Rosie Waterland, if you've been following the news on the internetwebthing, is a rather popular Australian writer, blogger and performer with a much, much larger following than I have, dammit. She has no idea that I exist, and who can blame her for that. Let's be honest here; a museum tour guide holding up a little flag has a larger following than I. But you don't want to hear about my hopes for a following...
Do you? No? I thought not.
The aforementioned Ms Waterland has recently stirred up a lot of electronic fuss because she posted a picture on her social media page which revealed an unusual amount of what could only be called her naked body. Now I use the word 'unusual' because I'm not aware of nudity being a 'usual' feature of a writer's social media pages - although if it is, I may be missing a trick. Having said that, I have a very difficult time believing that you or anyone else would want to see any more of my physical...stuff than perhaps a raised eyebrow, or maybe a hairless kneecap. Fear not, have a cup of tea and calm down: I have no desire to impose any of my substantial fleshy acreage upon the unsuspecting world.
The point that Rosie (I suddenly feel comfortable using her first name since there isn't a hope in hell that she'll ever read this) was making is a valid and pertinent one about the perception of women in modern society, and it's a position that I fully support. As I've matured, I think I've grown to better appreciate how much more complete a group is when the sexes are equally represented: how much more effective a team is under the same circumstances - in other words: how the two genders complement one another as equals. I've come to this realization from my beginnings as a young adult who was terrified of female contact while adoring the lovely things from afar, so it's entirely possible that I'm a very late developer in this regard. Rosie (there I go again, being very familiar) makes her point well, and I don't think that there's anything wrong with ruffling a few feathers to draw attention to an issue. There's nothing I can add to the argument that she makes so beautifully, so I suggest you get on over to her irreverent blog pages and take a look around:
In fact, it dawned upon me that in one small aspect at least, she and I have taken a similar approach to what we do. R.W. (I'm treading the middle ground now and using 1920s - style references ) chose to show us her naked body to get her message across. Less bravely, but on a parallel course, I've chosen to embrace writing about what I experience as the real stuff of an ordinary life. I'm exposing me to the world.
Having written and published the book, I've been surprised by how much reflection has followed it. I have - it has dawned upon me more than before - exposed some very vulnerable parts of myself in the course of telling the true story of an ordinary man careening from one bizarre experience to another. I have, after all, talked about - and since you haven't read the book , you'll just have to take my word for it - my penis (a short story), my testicles (in a roundabout way), my anus (a wholly new approach) as well as my innermost thoughts, feelings and - most frequently - my fears.
The book has become a summary of the kind of person that I am, despite all the roles that I have played in my life, and all the masks that I have worn to help me through. It's a pleasant - if slightly unnerving - feeling, because I believe it indicates that my original goal - that of being something other than 'Dad' to my children - was at least partly fulfilled. It also means that friends may not recognize me, or at least be less than comfortable with the person that they find within and I must admit: that does feel a little like standing naked on the Town Hall steps at midday. The more I think about it, the more my feet begin to twitch.
R. Waterland (sheesh: I'm all over the place with this name thing) got her ***s out to make her point, and bloody good for her. In trying to illustrate that every life - no matter now obscure, how outwardly ordinary - is extraordinary, I too have exposed myself to the world, only in my case: literally. I find it surprising that I'm still discovering things about the project.
I have no idea what will happen to my outlook on this if the book ever starts to sell - but I may just have to reinforce my favourite cardboard box, and hide my quivering body within.