Thursday, 7 July 2011

Stinky Feet and Aunt Tilly’s Visit

Welcome today's guest author, Jennifer Johnson!

Years ago, when I was collaborating with a friend on a story, the topic of feet came up. My friend suggested I take the socks off my hero.

“Bare ankles on a man are so sexy when he’s wearing shoes.” She heaved one of those girly sighs. You know the type of sigh-heaving I mean.

“Seriously?” I said in disbelief. “If a man wears no socks then his feet stink.”

No. I couldn’t let my hero wear shoes without socks, and yet if as the all-powerful creator of this hero, I can bare his feet, can’t I create them without bad odor? How far is the reader willing to go with me in my story with her suspension of disbelief? Will she believe a man would sleep naked in bed with a woman and only cuddle her, but not believe he has body odor? Where’s the line?

As I reflect on the eye rolling I’ve done when I’ve labored through a really dumb passage in a book or my own sigh-heaving when I’ve read a page that simply melts my heart at the well-written romance, I’ve decided what we want is the realm of possibility. We want the meaningful moments, but never the awkward ones. After all, don’t we have enough of those “wish the floor would swallow me up in my embarrassment” moments in real life?

Take, for instance, our monthly cycles. Period. Menstruation. Aunt Tilly’s visit. Whatever you want to call it. Now I’ve read a lot of romance books, and the only time a heroine thinks about her period is when it’s late, and she’s thinks she’s pregnant. I’ve never read a scene in which the hero and heroine are hot and heavy with each other, and she says, “Wait, honey, before you go down on me, I just want you to know I’m on my period.” It seems to me how the guy reacts to that statement is going to brand him as a true romantic hero or my brother. Why my brother? Well, as a teenager I may have chased him around the house with a used sanitary pad. He was four years older than I was so to get that kind of reaction out of him was awesome. However, it also taught me that males think period blood is disgusting.

Come on, people. Women menstruate once a month. Our romantic heroines also menstruate. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have so many plots in which she has to work things out with her baby daddy.

Is the actual menses akin to smelly feet? We’d rather not read about leakage unless it has to do with vaginal lubrication or semen? Really? I readily admit I cannot stand weeping unless it is coming from a woman’s eyes. And also I do not want to read about hot spurting. You know what I’m talking about.

But back to Aunt Tilly’s monthly visit. If I wanted reality, I suppose I’d close the book. But isn’t menstruation one of the core symptoms of the feminine? Are we turned off from it because it’s not sexy to be fertile? Or is it the double standard that the sign of a woman’s fertility (her period) is deemed gross whereas a man’s sign of fertility (his semen) is his biggest demonstration of sexuality so that we loooove to read about it in all its spurted glory?

I think it might be an interesting exercise to have a heroine bloated and crampy, and to let the hero react to her in her feminine menstruating state in a true, romantically heroic way. And what would that way be?

Wax poetically about the dark red color on her panties?

Fetch some chocolate, tampons, and Midol from Kroger?

Get the heck out of her face and go wash his freakin’ stinky feet?


Jennifer Johnson’s newest book is Double Dog Dare from Turquoise Morning Press. So far none of her heroes have waxed poetically about menstruation. Nor do they have stinky feet.

The Blurb:

We’re all mad here.
~The Cheshire Cat

When Cheris McDowell wakes up in a hotel room next to the husband she doesn’t remember meeting, she decides the only practical solution is a quiet divorce.

Too bad the rest of the world disagrees.
As an Internet advice guru, Cheris ought to know how to fix the mess she woke up to, but when her own web master conspires to keep the marriage going, Cheris is at a loss.

Geoff Arrowood III, her new husband, isn’t helping the situation. He’s way too charming and looks a little too good in a Tuxedo.

Will Cheris choose a little storybook madness or the sensible advice of the wisdom she’s followed all her life?

The Excerpt:

Drink Me

“I dare you,” her companion murmured.

“I don’t take dares,” Cheris replied shooting him a disdainful look.

“What about a double dog dare?” He winked, and Cheris’ stomach fluttered. “Do you take those?”

It was silly, really, letting this stranger impel her to anything. Squaring her shoulders she stepped forward into the looking glass and retrieved the drink. Bringing it to her lips, she sipped once and discovered it to be mild yet sweet—similar to cantaloupe in the peak of its season.

“Mmm. Very nice.” She tilted the cup and drained it. “I’ve never tasted anything quite like it.” She licked her lips and tilted her head. Picking up another glass, she set the empty one in its place. “Go over there and drink one.”

The man raised his eyebrows, but walked to the chair. They faced each other as he determined the correct glass to pick up.

“Yes. That’s the one.” Cheris drank from the second glass enjoying the cool liquid. “I’ve got to find out what this stuff—oh!” She gasped as she tripped over the frame.

At once he was at her side steadying her. “Careful there, Alice. It’s the rabbit hole you’re supposed to fall into.”

Oh. My. Goodness.

Cheris’ hands were on his arms, her fingers sliding over the material, reveling in the solid flesh underneath. She raised her face and blinked up at him. “Whoever you may be,” she drawled. “I have always depended on kindness in strangers.”

Like what you read? Click on Double Dog Dare for the book link at Turquoise Morning Press.

If the link doesn’t work, the URL is below.


Faith said...

LOLOL! I'm so glad that I'm not the only woman who has had similar thoughts about erotic romance books! Great post!

Margaret said...

LOL! I too cringe at the thought of the shoes/no socks hero. There's a teenage boy in my house, so I am well acquainted with the ramifications.

As for Aunt Tilly, I'm still cracking up over the fact that you chased your older brother with a used maxi pad, and a little sad that I didn't think of it way back when... Excellent post!

Nicki said...

Oh boy, if I had a dollar for every time Aunt Tilly caught me unpleasantly off-guard, I'd be rich. (Ditto if I had every cent I spent on tampons and maxis.) ARGH!

And don'tcha just hate it when she comes over on a special day, a fun amusement park afternoon or a bike ride? Sucks!

Jennifer Johnson said...

Hey, I think I said I *MAY HAVE* done that. I'm not actually admitting to it. It was probably my sister who did it. Not ME (she types with a completely angelic expression on her face).

Toni V.S. said...

I never let :Aunt Tilly" stop me from doing anything, but this blog reminds me of some scenes from my Sinbad Book 1, the heroine actually does worry about her period. They in the middle of a jungle at the time, so...she gets out her little bottle of pills and takes what she thinks will keep "Aunt Tilly" at bay. Trouble is, she accidentally takes a fertility pill instead. Oh my... and our hero, being part feline can sense what's happened in her body and that the pill has sent her into immediate Heat. He acts accordingly...

Anthology Authors said...

I'm with you on this one. It's silky that a woman's menstrual cycle is only mentioned if it's missed. As for cuddling with a woman naked, hahahahaha! If I cuddle with my DH clothed, that obviously means I want sex. (g) Matter of fact, it seems in a man's mind, sex cures all ills. (g)

We had a foreign exchange student once whose shoes stank so much that he had to leave them outside or the entire house would smell. Nice kid, but that's a deal breaker for me. (Also, he was very young and more like my brother than a love interest. LOL)


Anthology Authors said...

That should be "silly" not "silky." LOL It's my iPhone's fault. (g)

Jennifer Johnson said...

Hey Marci, thanks for that clarification. I was trying to figure out about the silky menstrual cycle. And HAHAHAHA!!! about your husband. Sex cures all ills-hahahaha!!

Janice said...

Unfortunately, when writing romance we have to consider if this is too much TMI?

We can't write about upchucking, diarrhea or stinky feet, no matter how much reality it is.

I'm afraid Aunt Tilly or Aunt Flow falls into that category.

BTW, my daughter loves to torture my hubby with information about her messes. All she has to say is pad, tampon or blood and he cringes.


Jennifer Johnson said...

Right you are, Janice. I have to say, though, one of the sweetest things my dad did for me and my sister in our teens was go buy us pads at the store because we were too embarrassed at our ages to do it ourselves.

Good old Dad.