How People React When You Tell Them Your Memoir Is About Getting Into Gang Bangs As a Female Swinger

Although I had kind of become numb to what I was writing about, I was still aware that other people would be at least a little shocked. Abortion. Gangbang. Orgy. These are words that get people’s attention.

May 16, 2013 at 3:30pm | Leave a comment

“What are you writing?” It was my own fault for sitting at the bar with my iPad. 
 
I wasn’t trying to get attention. I’ve just never been able to concentrate at home. I focus best when there’s a flurry of activity around me. I’d go to a restaurant, sit at the bar, and write. I tried to tone down the obnoxiousness of public writing by using the iPad instead of a laptop, but apparently it was still super intriguing.  
 
If I was in the middle of writing something difficult, or if I was experiencing one of those rare and euphoric moments of writing without thinking, I’d try to make it clear that the person was interrupting me.
 
“Um, just a book.” No eye contact. If I were in their shoes, that would have stopped me cold. I would’ve said “cool,” and left it at that. But nope, it would only leave them wanting more.
 
“What’s it about?” 
 
Or he would ask what the title of my book was, and when I told him it was Unicorn, he’d ask if it was some kind of fantasy book. I’d tell him no, that unicorn was a term used to describe a bisexual single woman who was into swinging. 
 
Although I had kind of become numb to what I was writing about, I was still aware that other people would be at least a little shocked. Abortion. Gangbang. Orgy. These are words that get people’s attention. They practically beg for judgment. But after writing and rewriting the story of my first gangbang, it all started to seem normal. To me, at least. It was just something I used to do a couple years ago.
 
I am really good at lying when I’m prepared for it. I can’t lie on the spot, though. Even when it would be a really good idea to lie. Like when cab drivers ask me really personal questions just as they’re dropping me off in front of my building.
 
“So do you live alone?” Clearly I should say no. I live with my boyfriend who was in jail for killing a cab driver.  But I tell the truth. “Yeah.” Then I get out of the cab and climb the stairs to the building they now know that I live in alone.

I had not been prepared for anyone to ask me what I was writing, so when it happened, I couldn’t lie. I could spin the answer differently, depending on my mood and who was asking, but I always told the truth.

It was almost exclusively men who would ask me what I was writing. I figured they must be really bored if they wanted to know. Then one of my friends explained that these guys were hitting on me.
 
After I learned that, I worried a little less about whether I would offend them, so I’d try to dissuade them from continuing to talk to me. Usually I’d try the too-much-information answer: “Oh, I had an abortion a few years ago and kind of had a nervous breakdown.” That strategy also failed to work. 
 
More than once they’d confide in me about how their ex-girlfriend or sister or friend had had an abortion.  By that time I’d have forgiven them for intruding on my writing. Partly because I’d be tipsy and partly because I’m a sucker for anyone who finds me interesting. And before long I’d be telling them about the time I had sex with six guys.
 
Sometimes a younger couple would ask me what I was writing, and that never annoyed me. It gave me a chance to practice summarizing my book, which was useful for writing query letters to the hundred or so literary agents who were ultimately completely disinterested in representing me or my book.
 
“A couple of years ago I had an abortion and I had a really hard time dealing with it, so I started doing some crazy sex stuff.”
 
This could suffice as a complete answer, but also invited further questions.
 
“What kind of crazy sex stuff?”
 
At that point it would cross my mind that maybe the stuff I had done wasn’t crazy at all.
 
“Um, gangbangs, orgies, sex clubs. Stuff like that.” (The “um” was key, for reasons I’ve never figured out.) “I mean, it was crazy for me, at least. I’ve always been kind of a nerd.” 
 
Whoever it was that was asking me, it didn’t matter so much how I handled it because they were strangers. It was safe to tell them. It’s more difficult to determine who I can tell now that it’s up on Amazon. Like a real book.
 
Even though it’s self-published, it’s still a big deal to me. My closest friends know about it. Most of them have read it, and those who haven’t still know everything that’s in it. 
 
I’m not ashamed of anything I’ve done. The only reason I decided to use a pen name was to protect other people. My ex-husband, the guy I had an affair with, the people I met at the sex club.
 
Still. I know that telling someone too soon is risky. If they don’t know me that well, knowing the stuff I’ve done will definitely color their opinion of me. So I would rather wait until they know me well enough to understand that it was a tough time in my life.
 
I’ve tried telling a couple of people that I don’t know that well, just to test their reactions. Women tend to focus on the fact that I wrote the book, and they ask if it was cathartic. Guys react as if I’ve told them I want to have sex with them as soon as possible, which always takes me by surprise.
 
It’s not sexual to me; it’s psychological. To me, getting into the whole swinging scene was the same as going through a period of heavy drinking or drug use. 
 
I even had that moment of clarity that I’ve heard drug addicts and alcoholics relate. At a sex club in Gettysburg. It was somehow pivotal. I felt like I had to make a decision about the kind of life I wanted to lead. And I didn’t want it to be a life of swinging. I wanted a real relationship with someone who didn’t want to have sex with other girls, and who didn’t want me to have sex with other guys. I guess I’m just a hopeless romantic.
 
Although, dating will be tricky. If I met a guy who was interested in dating me, I’d at some point tell him that I wrote a book.
 
And, unlike explaining what I was writing to strangers in a bar, the answer to the question “What’s the book about?” becomes slightly more complicated.