Do you want to hear about the first time I saw a naked man?
Of course you do!
It was actually in the film, A Room with a View. My poor mother rented it because it seemed like the most innocuous movie of all time. I mean, come on: E. M. Forester adaptation! Merchant/Ivory Production! Helena Bonham Carter playing a character named Lucy Honeychurch! How could something like that backfire?
Quite easily, actually.
We were at my mom’s cousin’s house. My mom’s cousin is her best friend. For the sake of protecting the innocent, let’s say her name is Dame Maggie Smith. I imagine they thought that we children would go upstairs and play while they watched the grown up, sophisticated movie downstairs. Of course, this did not happen. Myself, my younger sister and Dame Maggie Smith’s trio of kids, all under the age of nine, watched this lushly produced version of a classic Victorian novel. I don’t think I paid attention to much except the pretty dresses until a scene with three of the male leads skinny dipping came on.
Oh my God.
Cue the giggle bomb.
My cousin stole the remote from her mother. She kept rewinding and rewinding it so we could see Simon Callow’s flaccid, floppy penis bounce up and down over and over again. According to IMDB, Julian Sands and Rupert Graves were the other naked guys. I didn’t pay as much attention to them because they were younger and a lot less silly-looking.
For years afterward we tormented my mother every time she wanted to rent something at the video store. (I am showing my age, in that I lived during a time where video stores were a thing that existed.) I don’t think she was allowed to pick a movie for at least five or six years for fear that her prurient tastes would show through and we’d be subjected to more full-frontal male nudity. If you know my mom, you’d know how mortifying that must have been for her. She taught Sunday school for goodness sake!
Watching the film years later with my sister, we both marveled at how inoffensive this scene is actually. It’s just a bunch of goofballs swimming rather innocently. It’s cute.
That’s still not going to stop me from blaming my mother’s single indiscretion for my new life writing erotic romance. It’s all A Room with a View’s fault.
Just kidding, mom. (I have a feeling you’re the only person reading this.)
It’s more likely that early exposure to meticulously constructed period pieces imbued me with an inability to resist any movie featuring a woman in a corset, denying her most intense feelings until the weight of an oppressive society makes her cry silent tears.