On Stephanie Plum

Eeny, Meeny, Miney, Mo

Can Stephanie Have Her Cake and Eat It, Too?

By Nancy Tesler

When I was thirteen my brother, six years my senior, caught my best friend and me in the finished basement of our Worcester, Massachusetts, home fooling around (in those days that meant serial kissing) with a couple of boys we’d met some months earlier at a local youth center. It was New Year’s Eve and my parents thought we were downstairs playing ping pong.

“You’ll get a reputation!” my appalled brother berated me. “No one will ever date you for any other reason!”

Mortified at the prospect of being labeled a slut for all eternity, I stifled the cravings of my burgeoning sexuality and refused to kiss another boy for the next three years, thereby earning for myself a different kind of reputation, that of the biggest “prude” Classical High had ever graduated. Between sixteen and eighteen I did allow an occasional chaste meeting of the lips, but my persona was firmly established and the boys I went out with knew better than to try anything else. It was the fifties, and “nice” girls, it was pounded into our heads, didn’t.

No one could accuse Stephanie Plum, the product of a far more sexually liberated generation, of anything resembling prudishness, right? After all, she loses her virginity at age sixteen to Joe Morelli, and she’s in and out of his bed (also Ranger’s, though only the one time) from the fourth book in the series on. Yet I contend that here she is at thirty, a divorced Generation-Xer, stuck with a similar kind  …

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