In 1988, Austin, Texas was covered in ice. Not just a little ice, but a lot. Two to three inches worth and the bitter cold had no intention of letting up for a few days.
The city shut down. No school. No work. Barely anyone could get around without slipping and sliding all over the place. Wrecks everywhere. People were homebound.
College students, like me and four of my friends, thought, “How cool! A four day slumber party with alcohol and all the crap food we could afford.”
Yeah, you know, after a day or so of that, I prayed for a heatwave. Endless movies and talk of guys and sharing a bathroom with four other people…I was nuts enough to go outside with a blowtorch and melt all the ice in the city. I really loved my friends, but my love was turning to cabin fever and that only leads to the darkside. I needed to get these other three people out of my small two bedroom apartment.
I wanted to stay friends with them, but I really needed them the hell out of there.
On day three, I’d had it. It was either I lock myself in my room for the remainder of the Ice Age or have no friends. I excused myself I retreated to my bedroom. Sitting in the quiet, I picked up a book that kept me from blowtorching anyone as well as most of Austin, Texas.
The book? Rock Star by Jackie Collins.
At the time, I was pretty new to reading romance. I’d recently finished Whitney, My Love by Judith McNaught so I figured this book would be something similar. Something to get my mind off the weather and the three “guests” I so desperately wished could leave.
Boy, was I wrong.
I’d never read a Jackie Collins book, but WOW! Did she throw it all out there. Sex. Drugs. Sex. Music. Sex while doing drugs. Sex while listening to music. Hot guys. Hot girls. Sex.
She wrote passionately, honestly. Threw the dirty in the middle of the floor and left it there. She didn’t apologize for any of it either. It was raw and gritty and sexy as hell. It was a world that most of us would never know or understand. A world that so many of us thought was glamorous and professional.
Hey, what can I say? I was in my early twenties and everyone in the world was nice and professional, right?
Not only was I totally distracted from my house guests watching Robocop for the nine-hundredth time, but I think as I read some of the words out loud, they melted the ice off our small balcony.
For a good twenty-four hours, I read. I couldn’t get enough of the characters, the scenes, the settings, the dare I say it? Sex. WOW!
I’ll never forgot how she helped me from not ending up on the six o’clock news as the crazy lady who hates everybody.
Over the years, I used her books as my guilty pleasure. My reward at the end of a semester when I’d killed myself for decent grades and worked part-time. When I worked long hours in the ICU and trauma units. I’d grab a Jackie Collins book and read until I couldn’t keep my eyes open. I’d wake with it sitting next to me in the bed and would start reading again as soon as I could focus.
For those of you who don’t know, she passed away last Saturday. Breast cancer took an amazing woman, but she didn’t go quietly into that good night. She lived an amazing life and wrote it down. She left a legacy of characters and descriptions and honest writing. Jackie told us of a perceived glamorous world that had incredible flaws and crippling sadness.
Yes, she wrote about sex, but her characters were emotional and gripping and downright messed up. She wasn’t afraid to push the boundaries of what her people, would do and that’s more than cool.
Thank you Jackie Collins for putting your stories to paper and sharing them with us.
I especially want to thank you for getting me through an ice storm without me hating anyone who stayed in my apartment for more than a couple of days. You helped me keep friendships that are still going strong.