There are many reasons why writers write. Anger, Revenge, Happiness, Depression, Redemption, Synchronicity, Discovery, Beauty, to Inform, to Inspire, to Entertain…and the list can go on and on why writers write.
As an autobiographical writer, I don’t know the complete story until a character I’ve written about fills me in on his or her side of the story. Many years ago I wrote a chapter in a published novel about my “almost” first sexual experience at the age of 17. I recently met that woman who “almost” gave herself to me. After she read the chapter about the two of us, she filled me in on something that completely blew my mind. It was an extremely important aspect that never entered my thought processes. It was a revelation to me. What I’m getting at is: Revelation is another reason why writers write. Here then is the complete story:
As soon as the senior prom was over, Penny and I drove up to the Hollywood hills. We were parked in an empty lot, the shimmering lights of Los Angeles below us. We were in the front seat of my mother’s Plymouth. Soon she was sitting on my lap, facing me, kissing me passionately and rubbing my lower region with her hand. And there I was, caressing her breasts, something I had never been able to do with a girl in all my years. There was no doubt we were on the brink of coitus—when all of a sudden, interruptus: two flashlights were shining through my car’s steamed-up windows that scared the holy hell out of us.
I wrote a chapter about this incident in my novel Morning Pages and called it “My Almost First Woman.” Last month, at Fairfax High School’s 50-year class reunion, I brought several copies of the novel as a donation for door prizes. When I saw Penny (who really hadn’t changed much in all those years), I gave her a copy of the book and pointed out the chapter I had written about the two of us. I wanted her to know how special that senior prom night was to me. In a letter I received from her a few days ago, she said she “flushed” when she read the chapter, then startled me with a confession.
Penny revealed that she and a guy by the name of Ronnie Separsky had set me up. According to their plan, Separsky was to shoot his mouth off to me in civics class about his sexual exploits with her. He started this “bragging” a few weeks before the senior prom was to take place. He was letting me know how easy Penny would be so that when she asked me to the prom I would not hesitate in accepting her invitation. In her letter, Penny explained that Separsky was only her friend and dancing partner, that she had never had sex with him or anyone else in high school. She admitted that she had had a longtime crush on me and figured that their scheme was the only way she could get me to go out with her. I must say it was pretty ingenious plot on their part.
When she asked me to the prom, I of course accepted. What teenage boy who had never gotten to second base with someone of the opposite sex would turn down an invitation from a girl who was not only attractive but who, according to Separsky, was “hot to trot”?
But all of Penny’s and Separsky’s conspiring, all of her pre-prom fantasies and mine, were foiled by two flashlight-wielding cops whose duty, I remember them saying, was to warn “lover’s lane” couples of potential robbers and rapists.
In her letter, Penny divulged that she would have kept up with what we were about to do in my mother’s car if we had gone out again. But like the unthinking, unaware fool that I was back then, I never did call and ask her out.
Over the years I’ve often thought of that prom night and wondered, “What if those cops hadn’t interrupted us?” A couple of scenarios crossed my mind. Penny and I might have started dating, maybe even gotten married, had kids and eventually divorced. The second scenario was, what if she had gotten pregnant the night of the prom? In those days when abortion was prohibited in the United States, we might have driven 130 miles to Tijuana and walked into a sleazy abortion clinic where she might have hemorrhaged and possibly died.
Now that I think of it, maybe those cops really saved us a whole lot of trouble.