Diary of a Slut

5

by Kathryn Trueblood
Shebooks
June 2014, 54 Pages
ISBN 13: 978-1-9408-3846-5, ebook $2.99

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When your daughter wants to pry into your past, how selective are you about your answers? Furthermore, how do you love the girl you once were? Trueblood’s tales unfold in remote places—a hippie high school on an island off the West Coast and a roadhouse in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest—places where only situational ethics seem to apply. At once stories of sexual abandon and sexual entrapment, they present two snapshots of the same woman and her coming-of-age where the road ends.

Excerpts

Excerpts from Diary of a Slut

“Mom,” my daughter says, “What age were you when you lost your virginity?”

            Do I want to tell her? No. I was a year older than she is; I was fourteen. Do I tell her? Yes.

            “It was not a happy thing,” I say. “I wouldn’t wish it for you.”

            She wants to know everything then and there, but she doesn’t get to.

            A week later we fight because I won’t let Cara go to a new friend’s house for an overnight. The parents aren’t going to be home from work until 4 am, and the eighteen-year-old brother will be in charge.  It all sounds pretty sketchy, but I know Cara is frantic for new friends since she was exiled from the quasi-popular pack over Christmas break.

             “You need to get her mother’s phone number,” I say.

            “Becky doesn’t know it.”

            “She doesn’t know her own mother’s phone number?”

            “Her mother got a new cell phone.”

            “Then the answer is no. If there is not an adult in the house, you don’t stay the night. I can pick you up at ten.”

            “Mom,” she says, sticking her chin out to let me know she is a badass hip-hop biotch, in case I don’t know what I’m in for. “You are the only parent who cares about this kind of stuff. The other kids say to me, ‘Oh, you have a parent like tha-at.’ They feel sorry for me.”

            She’s a foot from my left ear, and I’m making us oatmeal before work and school. “I guess that makes me the one parent with good judgment,” I say.

             “What do you think? Mom.” she shouts at the side of my face,  “That I’m going to act like some slut, like you?”

            I snap the burner off in time to see her turn tail and light out for her room. She knows she’s done it now. I shove the pan to the back of the stove. No one’s hungry anymore.

            After Cara has left for school, I go to the garage to have a look at my old journals.—whole composition books full of bad sex. I have to steel myself.  It was a different era. How am I to convey that to my daughter who already has no patience with me? She calls me an old hippie and tells me what clothes I should throw away. But I’m not an old hippie, only a child who came of age on the West Coast in the wake that the 60s left behind.

            I was twelve years old in 1972, the year the Supreme Court legalized birth control regardless of marital status. The doctor who put me on the pill when I was fourteen asked three questions: how old are you? (I lied), how much do you weigh? (I lied), are you sexually active? (no, but I was not going to lose my boyfriend, which was what the older girls assured me would happen).

            At fourteen, I attended an alternative school on an island off the West Coast, a 1970s equivalent of the democratically run Summerhill School in England, except that drugs, sex, and absolute chaos forced its the closure in less than two years.

            As students of Salbatora Island School, we knew the canyons and coves with our feet, and slipped out of our dormitories like the lithe shadows we were when the evening dorm check had passed; then we congregated in the canyons to revel, drinking tequila sunrises in tennis ball cans. We kayaked to town on booze runs. We sailed to remote coves to enact our own version of Lina Wurtmueler’s “Swept Away.” The remoteness of the island untamed us all—if teenagers are ever really domesticated. When the rains came and washed out the roads, the faculty became lovers with their students, the students had shower parties in the dormitories, and wild boar roamed the halls.

Book Club Discussion Questions

Diary of a Slut

  1. Do you find Trueblood’s work raunchy and offensive or just exceptionally frank?
  2. Do you think she takes it to extremes in order to make her readers see the hidden parts of women’s lives?
  3. On Salbatora Island, Leo keeps coming back to Maeve’s room, increasingly drugged and disturbed. At one point in the story, she asks herself, “Am I a Slut?” and later she learns that she has been called “The Whore of Healing.” How do women use sex to try and heal men? Did you learn anything about yourself reading this story?
  4. There’s an element of the supernatural at work in “Diary of a Slut.” How is this a ghost story and who are the ghosts?
  5. In “Her Wildness,” Biker Barb quotes her grandmother’s axiom: “Normal ain’t nothing but a setting on a washing machine.” How do Trueblood’s characters defy the status quo? Are you able to identify with them in some way?
  6. Botteger’s Bar & Grill is depicted as a wild west saloon, except the story is set in the late Seventies and told from the women’s point of view. How is the narrative a revision of the urge to come west and remake oneself?
  7. By the standards of our time, you could say that Maeve was date raped in “Her Wildness,” yet you could also say she sexually assaulted Seth. How do her actions complicate your reading of the story?
  8. How does the motif of the river beneath the river gain significance as you read the story? What does the sound of the stones seem to give voice to for Maeve? Where else in the story are stones important?