Ahhh, the infamous “I told you so!” How we spouses love to hear those words spew from our better half’s mouth. Most recently I was on the receiving end of such a scolding when my husband and I attended a luncheon at the nursing home where my mother resides. Let me back-up…
A short time ago I wrote a blog entitled, Crossing the Line. The blog discussed how much sexual content should we authors place in our books. Essentially, how much is too much? I also mentioned in the blog that I am a former dance teacher who now writes books with quite a bit of suggestive material. My very conservative husband is uncomfortable with said content because he feels that my previous position in the community holds me to certain standards that I should be very conscious of.
So, there we were at the luncheon taking our seats along with the other families, when I spotted two of my former students and their parents seated at a table nearby. The two girls were thrilled to see their former dance teacher, and with ear-to-ear smiles, they waved. For the sake of this blog we’ll call the older girl, Susan, who is twelve. The younger sister is ten. Anyway, the luncheon was lovely and when we decided to leave I made my way to their table to say hello. And that’s when it happened. While giving me a hug Susan (12) said to me, “Oh Miss Cindy, I miss you so much. I want you to know that I’ve read all of your books.”
I was very taken aback. I turned to her mother with wide eyes and if I hadn’t quickly slammed it shut, I swear my jaw would’ve bounced off the floor. I said, “Y–You let her read my books?” Smiling, the woman waved a carefree hand at me and replied, “Oh, don’t worry, she’s an advanced reader.”
Has the woman not reviewed my books before her twelve year old daughter reads them? I couldn’t believe it! Susan then added, “Oh yes, and I understand everything in them, Miss Cindy.”
At this point I simply gave the girl another hug, wished them well, and caught up with my family. That’s when my husband said, “See I told you! I told you that those young girls from your dance school would be reading your books. That’s why you should keep those suggestive scenes in check!”
I don’t think so. I truly feel it is their parent’s responsibility to read the book first before passing it on to their pre-teen daughters. I believe that parents need to censor what their young children read just as much as they need to pay attention to what they are looking at on the internet. Having a school district pronounce your child as an “advanced reader” simply means they can read “big words”—big deal! That does not necessarily mean they are mature enough for certain content. Call me old fashioned. Call me naïve. Call me an idiot, if you like, but young people need guidance and mature reading material simply is not appropriate for a twelve year old girl. For that matter my daughter does not permit my grandson (14) to read my books, and the last one, Dangerous Deception, was dedicated to him! I’m not upset—I totally agree with my daughter, and I wish all parents would exercise a little more common sense when it comes to mature reads and the internet, and cell phones for that matter.
Hey, I don’t feel responsible at all for what happened. The titles of the books alone should have been a red flag for the parent: DEADLY.COM, HOT COCO, DANGEROUS DECEPTION, and AGAINST THE ROPES. Lord have mercy, the name of the series is UNBRIDLED! I do not write books with titles like: PATTY’S PRETTY PIROUETTE, or A NEW TUTU FOR TANYA.
Yes, I write suggestive scenes. I like writing suggestive scenes, and I have taken those scenes up several notches in my new series FIRST FORCE that will release in November—Shhh! Don’t tell my husband.
It is up to Susan’s mother and parents just like her to censor their children’s reading material. I’m no longer “Miss Cindy” the small town dance teacher. I am now Cindy McDonald, an author—reader beware.
See more of Cindy’s posts on WWBB:
When writing romantic scenes where does one stop.
When reviews count for nothing.
Never judge a book by its cover.
Memories of Presque Isle
|No good deed shall go unpunished!
About Cindy McDonald: For the past twenty years
Cindy has helped her husband raise, train, and race Thoroughbreds at their
forty-five acre farm known as Fly-By-Night Stables near Pittsburgh.
those years Cindy has paid close attention to the characters that hang-out at
the back-side of the track. She found the situations and life style most
intriguing. In 2005 she sat down at her computer and began a journey into
writing about this life that few understand.
recently retired from making her living as a professional choreographer. She owned
and operated Cindy McDonald’s School of Dance since 1985.
She studied at Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School and with the Pittsburgh
Dance Alloy at Carnegie Mellon University to name a few. She has
choreographed many musicals and an opera for the Pittsburgh Savoyards.
Gravel spit from the tires of Punch McMinn’s red Dodge Ram pickup truck, as it rambled along the desolate dusty road. A dirty haze levitated on the horizon in the intense August heat and the leaves on the maple trees turned upward to the heavens begging for a drink. The sky was crystal clear not showing any prayer for storm clouds to rumble through. It had been a damned dry summer.
Glancing at the rear view mirror, Punch could see the pallet of blocks in the bed of his truck. He had gone into Rosemount early this morning to pickup the blocks for the wall that was being re-built in the old brood mare shed on the far side of Westwood Thoroughbred Farm where he’d been the farm manager for many years. He promised Eric West that he would get the wall re-built before the leaves started to turn shades of gold and amber and the autumn chill would set forth a welcome relief. When you made a promise to the patriarch of the West family, you kept it. Disappointing that man was never an option. Eric had practically raised Punch. When his father left his mother with no warning and children to feed, it was Eric that took Punch under his wing. He gave him jobs at the farm to earn a paycheck, and he saw to it that Punch continued playing high school football with his eldest son, Mike. He grew up at Westwood with the West kids Mike, Kate, and Shane. They cleaned stalls side-by-side, lugged heavy water buckets, and groomed the Thoroughbreds to a laser sheen before they entered the paddock for a race. A game of hide-n-seek or a pickup football game always filled their spare time—what little of that they could scrounge. And Sunday or Monday night football with the Steelers on the TV in the West’s study was a favorite back then, and still remained a weekly ritual to this day. The Wests were his second family and his loyalty to Eric and the clan ran as deep as Reardon’s Run. They always had each others back—because that’s what families are made of.
Trying to beat the heat, he went to Miller Block and Brick early. The brickyard was located smack-dab in the middle of downtown Rosemount. The chain-link fence surrounding the huge yard was rather out of place, as where the piles and piles of cement blocks and bricks that lined the perimeter. Miller Block and Brick had set up business in the small dusty town of Rosemount in 1917 before it had become a bustling busy city with tall buildings, fast-food restaurants, theaters, and a four lane running through the center of downtown. The brickyard was a staple as was the Miller family.
Harris Miller was the fourth generation to operate the business and his daughter, Zoe, would take over the reins when Harris retired. Well into his seventies, Harris was not even beginning to entertain the thought of sitting on the front porch in a rocking chair. The very notion made him queasy, so he showed up to open the business every morning by six a.m.
Yep, Punch was trying to beat the heat, and if the truth were being told, he was also trying to avoid Zoe Miller with his early morning errand. He was unsuccessful at both tasks. The sun came up with a golden fury to scorch the morning as it had done the day before, and when he walked through the door of the brickyard sales office, there stood Zoe, waiting for him at the counter with a grin that stretched all the way through the blush of her cheeks to her bright sapphire eyes.
Suspicion ripped through him. If he didn’t know better, he would’ve sworn that one of his loyal “family” members called to alert her of his impending arrival. That’s another thing family does—meddle. He couldn’t decide which West would be that spry so early in the morning, Shane? Hmmm, it certainly fit his MO, but Punch seriously doubted it. Shane had trouble rolling out of bed in the morning. I won’t bust his balls…yet.
Maybe Kate was the culprit. He loved the slender blonde-haired blue-eyed woman of Westwood. She knew what was best for her West men—and Punch. Last week she sat him down on a bale of straw and had a little “talk” with him about the virtues of one, Miss Zoe Miller. Kate could be quite convincing and when necessary, quite conniving. Except he was having his doubts about the shrewd little matchmaker, for the past several months she’d been very preoccupied with Dr. Holden Reese. Kate had been dating the newest and very handsome veterinarian at Keystone Downs. Naw…not Kate, not this time, anyway.
But Mike…oh yeah, he was a morning person. Always bright and alert and ready to roll, he was good at playing the innocent one—steering clear of other people’s business. Yeah, he’s as innocent as a fox in a chicken coop. Punch was having no trouble picturing him dialing his cell phone with an ornery grin on his lips the minute he pulled out of the driveway. Payback’s gonna be a bitch, buddy.
Twinkling coaxing eyes greeted him, as Zoe looped her arm through his to escort him through the brickyard, where her father was starting up the forklift. She was an attractive woman, with full lips, pretty blue eyes, and dark blonde hair that drifted over her shoulders. She was a full-figured gal, an armful, and if he let her drag him into the relationship that she obviously desired, he was most certain that she would be a handful. Truth be told, Punch felt a tug of attraction to Zoe, but even though he was thirty-three, he wasn’t ready for that heavy relationship stuff…nosiree.
It took some finagling, and some smooth talking, but he managed to escape the brickyard without a lifetime commitment, or bruising Zoe’s feelings. Punch was a huge black man, broad shoulders, expansive chest, and arms that bulked out of the sleeves of his T-shirt. His sheer size was daunting, but he was nothing more than a tender-hearted, softy. And hurting Zoe’s feelings was not Punch McMinn’s style. It just wasn’t in him— okay, especially with Zoe.
Sweat dribbled down his temples. Removing his Steelers ball cap, he swiped the sweat from his brow with his forearm, and then plopped the cap back on his head—crooked. The right side of his mouth sucked in with frustration, as he tapped the button for the air conditioning unit, but warm air poured from the vents. Damn, he meant to have that fixed last spring, but time got away from him, and now the blazing heat of summer was punishing him for his procrastination. B.O.B. was rapping on the radio that he could use a wish right now, and Punch was wishing that some damned cool air would miraculously blow through those freaking vents. Not happening.
The truck bumped and rattled over the old abandoned railroad tracks. No trains had traveled the tracks in over twenty years, but they remained as an annoying hump in the road that everyone forgot to slow down for until they found themselves bouncing on their seats, with their brain clattering inside their skull, while swearing at their car’s suspension system. The tracks disappeared into the tall weeds and then over a rusted-out, boarded-up bridge that spanned the wide white water section of Reardon’s Run.
Except the bumping and bouncing in the cab of his truck, and the slight rock of the heavy pallet piled with cement blocks was not his focus at the moment. The dysfunctional air conditioning unit, and Zoe Miller was all but forgotten when his gaze fell upon an older Honda Civic smashed against a tree. Ashen steam billowed out from under the hood that was curled almost to the cracked windshield, and the driver’s side door hung open. Eyes narrowed and his brows pinched together, Punch slowed the truck to a stop and slid from the seat, measuring the wreck with caution.
As he slowly approached the vehicle, his eyes scanned the area. The dirt road wound into the hazy distance. The locust and maple trees spread their branches overhead, and the sun beat down on the brittle and singed tall grasses alongside the road. The air was tight and still in the cloying heat. The only sound was that of the car hissing, as the steam slithered like a phantom serpent into the air.
Punch peered into the car. The airbag slumped from the steering wheel. The interior was pristine, without any personal belongings lying on the seats or on the floor. He straightened with his hands on his hips, pushing his ball cap above his forehead.
“Hey!” Punch called out. Surely whoever wrecked the vehicle couldn’t be very far. And then his gaze fell upon the tall bristly weeds across the roadway. They fell away as if someone had just tromped through toward the old bridge. Taking a braced breath, he followed the newly beaten trail. He could see the bridge in the short distance, and could hear the water running fast; slapping over the rocks in Reardon’s Run.
Emerging from the brush he came to a dead stop, as if someone had splashed him in the face with a bucket of ice water. Narrowing his eyes, he slowly inched his way to the broken and rotted boards that blocked the entrance to the abandoned dilapidated bridge, where a hulk of a man stood on the other side of the rusted railing, with his eyes fixated on the rushing water far below. His huge wide hands clenched the rickety railing, sweat rippled down his reddened face. He seemed frozen, almost in shock, but he didn’t look injured. Punch had to assume that he belonged to the wrecked Honda. He looked fraught and flushed and filled with angst.
Tentatively Punch climbed over the boards and quietly made his way toward the man desperately clinging to the railing on the very edge of the bridge.
Punch wrinkled his nose and then he said, “Whatcha gonna do?”
Startled, the man’s head jerked toward him. His eyes were as big as dinner plates, and the skin on his knuckles was so stretched that it looked like they could burst through at any second. Dripping sweat, his brows pinched in sudden irritation.
“What’s it look like?” He growled at the uninvited black man.
Pursing his lips, Punch raised his eyebrows at the man, and then he peered over the railing at the rushing white water, and the jagged rocks in the fast creek bed. Cocking his head, he expelled a long downward whistle. “It’s a long way down there,” he began. The man dared a glance at the water, and then thought better of it, rotating his eyes back toward Punch. “Ya know if you hit those rocks…it’s gonna hurt like hell…while you’re drowning, dude.”
The man’s mouth dropped open a bit, and then his brows formed a disparaging V between his eyes, “Good thing you’re not a counselor, cuz you suck at this.”
“At talking someone out of suicide.” The man said.
“Ooh, you want me to talk you out of it?” Punch lifted a beefy shoulder, “I dunno, seems like you’ve got you’re mind made up, right?” He said, as he leaned against a rusted flaking bracket, folding his arms over his wide chest.
The man took in a deep disgusted breath. He managed another peek at the water thrashing over the rocks. He groaned. “Why don’t you leave me be?” He expelled a hopeless sigh, “I can’t do anything right. I thought if I slammed my car hard enough into that tree—“
“Damned air bags.” Punch interjected.
“Yeah…I tried to shoot myself yesterday, but I flinched.” He turned his head so Punch could view a burned graze across his temple. Punch winced. The man sighed at his miserable failure. “So I figured I’d jump, and as you pointed out, either the rocks will kill me or I’ll drown.”
“Well, it sounds like a plan.” Punch said, slapping the man on the shoulder, the man flinched, grasping the railing more tightly. Punch took several steps, and then hesitated, turning back toward him. “Is there anybody you’d like me to call? Family? Friends?” He asked.
The man sighed again, sadly shaking his head. “No…there’s nobody.”
Punch stepped toward him to extend his hand out to him, “My name’s Punch McMinn. And you are?” The man looked at Punch as if his nose had just grown ten inches out of his face, and then he looked at his big hand. Punch shrugged, “I mean, I gotta know. So I can tell the police whose floating in the creek.”
Apprehensively he let got of the railing, and extended his hand to him, “Eugene…Eugene Strom.”
Punch half-smiled, “Nice knowing ya, Eugene.” And with that Punch grabbed the large man’s hand and yanked him toward the inside of the railing. But Eugene wasn’t having it. He was big and he was strong. Wrestling against Punch’s grip, he pulled him closer to the edge. The old railing groaned in distress, and the bolts that still barely held it in place jerked. Punch managed to wrap his arms around Eugene’s waist and heave him over the railing. The two enormous men crashed onto the floor of the bridge, but the boards that Punch fell against gave way and he fell through the rotted splintering wood.