Putting together an anthology featuring the brightest, funniest women you know is an honor but perhaps the best part of working on True Tales of Lust and Love is that it taught me how very much we can gain from both sharing and learning about each other’s romantic adventures. Even though I didn’t go through every single experience the women in my book describe, I related to nearly every feeling. And so I became curious about how much the book’s contributors got out of both sharing their tales aloud at the live show and within the pages of this collection. Of course—because I wouldn’t expect anything else—many of their answers surprised me.
ANNA DAVID: What did you gain, if anything, from writing about your romantic experience?
SACHA SCOBLIC (“Jammin Java Joe”): I gained a deep sense of personal embarrassment. Which I think is healthy. Everyone should be forced to write about their most embarrassing moments; it’s incredible how much you can learn from them. Someone once told me that if I couldn’t think of anything else to write to write a sex scene. Once you go there, well, you can go anywhere with your writing. Once the scariest, most awkward romantic moment is achieved on the page, then writing about, say, alcoholism or dysfunctional families is a breeze.
LAURA HOUSE (“My Very Own Stripper”): I gained personal understanding and acceptance. In my head, some experiences are scary, confusing, weird, shameful. But on paper, I get distance and perspective—like, “Oh, look what younger me did. I get it. It’s fine.” Then, sharing the story, no matter how bad/weird/shameful it might seem, people will always relate to it. It’s healing.
DIANA SPECHLER (“My Boyfriend, Jesus”): I always felt some shame when I looked back on my twentieth year of my life—Why did I fall in love with a delusional man? Why did I keep giant Tootsie Rolls in my cupboard and more or less subsist on them? Why did I watch Waiting for Guffman so many times I memorized it? Why did I get drunk and pee on the sidewalk? Not behind a tree. Right on the sidewalk. In front of a dive bar in Colorado. Writing is a shame-reducer.
AD: If you performed this piece live, were there any memorable audience reactions?
SACHA SCOBLIC: Yes! I bedded a man in Vegas with such an embarrassing tattoo across the full of his back that I felt sorry for him in the morning! And then I ran like the wind!
LAURA HOUSE: A beautiful woman with a super sexy boyfriend came up to me and said, “I wish I had your life.” I was stunned. I’d only ever wanted her life!
AD: Whom do you hope, if anyone, reads your essay?
SACHA SCOBLIC: Any and all other women who have also slept with this fellow!
LAURA HOUSE: Strippers and straight lesbians. I feel like there’s a lot of good insight for them.
DIANA SPECHLER: A producer who has been dying to make a movie about a man who think he’s the Messiah and the young woman who loves the Messiah because he’s hot and because the woman is twenty and hasn’t yet developed the part of her brain responsible for critical thinking.
AMY DRESNER: Everybody else who knows this ”muse” or has dated him. And that’s a shockingly large number of wanton people!
SARA BENINCASA: Ira Glass, President Bill Clinton, President Barack Obama, all the other un-dead presidents, Oprah, my kindly Armenian psychiatrist, everyone who works at a co-op grocery store, my college writing professors, and a wisecracking donkey. Because I’ve always wanted to meet a donkey who can read. And I’d like to talk to that donkey about The Poisonwood Bible.
AD: Whom do you hope, if anyone, NEVER reads your essay?
SACHA SCOBLIC: The man I bedded in Vegas with such an embarrassing tattoo across the full of his back that I felt sorry for him in the morning.
LAURA HOUSE: Maybe my dad? And, if my former boss reads it, I hope he knows it was told with awe and gratitude. I loved that guy, and still think he’s amazing.
DIANA SPECHLER: Maybe Maya Angelou? Or Salman Rushdie? I guess I feel self-conscious that some writers grapple with race relations and rape and religious fundamentalism and I write about the time my boyfriend farted in my bed.
SARA BENINCASA: I hope my dad never reads it. I hope my mom never reads it. I hope anyone related to me never reads it. I hope the family of whomever I marry never reads it. Can you imagine having a conversation with a future in-law about that one time when you were 31 and you humped a college student? Guh-ross.
AMY DRESNER: The guy I wrote about. And my ex-husband. And anybody who might ever want to date me.
AD: How would you handle the situation you wrote about differently today?
SACHA SCOBLIC: These days, I wouldn’t have lasted an hour with this guy, let alone a night, because I am sober. That means beer-goggling his personality would not be possible. Smart women and men are different on this: I think cute-but-dumb boys are difficult to last an hour with unless copious amounts of alcohol are at hand.
LAURA HOUSE: There is nothing I would have done differently in that particular situation—except, possibly, enjoy it more.
DIANA SPECHLER: I would like to think that in my thirties, I wouldn’t date a man who told me he was Jesus Christ.
SARA BENINCASA: I’d probably ask to meet his RA—you know, just to really get the full college experience.