So Weirdos came out this week, and people really seem to love it! I'm so glad--my dogs take up a big percentage of my day and it's nice to know that love too is universal.
So far the only criticism has been... well, predictable, really--it's one I'm used to and always makes me smile a little.
I dared to mention gas and poop.
Yes, I know--it's not every book (I SWEAR it's not every book) but it does come up . Part of that is I grew up with a stepbrother who used to sit on our heads and fart in lieu of beating us up and part of that is my family used to sing "Beans beans the musical fruit! The more you eat the more you toot!" every time my stepmom cooked beans. However, aside from being prepped from the cradle for having the sense of humor of a perpetual twelve-year-old, there's another reason I dare to mention bodily functions in romance books.
We are human animals.
I believe in love--all the good stuff people say about it, I believe. I believe that finding your person can be a fundamental part of your life, if that's how you want to live. (Not for everybody if that's a choice--I believe that too.) I believe love, kindness, forgiveness, all those good things that people can do, bring us a little closer to being part of the divine, whichever form that takes. Sometimes it just means kind humans are the pinnacle of evolution, right?
But all of that love and divinity and angelic kindness is attached to a very real, very fallible, very human body, and sometimes it works to perfection (hello, orgasm!) and sometimes it betrays us (Arthur Itis, I'm glaring at YOU!) and very often, it produces unpleasant byproducts such as gas, waste, and ammonia-tainted water.
And still, we love.
Mate and I went honeymooning on a shoestring. We got camping equipment, some cash, and headed for the coast in a 1976 AMC Pacer for two weeks of roughing it bliss. On the third day, I got food poisoning. On the fourth day, we changed locations so we could visit my stepbrother and got a flat tire on the way. We spent half our limited cash buying a new set of tires so we might not wreck and die on the coastal roads for the rest of the trip. When we arrived at my stepbrother's, he treated us to pizza. Food poisoning again--this time both of us, and we spent the night in adjoining portajohns. The next morning--day five--we called it. We'd seen sickness and health, better and worse, richer and poorer--we were going home.
You'd think that would be a bad omen for a 35 year and counting relationship, wouldn't you. That much pain, misery, and penury would break us--right?
But on that third day, as I was crouching behind a giant tree stump in an empty campground, after having just lost everything--both exits, no waiting--into the powdery dirt, Mate was running around in front of the tree stump asking me what I needed.
A teleportation machine and a giant bathtub, obvs, but none of that was in the dusty campground.
"Water," I wailed. "And all the towels. And a change of clothes. And some help to the shower." And then the capper. "AND YOU CAN'T LOOK AT ME WHILE YOU GIVE THEM TO ME."
The one thing that has not changed about my Mate in 35 years is his eyes. I remember those blue eyes--a little bloodshot because he really didn't like camping and sleeping outdoors didn't come easy--peering at me from over the stump. "I have to look at you sometime. We're married."
"But I'm SO GROSSSSSSSS!!!!"
"Which is why you need to shower. Here, take off your clothes and put them in this bag, and here's the towel and the shampoo. The bathroom's right over there."
"I was heading there," I sniffled.
"You didn't make it. You go get clean and I'll try to..." He gestured with the water bottle in his hand. "Clean the mess."
And as I did what he instructed, it occurred to me that A. I was glad we'd lived together for a year because otherwise, I might have expired from embarrassment on the spot, and B. This was how you got through the worst of things, wasn't it. You did the logical thing. The next thing. And you held hands and went on from there.
A week and a half ago I brought COVID home from Houston and shared with Mate and Squish. One of the signs that we all might live--including Mate and I--is that we spent a good five minutes hugging in the kitchen this morning. Human touch--ah, that glorious, magical, amazing healing element--finally made its way through the misery of the headache, the exhaustion, and the stupid coughing fits that have wracked us all.
Love and the human animal aren't always a comfortable fit. But one of the first ways of helping that along is to accept that one of the most divine emotions springs from one of the grossest and most animal of places: our bodies.
Which the long explanation of why my characters often laugh at fart jokes, and sometimes mention poop.