Wipe the Drool

Shades of Shamelessness

Only thing missing here is my ‘stache glasses.

When I was 16, I worked at an independent bookstore in an affluent town in northern New Jersey. My first job. The owners trusted me with everything from the keys to their kids.

It was a great job, even if it paid peanuts. I still get mad when people assume I got to read all day. I didn’t. There were books to order and file, display windows to arrange, and customers to rip off encourage to support their local business.

On the weekends, the store would often host book signings. The authors were never particularly famous or popular, and I’d sometimes have to entertain them for 3 hours because no one showed up.

Like this.

One day, we had an author of romance novels come in. You know the kind. Mass market paperbacks, with Fabio and a blonde-haired woman in a too-tight corset on the cover. The titles would scream words like “Destiny” and “Stallion” and “Get a life.”

I had no idea what to expect as I waited for the author to arrive, but it wasn’t the woman who came into the store that Saturday morning.

She was a plump, middle-aged woman who looked like she was about to bake a cake. She was nice as could be. She might have been your mother.

I couldn’t believe how much I enjoyed chatting with her.

“I paid for all of my kids to go to college with these books,” she told me, while I tried to scoop my chin off the floor.

How could that be? I thought. I’ve never even heard of this woman.

I was never quite the same after that. Seeing the face behind the throbbing parts and quickening pulses did something to me. I had a whole new level of respect for the books I once thought belonged in the slush pile.

Which brings us to present day.

I finally picked up Fifty Shades of Grey this weekend. My mom, Babs, was kind enough to leave the trilogy behind on Father’s Day.

As you know, on top of the story I just shared, I have absolutely zero qualms when it comes to being a sheep, never mind indulging in guilty pleasures. That is the name of my shame game, Chipmunks, and I let that freak flag soar.


But I barely made it past the first line.

Because that line was:

I scowl with frustration at myself in the mirror.

And should have been:

I scowl in the mirror.

I doggedly read on, and watched the author blatantly steal the entire premise of Twilight. Except instead of vampires, we have a sadomasochist* on our hands. I think. I’m only a few chapters in, but I’m hooked I can promise you this isn’t the last you’ll be hearing on the topic (right, Renee?).

You’re welcome in advance.

Have you read it? How do you feel about romance novels?

*I know! Same diff! And you thought I was shameless.