Tag Archives: Mid-life

Will Fifty Shades ever fade away?


I actually thought this topic had grown stale, but now Katie has been running promos for her Monday show, featuring an interview with E.L. James, author of the popular Fifty Shades of Grey Trilogy.

At the risk of suffering the same fate as Elaine Benes: shunned by her girlfriends, her boyfriend and a waitress at Monk’s, when she said “The English Patient sucks!” I am going to go ahead and say:

I don’t get it.

When it comes to reading, my favorite genre is historical fiction. Not because I’m a smarty-pants, but because a great story can trick me into a refresher of all the history lessons that may not have had my full attention the first time around.

However, during Summer I mostly read poolside. At one time, People Magazine was the perfect reading material for this.  I haven’t had a subscription in years because I hardly know any of the faces on the pages of the magazine. Surely these punks aren’t actually stars….are they? Clearly, my knowledge of Pop culture is not what it used to be.

The next best reading material for working on a tan is mindless fiction, the junk food of literature. I admit I was late to the Fifty Shades party. I only became aware of it when my favorite morning show featured a segment on it. I figured I should read the trilogy  in my effort to stay current on Pop Culture.

In early June, I grabbed my Kindle and my pool float. I happened to be playing phone tag with a girlfriend that day. I left her a message saying, “Call me back. I’ll just be floating in the pool, but if I don’t answer, it’s because I’m “tied up” with Christian Grey.” When she returned my call she told me she had read the books in the trilogy when they first hit the shelves. We were in a book club together and she had never mentioned this!

I started reading. I found James’s writing style and British vernacular awkward and not always easy to read. (I know, I know, four blog posts in and suddenly I’m a literary critic) The repetition of certain phrases (among, ahem… other things) was annoying. I kept thinking, here we go again…..he places his forefinger and thumb on her chin to tilt her head up to meet his gaze. My focus on the repetition was distracting me.  I couldn’t get lost in the story, or maybe I just needed there to be more to the story.

Now a real shocker: I didn’t even think the first book was that shocking. It was 26 chapters of cat and mouse: Would she sign the contract, or wouldn’t she?

In Mid-June, in the Midwest, in the middle of the night, while staying with the hilarious sister,  I finished the book. The problem was, the story wasn’t finished.  There I was, still on West Coast time and wide-awake. Then, I did it:  I downloaded the second book in the trilogy. What a sucker.

On TV, middle-aged women are batting their eyes, fanning themselves and gushing about the book. In real life, the middle-aged women I know are reacting differently. One friend called me after reading the first book and said she didn’t get the fuss. She said she simply didn’t like pain, so she couldn’t relate. A few other middle-aged friends rolled their eyes saying they’d like to smack Christian, and tell him to jump off a cliff.

Another friend, an avid E-reader, didn’t want to risk any of her children discovering it on her Kindle. Instead, she bought a hard copy and hid it in her nightstand, third drawer down. Nope, no kids will EVER snoop there.

Then, sitting in the Atlanta airport one afternoon, I noticed the college-aged girl sitting across from me was openly reading Fifty Shades Darker. She didn’t even bother to hide it discreetly in a USA Today! She was in her own little Fifty and Ana world, just giggling and shaking her head. Apparently to her, it was a real page-turner.

Maybe without bias of middle-aged independence, practicality and realism (or cynicism), the book reads differently.

Here it is, mid-September and I’m barely halfway through the second book in the series, Fifty Shades Darker.  I realize there may be more to the story, but I still just don’t get it. Perhaps I should hold off on my commentary until I have finished the series, and am fully informed. Who am I kidding? This will never happen, partly because autumn is upon us, and I’m reading at bedtime.

I have to be honest, to me a full 8 hours of shut-eye or even 40 winks totally trumps Fifty Shades.

Not finishing the rest of the trilogy has an upside:  When the movie is released, I won’t be disappointed if it doesn’t measure up to the books!

Speaking of the movie version, some women are hoping Ryan Gosling will be cast in the role of Christian Grey. Wait, it might be Ryan Reynolds. I can’t keep them straight. They’re the modern version of the old Robert DeNiro/Al Pacino and late 90’s Dylan McDermott/Dermott Mulroney confusion.

I’ve heard other women think some actor named Matt Bomer should play the part. I have absolutely no idea who he is. Maybe I should Google him.

Or maybe he’s featured in the current issue of People Magazine.


A Not-So-Bright Idea


 Am I the only one who has noticed  this cruel coincidence?

 The legislation mandating those awful CFL light bulbs has gone into effect precisely at the moment that, in order to see anything, us middle-aged folks are relying on  a pair of 1.50+ polka dot readers from Walgreens…. worn of course, in combination with bright light!

 I no longer bother to examine my face in my bathroom mirror. I merely check to see that my head is attached, and my Crest Spin Brush Pro is in the correct orifice. I rely on my illuminated magnifying mirror for the application of everything from moisturizer right through to that final coat of mascara. This is the process known as “putting on my face” as my Mother used to call it.  Finally, I understand what she was referring to, as I am all but face-less when I look in the bathroom or entry hall mirror.

I really wish the CFL manufacturers would quit trying to convince me that their 14 -watt CFL bulb emits the same light as a 60-watt incandescent bulb. It simply does not! My reading glasses and I are calling you out on your big fat lie.

I HATE these bulbs. Not only because they are NOT BRIGHT ENOUGH for my middle-aged vision, but also because of the aura they give a home. I admit I am a homebody. I am a nester. I like candles burning all the time. I want a fire on chilly days. I prefer lamps to overhead lights. I like all the things that give warmth to a home. The CFL bulbs provide all the decorating warmth of a gas station convenience store.

My walls all have color. Very carefully chosen color. CFL bulbs affect all my perfect paint picks. This is not a frivolous concern. Countless psychological studies have been done on the effects of color. How could the Interior Designers of America allow this to happen? Decorators all over the country choose paint colors for a room based on how they translate in natural light, throughout the day. CFL bulbs will change the look of paint on walls, as well as the entire aesthetic of a room.

I’m not sure the folks behind this legislation have fully considered the repercussions of screwing in one of these bulbs. I’m not getting political. I know there is all sorts of speculation as to how & why this legislation was pushed through. I understand the bulbs are expected to improve, but they just are not there yet.

Currently, I have my own version of an eternal flame burning in the family room. I put a CFL bulb in an accent lamp. It is the only CFL bulb in the house.  It gives off a hue reminiscent of a mosquito zapper. I am simultaneously providing a beacon during my sleepless mid-life nights, and thwarting any would-be burglars with an eerie Scully & Mulder glow.

I HATE this bulb, but I am stubborn. I refuse to turn it off…ever. This is a standoff. I have thrown down the gauntlet. I’m going to find out if this thing really lasts decades as the packaging claims.

Which leads me to a bigger question. Who needs a bulb that lasts 40 or 50 years? I am all for saving Mother Earth…however if I have to start reading in the dark, I’m not sure I’ll have any eyesight left to gaze at her beauty.