Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Sleeping with strangers in strange cities


Attending RWA Nationals in New York City was an expensive endeavor, so most authors unwilling to sell kidneys or children on the black market opted to buddy up on hotel expenses.

As a result, many of us wound up not only sharing rooms, but beds.

Not a bad way to get to know someone.
Based on attire, Jeffe's party looks more fun!

I’d arranged in advance to room with sci-fi romance author Marcella Bernard and erotica author Jeffe Kennedy. Though I’d met Marcella once at a conference in Seattle, I had never actually met Jeffe in person.

Marcella and I got there first, so we each claimed one of the two double beds and turned in for the night. Jeffe arrived late, so our first introduction to one another involved me blinking sleepily up at her.

“Hey, it’s great to finally meet you!” I said as I crawled out of bed to give her a hug.

“You, too!” she said, setting down her suitcase to hug back.

“Did you have a good flight?”

“Not bad, how about you?”

“A little long, but tolerable,” I said. “So who do you want to sleep with?”

So much for foreplay.

I have a tough time imagining many men having conversations like that, but none of us thought twice about it as Jeffe donned her nightie and crawled in next to me. She was a perfectly lovely bed partner who didn’t hog the covers or steal my pillow.

It was a scenario replicated in rooms all over the hotel, as many authors found themselves bedding down with strangers in the interest of saving a few bucks.
Hanging with Jeffe and Marcella in Central Park.

But keep in mind, RWA is an organization comprised mostly of female authors. How many men would feel comfortable with it? Probably the same number who’d look forward to snuggling under the covers with someone of the same gender while sharing a bottle of wine and a bag of pistachios and critiquing the third roommate’s wardrobe selections.

“That one’s nice, but try it with that other bra!”

“Here, wear my choker! It'll look great with that neckline!”

I hate to generalize, but most guys I know would sooner sleep in the mini-fridge.

It’s worth thinking about this in terms of writing. I ask male friends to read each manuscript I write just to flag things that sound off.

“A guy would never say this,” is a frequent note made in the margins next to a questionable piece of dialogue. I believe it. Men and women are wired differently, with different taboos, comfort zones, and ways of speaking.

When I got home from the trip, my two twenty-something male housemates were deep in conversation about motorcycle repair. After the preliminary hellos, they cut right to the chase.

“So how was it sleeping with that other chick?”

I almost felt bad not embellishing the story for their entertainment. I did see their eyes light up at the word “erotica,” and it's possible I described a pillow fight that never happened.

Are there other things you do comfortably that you can’t imagine someone of the opposite sex doing without the threat of torture? Please share!

And while you’re at it, how about sharing your bed? Might come in handy if I have to go on book tour.

22 comments :

Matthew MacNish said...

Glad to have you back, Tawna! It sounds like you had a blast.

Um ... I've shared a hotel bed with my sister, a dog, my kid, my dad ... but I'm not sure I could hang with a "friend" who I previously only knew online. Unless I got drunk first. Then I'd probably be fine.

Sarah W said...

Except for buying feminine products and shaving areas below the neck, I can't think of anything I do that my husband would rather be tortured than do.

Congratulations on the terrific review in Romantic Times, Tawna! So many stars!

Malin said...

If you go to Sweden, there's a bed. I mean, there's also a spare couch, but sharing the bed is much nicer. Wait. I think I blew my cover on another post admitting I was gay >.< - okay, you get the sofa.

I don't think men (unless insanely drunk) would lean on each other and resting their heads on another man's shoulder, or in their lap etc.

And it takes quite a lot for most men to admit they've read and liked Jane Austen...

Patrick Alan said...

Let me tell you things that never happened.

I never shared a hotel room with my buddy who got so drunk he ended up pissing on his bed in the middle of the night and decided that A. his clothes were unnecessary and B. his bed was now wet and unsleepable.

This did not result in me being woken up to a naked drunk man saying "move over". Also the lights were not on and he wasn't standing on his mattress - did I mention the naked part? - while saying it. He also didn't then jump.

Also, I did not break the wall light while flipping his wet mattress at 2:30am so I wouldn't have to sleep with a naked drunk man.

'Cause guys wouldn't do these things.

Patrick Alan said...

Also, when did Jeffe get so tall? I don't remember that.

danielle Spears said...

Hotels are ridiculously expensive. Bet they're even more so in NY.

I am sure three might be company in our bed however, my husband may argue against that. There is always a bed in the Spears' house if you ever come to Southeast Oklahoma. It might be between a crib and a changing table, but free is free. Right?

Sounds like you had blast. :)

Roni Loren said...

Maybe it's because I'm an only child, but I'm weird about sharing my bed. I barely tolerate my husband in there. ;) Luckily for RWA, I had Hilton points (thanks to hubby's job travel), so I got to stay for free across the street. I still had two roommates but there were 2 beds and a sofa bed, so all was well.

Glad you had a good time!

The Sprouting Acorn said...

I'm a bit selfish, somewhat like Roni. I'm not an only child, but barely tolerate my hubby in there with me. The snoring is just too much, not to mention the cold toes on a winter's morning while he's all warm and cozy. So, yeah, I've got a bed you can sleep in (and I'm sure the hubby wouldn't mind)!!

Seriously, if ever in Indiana, feel free to land here. I'll make sure the flying squirrel is in another room so not to wake you in the middle of the night. :)

Dawn Alexander said...

I am not good with sharing a bed either. Mine is an only child thing, but not like you would think. For several months during one of my parents' separations, I had to share a bed with my mom. I hated it!

Now, that being said. Seven of us went on a trip our senior year in college. Four girls, three boys. Two hotel rooms, four double beds.

I ended up sleeping in the boys room with a friend who is unquestionably gay. When I explained this to my parents, my father's answer was simply. "Seven college educated people there and not one of you thought to call down for a roll-away?"

Hmm, in hindsight, that might have made more sense!

Sidenote: Can you please tell me how to say the name Jeffe? Is it Jeffie? Hefay? Just Jeff? It's really nagging at me.

lora96 said...

The honor society I was in during college traveled to lots of conferences so we pretty much learned to share affably with near-strangers. We washed each other's hair in the tiny sink when the shower didn't work. We threw m&m's at each other. It was pretty fun.

At work (95% female workforce) we say things like "Will you cut the tag out of my pants?" or "look at this place on my back that itches is anything there?" I just can't see men grooming each other this much!

Judy,Judy,Judy. said...

I've slept with female friends before. Not a problem.
When I'm at home I sleep in my recliner. I have big comfy bed that goes empty every night. Can't imagine you doing a tour that included our rural KY Dollar Store, but if you do, there's a bed here for you.

Danica Avet said...

This is actually a subject I think I might have to use in a manuscript. Not you specifically, mind you, but the whole women-sleeping-with-women thing. It's no biggie for us, but guys...man. They freak out big time. I can remember going to a friend's house who only had one bedroom. I ended up sleeping on the sofa bed with one of the guys while the other took another sofa. There was no way they were going to share the bed. *snort*

So glad you had nice bedfellows for Nationals, Tawna!

Christine Tyler said...

I think a lot still depends on the guy. Not only personality, but culture. I think men who are comfortable in places other than Tony Romas are a bit less particular.

My husband and his best friend used to travel a lot together. They went to Peru several times, and while boarding in with friends and distant relatives, they'd often get to share a mattress. They didn't really think twice about it.

As far as men saying things "men would never say," I think it all depends on how much the man feels he needs to prove to himself and others, and how afraid he is of their opinions.

I've heard my husband complain about how dumb football is, tell me how much he misses his best friend, get excited about a great deal on shampoo, and worry that the roast is too dry. I've also had him tell me I need to pick up my stuff more.

So I suppose when you're editing for "things men would never say," you really want to look for "things THIS man would never say." In essence, staying true to the character you're writing.

And if you find all your men debating the effectiveness of "doggles," you might want to shake it up a bit and throw in a man or two who talk on the phone about how adorable babies are and how much they want one. Because it's just as real, if not only more rare.

And aren't romance books supposed to be about the rare ones?

Patty Blount said...

I, too, shared a bed while in NYC and that may be why I found it hard to sleep. (She was a gorgeous blonde!)

Great trip, even better to finally, FINALLY, meet you.

Jeffe Kennedy said...

Tawna - I've shared beds with many women and you were a lovely bedmate, too. (Even if you might have kicked me once or twice...) It was so fun to meet "for real"!

Patrick - they were very high heels. With platforms. And Tawna is, um, short.

Dawn - it's Jeff-ee.

And the lingerie pillow fight was awesome!

Dawn Alexander said...

Jeffe~ Thank you!
I have this thing about pronouncing names correctly.

B. WHITTINGTON said...

I loved this post. Reminded me of the last RWA conference in NYC. So much fun. It was an expensive trip, four of us girls in one room, and we had a blast.
I gave facials. We entertained each other when we weren't busy with workshops etc or banquets and did sightseeing together. A wonderful time.
Missed going this year. It wasn't an option for me.
Maybe next time.
Blessings, Barb

Maja said...

You're always welcome to share my bed, Tawna. Though, my husband might be in there too, but I doubt he'd mind. *wink wink*

jill said...

At my first writer's conference, I made new friends and joined an on-line crit group with them. We've shared a room and beds since then.

The sleeping arrangements usually come down to "want to sleep with the one who snores, or the one with a cold?"

Then of course, we lay awake talking about our stories and our pets until well after midnight.

jill said...

PS - plenty of room and spare beds here west of Portland should you need a place to crash. My bed is the largest and comfiest, though.

Claire Dawn said...

In Japan, boys are weirdly touchy. Like you'll go to class and find a boy sitting in another boy's lap. It's mind-boggling.

Allie Sanders said...

I have absolutely no problem with sharing my bed. I've grown used to sleeping with people and am an admitted blanket hog, but i don't take up much space ;)With any luck I'll be at RWA in Atlanta in a couple years.

Most of my friends are guys and I've discovered they don't cook together, shop for underwear together and are adoreably awkward when it comes to shopping for clothes. Those are some of my favorite things to do with my female friends.