Fifty Shades Darker (and The Ice Cream Social)

I didn’t run out and buy the second book after I read Fifty Shades of Grey. But a friend had a copy of Fifty Shades Darker (Book II) and I spent part of Wednesday in a lounge chair. Poolside.

My afternoon plan? To flip over once in a while. A few cat naps. Some snacking. Maybe a dip in the pool now and again when I got hot.

I had the time and the book. So I began Darker…

But I stopped at the vanilla ice cream scene.

Or what I call The Ice Cream Social. It was ‘social’ in that there was interaction between Mr. Grey, Miss Steele and a tub of ice cream.

(In my family, we jokingly refer to such interactions as ‘social time’ or ‘socializing’)

At 41, I’m probably too old for The Ice Cream Social. Though I know it’s supposed to be steamy. And I know I lack focus, but I couldn’t stay with that scene. Could NOT get past who was cleaning up the mess.

Maybe The Ice Cream Social fantasy is kind of like the beach. Seems romantic, until you get sand in places sand wasn’t meant to be…

In my world, if somebody saunters into the bedroom with a tub of ice cream—they best have two spoons. Maybe even a couple of bowls.

And the flavor is NOT vanilla, unless there is a side of hot fudge sauce.

My (future) dreamboat should take note: mint chocolate chip, chocolate swirl, black raspberry, strawberry, whatever. Anything more fun than vanilla–Unless the vanilla has toppings…

And I think I would rather eat my bowl of ice cream out outside. On a deck or porch. Preferably before or after ‘social time.’ There’s no call to fling ice cream about the bedroom. Or let a perfectly good tub melt on the nightstand and/or run down the side of it. For ice cream to (potentially) drip into the carpet fibers. Making the carpet stink anytime the weather gets humid. For years to come.

I mean, the author never said WHAT Mr. Grey did with the tub of ice cream. I doubt he spared a moment to run it back to the freezer. And he surely didn’t hang onto it while  ‘socializing?’  Or tuck it under his arm like a football?

Mr. Grey, with his turmoil, trauma and difficulties isn’t the man of my dreams. 

He’s far too complicated to appeal to me. The drama would drain me. I’d be perpetually exhausted, my stomach tied in knots.

Yes. I need there to be chemistry. And that’s either there or it’s not. But there can be plenty of chemistry, without all the gut twisting agony.

My future dreamboat has a sense of humor, is kind to children (even teenagers), animals, family and friends. He accepts me as I am, as I would accept him as he is. Easy to laugh. Difficult to anger. A man who can roll with what life deals him (and us). And maybe see the humor in it? Or at least try to?

Maya Angelou is definitely onto something…

Anyways, this paragon wouldn’t mind eating meals at a new dining table every couple of months–or every couple of weeks. And he would enjoy (or at least tolerate without complaint) car rides and long road trips with The Red Dog’s head on the console.

Or in his face once in a while.

Alas, my future fella need not fly about in helicopters, or drive fancy cars as Mr. Grey does. I have no great desire to eat on rooftops. Or to attend flashy parties.

From the examples of normal, healthy relationships I’ve seen, when a relationship is ‘right’ it is simple. On some intrinsic level, it just works.

I’m just not understanding all the fuss surrounding Mr. Grey and Miss Steele. Or The Ice Cream Social. Or their relationship….

I am at a crossroads with Fifty Shades Darker.

Do I keep reading and hope it gets better? Or find something else to do with my time?

Fifty Shades of ….DONE (The End)

Finished the book and I’m not running out to buy the next two books…

SPOILER ALERT…(Stop here if you don’t want to know how book one ends)

Why not read books Two and Three?  

Because they’ll likely follow a pattern…

At the end of the first book, Ana walks away. No surprise there.  Saw that one coming from the beginning of the book one. Which means book two will have them not being able to live without each other.

Books two and three will clean up much of what the author alludes to in book one:

  1. There are signs in book one that Mr. Grey’s business dealings may skate the edge of dark, as well. Could be a story there.
  2. There’s Ana’s childhood, which seems to have been a bumpy ride.
  3. The ‘friendship’ with Mrs. Robinson? It is impossible to have a friendship with a controlling person—because they have an agenda. Anybody capable of manipulating, mistreating—or even being unkind to a child CANNOT be a ‘nice’ person. Or a person to serve as a friend. I assume that Mrs. Robinson is waiting Ana out, thinking she won’t last any longer than the others. Mrs. Robinson is in it for something—likely because she wants Christian.
  4. The Robinson/Grey relationship was a BIG SECRET and began when Mr. Grey was underage, while living with his parents. I would expect a bomb to drop with that one.  Otherwise the dinner scene where Ana met Christian’s family at his parents’ house is pointless. Bringing the family in shows that Christian’s life was happy and normal with loving parents and siblings. And family secrets always come out. In real life. And in fiction. There will be drama here.
  5. Further, there’s Kate dating Mr. Grey’s brother and living with Ana. She’ll for sure find paperwork, something on Ana’s computer or Blackberry. She’ll be onto the situation at some point—and be exactly the tenacious character she is painted out to be in book one. More drama.
  6. Then there’s the ex-subs that ‘wanted more.’ (A relationship, marriage?) One or two will probably show up trying to get Mr. Grey back. And it won’t sit any better with Ana, than Mrs. Robinson does.

By the end of book three, everything should be resolved and tied up neatly with a bow. In fact, Christian and Ana will probably get married and ride off into the sunset.

It’s easy to stop with ‘happily ever after’ because that is where REAL life starts.

What made me uneasy?

Not the sex, actually. (Adults tend to have sex and each in their own way.)

I’ve always been very maternal. That Mr. Grey was somehow damaged as an infant and young child–then abused as a teenager and young adult disturbed me.

I saw the following comment on another blog post. (And  would credit its author, but I couldn’t find it again.) She made the point well:

I know I’m in the minority but I felt Fifty Shades was an uncomfortable read. It wasn’t so much the BDSM issues but more the psychological damage done by child abuse and the ramifications that made me cringe a bit. I know why Christian acts like he does. Learning about all those control issues just doesn’t feel romantic to me. Love shouldn’t be that difficult. I’m just not sure that Ana wasn’t overcome about how sexually attractive and successful Christian was. Would she have been so eager to deal with all his issues if he’d been some average Joe?

Some good points. Additionally, doesn’t it take a person (Ana in this story) with ‘issues’ to tolerate another with issues? At least issues as severe as Mr. Greys seem to be? What does that say about Ana?

The ‘control’ thing.

I guess I’m not a girl who considers control (or controlling behavior) romantic. I’ve always seen those with control issues as weak, insecure and lacking confidence.

Far more romantic to me are shows of strength. A man who says, “Go visit your mother and have a great time. I’ll take you to dinner when you return.” Not one who acts tough, uses harsh words, then comes running (or flying) across a couple of time zones to ‘see’ me. I would not feel loved or cared about. I would feel suffocated, trapped.

In my vision of the ideal relationship, two people are at their best—they are stronger together. Happier together. Each is their authentic self, with freedom and plenty of space. Don’t mean to quote Dr. Phil, but a I see a relationship as ‘a soft place to land.’ The place to find unconditional love, support  and affection. Where we retreat at the end of the day to find peace and acceptance. (Not drama, torment and uncertainty…)

Probably I was lucky: I grew up with parents who didn’t just teach or ‘talk’ about those things–they were a living example. ( I’ve had a special aunt and uncle to guide me, as well.) And though my marriage ended in divorce, I had something very close to that ideal for a long time.

Maybe that’s why I have difficulty identifying with all the darkness and drama. Why I don’t find it romantic.

And I might end up picking up a copy of the other books some day. You never know…

But for today, I’m going to the beach to enjoy a bit of sunshine…




Mr. Grey & Miss Steele ~ The Halfway Point

I stopped reading at the end of Chapter 16 late last night. When I start again, it’ll be with Chapter 17 and page 290.

Which is just a little past the halfway point. Not yet sure what to make of the book, but there have been some ideas, questions, thoughts on my mind…

Is chemistry essential for a successful relationship? What IS chemistry?

Chemistry often defies definition. Sometimes we want it to be there, try desperately to feel it even. And it’s not. Then when we aren’t expecting it—don’t even want it present. It is there. And it cannot be faked or forced.

We can all think of examples of couples who seem to ‘fit.’ And couples who don’t. It’s true that we never know what goes on behind closed doors, but I have long thought that couples who don’t ‘fit’ and yet hang in there (unhappily) are perhaps trying to push the square peg into the round hole—instead of cutting their losses and finding the square hole. It is often easier to stick with what we know, even when it doesn’t work—than to move on, not knowing what the future holds.

I’m 41. I’ve been through a divorce. A brief relationship during/after the divorce. Dating as a teenager. And dating as an adult. What I’ve learned? I’ve got a lot to learn. I’m quite sure of that!

But I do know that chemistry is essential for me. I’m not willing to be in a relationship without it. What is the point? I may not be able to define it, but I know if it is there. If we are honest, it is either THERE or it is NOT.  Life is difficult enough and relationships aren’t always easy (or Perfect). And so personally, I’m not willing to do battle to find affection/chemistry for somebody. When the right chemistry is there, everything else tends to fall into place.

Human Nature…

I see the human sides of Mr. Grey and Miss Steele. I don’t hate either of them (yet), nor do I think badly of them.

So Mr. Grey uses sex as a form of control—or tries to. I’m not even sure I can say he manipulates (yet) because he is completely straightforward. And thus far has exerted his control in a fair (and even kind) fashion, without malice.

Honestly, nothing in the book so far is ANY different from the thousands of ‘bodice rippers’ that many women read every day.

The difference? There is the negotiation of sexual acts considered outside the range of ‘normal.’ Or the hint of them. So far, there’s been a spanking. (And the ‘bodice rippers’ sometimes have that, especially the historical romances set back hundreds of years ago…)

How many of us use control to get what we want?

There are MANY ways to control others. How many people use money? Or social position? Or dangle a job? Or use the kids? Or make threats? Which leads me to a big question that’s been on my mind while reading…

What type of control is the most damaging?

I find myself questioning whether emotional manipulation is worse than physical? Is it worse to chip away at another’s self esteem and self-worth with words? To use words to gain control and take advantage of another? Can words cut deeper than a slap on the behind? What about those who withhold affection, sex, tenderness? Is that equally as damaging to the spirit? Because it is certainly a means of exerting control.

I can’t help but wonder if ANYBODY who places conditions on a relationship is doing the same as Mr Grey? Just using different methods. And maybe to a different degree? Is there an unidentified (and unspoken) Dominant and Submissive in many relationships? Is the ‘game’ the same, but with different currency required for approval? Is it worse, more damaging when it isn’t spelled out?

The whole, “I’ll love you if___________.” Fill in the blank.

If you’re thin enough. If you act a certain way. If you do what I want you to do. If you marry me, buy me the house I want, make enough money, do as I say….

Taken several steps farther, there are those who place conditions on all of their relationships. With their friends, parents, children. It is just their way. I have known a few in my life. And though I don’t think they are ‘bad’ people, or even wrong. I do tend to keep my distance, because that personality isn’t one that I am overly compatible with.

My last thoughts…

I notice that they call each other Mr. Grey and Miss Steele during conversations and the more mundane activities such as dinner, graduation, etc. It is during the intimate moments and when they drop their guards that they use Christian and Anastasia.

Another thing I’ve noticed is that Mr. Grey is pressing for his paperwork and agreements, trying put the relationship neatly into its little box—with labels and rules. And Miss Steele is supposed to be the innocent victim. Yet, she seems to hold her own, thus far. She seems to turn the tables on Mr. Grey. Meaning she has her own power—and instinctively knows when/how to use it.

There you have it. An accounting of thoughts/ideas that have bounced around in my brain while reading…

Note to Cheryl Sadler: Get a copy. (Don’t wait for the library copy.) This might merit a ‘discussion’ at a local winery soon. Could be fun, right?

Fifty Shades of Grey…

I haven’t gotten past Chapter Two.

And I’m usually a fast reader. Rarely takes me more than a day to finish a book.

Yet, I bought this book last month when I was in Virginia. Over three weeks ago…

Mr. Grey has just visited the hardware store, bought some coveralls and I forget what else. Then agreed to have his photo taken.

It went something like this at the bookstore in Virginia:

Me: What’s with this ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ book?

Nice Cashier Lady at the Bookstore: We cannot keep it on the shelves.

Me: Oh. Have you read it?

Nice Cashier Lady at the Bookstore: I’m halfway through the third one.

I glanced back at the shelves. And there are TWO more books…

Me: I know NOTHING about it. Zero. Just keep hearing it mentioned with snickers and inside jokes. So I’m curious to know what the fuss is about.

Nice Cashier Lady at the Bookstore: It isn’t literature or anything.

Me: Is it good?

Though she is on the third book, Nice Cashier Lady at the Bookstore can’t quite come up with a response…

We did the ‘enjoy the book’ and ‘have a nice day’ thing and I left with the book.

But here we are WEEKS later. And I keep reading a page or two every once in a while. Last night, I finished Chapter Two–but didn’t start Chapter Three.

For those who’ve read it. Don’t ruin it for me. But do I keep reading???

Or just forget it?