Okay, I promised you a story – my first adult woman’s fiction. At the ripe old age of 13 Valley of the Dolls came out – those of you with great math skills go ahead. Anyway I quickly realized this was not a book for a 13 year-old which made it all the better. I loved it.
Fast forward a couple of weeks and Momma is having the bridge club in. Now I’m not old enough that they were all wearing hats and gloves, but you get the picture. I’m in the kitchen minding my own business when I hear Momma say, “I believe Donna read that, maybe she can help you.” Huh?? But at the summons I head into the formal living room – it’s not even Christmas and I’m wearing shoes, so this is a big deal.
I approach Momma’s table and she refers me to Mrs. K for a question. By now all twelve of the bridge club women are watching me. Mrs. K says, “I was reading Valley of the Dolls” — feel face go numb and attempt to keep a bland expression — “I read the word (insert derogatory term for gay here) and it didn’t sound like she was taking about a bundle of wood or a cigarette, do you know what she means?”
Shit, shit, shit. Sure I knew what she meant. Could the woman not read for context? She had kids my age, for crap’s sake. So I politely nod and say, “That’s a man who dates other men.”
You know how you can feel it when the atmosphere changes before a storm? I could feel my mother’s head snap up. What, I was supposed to lie? Mrs. K nodded, “Well that’s what I thought.” Momma motions for me to leave the room and, dead girl walking, I do. Momma read the book that night.
I did go on to read Rosemary Rogers and Kathleen Woodiwiss, etc. but fortunately I was able to keep them hidden and no one in the bridge club ever asked for my help again, though I must admit, my babysitting jobs were cut back a bit. Oh well….