In the summer of 2012, almost every woman I knew had their face buried in their e-reader. My friends could be found at the pool, sunglassed and sunscreened, discreetly reading while their children frolicked in chlorine. I’d see women at Barnes and Noble buried in their Nooks, coffees steaming as hot as their loins.
I’d hear whispers about some guy named Christian. And grey. All 50 shades of the now infamous color.
And, from what I could tell, husbands far and wide were rejoicing because E. L. James had come into their bedrooms.
When my curiosity could no longer be curbed, I went to Barnes and Noble to pick up a copy of the book (I’m a bona fide book snob, e-readers are not my bag). As I picked up the first in the series, I noticed there were three or four women openly salivating, er, reading quietly. I, too, stood there and scanned the first few chapters.
They met. They flirted. He got kinky fast. They….did what? He put what WHERE? Pardon me while I blush.
I, of course, left the store and promptly bought the books on my Kindle. Book snob or not, I needed privacy, people. I became one of the sunscreened, sunglassed moms at the pool. Man, it was hot, that summer of 2012….
I’m not gonna lie: Hubby was not unhappy that I’d made my purchases. Ahem.
When I first heard the rumblings that 50 Shades was coming to the big screen, again, I was intrigued. I mean, three words, people: The Tampon Scene. And, my dirty mind immediately jumped to the scene in the second book involving Ben Wa balls. How, exactly, was I expected to sit in a room full of people for THAT? How was the director going to bring 50 Shades to life?
After careful consideration, I decided that I was going to have to see 50 Shades in the name of research. And train wreck watching.
I also decided it would be a great idea to bring my Boston accented, Irish Catholic mother. My mother of the “Sex is between three people: you, your husband and God” sex lecture when I was fourteen.
Oh, and I decided we should go on Valentine’s Day. You can see where this is going…
A brief word on my mother, if I may: she’s the most devout Catholic, Christian woman I’ve ever met and she’s my biggest fan. She’s been incredibly supportive of my writing career and, amazingly, when I called her to tell her I’d pitched this article to Lifetime Moms, she was a good sport. The conversation went like this:
Me: “Hey. I’m going to write about the 50 Shades movie for Lifetime Moms and I told them I was bringing you with me. You game?”
Her: “I’ll go. But I’m wearing sunglasses and I’m going to close my eyes if I have to.”
Fair enough, Mom.
In the months that led up to the 50 Shades release, my best friend often questioned my decision to bring my mom with me to see the movie. And by questioned, I mean she said, “You crazy, woman.” But, every time we talked about it, I kept saying the same thing: it was only an R rated movie. How bad could it be? I mean, they had to leave SOME things to the imagination, right?
I was determined that I wouldn’t back down. Christian Grey would NOT have to start all over again because I flinched or fidgeted. Ahem.
When Valentine’s Day arrived and after pre movie pedicures (I picked the color “Escape The Grey”, natch), we piled into the car and headed on over to the local Cineplex for an evening of debauchery and popcorn. I could tell my mom was less than excited and I continued to offer her an out. “We don’t have to go,” I said. “We can skip out and just go for cocktails.” I must have asked her 50 times if she wanted to see American Sniper instead (get it? 50 times?).
But, no, my mother was committed. Her daughter had a bona fide writing assignment and she was NOT going to stand in the way of freelance comedy gold. She was sticking to the plan. She was a brave soldier.
I, on the other hand, started to panic as we pulled into the parking lot.
As intrigued as I was, I wasn’t sure I could handle 50 Shades in IMAX quality. I wasn’t sure I needed to see Christian and his manhood headed towards Anastasia’s “sex”. (GOOD LORD, E. L. Couldn’t you have come up with a different, less uncomfortable word???). I just wasn’t sure I needed to see what I’d discreetly read poolside projected onto a large screen in a room filled with strangers. I mean, there would be a whole lot of N-E-K-K-I-D.
When the theater darkened and the movie previews started, I began to sweat but I muscled through the nerves. My inner monologue was on overdrive: Don’t be a prude. Your mother is being a good sport. You just paid $25 for these seats, get your money’s worth, chicken. You haven’t finished your popcorn. Suck it up. You are a professional. You have an article to write. It’ll be fine. Relax. Look at all the nice couples who came to see a romantic, BDSM movie in honor of Cupid.
It was fine. Enjoyable, even, for the first forty minutes.
And then it wasn’t fine.
Forty minutes into the movie is when it hit me: while my loins had been ablaze as I read the books, I had absolutely NO DESIRE to see this movie through to the end.
I realized I was UNCOMFORTABLE with the subject matter. Or, more specifically, all the N-E-K-K-I-D.
I was embarrassed.
All I could hear in my head was the character Ouiser Boudreaux from Steel Magnolias yelling “I don’t go to movies because there’s nothin’ but naked people in ‘em!!”. I was at a naked people movie and I wanted to go home.
And, when Christian took Anastasia into his “playroom” and my mom quietly breathed, “Holy Sweet Mother”, I decided I couldn’t go through with the mission. Mostly, because I did NOT want to be there when my mother found out what happened with “that baseball bat looking thing”.
So, I raised the white flag. And, in a shocking turn of events, it was my mother who tried to convince me to stay. But, I couldn’t take one more shade of grey. I was done and my 50 Shades of Blushing and I quietly left the theater.
Some will call me a prude or sexually repressed. Others will judge me for my decision to cut and run and to be honest, even I’m still surprised at myself. The score was Mr. Grey 1, Me: 0 and I’m glad I said Laters, Baby.
And, believe me, I learned my lesson: the next time I pitch going to a movie with my mom to my editor, you better believe it’s going to be a Tina Fey flick.