I first heard about Fifty Shades of Grey, the best-selling trilogy by British author E.L. James, while having lunch with my parents.
"I just started reading it," my mother said excitedly. "Barbara Walters was talking about it on The View. It's bondage erotica, with whips and ropes and . . ."
"So, how 'bout that Laker game last night?" my dad interjected, nervously changing the subject.
I suddenly lost my appetite.
Dubbed "mommy porn," the dirty novels have women across the world hiding under blankets and bath bubbles with one hand clutching their Kindles and their other free to wander down under. (Check out the recent SNL Mother's Day parody sketch—it's hilar.) What began as a work of Twilight fan fiction has exploded into a cultural phenomenon that's relighting the spark in marriages (get ready for Baby Boom 2013, y'all—I'm calling it now) and getting people talking—maybe a little too much—about non-vanilla sex. ("Do you like it when he's rough?" 82-year-old Walters asked her View co-gabbers.)
The book follows hotshot billionaire Christian Grey as he seduces Anastasia Steele, a virginal literature student. Anastasia discovers Christian's penchant for BDSM (and his secret "Red Room of Pain") and freaks out accordingly, but she likes the dude a lot, so she submits. Her "inner goddess" emerges, and hundreds of pages of "kinky fuckery" ensue.
In the name of research, I started reading the Fifty Shades trilogy. A literary masterpiece, it is not. But it's part blush-inducing and part hilarious. And hey, my parents seem to be happy.
A few standout bits:
Christian, on his manhood: "I want you to become well-acquainted—on first-name terms, if you will—with my favorite and most cherished part of my body. I'm very attached to this."
Anastasia, on giving her first blowjob: "My tongue swirls around the end. He's my very own Christian Grey-flavor popsicle."
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On a multitasking product: "Christian squirts baby oil into his hand, and then rubs my behind with careful tenderness— from makeup remover to soothing balm for a spanked ass, who would have thought it was such a versatile liquid."
Mother's Day gift of the year?
This column appeared in print as "BDSM for Mom!"