What Happens In Mardi Gras…

Life has been stressful for a few months. Continuing health issues for my youngest child, financial woes and a complete breakdown of communication between myself and my ex has left me too drained to do much writing. Or perhaps it is an echo of inflicted guilt from an actor/writer I went out with once for a disastrous evening that primarily involved tiptoeing around his “sensitive” nature. He suggested that I was being incredibly unfair by writing about my dates/relationships. Despite my anonymity, he said it was possible that they could stumble across my blog, recognize themselves and feel hurt and angry. It’s far more fair, he asserted, to actually tell these men what you find off-putting and give them the chance to learn and grow from the experience. I was tempted to smack my forehead and exclaim: “Oh, wow. I never thought of that!”

Because of course, a heartfelt discussion with the Persian Stripper would help him see why he shouldn’t disrobe without invitation at the end of a date. I’m sure he simply didn’t understand that most women prefer there be some build-up…permission…agreement…before he is standing covered only in a blanket of too much body hair. Surely it was only a lack of awareness that caused him to behave in such a dreadful manner. Similiarly, the Human Octopus who proclaimed loudly to the servers passing by “Feed me, bitches!” would clearly comprehend that his lack of social etiquette was “off-putting” and he would decide to NOT accost me in the parking lot and lick my tonsils with his tongue. The man who spent nearly our entire first date making racial slurs and commenting on various parts of my body, would see the error of his ways after a gentle discussion of how I found bigotry distasteful and would make the wise decision to NOT invite me to his truck so he could “play” with me “and stuff” in the Starbucks parking lot.

So perhaps I have taken the path of least resistance and opted to process my dating experiences and relationships in written form, rather than risk a heart-to-heart with a near stranger whom I will choose to never see again. Why must I share them with the world? Because, A.) It’s a creative outlet for me and the material is too good to pass up. Which is selfish, I know, but honest. B.) I truly feel that reading about someone else’s struggles and flaws can help others realize they aren’t alone in experiencing challenges finding love and dealing with the complexities of dating, relationships and sex. Still, I must admit I was left with an unsettled and anxious feeling about my blog. Perhaps it is insensitive of me to air all of this in a public forum, despite the anonymity and lack of names. Although there is only one ex-partner who is aware of my blog and he realizes he’s reading at his own risk, there is always the chance of discovery. I have no desire to hurt anyone. More concerning to me is the possibility of the recent  relationship details and insights I’ve shared being discovered by the one man who might be most affected by them. While cathartic for me, I would never want to cause him pain. So, I’ve been reluctant to blog while I mull over all the ethical ramifications of my posts.

Then in a moment of irony, I discovered I have my own “exposure” on the internet, albeit in a very different way. The man I’m dating, during an innocent discussion about naughty pictures and the dangers of allowing them to be taken, revealed sheepishly that he’d come across a photo of me on the internet. Perplexed, I asked him what he was talking about. He then, much to my horror, pulled up a single photo of me on a porn site. A porn site!!! A reference to a trip I’d made months earlier, the acknowledged indulgence in a somewhat risque and long-standing custom during the festival I attended and  skill with the internet led him to my moment of infamy, captured without my awareness, for public viewing. My pleas to the website to remove the photo have gone unanswered, much to my dismay.

Clearly, what happens at Mardi Gras doesn’t always stay at Mardi Gras.

While it’s not quite the same situation, it does have a certain feeling of “what goes around, comes around” to it. Is my insistence that no one I’ve written about would ever stumble across my blog and recognize themselves naive? My exposure of the flaws of my past dates or the emotional details of my relationships may not be as instantly recognizable as a photograph, but I’m still putting it out there for the world to see without the permission of the subjects. Is it the same? I’d like to believe it’s not, but perhaps I’m wrong.

Is it wrong to use our interactions with others as fuel for our own creative endeavors? Is an artist (this is a theoretical question, as I’m not arrogant enough to lump myself in that category yet) held to boundaries about where they draw inspiration? Should I fictionalize the acccounts, rather than presenting them so truthfully? As I’ve discovered, once the lens is turned in my direction, metaphorically or not, I’m not quite as comfortable. All of this swirls in my mind uncomfortably, making me assess my responsibility and ethics with my writing.

One thing I’ve figured out with significant discomfort: I won’t be earning beads anytime in the near future and I will be praying that my “single mom gone wild” moment disappears somehow…

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