idea what to do with a romance novel or erotica and are too embarrassed to say, "Oh thank you, but this really isn't my thing!"
1) Be grateful. Don't let that look of apprehension and shock sneak through when you see the half-naked man and cursive font on the cover. Say, "Thank you!" and smile.
2) Admit that you haven't read it yet, if asked. Even if it's a book I desperately want, I very rarely get the opportunity to start a book the moment I get it. Life is hectic, and they probably understand. I think that saying, "I really haven't had time to read it yet!" is more graceful than saying, "Yeah I didn't read it." And really, if you had unlimited time, you would probably read it, right? Right?
4) Talk about the books you do like. There are plenty of ways to do this without sounding pretentious. Mention what you've been reading, what you plan to read, what your book club is reading that you enjoy, recent book-to-film adaptations that didn't do the book justice, anything! This doesn't have to happen immediately after the accursed erotica book has found its way into your arms. You can bring this up in the following weeks or months - just whenever. Eventually, the offending gift-giver will get a taste for what you like and don't like.
5) Just read the damn thing. Come on, how long can it be?