During my freshman year in college, and this would be year one of three years being a freshman in college, I met a girl who would forever live in my memory as Candy Mandy. I never can recall her real name. Neither Candy nor Mandy, I believe it may have been Alice.
Candy Mandy stood 6’1”, far taller than the other girls, but proportionate. Other than her height she appeared relatively normal. Average butt, average boobs, average weight, average face and so on. She had a horrible laugh that would make the lab rats in the science-building pass out without warning. This always confused the students and the professors, as Candy Mandy didn’t know where the science building was nor, for that matter, anything about science. I always knew when Candy Mandy laughed as the science building would empty out, fearing a silent gas attack that killed rats first.
I spotted Candy Mandy in the Quad one day, standing several inches taller than her friends and it was lust at first sight. Throughout high school I never met a girl taller than 5’9” and at 6’5” a tall girl offered certain situational advantages. Our eyes met but being shy I turned away.
She walked up to me.
We chatted for several minutes, exchanged phone numbers and I made a vague inquiry about taking her out. She made a vague answer and somehow we actually went on a date a few days later.
Minor sparks flew and I received an option for an additional two dates.
At the end of the third date Candy Mandy sat me down on her parents couch and decided we should have a conversation about the next step in our relationship. To my great happiness the next step involved sexual intercourse. She indicated that her parents and siblings would be out of town the next weekend and while she pondered having a party, she decided on having me. I agree immediately.
“I have rules,” she said.
Many editors of small presses have rules as well. Commonly referred to as “guidelines,” these editors post them for a reason. Some have more than others. I have been to a few sites where the rules are numerous and somewhat onerous. Generally I avoid those sites, generally out of laziness. In comparison to getting published versus getting laid, following rules is a low priority with poetry, whereas following rules to getting laid, especially a six-one semi-attractive Candy Mandy, are important.
Some of the onerous editor rules are:
1. Submit attachments only using Times New Roman 12 pt font, double spaced, one poem per page with your name on each page, no more than five pages, with no indentation, non-english words, typo’s, alternative spellings of common words, abbreviations or the letter “the.” (This is a real crib from a lit zine)
I generally avoid rules such as the one above but Candy Mandy had a few rules which I was reluctantly willing to follow.
1. Condoms are mandatory
I could live with that. The one time I had a sexual relationship prior to Candy Mandy, condoms were mandatory, and every hooker I paid for demanded them, so I was prepared.
2. No anal sex
This didn’t bother me either. I was just thrilled I might get to have vaginal sex
Here’s another editor rule:
2. Submissions must be no longer than 14 lines and MUST not be a sonnet.
Sonnets to me are like anal sex. They’re okay, but it takes a lot of time and focus. I don’t have that ability. I like to slam out a poem, get it done, more on to the next poem. Some days I write 30 poems. But like fucking, they’re not always good. In fact I am lucky if one is good. It is rare any are great.
Candy Mandy rule:
3. I will not perform oral sex.
This bothered me. As all men know, whether they admit it or not, oral sex is key. Well, with me anyway, especially as I got older, but at 18 and in college and having the opportunity to get laid, I let it slide.
3. No poems about: politics, sexuality, poverty, homelessness, death, sadness, dying, drugs, prostitution, drunks, or bars.
I see that kind of confinement, I just move on. Trying to squelch a voice before it even submits is just stupid on the editor’s part, but then I also understand that there are certain magazines that have a certain kind of audience that certainly doesn’t want to read Jack Henry.
Candy Mandy had several more rules that gave me pause, but again, with the goal of adult relations, they are easily followed.
Here they are:
4. No changing positions. Missionary only.
5. No biting.
6. No kissing during sex.
7. No breast manipulation.
8. No pinching of nipples or any other area.
9. No grunting. (I know, I didn’t understand this one either.)
10. No talking during intercourse.
A lot of rules, but I still didn’t hesitate. With an 18-year-old cock doing all my thinking, this didn’t seem arduous at all. Of course, I could have visited Hollywood Boulevard, paid $50 USD and received the same offer, although fucking someone I actually knew and actually liked had a certain appeal.
Here are some editor rules:
4. Must embed in the body of an email. (I agree. Good one.)
5. Must use proper grammar and punctuation. (If I only knew how.)
6. Must use proper capitalization. (What?)
7. Must not use abbreviations. (Yeah, fuck that.)
8. Must not use God’s name in vain. (Now you’re pissing me off.)
9. Cannot use certain profanities. (What the fuck is this you stupid cunt?)
10. Must follow all rules; otherwise your submission will be deleted.
In other words, don’t submit if you can’t follow the rules.
I went over to Candy Mandy’s parents house that night, eager and excited. Her list of rules folded in my back pocket, fully memorized. In my left pocket I had a box of condoms. Candy Mandy opened the door wearing a silk robe and a smile. My manhood sprang to life, so oral sex would not be required. We kissed on the couch for several minutes, my hands exploring her body. I did not pinch, bite, grunt or talk. She finally took me by the hand and led me to the bedroom.
“You understand the rules, right?” She asked.
We stripped down to nothing, my manhood springing to full life, eager and ready. Candy Mandy assumed the missionary position, spread her legs and I hesitated.
In the early 80s women don’t shave as much as they do now, but Candy Mandy did. She had a spectacular vagina. Not being overly familiar with them, I was fascinated. I asked for permission to inspect and she concurred. Once on my knees, my face an inch from the glorious velvet cleft, I broke the rules.
I have a friend whose lit zine has a long list of rules. As we chat every now and then via e-mail, I decided to send him something I was quite proud of, something I thought was a pretty damned fine piece of writing. He loved it, but I broke seventeen of his twenty-six guideline rules.
“Doesn’t matter. It is too good for rules.” He wrote. And he published it in the next issue.
“What are you doing?” Candy Mandy uttered.
“Breaking the rules.”
I provided vaginal and clitoral stimulation to Candy Mandy for nearly an hour, until she had a rather explosive orgasm. When I continued for several more minute, she continued to quiver, contract, explode, moan, cry, rip my hair, push my head, grunt and so on.
She begged me to stop.
“Remember the rules?” She murmured.
“All of them?”
“Well, except the condom one.”
“Of course.” But even that one was forgotten after round one.
The other day a friend of mine asked me about my magazine, heroin love songs, and asked about my guidelines.
“I have three.”
1. don’t suck
2. embed everything into the body of an email
3. send only one email with everything on it you want to submit
Candy Mandy and I dated for several months, and had adult relations with each other for several years. Turns out her rules were bogus, but that was specific to her. I went on to other women, listened to their rules and followed them until the woman either bent or changed them, or broke up with me. Many women I met over the years have rules that are as arduous as any editor, pages and pages. I never submit to them.
But I have found, as with Candy Mandy, sometimes you have something that just begs to break the rules. And you can’t really find out unless you try. It’s best to just let the poem go down on you, see what happens. You might find that from time to time, breaking rules is the only way to exist.