By Anthony Paull
I can’t say why I’m reading “Fifty Shades of Grey.” A coworker insisted I’d love it so I finally agreed, hearing it might lead to sexual cravings and, ultimately, pregnancy. I’ve been secretly trying to have a kid for years so I figure the book might steer me in the right direction. But what I discover is I need a steely vagina and a man willing to beat me into submission. I don’t have either, but I continue on, hoping to be swept up in a land of forbidden sex. My coworker swears it’s like “Pretty Woman” with bondage. “Twilight” with kink.
The thought leaves me beaming. “Prostitutes AND vampires?” I ask.
“Basically,” she replies.
That’s enough to pique my interest. And reading, the vampire reference rings true, with Christian Grey’s long fingers and eloquent vampire-slang. But prostitutes? The heroine Anastasia Steele is a college senior and virgin (I’m calling bullshit) who signs up to be Grey’s submissive. The contract includes vaginal fisting.
I bring up the correlation and my coworker laughs. “I know. It’s a stretch. But she doesn’t actually agree to that part of the contract.”
“Good. Because then we’d have an episode of ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ on our hands.” I envision Anastasia being wheeled into the emergency room, murmuring like she often does in the book. He said it wouldn’t hurt! Oh Mr. Grey, spare a tourniquet to quiet the bleeding? Mr. Grey, you make me gush! Literally. I’m gushing. Blood.
“That’s not funny,” my friend Allie says when I make similar comments about the book at a coffee shop. “I just finished the trilogy. Believe me. It gets better. The story improved my sex life.”
She speaks matter-of-factly. “I drafted a contract of my own.”
“Tell me your kidding.”
She tightens her lips. “Look. After five years of marriage I need one. There are only so many times I can take my husband convulsing on me in bed like he’s having a seizure. I need more than soggy bread sex.” Noting my bemused state, she stands, grabbing my hand. “Ugh. Follow me. We can’t talk about this here.”
Outside I stop dead in my tracks. “Don’t tell me you want your husband to fist you.”
She gasps. “Nasty. No! I want him to fuck me. Not kill me.”
I walk again, remaining cautious. “So. Soggy bread sex?”
“It’s like he’s afraid of my vagina.”
“I’m not sure my readers wanna know that.”
“I mean, my vagina is pretty fierce so I kind of understand.”
“Can we get back to the contract?” I ask.
“Oh. Sure. It’s simple,” she says, nonchalantly. “I had him sign a list, agreeing to the things I need…sexually…each week.” She smiles proudly. “Brilliant right?”
I go quiet. A contract to have sex? I thought having a “sure thing” was the only good thing about getting married. It seems crazy. But then again, how different is it from signing a marriage contract? The specifics of “I do” are vague. Perhaps this is just adding more fine print, more attention to detail. I wonder if more couples would benefit from it.
Ally recites her list of expectations. “He has to have sex with me on a surface other than a bed at least once per week. My ankles need to be over my head. And it has to hurt.”
“Hurt?” I question. “That’s vague. How do you measure that?”
“It’s explained in the contract. I need to scream ‘God’ or ‘Marco Polo’ at least once.”
“That’s code for momma’s wet. Smack me harder.”
I shudder, covering my ears. “Anything else?”
“Just the basics,” she says, eyeing new books in a store window. “He needs to perform oral at least twice a week. Once a month we must have semi-public sex. Not at the beach. Too generic. And he needs to eat when I cook dinner for him.”
“Dinner? What does that have to do with sex?”
“Nothing. But if I cook this big meal and he puts his nose up at it, it pisses me off and I don’t want sex. It ruins the mood.” I chuckle, as she contemplates purchasing another book that has an erotic tinge to it. Three replicas of Grey are on display in the window, each on the bestseller list. “It’s sad. With all this sex I just don’t have time to read romances anymore.”
“Is it bad that I do?”
She considers it. “Not if you make time to act on it.” Taking my hand she leads me along the street. “Everyone has a real list of needs that should be written down.” She tightens her grip. “That’s why Grey is so popular. We needed a piece of fiction to remind us.”