Roses are Red
Violets are Blue
I Hate Mushy Words
But I Shouldn’t Have Too.
I don’t like mush. When I was a kid, I’d make fun of my Mom for reading the bodice ripper paperbacks which I called “Smut Porn.” Really embarrassed her. I was also reading them behind her back. Shh, she’s not on Facebook and she doesn’t know what I was doing in that closet yet.
Now that I write Smut Porn, I realize I’ve had a strange relationship to love and sex. Most of my life was spend denying love or any thoughts about it. I never bought love at first sight (lust I get, but love is earned). I’ve greeted nearly every romantic comedy with disdain ranging from massive eye rolling to violent outbursts (the women in my family won’t let me watch Pretty Woman any more). Yet I’m a deeply sentimental romantic. I get all warm and fuzzy when an action film has a good romantic sub-plot and I burn through romance novels faster than Guy Montag in Fahrenheit 451.
I used the think the difference was the sex.
Puberty and the internet reached me at about the same time and since my family never caught on to the computer or how to use it, I had access to all the sex a randy teen could want. Especially in written form. While I enjoyed all the well-done visual pornography I could illegally download, nothing pleased me more than the written word. I came early to the erotic works of Anais Nin, Michael Thomas Ford, and the plethora of anonymous pornographers self-pubbing on the internet in the Double 00s. I edited other students’ Harry Potter and LOTR erotic fanfiction in exchange for skittles and Eminem CDs. It was only a matter of time before I started writing and then selling my own fantasies.
But I still never thought about love.
I never imagined I’d fall in love with anyone. I knew I’d be a writer and figured I live in a cabin in the woods with a big dog and a bigger library. I had no language for love and no interest in finding love. I crushed on the unattainable (Dr. Who, anyone?), but never loved anyone.
I should say I never loved anyone until after I graduated from college in ‘07, long after the loss of my virginity. We’re gonna call him Sweetness, because he’s an intensely private man and he’s super-sweet. He’d been my friend for seven years, so asking him to the movies or for dinner was routine. The idea of seducing him like anyone one on my list of casual sexual conquests seemed indecent. I had no means to communicate the depths of my emotions, except to stumble and stutter and speak in romance move clichés, which Sweetness would have happily forgiven, but I would never accept from myself.
So I had to learn a new language to be vulnerable.
To find a voice for my madness, I turned to poetry. I was never a big fan of poetry, since a bad poem could send me into a frothing rage and that’s not acceptable. But to try to understand the disease in my brain that would not let me tell the man I love, “I love you”, I studied the sonnets of Shakespeare, the poems of John Donne who manage to straddle the line between romance and the divine in shocking ways. I fell into Emily Dickenson, Pablo Neruda, Rumi, and Poe. I spent hours analyzing the lyrics of Rufus Wainwright, Neko Case, Queen, Sting, more country, showtunes, and jazz standards than I’m comfortable admitting, and a hundred others that struck me as romantic. I developed an obsession with romantic words.
Words still utterly failed me.
For the better half of a year, I was in love with the guy and could express nothing. I drove from North East PA to South Jersey to see Sweetness once a week (ostensibly job seeking), and acted totally normal. I set an ultimatum that if I didn’t confess my love to Sweetness before his spring break when we planned to go on a road trip to Boston, I’d just fuck him and hope it didn’t kill us.
Love is fucking hard. It’s a violent and exhausting ordeal, but I don’t think it can be avoided. Some of us emerge broken and shattered and have to pull ourselves back together. Others find their humanity by surrendering and trusting in someone who makes them more whole than they were before.
Disney and Hallmark are lying and they taught us wrong things about love, but there is comfort and there is a little piece of truth in most of the lies. The poems I want to include here expose the dangers and complications of love.
My story has a happy ending. While I never managed to find the right words at the right time, I also didn’t wait until Boston. We got married in 2015.
Maybe someday I’ll be able to turn to Sweetness and be able to bear my heart to him the way these poets. Until then, he’ll just have to understand the well of affection and appreciation contained in the simple sentence. “Hey, Imma get ice cream. Want some?”