Fact, Fiction, & the Lotion of Uncertain Usage

For the RomCon blog, I wrote a post about one of the few true-life stories in my books. This particular story involves my husband, his economy-size tubs of lotion, and way too many rolls of paper towels near his computer and bed. Enjoy!


For the most part, I write stories based entirely in my own imagination. My books star people I’ve never encountered having adventures I’ve never undertaken, a fact which allows me to 1) trample freely over reality and 2) maintain my friends’ willingness to tell me humiliating anecdotes.

So what you read in my Lovestruck Librarians series is fictional. Mostly. With a few key exceptions, ripped almost word-for-word from my real life.

My poor husband. In My Reckless Valentine, I took part of our history together and made it one of those exceptions. And unfortunately for him, the story I used involves paper towels, lotion, and possible self-pleasuring.

Let me explain. When I first met Mr. Dade, he’d moved from Sweden to the U.S. only months before. Some of his house stood empty, and the rest of it featured disposable furniture scavenged from dump-bound friends or the clearance aisles of discount superstores. To stop rooms from echoing, he’d nailed mesh sponges to the wall. He’d also purchased the least expensive swaths of fabric he could find, which he tacked to the wall alongside the sponges.

So upon my initial visit to his house, I found myself staring at a hideous square of cloth with a red-and-blue parakeet pattern. It rested next to a purple mesh puff, pinned to the wall like a trophy from some weird, Sephora-approved hunt.

In retrospect, it’s a wonder I didn’t flee the premises without another word.

All of this sounds bizarre, I know. And it was—but at the time, Mr. Dade thought he’d live in the U.S. for two years max. He’d arrived here with two suitcases and no intention of accumulating new possessions. So in his mind, there was no point to buying expensive furniture or real decorations.

I got that. I really did. None of that reasoning, however, explained the economy-size buckets of lotion and rolls of paper towels I found in his house. Specifically, in two locations: by his computer and his bedside.

I can be forgiven, I think, for drawing the obvious conclusion: This man must masturbate every single moment he’s not eating, sleeping, working, or nailing bath accessories to his walls.

Not wanting to alienate a new boyfriend, I didn’t question him right away. But after a few dates, I finally got up the nerve to address the topic.

“So just how often do you masturbate, anyway?” I asked him. “Because from your paper towel and lotion supply, I’d say…hourly? Maybe bi-hourly?”

He got all huffy. “My skin gets dry. And my nose runs.”

“No one’s skin gets that dry,” I said. “And if you’re blowing your nose—nice euphemism, by the way—why not get tissues?”

He claimed he was too cheap to buy real tissues. And despite my doubts, I accepted this explanation, as it also helped account for the terrible parakeet fabric. I simply got him actual, honest-to-God tissues, ignored the lotion, ripped the sponges and avian monstrosities from his walls, and married the man.

That was almost ten years ago. But when I was writing My Reckless Valentine, the incident came back to me. Vividly. Irresistibly. And I couldn’t help but see how perfectly it would fit into my narrative.

My hero, Grant, would have just moved into his Nice County, Maryland home. He’d be in the midst of unpacking, unaware of where his tissues might have gone. Due to his frugality, he’d be unwilling to buy more boxes in the meantime. And since the story is set around Valentine’s Day, the dry winter air would have given him parched, irritated skin.

He, like my husband, would boast troughs of lotion and rolls of paper towels by his bed and computer. And because the heroine, Angie, is much more outspoken than me, she wouldn’t wait a few weeks to address the issue. No, she’d pin him down on the subject immediately.

The conversation she ends up having with Grant is not only one of my favorite parts of the book, but also a near-transcript of the discussion I had with my soon-to-be husband. (As is their banter about whether he tracks their sex life using a spreadsheet. Which I still suspect my husband of doing, despite his claims to the contrary.)

Yes, most of my stories are complete and total fiction. But not that one. And maybe not one or two others, which may seem too unlikely for reality. However, once you go through life with a man who’ll pin mesh sponges to the wall, you discover that reality far exceeds fiction when it comes to oddity. Which is kind of comforting, in a way.

So thanks, sweetheart. Sorry to discuss your possible masturbatory habits with the world. But I appreciate your story inspiration!

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