Intersections – Enough Shades of Grey

Posted by February 11, 2015
Nicki Salcedo

Nicki Salcedo

By Nicki Salcedo

No one has ever stopped me in the grocery store to ask if I’ve read “Cloud Atlas” by David Mitchell. I have. No one has ever asked me if I’ve read “The Canterbury Tales” by Geoffrey Chaucer . . . in Middle English. I have. No one cares that I enjoy short stories by J. California Cooper or ZZ Packer. I do. But once a week, in an airplane, on the playground, or at the grocery store, someone stops me to ask me about “Fifty Shades of Grey” by E.L. James.

I did read it, but what you really want to know is if I liked the book for its mysterious hero, romance, and spanky sex. You want to know if this book improved my sex life and marriage.

Or you want to know if I hated the book for its ridiculous plot, implausible characters, and spanky sex. You want to know if the book ended up in a bonfire in my backyard.

I am judgmental. If you make the left turn during “No Left Turn” hours at the school parking lot, I will make a note of it in my Little Book of Human Failings. But I will not judge you for your thoughts on “Fifty Shades of Grey.” Honestly, I don’t care enough either way to love it or hate it.

I read it. It was a bit like making my eyes take medicine, but soon enough I finished it. When people ask me about the book, and now the movie, I say the same thing.

“It wasn’t the right book for me, but then again neither was David Mitchell’s ‘Cloud Atlas.’” If you want to make a stranger go away who insists on talking about kink and BDSM in the grocery store, mention “Cloud Atlas.”

I love the romance genre. I have read a book or two with sex in it. Just because “Fifty Shades of Grey” has “romance” and sex doesn’t mean I’m going to like it. Here’s the quickie version of the plot:

Billionaire asks virgin to sign a contract so he can tie her up and have sex with her to cure his unresolved childhood issues.

My first issue with the book is about the theme. His unresolved issues include his birth mother, his adopted mother, and his mother’s friend. Ewww. As soon as I see the word “mother” in a sexy book, my lady parts shrivel up and die. I’m sure Freud would have been a fan “Fifty Shades,” but not me.


My second issue with the book has less to do with the book and more to do with my life. I’m in that life phase that is exhausting. I analyze, audit, and strategic plan. I spend time in distant cities. My house is a mess. My kids are small. We soccer, ballet, and piano. I fight laundry the way Batman fights crime.

At the end of my work day, the last thing I want to read about is Christian Grey in a tuxedo holding handcuffs. I don’t care how rich he is. I turn into my true Jamaican self, grab the nearest wooden spoon, and beat his behind into next week. There is nothing kinky or sexy about it. I feel abused enough during daylight hours. I don’t need more when I read.

I have many dear friends who loved the book and will likely spend Valentine’s Day watching the movie. This makes me happy. Although the book wasn’t for me, I know the joy of loving a book so much that you have to read over and over again.

I don’t believe that those who liked “Fifty Shades” must go find “better” books to read. I love sharing a good book, but it isn’t my job to take your good book out of your hands.

Other people can speak with authority about the controversial aspects of the book. I am not an authority on anything other than storyline and romance. I like other novels. I give credit to E. L. James for doing something daring. She put words on a page. It doesn’t get more naked than that.

But there’s the line in the book where the author lost me forever. Christian Grey says to Anastasia Steele, “I’m going to f— your mouth.” What? No. No, you aren’t. You don’t get to speak that way, even in fiction. I’d rather do laundry. Bye, Mr. Grey.

What kind of kink do I like? Here are three of my favorite love scenes from movies:

“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.” Chow Yun-fat and Michelle Yeoh touch hands. That’s it. They are fully clothed. They never even kiss. I’m fairly certain that this scene makes people pregnant.

“The Terminator.” It’s not the “Come with me if you want to live” scene but the “I came back through time for you Sarah Connor.” Time travel is sexy. Do that, and I might let you spank me.

“Star Trek.” The rebooted version. Spock is upset and steps into the turbolift and out of nowhere Uhura kisses him. That’s the kind of scene that will overheat my warp core. Christian Grey may have unresolved mommy issues, but I’ve proudly got Vulcan issues.

This proves that you can’t trust me on “Fifty Shades of Grey.” For me, less sexy is more. Romance is sweeter and more interesting when it comes from a story not related to romance. For the record, you can have a book with explicit kinky sex and still be nice about it.

Happy Valentine’s Day. Get out your silk scarves and feather dusters and whips and handcuffs. I’ll be in my wool socks drinking warm milk as I binge watch Colin Firth in “Pride and Prejudice” while snuggling my cat Greg Maddux. I won’t judge you for your proclivities, if you don’t judge me for mine.

Nicki Salcedo is a Decatur resident and Atlanta native. She is a novelist, blogger, and a working mom. Her column, Intersections, runs every Wednesday morning.


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  • Robin Hillyer-Miles

    The sexiest scene I’ve ever clutched my pearls at is the scene in Attonement when Robbie lightly places his hand on the water in the fountain where Cecilia has just stepped out.

    • Nicki Salcedo

      Oh, The Atonement. That was a roller coaster ride of a book. I love pearl clutching scenes!

  • calliopejane

    Great article! I laughed out loud and can totally relate to laundry being more appealing than a stalking psycho who talks and acts like Mr. Grey.

    • Nicki Salcedo

      As I stared at the one last load of laundry tonight, I felt a little ashamed of bashing Mr. Grey. Just a little.

      • Sandra Rocha Chandler

        I hope this isn’t creepy, but I think I love you, this article is the best thing I’ve read in a long time. I will never get the hype over this book or the movie, are people that fed up with sappy love stories that they would make this so popular? I personally cannot get enough sap in my life, and seeing my husband doing the laundry is sexier than any sex scene in this entire book.

        • Nicki Salcedo

          I love you. That isn’t creepy. Laundry + kitchen clean = whipped cream with a cherry on top. Thanks for reading!

  • Angi Morgan

    Well said, Nicki !!
    Thank you ten times over !
    I have always said that the best love scene in a movie is from The Terminator…their HANDS say it all.

    • Nicki Salcedo

      He had her picture. He time traveled with her picture with the burned edges. That is so sexy. Crying!!

      • ttseim

        give me a break!!!! I will try to find shotgun love songs

  • angel

    Thank you.

    • Nicki Salcedo

      Thank you. Really.

  • ttseim

    I recently found my copy of the old English Canterbury tales and sat in my attic for an hour reading the Millers tale….I am in pretty much full agreement with your picks for romance….Have not read or seen the Grey shades thing, and really have no diser to because of the topic and watching the trailer….great post! and it scares me a little to think we agree on what constitutes romance….

    • Nicki Salcedo

      If I have one job left in this life, it is to scare the crap out of you. Will you read Shotgun Lovesongs and tell me what you think? I just adore that book. It is a bro-mance. Four guy best friends. A very slight side love story with the wife of one of the guys. That book will be the true test if I scare you. It’s my favorite non-love story, love story book.

      • ttseim

        I will get it as soon as I finish the one I am into right now….

  • Eric

    Best love scene in a movie? The space walk by WALL*E and Eve. Two animated robots with more humanity than Christian Grey.

    • Nicki Salcedo

      That WALL*E was infinitely more human than many of use. Curious. Resourceful. Loving. Robots can be sexy and sweet. Arnold in Terminator 2? “I know now why you cry but it is something I can never do.” Good friend, robot. Love.

  • Jane

    Brava. And now I’m off to buy your book :-).

    • Nicki Salcedo

      I’m all about reversing expectations. I’d love to hear what you think about my “love” story.

  • This is maybe my favorite article of yours! LOL. Sexiest non-sex scene in a movie I can recall at the moment 1. Rocky–when Adriane visits Rocky’s shabby little apartment and nothing happens except they talk–she’s incredibly shy; in the midst of this very awkward chat he leans in the doorway with his beefy arms up on the frame. He’s wearing an undershirt, I think. Something about the raw masculinity combined with the character’s gentleness toward her gives me a pittypatter moment. Oh, and 2. Just about every scene between Harrison Ford and Kelly McGillis in “Witness.”

    • Nicki Salcedo

      I honestly don’t think I’ve seen Witness. But I have a lot of affection for Rocky. There were a lot of good things in that movie. I am for beefy arms and awkward conversations.

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