Ten years ago I was told that I write porn. It wasn’t said as a compliment. The curious thing was, the comment came from someone who’d never read a thing that I’d written.
Maria: if you’re reading this, I despised sharing an office with you. You had breath like toxic warfare; and the personality of a wart on a baboons’ backside. I’ve never met such a contemptible example of human nastiness, all rolled into one wrinkled bag of loathing and hatred. Your breath was so bad I looked forward to your farts.
Not that Maria will be reading this. The rat-faced old harridan eschewed any form of fiction that hadn’t been sanctioned as wholesome by the likes of Oprah or Richard & Judy.
I worked in an office. I was a lowly monkey in a carnival of filing cabinets and post-it notes. Trust me: it wasn’t as glamorous as it sounds. I shared the office with Maria and, in the hierarchy of the corporation, I was beneath her privileged status.
I don’t much care for offices. Or crabby know-nothing-bitches with unfounded opinions. Especially when those imbeciles have breath that smells like they brush their teeth with roadkill.
However, when Maria told me that I write porn, I was hurt.
Pornography is considered a dirty word.
Arty-farty critics describe films with a violent content as ‘pornographic.’ I’m sure they don’t mean that in a good way. People will stare disparagingly at lewd advertisements and condemn them as soft porn. I’ve watched music videos on MTV and said, “Without the annoying music, it’s little more than thinly veiled pornography.” However, with the music it’s obscene and unbearable.
It’s a strange relationship we have with this word. I assume there are many people who occasionally enjoy some sort of pornographic entertainment. Yet the connotations associated with the word are most often negative.
And when Maria told me I write porn, I genuinely felt disappointed with myself. She was my superior in the office, so I was naïve enough to believe her opinion had merit and weight. Even though she was discussing my third or fourth published novel, when she labelled my output as porn, I felt as though she had pinpointed the true failing of my creative endeavours. I wasn’t an artist. I was a worthless pornographer.
I engaged Maria in conversation and discovered, by chance, that the woman was a raging simpleton. A priggish buffoon with the literary comprehension of used toilet tissue.
“I’ve never read Stephen King,” she later assured me. “He only writes pornography.”
“You told me the other day that you enjoyed Shawshank Redemption,” I reminded her.
“I did. But I doubt Stephen King had anything to do with that. He only writes those nasty little horror stories.”
“Like the Green Mile? You told me, the other day, that you enjoyed that one too.”
“I doubt Stephen King had anything to do with the Green Mile.”
I can’t tell you how relieved I was to get away from that office and Maria. The woman was a drain on my faith in humanity and one of the most misanthropic excuses of humanity I’ve ever had the misfortune to meet. And she had breath that smelled like she’d just eaten a shit sandwich with extra garlic.
Of course, nowadays, I’m not quite as naïve as I was back then. If someone describes my work as pornographic, I thank them for the compliment. And, if they tell me the word wasn’t intended that way, I tell them to go and find a thesaurus and look up an appropriate synonym.
And then I do whatever it takes to stop talking to them. They’ve already made it clear that they’ve not got anything to say of worth.