At first I had maybe two friends, so I threw myself into my schoolwork. I ended up majoring in Women & Fiction. My mother insisted I couldn't legitimately accept that degree without reading a romance novel. After all, they are written by women for women about women. In the name of research, I read one and then another and another, as well as all those ancient goddess history books. And I started to wonder how I could apply all this rich stuff to my real life.
In high school I earned the nickname "The Mankiller," which had stuck through the beginning of college. But then I realized I didn't want to be that kind of girl -- one that would flirt but never let her heart open up and love. But I also didn't know who I wanted to turn myself into, especially in relationships with boys. I had grown up on Madonna and the idea of periodic reinvention of oneself. So I created a mantra for myself: Books before Boys. I went on strike, at least until I had met a good man. And when I did find one, I had finally gotten to the point where I was ready and willing to be in a relationship. Ours may not be a romance-novel kind of love, and it certainly has its ups and downs, but it's pretty darn close.
Throughout all of this, my mom and I talked on the phone every day, even when I was in Europe. We were reading the same books and, like partnering detectives, we shared notes and thoughts. We thought and talked about the lives we wanted to live, and knew we wanted them to be happy, and satisfying, and pleasurable. With the books on history, religion, sex, and romance novels, we realized that we -- and all women -- not only deserved pleasure, but also had the capacity to give it to themselves. It was up to us to create it. So we did. Somewhere in all our conversations we decided to write a book about what we were reading, thinking, and talking about. I cannot remember when we decided this, or when we started, or what life was like before it began to take shape. It just seems always to have been present in our lives in some form or another.
But I do remember being eight years old, riding shotgun in the car with my mom, both of us singing along to Madonna's "Like a Prayer" on the radio. Looking back now, I remember, vaguely, that the world had a temper fit because the video showed a woman mixing sexuality and passion, power and religion without guilt or shame and above all, in a fun way. My mom and I didn't bat an eyelash at all that -- we just sang along. Little did we know that years later we would be rediscovering how to do that in our own lives. And, of course, having fun along the way.
Excerpted with permission from "It's My Pleasure," by Maria and Maya Rodale. Published by Simon & Schuster. Copyright © 2005 by Maria Rodale and Maya Rodale.