I remember trying to do this once before…and I remember it ending badly. I was tense, reluctant and extremely wary of my counterpart – I felt as far from romantic as a person could possibly get.

I tried giving myself pep talks: “Come on, Heather. Why so nervous? Millions of people have done this already. Hell, most of them really enjoyed it.”

In the hopes that loosened inhibitions would make the experience more enjoyable, I even treated myself to some wine. After a glass or two, I figured I was as ready as I would ever be. And so I began…

It was all wrong from the very start – rushed, awkward and almost unbearably painful. I knew almost immediately that there was no way I was going to be able to finish, but I gritted my teeth and tried my best to keep going. Quickly realizing the futility of my efforts, I finally gave up. A complete cease and desist. Afterward came the characteristic feelings of shame and disappointment. Self-doubt began to creep in. Was there something wrong with me? Why did I find it so hard to do a thing that came so naturally to everyone else?

Lingering questions and anxieties aside, I knew for certain that I was a first-time failure. I was unable to make it past the first five chapters of Fifty Shades of Grey.

Before I go any further, I would like to clarify something: I am by NO means a prude – and I think my internet search history can provide positive testament to that statement. At least it would if I weren’t such a diligent eraser. I have a huge appreciation for smut, and I know it holds a valid place in the sexual annals of modern society. And if we’re being honest, tales of slap and tickle have been around as long as we’ve been kicking on this planet. What I cannot appreciate – and have zero tolerance for – is bad writing.

As much as I would love to dump 100 percent of the blame upon the author, I realize now that I bear at least a portion of the responsibility for this failed venture. In my reluctance to read the series upon its release, I allowed myself to become swayed by the things I had learned – namely the fact that a series that managed to rake in multi-millions started out as Twilight fan-fiction.

Now on one hand, as someone who muscled through that sappy, supernatural clusterfuck of a book series, I can see where the gaggle of undersexed adult females who became engrossed in the saga might have harbored a secret desire to scrub out the Mormon overtones and give the central couple free reign to disrobe and get down proper. That is the reason fan-fiction exists, after all (Okay, maybe not the entire reason – but I do feel that 95% would be a safe bet). It’s just… it’s not something I ever expected to find its way to the mainstream. And if one premise was finally able to break through to the other side, did it HAVE to be the tale of the vapid teenager and her creepily obsessed, glittery boyfriend? It could have been any of them! There are thousands of genres and scenarios. Anything you can think of, and several most of us would never conjure up in our wildest dreams (the story of Captain Jean-Luc Picard crossing paths with Lord Elrond, elf from Lord of the Rings springs to mind).

Still, there is no sense in crying for what might have been. This is what we got, and this is what I must conquer. And with a highly-anticipated motion picture on the horizon, I feel a renewed sense of urgency to pick up the story and give it another try. I can only truly loathe something if I familiarize myself with the beast in its entirety. Before I can fully appreciate the joy of laughing about an Irish actor playing at whips-n-chains with the daughter of the man who popularized blazers with pushed-up sleeves and 5 o’clock shadow-style law enforcement, I must first revisit its tome of origin – the one that managed to ruffle my sensibilities before any character had the chance to drop trou. All while fighting off the images in my head of the sordid fantasies being played out by a mannequin-faced, stuttering Kristen Stewart and Robert “my badass sneer will put you in mind of your 13-year-old son after being told to take out the garbage” Pattinson.

This time I will be smart about it. I shall employ the counsel of trusted friends. I will do my very best to dispose of my preconceived notions so I can go in dry – a poor choice of words, yet fitting of my predicament. And it goes without saying that there will be wine. Though it failed me in this mission once before, I feel all trusted allies are worthy of second chances. But I shan’t hesitate to tag in one of its stronger partners should I feel that I am being let down again. Join me in a prayer to the spirits of erotica and libation that I may see this undertaking through to the end.


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