“50 Shades” of Patience

By Belinda Carroll, PQ Monthly

I have something to tell you, and it’s going to be hard for me to admit. Aly, my fiancée, who is a librarian and generally a very astute and intelligent person, likes 50 Shades of Grey. I know, I know. This is like finding out she is obsessed with Huey Lewis and the News, or she wants to hang up a dream catcher in the bedroom, or she swore off every cheese except American.
In a perfect world I would have fallen in love with someone with infallible taste, who would never think a book that originally started as fan fiction for Twilight—for the love of God—wasn’t ‘so bad’. I’ve tried to dissuade her with sarcasm and my most withering eye roll—which, believe me, is formidable. My fantasy is she’ll get into Pat Califia, or Sassafras Lowrey, like a good queer.
Alas, that is my fantasy but yet, life is not like a fantasy. No matter what Madonna said. Or, did she say mystery? Either way I blame Madonna for many of my life’s misconceptions. The ease of ‘striking a pose’ among them. She did say ‘there’s nothing to it,’ but you have to remember all of those steps and then I don’t know what to do with my hands when she starts naming all of those names. But, to be fair, I was never good at the Time Warp either. Maybe I’m just bad at choreographed dances.
As I get into my very, very late 30s, I find I can forgive things that in my 20s would deem me incapable of speaking to you again. I can forgive grammar errors, really bad TV, and apparently horrific taste in books. I just keep chanting “at least she’s not into ‘The Bachelor,’” because I’d have to swear her to silence socially. Just because she’s into bad books doesn’t mean to she has to subject other people to it.
Part of the reason I have become so patient and understanding in the last few years is: there is nothing like dating. Unless that nothing is a stroll through the valleys of craziness unparalleled by either Muddy Waters lyrics or Michele Bachmann’s eyes. Finding a new relationship is like a mining excursion; you don’t know what you’re going to find and you hope what you do find is not hazardous to your health or your criminal record.  I figure she makes me laugh and I’m more likely to be the annoying one so I’ll forgive her one or two horrific lapses in judgment.
But 50 Shades of Grey, really?
What you have to understand is that I was Ms. Leather once upon a time. I’m like Christian Grey without the helicopter, the unlimited funds, or the inability to respect someone’s safe word. It occurs to me that I assume there’s a helicopter but having never read the book or seen the movie I don’t know.  “There’s a helicopter right?” I yell to Aly. “What?” “A helicopter. In the stupid book.”  “Yes, Charlie Tango. That’s the name of the helicopter.” I am so sad that she knows that off-hand; I’d be less disappointed if she had a heroin addiction. She could have used that room in her head to learn mandarin, or something useful.
But I digress. Living with me she’s also had a lot of exposure to correct practice of BDSM. Through extensive field testing and research she’s discovered what works for her. If you are in a position of being new to kink, maybe you read 50 Shades and were like “oh yeah, that,” there are a ton of books like SM 101 by Jay Wiseman and websites like FetLife.com that will always have ways for you to get involved safely, and still have a hot time.
So enjoy 50 Shades of Grey, if you must. But seek out education if you decide to take it from between the sheets and make it into real life.
For more information on this subject check out my Podcast Belinda Carroll’s Happy Hour where I sit down with this year’s Ms. and Mr. Oregon Leather, along with Sossity Chiruzio, PQ Monthly’s resident sexpert, to talk about leather and writing and comedy.