Jess posed the question on my wall last night. “Kirby! I just found 50 Shades of Grey in our living room!!! What do I do??” This is a common question I’ve been hearing in therapy a lot since the book took off. It is a question that I feel needs answering because it seems to be a confusing issue for many couples, single people, and people who like colors other than grey.
First of all, if you find a copy of 50 Shades of Grey, you must perform the required act of remediation by reading all four Twilight books again. Chances are good, as the years that are required to actually slog through the last book pass, there will be many copies of 50 Shades in the $1 section of the used bookstore (if used books still exist).
I have many many quirky habits and thoughts that pass through my head in any given moment of time. For instance, whenever I see one of the big offensive linemen headed into the workout center with headphones on, I imagine he is listening to Michael Bolton or Jon Secada. In the past few months, whenever I see a woman reading a Nook or Kindle, I immediately assume that she is reading 50 Shades. This inevitably leads to me remembering when Simon Cowell called Kelly Pickler a “saucy minx” to which she responded, “What’s a mink?” Then I imagine her life, the level of curiosity she had before opening the glorious pages of 50 Shades of Grey, and the way her eyes are now open to a magical world as she sits on the bench in the middle of campus.
Electronic books are the gateway to trashy reading and exploring your sexuality. Seriously. They are the marijuana of bad reading. Soon we will have people lounging and in plain view enjoying Harlequin romances. Then, ladies and gentlemen, we will have descended into the chaotic moral abyss Fox News is always threatening us with.
The second thing you need to do, Jess, is wonder who in your house is reading it. I am headed to Iowa this weekend and my mom often reads trashy romance novels. (“They’re perfect for when I can’t sleep, Kelly,” she will say. “And don’t go telling people about it. Or doing the dramatic readings of the back that you and Tom used to do. Buck and Adrianna and their romance on the plains of Nebraska do not appreciate it.”) But I imagine what would happen if, when I got there, I found a copy of 50 Shades
I’m sure I would silently respond to the discovery with the discretion of a hippopotamus in a Barnes and Noble.
The third thing to do is to ignore it. Denial is a strong defense mechanism, my friends, so I would convince myself that my mom’s sorority is having a book club. Or maybe she’s just holding it for a friend. I would treat it like it is a pack of cigarettes in a backpack of a teenager I am raising.
The fourth thing you can do, Jess, is read it yourself. Read it through the eyes of a therapist who has actually had sessions dedicated to this book. (One session was 45 minutes of 50 Shades, Facebook, and texting drama which is the Ultimate Trifecta and that means I get a trophy and a free copy of The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands which is exciting for no one.) Imagine the look on my face when I realize my client (for whom I am charged with giving unconditional positive regard) begins to discuss the characters as though they are friends and asks how she can get her husband to read it.
My friend, Lisa, was in a writing workshop in California once upon a time and a classmate continued to bring in her compositions that earned her the nickname Horse Porn Girl. It included a seductive scene that described the man as having “crispy chest hair.” This was dirty. This was hot. To me, this was Fifty Shades of WTF.
Side note: Last night I had a dream I was a professional wrestler. I probably know as much about professional wrestling as I do about men.
Look, there is no right answer, Jess. You’re going to have to play it by ear on how to handle the appearance of the book…. Wait. This just in. There are THREE of these books. So it’s best to settle in for the long ride. Soon Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed (really?!?!) will be on your coffee table and there is simply nothing that can be done except to follow these instructions.
The revolution is upon us. Women everywhere have given themselves permission to explore themselves in new found ways and that is promising on a number of fronts. I am excited for them. They are obviously excited for themselves. So you and me, Jess, we just need to buckle up and paint our rooms orange or green or red in defiance.
We are, after all, represented by rainbows. We get all the shades of everything. So it’ll be all right, kiddo. Just hang in there.
I wrote this in 2012 (I think) so it’s nice to see I’ve grown in my topic choices. [Editor’s note: She has not grown in her topic choices.]