The Worst That Can Happen

Something happened to me on Sunday; something that hasn’t happened before; at least not like this.

Reading out loud, standing up in front of a room full of people and speaking is tough, no doubt about it. It’s something I’ve got better at over time (I’m way better now than I was when I gave my babbling incoherent presentations at university) and there are moments when I’m tempted to feel smugly superior, like I’ve got this shit nailed.

For example at last year’s Nineworlds erotica slam where I performed a piece from memory whilst simultaneously performing a striptease… (and no of course I don’t have an exhibitionist streak, what made you even think that?). But on a base level I’ve never screwed up; I’ve never had a complete meltdown; I’ve always at the very least been able to sit, detached, reciting words from a page.

Then there was Sunday.

On Sunday I was reading something a little different. First up I was reading from the Woes of Nelly. This little collection is one that’s a little darker than my usual and often sat a little uncomfortably with me. Yes there’s a happy ending, but it touches some quite dark places along the way. Perhaps not dark for everyone, but dark for me at least. It’s one of those stories that really meets Chuck Palahniuk’s rule of if you haven’t written something you wish you hadn’t you’re not doing your job.

So, on Sunday I started reading. It was a bit towards the end of the first story (featuring a chastity belt, strap-on and oversized dildo). As I started to read the words my brain kept glitching. As I scanned the page I thought to myself, “I can’t read that; people will think I’m some kind of pervert!” So as I read I kept pausing, skipping over and frantically editing out the bits that were too unusual too… me?

You see this is why, for all my smugness, I don’t tend to read the good bits, the really filthy bits. I like the foreplay, the to-and-fro the banter and the awesome humour to be had on the way to the sex. Or perhaps I should read more of the good bits… food for thought.