Let me note right off that bat that, before I used quotes from the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy during sex, I had never read a word of any of the books. I knew that they were based on Twilight fan fiction; I knew that they were about a kinky billionaire with a sex dungeon; and I knew that they were what everyone and their mom (literally) jills off to. But somehow, over the past three years, I had managed to entirely avoid a book series that has over 100 million copies in print, a book that I often had to physically move out of the way in airport bookstores just to get to a package of peanut M&Ms. I got the impression that the books were actually selling slightly better than the M&Ms (though why people wanted to get hot and bothered on a five-hour flight to Reykjavik still remains a mystery to me).
It's not that I had anything against the books: hey, I liked Secretary, and isn't Fifty Shades of Grey just Secretary for people who don't own Decemberists albums? But I just didn't feel like I had the time to check them out. I typically prefer to reserve my reading time for books about true crimes, Bruce Springsteen, and/or angry ghosts. If I want to think about people getting spanked, I'll just go on Xtube.
But in the lead up to the release of the film based on the books — when every second of my morning and evening commute started to be conducted under the watchful eyes of Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan, making sex faces at me from the posters that covered every flat surface in New York City — I realized that I could not ignore this phenomenon any longer. I could not just keep smiling and nodding every time Fifty Shades came up, waiting for the conversation to turn back to something I knew about, like Harry Potter, or how to get red wine stains off your teeth (drink seltzer in between glasses!). I was going to have to finally learn about Fifty Shades of Grey, at least a little, or risk being left entirely out of the cultural conversation.
So, after a few hours of research (i.e. skimming the books for dirty words), I mainly noticed that a) Anastasia Steele has an "inner goddess" who she really likes to give updates on. This inner goddess is very active, always doing things like dancing the merengue, listening to her iPod, or other things that busy women do in tampon commercials; b) Christian Grey's back story is kind of a little like Dexter's, no? Is he sexy Dexter? Sexter? I'm sure you fans already noticed this, but it caught me off-guard; and c) between you and me, the books didn't really do much for me sexually. In fact, I had the same reaction while skimming the books as I did after the first time I had sex: that's what everyone's making such a big deal about? I should have just stayed home and played Mario Kart.
But I had been wrong with my knee-jerk reaction to sex in general, so I was willing to believe that I could be wrong about these books at first blush, too (I had also been wrong about iPads, if that gives you any idea of my track record of predicting what people are going to like). If these books are so sexy that they're supposedly responsible for a small rise in birth rates (and are definitely responsible for some creepy baby clothing), who was I to question their appeal?
The Experiment: Bringing Fifty Shades Dialogue To Bed
My own bone zoning is fine, thank you, despite it not typically involving neckties repurposed into bondage instruments — but, sure, things could be wilder. I'm not ready to go buy manacles or sign a sex contract, but I was open to improving my sexy talk. Could bringing some sexy dialogue from these books into bed make my sex life more exciting? Or had my poor boyfriend been through enough?
Before I embarked on this experiment, I realized one thing: I could absolutely not repeat any of the Anastasia Steele quotes to my boyfriend in bed. They have not yet invented the amount of money that it would take to get me to tell someone about my "inner goddess." Like, maybe it would take a kablorpian dollars? Yeah, that's roughly how much it would take.
Which left me with Christian Grey's lines. There are few small but significant differences between Christian Grey and myself — he's a dude, I'm a lady; he's a kinky billionaire industrialist with a sex dungeon, I am a fairly vanilla thousandaire writer with a railroad apartment. But on a certain level, I could relate to him: I'm a workaholic control freak; I'm kinda emotionally stunted; just because I don't currently own my own helicopter doesn't mean I wouldn't like to in the future, right?
And so, I had a stiff drink, thought about how much I like to boss people around in non-sexual situations, and then tried seven quotes from the Fifty Shades trilogy out on my boyfriend in bed, in ascending order of embarrassment level.
1. "I’m going to f*** you now."
Response: This, it should almost go without saying, got a great reaction. I mean, who doesn't like to be told they're about to get laid? My boyfriend was very eager to stop whatever it was he was doing when I came home to bang one out instead; this reaction, in turn, made me feel relaxed and more eager to get it on than I usually am when I come home from work (typically, I just want to order Seamless and complain about people I know from college who are more successful than me). So far, so good, 50 Shades quotes!
Recommended?: Highly recommended.
2. "Show me how you pleasure yourself."
Response: This one got an extremely enthusiastic response from my boyfriend, as well. Despite being someone who basically never shuts up in my day-to-day life, I often get stumped about what to say in bed, so my boyfriend seemed to appreciate my newfound chattiness; and I found that having what I was going to say prepared — rather than having to think on my feet/vagina — really put me at ease. Plus, the ensuing demonstration was pretty hot, and revealed valuable information that I feel really upped my own hand jobber game.
Recommended?: Highly recommended.
3. “I want you sore, baby.”
Response: This got a slightly confused smile from my boyfriend, who seemed a little perplexed by what I was talking about (we certainly weren't doing anything that seemed to have the potential to make him very sore). But it didn't seem to slow things down at all, so I think he must have just chalked it up to the sometimes-incoherent nature of sex talk. Hey, you're not giving a speech on C-Span, right? It doesn't have to make sense, it just kind of has to sound good when you say it all breathy. Which this did.
Recommended?: Mildly recommended.
4. “I don't make love, I f***…hard.”
Response: I started laughing almost immediately after getting "I don't..." out, and couldn't finish saying this sentence. I tried to spin it like my boyfriend had accidentally tickled me, because it seemed like the best way to not derail the entire event, but he paused anyway. "You OK?" he asked. I looked deep into my soul, asking my inner goddess for guidance, and she said, "Lie to your boyfriend." So I said, "I'm fine, I'm fine, it's nothing." Recommended?: Not applicable (since I couldn't say the whole sentence), though I don't necessarily recommend laughing mid-bone.
5. “You are very responsive. You’re going to have to learn to control that, and it’s going to be so much fun teaching you how.”
Response: As I went deeper into the weird stuff, my boyfriend started to notice that something was up. "Control...?" he said, pausing, visibly confused. Oops. I had just assumed that these quotes would all function as a bunch of sexy gibberish, and had not anticipated being called out on what they actually meant. Think fast, Moss! "Uhhhhhhhh," I said. "Um, you look hot right now."
Recommended?: Not recommended.
6. "I like your kinky fuckery.”
Response: As I was now beginning to feel like I had accidentally dug myself a Christian Grey-shaped hole in which I would have to bury my boyfriend's interest in ever banging me again, I tried to mumble this one under my breath. "What?" said my boyfriend. "Uh, I like... you." "Oh god," my boyfriend said, "are you doing a thing for work right now?"
Recommended?: Not recommended.
7. "Holy crap!"
Response: Busting out Anastasia's signature catchphrase (used 71 times throughout the trilogy) on my man led to total bewilderment. I tried to say it all huskily, but also sort of pretended that he had rolled over onto my hair in an attempt keep everything from getting super weird. It got weird anyway, because my boyfriend knew if he had actually rolled onto my hair, I would have used a stronger word than "crap," and if I had just been feeling swept up in the moment, I definitely would not have used any poop synonyms. It brought our relations, which were already strained at this point, to a near stand-still.
Recommended?: Not recommended.
Just as people flocked to Fifty Shades for the sex scenes, not the highbrow writing, it is probably more productive to imitate the sex scenes themselves, rather than the dialogue, in your own sex life. I mean, I think probably anything sounds sexy when you're in a Red Room of Pain, right? But when you're just in your apartment, doing it on your Serta with a pile of unopened mail on your night stand, creating a vibe of sexy decadence is a little bit harder.
So think twice before you decide to show your love of the Fifty Shades trilogy by talking to someone about their kinky fuckery. Maybe buy one of the movie tie-in "vibrating love rings" instead.