I have a good marriage. I don’t apologize for it, it is hard work which we both take very seriously. I have no complaints about that area. But after having been married for 15 years, I was fairly excited to hear about a new book called “50 Shades of Grey,” which one of my friends dubbed the the precise tome “guaranteed to take your sex life to the next level.” Well, with an endorsement like that, I was intrigued. Then the spots on the Today Show, Dr. Oz, SNL etc, etc… I had to read this book! As luck would have it, I had reason to read because our planned book club books had been announced. First up, 50 Shades. Next, a book called “Wild” about a woman who hikes the Pacific Crest Trail. I dove head first into 50 Shades.
Before I say what I am about to say, let me first admit that I have not read books two and three. I don’t even remember their names. Nor am I some elitist pontificater who doesn’t read any trash. I did read all three Twilight books after all. But, I am sorry. I just don’t get it. Yes, there is some nice juicy sex. And I suppose it has earned the escapist term “mommy porn.” But the writing is unforgivably poor and the story is a yawn. Not to mention the fact that this book is set in the town where I reside and as my friend Tracy says, “nothing sexy happens here.” And yet some of my favorite people have read the books and loved them, encouraging me to hang in there until the end when our fearless Christian Grey is exposed as a confused and previously abused guy who was really a good guy all along. And who, despite his tortured past, falls in love with our heroine. Bullshit. And when your daughter comes home and says she met this AWESOME guy who is RICH and GORGEOUS and who just wants her to sign an itty bitty little contract saying that they need to sleep in seperate bedrooms and she needs to eat properly. Oh, and he keeps telling her to not get attached to him. And after all your conversations with your daughter about how you can’t fix a man and that when a person tells you who they are, believe them. Well, after all that, you’re gonna tell her to grab a pen! Sign up! No, you are not. I know, I know, I need to lighten up! I need to get swept into the story and simply enjoy it! I am not capable of suspending reality to that extent. But you go right ahead if you want.
Yesterday, I went on a hike with my husband. It was a virtual tidal wave to the senses. We walked from a dark and cool overhang of trees onto a brilliant horizon dotted with a array of brightly colored wildflowers. We talked, but not too much. The noises of birds tweeting, creeks bubbling and twigs snapping beneath our feet was enough background for our walk. At points, we paused to sample some delicious, bursting huckleberries. Hundreds lined our way. The sweet smell of evergreen! And that dusty grey sheen on your skin and clothes, evidence of a day well spent. The noise of our own busy lives fell away and I remembered why I had fallen in love with him in the first place. (For those of you currently unattached, I also found as a single gal that a good walk is a great way to weed out the guys who can’t carry on a conversation or appreciate beauty). Nothing is as tantalizing as walking behind someone, imagining ways you could pull off to the side of the trail, the thrill of knowing someone could pass by at any moment and the endless possibilities that await you at trail’s end. Let’s face it folks, nature is hot.
I read “Wild” after I finished “50 Shades.” Both sit atop the best seller lists, the yin and yang of suburban moms everywhere. Now, which book title would you have picked for the mommy porn by the way? 50 Shades of Grey sounds like a memoir of a funeral parlor. I digress. Wild’s author, Cheryl Strayed , is by her own account a very sexual person. She uses sex to express herself and to process her emotions, albeit not always in a very healthy way. But her account of her pilgrimage from “lost to found” is visceral and deep nonetheless and she takes us to places in our hearts and souls that are most profound. Well, what does that have to do with fucking, you ask? Alot, as it turns out. A very favorable NY Times book review calls the book “loose and sexy and dark” and one of the critiques on Strayed’s website says it “reminds us of what it feels to be fully alive.” Isn’t that what sex is really about? Feeling alive? She recounts her adventures in such a lucid and fun way that you want to strap on a backpack and get your own adventure on. The spirit of the book is so free and the landscape so primitive that it’s impossible to escape the desire to undertake your own journey. And as many of you I am sure can attest, outdoor sex has it’s own S&M elements, if you count the scratching of rocks and trees upon your ass or other naked parts.
In an on air discussion by Sirius XM of why moms liked 50 Shades so much, the answers tended toward the following: women liked being “taken care of” by their man without being asked, they wanted to be both adored and ravaged, they were tired of being the one to make everyone else happy. I hear them! But this book was written by a woman who knows these things too. (Author EL James is brilliant if not the best storyteller). And if Christian Grey had been poor and ugly, would you still want him? Maybe if you really want these things, just make a photocopy of the page in the book and give it to your man. Oh wait a minute, that’s still asking him. Here’s the thing. Men really do want to make you squeal. It’s okay to ask them. Isn’t that what you are doing by reading the book in front of him anyway?
If 50 Shades gets you hot, have fun! I applaud you and I am happy for you that you’re getting it. But place getting “Wild” on your to do list, too. Maybe try a pair of hiking boots instead of a pair of handcuffs. And please tell me why I should or should not continue reading the series.
“There were so many amazing things in this world. They opened up inside me like a river.” Cheryl Strayed, “Wild.”
Now that’s hot.