Friday, May 15, 2009

Dazed and STILL Confused

So an interesting thing happened to me two days ago. Normally I wouldn't write about something like this, but I think I need to write it down to make sense of it.

My son attends Mother's Day Out, a kind of church daycare, during most mornings. He has several friends, and I've since made friends with his friends' parents. One particular friend is very outspoken, funny, and staunchly Roman Catholic. Now I was raised RC, but I'm not strict about my beliefs. I have a lot of issues with church policies, but that's for another discussion.

My good friend and I talk about matters. She knows I'm a lax Catholic and that I write erotic romance. I thought that would throw her when we first became friends, but she often tells others I'm an author and makes a big--nice--deal about it. She's even read a few of my free reads, even the R-rated ones when I warned he to read the PG story. She also talks about sex more than I do, joking and teasing, so that I felt comfortable being myself around her. Mistake.

The other day my friend started calling my work "porn." She'd been to Barnes & Noble and had picked up a copy of Feral Attraction. She skimmed through it and read three passages full of sex. Hello? It's erotic romance. But she kept calling it porn, joking yet not. Then she went so far as to say she didn't respect my writing. Now I'm all for agreeing to disagree. I don't believe gay people to go hell for being gay, that abortion should be a choice for anyone but the woman involved, or that women should not be priests. But I don't mind that my friend disagrees with me, because I respect her right to think what she likes (even if she's wrong...wink.)

But after the porn discussion (which I did my best to ignore two days in a row) and after several minutes of futile discussion about the differences between erotic romance and smut, we took our children out for a playdate. Later, and I'm not even sure how the topic came about, my friend started questioning me about my views on abortion, Obama, and a few other odds and ends that slip my mind. I was startled to talk about such serious matters outside our kids and families in a McDonalds, but I answered honestly. A few minutes later, she told me she thought we'd have to take a break. ??? She really likes me, but she doesn't want my son corrupting hers. My first real WTF moment with this woman.

I was shocked. I told her my 4 year old wasn't likely to discuss abortion or politics with her son. Both kids get along famously, and her little boy is both well-mannered and nice. But an innocent that would be tainted by my child?

I had to leave to run some errands, and we kind of left it at that. A suggestion that "maybe" we should take a break.

I admit I was a little hurt, a lot angry, and more, stunned. It came as a shock because I've never made it secret what I write or what I think when asked. Yet all of a sudden, I was labeled as having questionable morals and my son was tarred with "sins of the mother."

I tolerate others' viewpoints while not agreeing. I don't paint her child as a holier-than-thou type simply because the mother is rather forceful with her opinions. And I genuinely like this woman, who is a very positive, smiling person most of the time and is pleasant to everyone. So I'm just baffled as to what motivated this whole scenario. Why throw in my four year old as the guilty party if she's really upset with me?

There. I've typed it all out. And I still can't make sense of it. But I started feeling paranoid, like this whole flare up was another erotic romance writer attack, the kind most of us have suffered at the hands of so many "religious" people. Not a romance writer attack at all, I don't think. But I was feeling the burn.

Proof is in the pudding, I say, not in how many times you attend mass. Want to be a good Christian? Be nice, treat others the way you want to be treated, judge not (lest ye be judged) and believe in God.

I'm not perfect and never claimed to be (except to my husband.) *smile* Maybe the summer break will give me time enough to forgive this incident and maintaing a friendship, if a more distant one, with this person. But I'm Sicilian. So forgive and forget won't work. Sicilians, hell, Italians, never forget.

Hope your Friday is happier than mine. Now back to edits...


Maria Zannini said...

The sad part is the only real losers are the kids. You can do without a "friend" who is so self-centered that the only right way is her way.

I'm sorry you had to deal with such a bigot.

I've always considered myself middle of the road. I have both ultra conservative and ultra liberal friends. If they're okay with my standards, I'm okay with theirs. But if they start preaching or telling me I'm wrong about my beliefs I give them the open road.

Forget about her, Marie. With any luck your kids will still be friends despite this ill-mannered woman.

Monica Burns said...

Perhaps this woman got flack from her husband, another relative, etc.

Personally, if a friend can't accept me warts and all, their not worth being my friend. We can like people, but friendships are seldom built on commonalities, and they're sure not built on someone being so condescending and brutal toward something you like to do.

Example, I have two best friends who are avid gun advocates and I'm anti-guns. We argue all the time about what's right and wrong, but I'd never tell them NOT to own a gun or condemn them for having a gun.Although I do not let them bring a gun into my house.

If you really want to be friends with this woman, I think I'd ask where all of this came from. People who call eRom porn are people who don't read either, because if you read one of each, you'd be intelligent enough to know the difference. And if they didn't recognize the difference, would you really want to be friends with someone who can't put two and two together. :D

Sorry about the incident. It's hard to deal with I know, but you'll move on and be the better for it.


Tina S. said...

Wow! Such a drastic turn around makes you wonder if someone got ahold of her reading material and made those kinds of comments to her.

Kelly Jamieson said...

Marie I'm so sorry you went through that. I don't understand it either. I agree with Maria, it's the kids who lose, and you don't need a friend like that.

Marie Harte said...

Thanks, Maria. Yeah, it's the kids that lose. I didn't mind as much for myself, but my son really likes this boy. I can only hope that he uses this summer to make new friends.


Marie Harte said...

Hey Monica.

Yeah, that's my take too. Accept me for who I am or take a hike. Which made it odd that my "friend" supposedly had accepted me. Then changed her mind? Her loss. I refuse to judge her, and I hope she eventually comes to her senses. But I'm not sure I'll be there waiting when/if she comes back.


Marie Harte said...


I don't think she reads all that much, to be honest. She told me she picked up my book, and I asked if she'd read it, to which she replied no. She only leafed through it...and MISSED the whole darned book. I can open to any passage in any work and take it out of context.

What can you do?


Marie Harte said...

Hey Kelly.
I'm sorry too. This is my first instance of having my kid thought lacking because of who I am. It's really weird.

But my little guy will be better off with friends who are more openminded. There are lots of four year olds needing friends out there. :) Marie

Savanna Kougar said...

Marie, my advice is this ~ because I've been in similar situations ~ run like hell in the opposite direction from this woman. I mean, be polite, but remain emotionally distant.
People with her core psychological problems go after other people and attempt to destroy them emotionally because, in essence, they can't stand certain parts of themselves. Plus, this lets them NOT look at their own real feelings and problems.
She will only continue to use you this way if you let her. Oh yeah, she may throw out the fishing pole of let's be friendly and talk... it will only be so she can make that kind of attack again.
No, she doesn't know what she is doing consciously. Nevertheless, that's the sick unconscious game.
And, it would be more your precious chile being corrupted by that situation, regardless of how wonderful her son is... who is perfectly innocent in all this.

Anonymous said...

Marie I feel for you. This is friendship by stealth. She was judgmental all along but pretending to be your friend. The child thing is the lowest she could go. Personally, I think you should have it out with her. That's the good side of being Italian, they're not afraid to scream.
Cathleen Ross

Treva said...

Wow. That's much more direct than I usually get but I'm very, very cautious about discussing what I do where my kids might be involved. I've had some friends who were hurt when they discovered how MUCH writing and publishing I do because I'm very low key about it in my neighborhood.

I'm so sorry...but your kid will find some other cool friend soon.

Xandra Gregory said...

Call your "friend" back and tell her that she's totally right. That your son is better off not having such poor examples of Christlike behavior in his life, and that you regret that she feels that her issues with your career have to interfere in the boys' friendship.

Jesus hung out with thieves and whores. Erotic romance writers are hardly the dregs of society.

Marie Harte said...


I wondered why she seemed to be so up in arms about MY morality. I think you're right. Something in her past, not mine, is making her so leery of temptation. Usually it's the "guilty" party, if you will, who's quickest to point the finger...


Marie Harte said...

"Friendship by stealth." Good one, Cathleen. It's odd because I knew she was very different from me from the outset, but I didn't judge her. And because I can accept that others feel differently than I do, I feel sorry for her inability to be fair. I can do without hanging with her quiet easily. But I do feel badly that we won't have any more playdates with her son. But you know, we're gonna hit the Y and the pool a lot this summer, so we'll find new kids for mine to play with.


Marie Harte said...


That's what's odd about the situation. My son has been attending this place for 3 years, and I don't advertise what I write at the church daycare, for the very reason I didn't want any backlash on my son. My friend and I grew close because she SEEMED nonjudgemental. And after months of being friendly and playdates, I told her I write. You'd have thought she'd just won the lottery, she thought it was so cool. But apparently not, since I'm corrupting her and her son via my own bloodline. Sigh. Her loss!!


Marie Harte said...


See, that's what's so ironic. Judge not lest ye be judged and all that. And that's probably my biggest grip with religion. That so much emphasis is placed on rules and traditions instead of doing the right thing by our fellow man.

Okay, I'm now off my soapbox. And I'm taking the high road, not stabbing at her (note, she's not been named once) and simply sharing the joy of my family and myself with others who can appreciate us for what we are.


Minx Malone said...

What a nutcase. I agree with everyone here, she's obviously taking out her issues on you.

You were open about who you were from the beginning.

If she really had such a problem with you, what kind of person is she for "pretending" to be ok with it all those months?

Seriously, this is why I'm so antisocial sometimes!


Treva said...

Yeah, well my friends of over twenty years don't know unless I have a very good reason to tell them. Once the kids are out of high school I really won't care one way or the other.

It's probably like a very mild form of being in the closet. Which gives me a lot of sympathy for those who are.

Marie Harte said...

Hey Minx. It makes me antisocial too. I've time to decompress and think about the whole situation. I really wish this person the best. And I hope she eventually comes to realize that she's doing herself and her son a disservice by being so judgmental. But she's not going to ruin my summer,or my son's social life.


Marie Harte said...


Yeah. Once high school is over, in say, another twelve, no make that thirteen years, I'll come out to one and all. sigh. Now I'll just content myself by throwing myself into my stories, where the bad guys lose, the good guys win, and men never leave the toilet seat up.
:) Marie

MarianneLaCroix said...

Kind of reminds me of my experience a few years ago. I gave a "friend" one of the packs of EC decks only to have her return it to me saying it was not her cup of tea (to put it nicer than she did). I walked off embarrassed but I learned to keep my writing life to myself. I stopped talking to this woman. I live in the Bible belt and you'd be surprised how many people around here think Harry Potter is the devil's work. I don't bother with anyone outside writing much anymore. If I go to school functions, I don't mention writing or books to anyone.

On the flipside, the OB/GYN office ladies trade my books around and love them. One said she got pregnant because of one of my books. It makes up for the dirty feeling I got from others in the community.