Intersections – Enough Shades of Grey
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.