Olivia Holborn | You Write About Dildos?
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You Write About Dildos?

You Write About Dildos?

I have a smart, bratty nephew who inherited a wicked sense of humor from my brother via our bigger-than-life father.

At some point during family get-togethers at my house, this nephew will challenge my life choices. With a glitter in his eyes, he might ask, “Why do you have bones and skulls on your book shelf?” His belief that no sane person would decorate this way is obvious.

I believe in speaking to children as equals, so I shut the punk down with, “Because, I want to. Na na na na.”

On a recent visit, he brought me over to a display of my books. “You write books,” he said, playing to my pride like a professional con child.

I affirmed his statement with suitable humility. Then, after checking his hands for the ever-present food and dirt, I offered up a glossy-covered copy of Strange Lineup. What nine-year-old boy wouldn’t admire a burning building and shadowy figures fleeing for their lives?

But, no. Rejecting the chase-scene/pyro images, he pounced on Fierce my tragicomic short story collection with a pretty cover.

“My mom has that in her room,” he said. “I read it.”

We both paused — me to feel pleased that my sister-in-law had bought my book, and my nephew to create drama.

Then he said, “Why do you write about dildos?” He had also inherited impeccable timing.

Now, I don’t actually write about dildos. I wrote about one dildo one time and only because a character brought it with her to a scene. She didn’t get to use it.

I could have explained how in fiction a dildo isn’t always a dildo. Sometimes it’s foreshadowing, or a prop, or simply a word thrown into a sentence because it adds color. I could have explained that I write romantic comedies, psychological suspense and award-winning literary short fiction, not erotica or porn as he seemed to think.

I could have played the shocked, embarrassed and suitably repentant aunty.

But a fan is a fan. And this nine-year-old had read at least 108 pages of my 228 page book. He had worked his way through “heartbreaking tales of underachieving adults, unfairly burdened children, and the unaccountably hopeful.” Like Aretha Franklin he deserved respect, not windy explanations or lame excuses. He deserved to believe the myth of taboo now attached to his Aunty Hannah.

“I write about dildos, because, I want to,” I said, like the grown-up I am. “Na na na na.”

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