Friday, January 18, 2008

When They Just Don't Get It!

When I was growing up I was much of a loner, all the way up until I graduated high school. As cliche as it sounds, books were my only friend. I don’t deny that I am a little out there, perhaps a bit eccentric. Some people just don’t get me. One being my father. He can’t understand why I read “those books”. This is the same man that will go on for hours about the Yankees and knows every single fact about this team since they began. I am seriously in awe of his memory.

But when I ask him who Nora Robert is, he gives me a blank stare and asks “Who? Is she one of the Yankees' players' wives?"

There were two different situations that happened to me my senior year of high school that changed my reading habits forever. I attended a private all girls’ catholic high school that had less than 200 students. I graduated with a class of 25. We wore uniforms, had nuns as teachers and I went to bible study classes. Even back then I was the first to read and finish any book put in front of me. I was the first student in my English class to finish Jane Eyre, Once in Future King and I even read Hamlet in one weekend even though I had to rent and watch the Laurence Olivier version to understand what I was reading. But I also had a habit at that time of reading historical romances. That was the only type of book I would read. I was the biggest fan of those books with the Fabio covers and the stereotypical half naked man and woman clutching each other near a stream or in a field. But something happened that totally embarrassed me. The principal called me into her office one day to “discuss” the issue about these books I was reading.

I had accidentally left one of my romances in the cafeteria. A teacher saw it and right off the bat assumed it was mine. Apparently, she and the principal glanced through the book and marked off the naughty parts. I was actually called out of one of my classes and sent into the principal’s office! The first time in my entire life! As I sat there, she asked me why would I read this filth and had me read those passages out loud. She was told that I was giving advice to my fellow classmates about sex! That if they read romances, they could have good sex with their boyfriends. I was shocked and appalled! If you heard what I learned about sex during lunch breaks from my classmates, well they could write their own erotica. Up to that point, I had never even dated, kissed or had sex with a boy. Yes, I was very sheltered.

For a short moment I was seriously thinking of given up reading romance. For a few weeks after my “talk” I wouldn’t bring in any of my “filth” to school. Now also around this time, I had started a friendship with a younger student. I believe she was a freshman at the time. She didn’t do that well in school and hated homework and reading. For some reason we started talking and she noticed the amount of books I was reading and was impressed. And even though they were romances, she was still very interested. She didn’t have her own library card, so with mine, I took out a bunch of books, again all romances, and gave them to her to read. And guess what happened? During my final year of high school she would read every book I gave her and we would talk about the characters, the plot and even the sex scenes with great joy. She began to understand why I loved to read and I was thrilled to have someone to talk to about these books and not feel ashamed.

On one hand you have someone who will put down something you love for no reason because they are biased. On the other, you have someone who is willing to open their mind to something they don’t know and change their perception.

I guess what I am saying is that there are a whole lot of us out there that have a great love for this genre and instead of harping at one another, we should all work together to show our love and admiration for something many other just don’t get, like my father and my high school principal.

It is fourteen years later since I was sent to the principal’s office for something I thought I had done wrong. It was also in the same regard I believe I may have changed a young woman’s life for the better. Now that I had been welcomed into a community like this (Thanks to Kristie(J)) I am not backing down and I will say loud and clear.


Why all the snark when you can just share the love instead?



lisabea said...

Katie(babs)~ I love that the principal, who in my dark imagination is a nun with a large hairy mole on her chin, had you read that aloud. It's a little JW McKenna, isn't it? (From the even darker recesses of my mind). Any way. I was at a dinner party last saturday and I get the same response from my friends. Sure, I've read classics and all those modern american fiction novels that everyone blathers about. But, ya know what? They are boring. Where is the passion, adventure,the PROMISE, that you find in a romance? Pfft. As you know I left that dinner and went home to read the two nasty/wonderful Treva Harte books.

Dev said...

Great post, Katiebabs! I just figure I get enough real life in my work, so I'm going to read my romance novels and be proud of it. And frankly, I see more people read romances than anything else ~ but that could just be the company I keep.

ames said...

Great post Katie! And I must say, you are doing a good job of sharing the love. :P I'm glad you started blogging with Kristie.

Mollie said...

Amen sister!

I got in trouble one day at my Catholic school as well. Not quite as traumatizing as your principle experience. But I was in a class where everyone was loud, and wild and just generally out of control. I sat and read my non-school books through the whole class. Didn't bother a sole. Who did the teacher single out to yell at for NOT doing class work...yep, ME. I ignored him the first time b/c I was like is he seriously yelling at me for sitting quietly reading while the ENTIRE class is bouncing off the walls. He then gave me a detention and I had to talk to the student dean. What a dick. lol. Anyway, your story just reminded me of that.

Tumperkin said...

Awww. Sweet. I reckon there's a few of us out there who learned to love romance as teenagers.

And I've got this theory (no evidence; untested - like mosta my theories) that it's a certain kind of person who loves romance. Basically to LOVE romance, you gotta Believe In The Love. Not everyone does, ya know? There's a lot of cynical, bitter people out there. Like your principal.

Kristie (J) said...

Great Post Katie - that's why I loves you as a partner!
Sometimes it's good to forget all the drama and differing opinions and just get back to what we all have in common. A love of romance and all that it entails. You can tell how vast and varies we all are - some readers DIK book is another person's 'throw against the wall' book. And we come from all over the world, from all different walks of life. But there is a common, very strong cord that links us all. We need to focus on that don't we?

Ana said...

What a wonderful post. Thanks for sharing with us. I most certainly read romance and am proud of it.

We should start a new crusade! LOL

CindyS said...

I'm glad that principal didn't scare you away from romances. I think I would have had a hard time with that - I discovered romance book at 18 so really, no one could say anything.

I never thought of them as something to be embarrassed about until I was in the bookstore and heard a 'pssst' behind me. I look over and my friend is an aisle over. I go see her and she's like 'you read romance?' and I said yeah. And she said, 'cool, me too'. So we're standing there and I say, 'so what are you doing over here?' and she tells me that she won't go in the romance aisle but will have her best friend go over and pick up a few books and bring them to her to look at.

In other words, she wouldn't be caught dead in the aisle of romance books! I just looked at her and shook my head - you know where to find me! When I went to her house her books were all under her bed so no one could see the books she read.

Now that is seriously strange but I think it was at that point that I started hiding the covers of the books I read. So for me, hiding my read became a 'learned' thing. Although I wouldn't let my dad see what I read, I never thought about other women checking out the book I was reading.


Bridget Locke said...

Hmm...I'm not Catholic, didn't got to a private school or anything like that, but I was the girl who brought all of my own books to school.

Now you have to understand that for me, school in general was hell on earth. I had no interest in anything there. I only went because I had to.

I would bring my books to class, sit in the back and read through the entire class. Each year, at the end of the year, I'd bring home 2-3 large plastic bags full of books.

I was never ashamed of what I read (this was when I read the heaving bosom, ridiculous clench historicals back in the late 80/early 90s. I was quite proud of them, actually, and would tell whomever asked exactly what I was reading & what it was about.

Maybe it's because of the way I was raised, but I never viewed the sex as naughty or even something to giggle over. To me, it was the natural progression of a relationship. And if it titilated me? All the better. he-he :)


nath said...

Nice post Katie(babs)! Hmm, that principal doesn't know what she's missing. If she did, she would have a completely different speech.

I'm not ashamed to read romance, but sometimes, the covers... I think it would help the romance imagine if the covers were slightly different...

Christine said...

You know what gets me sometimes, too? The inconsistency that many of the same people who insult and look down upon romance novels are the same people who wouldn't bat an eyelash at watching a chick flick, an fantasy adventure, or an historical or epic film. So why is it so frowned upon for someone to pick up a book that has similar content with maybe just a tad more romance or a tad more explicit sex? The book costs less than the movie, is better for your mind, and lasts longer, too!

Great post, Kate! :)