Friday, March 28, 2014

Falling Asleep to Fifty Shades

For those who are recently divorced, a new relationship is tantalizing. But what kind should you seek? Do you want a long-term commitment, or are you looking for a fling based solely on a physical attraction? For those who may fall into the latter group, picking up a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey may be just the thing to get you in the right frame of mind for a wild adventure. With that in mind, I downloaded a copy and prepared to embrace the phenomenon. What I planned for was some heat. What I ended up with was a question: Am I missing something? Then I fell asleep.

Fifty Shades is a blockbuster, selling over 100 million copies worldwide, with the United States accounting for nearly half of that figure. In addition, E.L. James has become one of the world's fastest selling authors, and she was the book industry's top earner last year with more than $95 million in sales. By February of next year, you will be able to see the story on the silver screen. If anything, you will hear more about it over the next few years as the last two parts of the trilogy are released as movies (hopefully the final book will not be split into two movies, as is the trends these days).

For many married women caught in a rut, Fifty Shades offers a dramatic fantasy, complete with helicopter rides and rooms full of bondage gear. No matter how strange the relationship portrayed or alien the activities undertaken, the experience is safe because the situation is unattainable. But what about us divorcees? Unencumbered with a spouse and a vow, we could seek out Christian Grey, or at least some local proxy of him. The distant fantasy could become a reality.

With that in mind, I started reading. After slogging through Chapter 1, I realized that finishing the entire book was not an option. The writing is just terrible. Comments like "Holy Moses" abound. Then, of course, there is the main character, Anastasia Steele. She makes Eva in Enough Said seem like a genius at relationships. So, I needed to get to the heart of what seemed to be the appeal of the story: the intimate activities of Mr. Grey and Ms. Steel. Picking a random chapter deep in the book, I assumed the action would be hot and heavy. So I tapped on the link to Chapter 18, hoping to find a pot of steamy gold.

While I expected to at the very least blush, I found myself yawning and wondering when the exciting parts would start. I can only assume that all erotica is not of this caliber. The core of the scene was a domineering encounter between the wealthy Christian and ingenue Anastasia. He demanded she call him "sir," and she seemed unable to remember that basic instruction. The billionaire then proved quite handy with a riding whip, applying it repeatedly to a rather sensitive spot. Against all odds, the protagonist was  overwhelmed. Her inner goddess was ecstatic. The scene concluded with some more rather unconvincing action, all of which left Anastasia happily exhausted.

Just getting through the chapter was difficult. Instead of being shocked, I was put into a stupor. Was this the type of scene that inspired that amazingly funny Saturday Night Live skit? Part of the problem is the tepid writing style and the unlikely scenarios. The other issue is that the scene felt contrived. If you have vibrant and fun times with your partner, the activities are not that shocking or interesting.

Is it just me? The success of the book says that there are plenty of women who love it, however, there are some that think it is terrible. For example, check out this funny review by one woman who could not stand the series.

In the end, if you like the book, that is great, but I just hope you do not seek out a relationship like the one detailed in those hard-to-turn pages. Divorced or not, cougar or happy housewife, Fifty Shades does not depict a good fling or healthy long-term relationship. There is a lot to be said about adding some spice to your life, but every woman should realize that you can have excitement without a twisted relationship.


  1. I agree... hard for us divorcees to fall into the fantasy world of subservience.....

  2. You are so right! It's time to pursue a satisfying relationship.