Sep 29, 2006

Words I Learned From Reading Romance Novels

A favorite story my mom loves to tell about me at family gatherings is entitled "The Time Cordelia Went Crazy With Harlequin."

Random people you see every day--doormen, the old guys who sit outside on their stoops all day, crossing guards--these people love me, and this was true even when I was a child. I was quite friendly with the crossing guard at my elementary school, and she always laughed at me because oftentimes I would walk down the street while reading (hey, she was there to make sure cars didn't hit me while I crossed the street, and I only occasionally walked into telephone poles). She herself wasn't much of a reader, but she said her daughter was, and she offered me her daughter's old books. I gladly accepted, as a book's a book and who the hell cares what kind of book it is.

You all see where this is going, don't you. Yep, the next day, I came home with a paper bag full of Harlequin Romances.

I was ten. And after reading a few pages, I was smart enough to forget to tell my parents about my gift.*

Harlequin romances are some fun reads, let me tell you. And they are very good for your vocabulary. The most frequently used words are not, as you might think, orgasm or g-spot or penis. Oh no, these books are classier than that.

manhood--which led me to the word euphemism

Yes, there was a certain theme to the words used. Apparently, Harlequin readers everywhere long for bastards named Dominic (the heroes were almost always named Dominic. It was weird).

*My parents eventually found out, as my friends and I filled out one of the sweepstakes cards to get free lipstick, and didn't realize that meant we had signed up to order fifty more Harlequins, which all started arriving at my house along with requests for payment. That went over well, let me tell you.


Ruth said...

I can't believe this is the first time I'm hearing this (awesome) story. . .
btw, my entire sex education came from Harlequin romance novels.

Anonymous said...

From the mother: Yes, I recall that well. Many hours trying to explain to the publisher that it could not force a child of 8 to pay for the subscription, and no, tnank you, I would not care to read the books myself.