Finally, I have my first featured guest gangsta here on The Smartness! (You don’t count, Mom. You will count when you get your own blog instead of writing epic comments on my posts). I found Alyssa of Near Normalcy a couple of months ago on Twitter and have been following ever since. I also follow her mom, Cynthia. Cynthia also has a blog (DO YOU SEE THAT, MOM? Alyssa’s MOM has BLOG), which you can find at Commonplace Crazy. Like me, Cynthia is a middle school English teacher. Sometimes we team up on Alyssa because ENGLISH TEACHERS UNITE. Or something. Alyssa gets my props, though, because she is writing a book, which makes me look at her all starry-eyed because I want to write a book, but I don’t even have an IDEA. The synopsis of Alyssa’s book makes me wish she was already finished writing the whole thing so that I can curl up with it in lieu of feeding my children. BUT! Alyssa spends all her time on Twitter and her blog. I mean, seriously, Alyssa – stop blogging and Tweeting and write the damned book. A gangsta’s got to get her read on.
In the meantime, let’s all enjoy this hilarious post about what type of reading keeps English major graduates like Alyssa smart. Hint: Apparently, it isn’t literature from the Transcendentalist Era.
I was so thrilled and flattered to be invited to guest-post at The Smartness. While I am probably a nerd (word), I could not be less Gangsta. But today, I am, and it feels good. Honorary Gangsta. I just bestowed that title upon myself.
Since I’m away from home today, with a new crowd, and I’m being inducted as an Honorary Gangsta, I saw it as a chance to get some things off my chest. And I thought confessing a dark secret from my past, an…addiction, would maybe gain me a little Gangsta cred. So here goes.
Let me begin by saying I am in possession of a bachelor’s degree, magna cum laude, from a respected and fully accredited institution of higher learning, in English Literature. I am hopeful none of my professors are reading this, and that my degree will not be immediately revoked. But that’s a chance I’m willing to take, because I need to come clean about something.
|OK This one is not technically published by Harlequin, as far as I can tell. And to the best of my knowledge I never read something with Fabio on the cover. I’m just showing you this to illustrate the seriousness of the situation.
Because the ones I read weren’t lucky enough to have Fabio grace their covers, but they were every bit as trashy as Gentle Rogue, I’m afraid. They were the mass-produced, assembly-line Harlequin/Silhouette/Mills Boon series romances, and I would like to publicly state that my first box of dusty Harlequins was given to me by my aunt, who should frankly be ashamed of herself. That box included such gems as Arrogant Interloper:
|“Without a fiancé and job where could Jane turn? Even her last place of refuge, her mother’s cottage, was to be taken away by a nouveau riche upstart by the name of Max Brigstock. Who did he think he was?” source
Oh, that Max Brigstock. So arrogant. So English. So…rich.
I was a young teenager when I read Arrogant Interloper and other ’80s-era selections. And they were a gateway drug, really. Because it only got worse from there. Selling my Sweet Valley Highs at the used bookstore to stock up on new material. Even rereading those same outdated stories when I got desperate. It was ugly.
But my addiction really hit its peak in college, when I was taking extra-heavy course loads (I’m an overachiever like that) of literature classes, at times reading as many as 9 or 10 Serious Literary Novels in a week (I use the term “read” loosely here, OK?). The second finals were over and I found myself without homework, I went running for the used book store to get my fix.
Because I needed a break from the Serious Literature, but not from reading itself. I need to read. Taking a break never meant not reading. It just meant…light reading. Really, really, really light.
And please appreciate the shame this brought upon me. I was a Literature student! An honors student! And this was before the Kindle. I had to actually carry these books around in all their bodice-ripping glory. Lurking in dark corners, hiding my paperbacks inside text books and magazines. It was ugly days, folks.
But you know what? In the midst of all that shame and guilt, I look back now and I have to find the positive. How else could I live with myself? The truth is, Harlequin taught me a lot about life and love. As a young, impressionable girl with no real clue what I should be looking for in a man, I needed the guidance offered in these pages.
How would I have ever known, for instance, the romantic potential in human trafficking?
|Well, she’s paid for, so at least he didn’t have finance her. That would not be sexy.|
|Nothing gets me in the mood faster than the thought of being purchased and bred like livestock. Am I right, ladies??|
|It’s as good a reason as any, I suppose.|
How else would I have known that the primary purpose of employment was to seduce be seduced by one’s boss?
|Billionaire. OK? He’s a billionaire. Make no mistake. Also? Forbidden = HOT.|
|Literal is always best, so there’s no confusion. He’s her boss, he’s Greek, and he is going to take her.
What more do you need to know?
|Yeah, girls. That’s gonna happen.|
And of course: foreign men are incredibly attractive. Any time you encounter a man who doesn’t speak English, know that he’s probably a sheikh. Sheikhs are just hanging around everywhere, waiting to be caught and entranced by a mousy little American girl who’s never left her hometown.
|Sorry, did I say mousy? Because you’re not mousy, babe. In the eyes of the sheik (sic), you’re a vixen.|
|Untouched is always good. Remain untouched. Until you meet that sheikh! Then all bets are off.|
|He’s a sheikh, she’s a virgin, AND their love is forbidden? How is Kate Hewitt not a household name?|
|You don’t have to be a sheik to get some action, though. Greeks, Italians, and Frenchmen are all good too.
But only if they’re rich. Obviously. Bonus lesson: if you’re disobedient, he will whip you into shape, and that is HOT.
Something else I never would have known to aspire to if not for Harlequin? Unplanned pregnancy!
|Best use of punctuation in a title.|
|He’s Mediterranean. He’s a billionaire. And she’s knocked up.
If that doesn’t spell happily ever after, I don’t know what does.
(Also I don’t know about you, but I for one never felt sexier than when I was 8 months pregnant.)
|Just to be clear. He’s not just a prince. He’s the future king.
And she is, you guessed it…knocked up.
Now he HAS to love her!!
Oh. And of course. Cowboys. Cowboys are automatically hot. This led to some uncomfortable moments in high school when I attempted to infiltrate the Future Farmers of America crowd in search of this guy:
|Hint: He was never in FFA.|