The Allure of Fifty Shades of Grey
How I found myself in line at the returns counter at Home Depot / By JB Hager / Photo by Rudy Arocha
I jokingly called the customer-service desk at the nearest Home Depot to find out if hardware sales are up for 2012. In particular, I inquired about nylon rope, pulleys, chains and clamps. The woman on the other end of the phone asked what this was regarding. Laughing, I snarkily replied, “I’m doing a do-it-yourself guide to building a red room of pain.” She laughed hysterically and responded, “So, you’ve read Fifty Shades of Grey.” Yes I have, and you ladies have been very, very naughty during the last six months, at least inside your heads. How many of you are acting on this is yet to be seen, but yes, sales are up a bit at the Depot.
I’ve always had a curiosity about what women are reading. It started when I was young and noticed my sister and her friends were reading Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. I learned that girls are a messy bunch and need a laundry list of products to wear white jeans. As a young adult, I read The Bridges of Madison County just because I saw every woman reading it. What I learned from that book is that you never offer to take the kids to the state fair, at least not alone, leaving the wife at home to fend for herself, so to speak.
It goes on: Men Are From Mars, Women are From Venus author John Gray did his very best to explain why men and women don’t understand each other. He was on Oprah every other day and explained things like this: Guy says, “I’m running to the convenience store. Would you like some plain or peanut M&Ms?” What she hears is, “I don’t hear you when your lips move and I’d like to go watch the ballgame with the guys tonight.”
Then there was Eat, Pray, Love. This verified that a woman must visit at least three foreign countries to better understand her personal relationship with men, spaghetti and yoga. Oh, and when you think she’s in the restroom taking care of business, she’s actually on the tile floor in the fetal position, crying.
That brings us to the book on everyone’s lips, television talk shows and computer screens, the book to read this summer: Fifty Shades of Grey. This is a story of a woman in her early 20s who apparently never had a single thought about sex in any manner whatsoever her entire life. Most girls first learned about that special feeling as a child riding a coin-op pony outside a K-mart, but not this romantic heroine, not Anastasia.
She is lured in to her desires by a billionaire in his 20s who’s not Mark Zuckerberg, a guy named Christian Grey. How we’ve never heard of him, I don’t know. Christian enjoys dominating, degrading and defiling women. He likes to say things like, “I am going to spank you and then ______ you.” If I said that to my wife, she would most likely respond, “Oh really? Then I’m going to leave you and flip you off in the rearview mirror.”
After reading Fifty Shades of Grey, I thought I had it figured out. I realized I have been much too soft, caring and sensitive. Women don’t want to be coddled. She wants to be told what to do, tied up and possibly thrown into a basement pit. I mean, that has to be right. After all, why do so many women love this book? I made my first move. I sent her to a domination toy website that shall remain nameless. I attached a note, “Pick out whatever you like,” and signed it with a smiley face. Her response was, “Why don’t you try this site (toysrus.com)? It’s more your speed. You’re no Christian Grey. He was born after the Cold War was over and you, sir, were born before cars had seatbelts. Also, our credit card was just rejected at H-E-B. Let’s catch up over a turkey potpie tonight. Love, Erin.”
Point well taken, my dear. I’m heading to Home Depot to return a few things.
JB Hager can be heard as part of the JB and Sandy Morning Show on Mix 94.7 Austin weekdays 6 to 10 a.m.