Thursday, May 24, 2007

Petard

I very much liked last Friday's anonymous free-for-all, and was particularly tickled to receive an email from a friend telling me how much she enjoyed my Lowood post.

Cool. I enjoyed it too -- as a reader. Because although one of my first literary erotic obsessions was poor suffering Helen Burns, it wasn't me who wrote that post.

In fact at first I had felt extremely shy about participating at all. Perhaps this was only a matter of timing (isn't everything?). Perhaps last Friday the viewing time on my own inner screen was being preempted by a regularly-scheduled episode of my own writerly self-doubt.

Whatever the reason, I found myself anxiously wondering if there was an erotic fantasy bouncing around my head that I hadn't already written down. And if there really wasn't one somewhere, where did that leave me?

Perhaps, I fretted, I should take down the plaque that proudly adorns the wall of my study. MIDDLE-AGED LADY WITH ATTITUDE, it says. Which is all very well, until the bottom line tells you differently.

What if my leaky little boat of a life had sailed off toward the ends of the earth, into the here-be-dragons territory out on the other side of middle age? What if it was time to trot out the other, scarier O word?

Not so fast, I decided. Because I'm pretty sure that no matter how old I'm getting on the outside, I can at least partially write off last Friday's anxieties to the affects of writerly masquerade. Because these days an invisible facet of my personality is wearing the sensuous, heavy-lidded mask of Marina Wyatt, the heroine I'm trying to write into existence.

And what was Marina fretting about in chapter one (besides having had nothing to eat all morning but an apple and some beastly gruel)? A boredom, a world-weariness, a lack of erotic enthusiasm:

...the whole bloody business turned a bit stale.... Was it really so surprising that she might find it more appealing to work by her wits, nowadays when she was clearly growing… say it, Marina… old?

Of course, Marina is aging in romance years -- Regency romance years -- which are not as fast as dog years, but a lot faster than the one we live in day to day. Marina is all of thirty-six, and it being chapter one of an erotic historical romance novel... well, you and I and everyone we know can be quite sure where I and her protestations are leading her.

But while Marina had no choice but to wait around for my narrative to prove her wrong and show her a good time, I got faster relief. Because I kept checking back on those anonymous Friday posts to see if anything caught my interest.

And suddenly there he was, a guy from an almost-forgotten fantasy of mine, the cool, analytical man with stainless steel tools. And I got so excited to see him there -- and with his toolkit, which I in my partially-written and probably ultimately unfinishable fantasy had named Iron John -- that I chimed right in and forgot to make myself anonymous. Thereby fulfilling the part of my fantasy whereby the recorder of the strange sex practices becomes so fascinated that she signs herself into the computer system and doesn't know how to sign herself out.

And although I am in fact blogger-savvy enough to have deleted my post, I didn't. Because I was charmed by having truly and sincerely trapped myself -- hoist with the petard of my enthusiasm for the fantasy. And more aware than ever how many of my fantasies have to do with being exposed -- to myself, to the world, to the one lover who will truly understand, and perhaps (ha! perhaps!) to a few attractive devils who'll make their own fiendish uses of it.

(After which I decided it was time to find out what a petard actually was. And no, it's not what I always thought it was. I know Wikipedia isn't 100% trustworthy, but the discussion of petard certainly told me a lot I didn't know. And as for the picture of a petard, actually it looked a lot like Iron John.)

While as for the question for you out there... hmm, I guess I have several.

Are you also fascinated by some variety of the gotcha fantasy? Does it jump out of erotic literature for you as often as it does for me? What makes it appealing? Or would you prefer not to analyze it?

What did you think a petard was? (Oh, and by the way, the OED tells us it can be used as a verb -- to be petarded, though it's not common useage.)

And are there any other high-tech fantasists out there?

4 comments:

Kate Pearce said...

Well I always knew it was something military but I reckoned it was something sharp and pointy rather than a type of bomb-huh! You learn something everyday!

I think most people have erotic fantasies and that we'd all probably be surprised about how commonplace most of ours are.

Pam, we had Sage Vivant on our Lust Bites blog this week and she has a quiz on her blog to determine your erotic personality-apparently most people fall into a series of particular identities! I can't tell you what I came out as! (I believe I erred by answering as Kate Pearce rather than the real me)

Celia May Hart said...

The gotcha fantasy? Absolutely. All of SHOW ME is about taking risks at being caught at having sex.

I loved reading the fantasies last week, unfortunately Friday I was too braindead to add my own.

janegeorge said...

"Make it so," says Captain Iron John Petard.

So sorry, couldn't stop myself.

Jane Lockwood said...

I think hoisting oneself on one's own petard is what happens when you write, and the erotic elements are the least of it. Some of it is good old-fashioned exhibitionism, but the rest...the stuff we're not aware of but we're showing to the world anyway, and worst of all, know we're doing it without knowing exactly what we are showing...well, we're sick puppies, that's all.

But maybe that's what drives us to write, the elements of risk and revelation (ooh. Good book title. Remember that one).

And remember Le Petomane on Monty Python? A character who may or may not have existed, a French music hall artist (in the broadest sense of the word) who astonished and entertained audiences with his fart impressions?