The book “50 Shades of Grey” by E.L. James has caught the attention of most women I know–with a wave as strong as that which moved most of their men to covet the Victoria’s Secret runway show via YouTube. My girlfriends seemed suddenly free to explore the sexuality equated with their youth; taking it from the privacy of their own Kindles to book groups and chat sessions…
“Men aren’t really complicated, Ana, honey. They are very simple, literal creatures. They usually mean what they say. And we spend hours trying to analyze what they’ve said when it’s really obvious.”*
Christian Grey, the leading man in the book, took intimacy to extremes by anyone’s standards. My own spin on the book’s message–and on having an engaging relationship– is that passion comes from liberating one’s self within one’s comfort zone. That is to say, blurring boundary lines enough to feel one is indulging in something slightly darker than the day’s typical coloring…to reclaim one’s sense of self and FUN!
“If I were you, I’d take him literally. That might help.”
Dating back to more innocent and less encumbered times, I recall a summery sunset dinner on the Upper East Side. Tab (now my husband), went on (and on) about his journey from circuit tennis to circuit court rooms. He had my undivided attention. He remarked as to what a good listener I was. Good? No, a great listener! My date’s message was as black and white as were the shorts I’d chosen to wear that night. I heard him assert that he liked his women smart, strong, sensitive, successful and sexy–short skirts and high heels. So the smart woman in me made a long-term mental note. I gave myself a challenge. In the name of relinquishing control to my man, I wore a dress or skirt for 365 days–with sexy silhouettes and a dazzling array of stilettos–to entice him to look at me the same way he had across the dinner table years passed. In 20 years we’ve grown up and closer.
Private time for adult-like fun was a challenge–no argument from any woman I confided in. Work, school, docs, sports, community service, household obligations, including the inordinate amount of laundry from two tiny girls, perpetually threatened to blow the dating game out of the water. Once upon a time, I dared Tab to have dinner with me. We pinky swore that we would not discuss our kids, work or finances. I recall the most awkward silence for the longest ten minutes of our married lives. Then, we broke into laughter and more red wine. So, soon after two little girls were born; so was “Date Night.”
“Date Night” morphed over the years; from a planned night out hiring a babysitter to something which lingered over the course of an entire week. Loving messages and texts were sent no matter how demanding our schedules. Sometimes, he just played a game and left me clues as to his mysterious m.o. In response, I made sure to block out time for personal maintenance: Hair, nails, 50 shades of lipstick, the LBD (little black dress) or what to wear in lieu of it, perfume and deal-closing heels. Shallow woman? Feminist forgotten? No. Smart woman–as per his request. Excitement came as we escaped under the radar of all of our friends and neighbors. With Tab, I opened doors I’d not dared on my own. What happened in “Date Night” stayed in “Date Night.”
“My inner goddess has her sequins on and is warming up to do the rumba.”
In the interim, we’ve grown up and have become closer. Getting to the finish line took me a bit longer than it did for Tab. What was a man to do with the woman he loved when she needed to live with one foot in the world of “grown up” choices and one in that of “forever young?” My inner goddess child was given the gift of a very, very long leash. Caution to my readers and friends! This does not mean that I “stepped out” or had any desire to do so–quite the contrary.