Like every other half-assedly “creative” type who would really love to write a masterpiece (or something publishable) but in reality gets distracted by shiny objects and dark beers too often to ever amount to anything, I come to most of my “writing ideas” already preparing to shut them down.
Still, I’ve gone through phases where I briefly got behind a lengthy project: a literary novel about an evangelical camping trip where the sun never comes up, the chick-lit novel that got stolen, a series of travel essays that were also pilfered by some anonymous Kyrgyz dick. I’ve toyed with the idea of gimmick-authorship, doing something stupid for a year and writing about it (although saying yes to every guy who asks you out and abstaining from toilet paper and elevators is out, I think I could make My Year Stalking Junot Diaz into a real charmer). There’s also the possibility of writing a heinously bourgeois nonfiction niche-history, like Salt: A World History or Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World. I threw a legitimate tantrum a few weeks before my college thesis was due because I realized that writing about all-homosexual beauty pageants in the Byzantine Empire would have been just as obscure and stupid, but much, much easier.
But it’s that time again where I feel my creative-fertility clock ticking and want to start something for real. To get things going, I was making a mental list of books that have influenced me, and under the “scary” category was Forever by Judy Blume, which I read as a seven-year-old and then instantly decided that I was going to be repelled by sex forever.
This book, like all of Judy Blume’s, has been banned repeatedly for its frank discussion of teenage sexuality. It’s technically about a girl losing her virginity while in a relationship she thinks is “forever” (she actually ends up being the one who moves on)–but really, it’s about how fucking gross it is to name your penis Ralph. That’s what her boyfriend does. He names it Ralph. Ever since this book was published in 1975, the name Ralph has fallen completely off the radar. No young person wants to look at her child and think about this:
‘Don’t,’ he said, wiggling out of his pajama bottoms. He led my hand to his penis. ‘Katherine . . . I’d like you to meet Ralph . . . Ralph, this is Katherine. She’s a very good friend of mine.’
Then later, after he comes and it gets on her: ‘That’s all right . . . I don’t mind . . .’ I pulled out some tissues.
He took the box back. ‘I’m glad,’ he said, wiping up his stomach. I kissed the mole on the side of his face. ‘Did I do okay . . . considering my lack of experience?’
He laughed, then just put his arms around me. ‘You did just fine . . . Ralph liked it a lot.’
Sick nasty. Which brings me to my newest book idea: a compendium of the most awkward and gross sex scenes in literature. Which is to say, pretty much all of them.