Now It Can Be Told: Shopping for "Fifty Shades of Grey"
The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that "Fifty Shades of Grey" has become “one of the fastest-selling book series in recent memory.”
Recently I mentioned that a friend of mine was one of the purchasers, and that she had funny experience doing so. Some readers commented that my piece was a tease (all in the spirit of the book, of course), and they wanted the full story. I finally pinned my friend down (not literally—really now!) and made her fill me in on the details. Here is my friend (we’ll call her “J”) sharing her Fifty Shades shopping experience:
You know I’ve been hearing about the book quite a bit, and ignoring it. My literary friends say “It is the worst writing ever—don’t read it!” But I have not found a good fluff book for all these short trips we’re taking this summer, so I figured I’d try it.
Having finally determined to read the book, J takes her three sons, all ages 13 and under, on a shopping trip to her neighborhood Barnes & Noble.
I went in there to look for it—that was what I was going to find. I was hoping I could discreetly grab it, that the boys would get their books and I could just shuffle it in. So we go in and it’s right in front. Oh, goodness gracious! I sent the boys back to the children’s section and I picked it up. I was standing there holding it when I saw a friend walk into the store, so I picked up the book next to it and set that on top to cover it. Then I’m walking around thinking I’m OK until I realize that the back cover is showing. So I had to pick up another book and put that under it. Then I realize I’m picking up books I would never read, and if someone asks me what I’ve chosen I won’t know. So I went to the table of summer reading and picked up a some books that appealed to me and started to make a foursome around "Fifty Shades." It looked extremely awkward but I was trying to cover it up.
Then, sure enough, my friend—and her daughter!—come up and start chatting and asking questions: Where am I going and what am I choosing to read? And at this point I’m sweating! Finally her daughter walks away and my friend says, "What’s the other book?” I was shaking and embarrassed but I told her. She just said, “Oh, I put that on my NOOK so no one knew.”
J had, of course, considered the option of buying the ebook, but decided against it because her children frequently use her iPad. By buying the physical book, she thought, “this way I can control where it is all the time.” But back to the shopping experience…
So I still have the stack of books. The boys are shopping all this time and I don’t want them to know what I have. This is not how I want them to learn about sex! I go back to where they are and now they all want to buy multiple books, of course. I could have spent hundreds of dollars just to get out of there without anyone being the wiser. But I have to carefully set my books down (I still have Fifty Shades with four other books surrounding it) and look through what they’ve found.
Then we go and get in line and there are 10 people in front of us and the boys are talking and asking “What’d you get Mom?” I distracted them with the top book, then finally it’s my turn and I walk up to the cashier, set down my pile in front of her, carefully slide "Fifty Shades" out of the center, point to the other pile and say “These books I don’t want.” The cashier just gives me an “Oh goodness” kind of look, like “Oh, you’re one of those.”
I’m ok with the cashier knowing (although I hope to never see that cashier again!). I don’t typically care what people think if me, but this book has such a stigma on it as female porn. That’s part of the hype, too. Why am I embarrassed? Do men feel the same way when they buy Playboy or Penthouse? What’s the male equivalent of this? It’s as if it’s making a statement about me.
Now I have the book, but I haven’t made it through first ten pages yet. But I’ll get through it! I don’t know why but I’m gonna read this! Seriously, I have got to know what are these people talking about!
Related story: Have You Read “Fifty Shades of Grey”?