A Different Kind of Monday
I never, in my wildest dreams, could have imagined that the coffee break conversation at work (on a Monday morning no less), would center on erotica. The week was slowly getting underway – at this point we usually talk about sports, movies or politics – or the actual work that needs to get done during the current week. So I was a bit surprised when one of my male colleagues, with a snicker of anticipation on his face, asked for my opinion on handcuffs.
I Got the Hint
I knew what he was talking about immediately. The modern-day erotic trilogy “Fifty Shades of Grey” had already hit unprecedented popularity in the US. The French edition made front page news – they all must have read the same newspaper on the subway on their way to the office. So there was a simple explanation.
Jean-Jacques actually brought out the newspaper so everyone could see. He showed us the handcuffs; I mean the picture of the handcuffs.
“You Americans are real masters of porn,” he said. It’s funny because you’re all so repressed sexually – can’t even go topless at the beach.”
The Proof is in the Spelling
“E.L. James, the author, is British, not American,” I said. “You can tell by the spelling of the word grey in the title. It’s the UK spelling.”
“I bet you already read it then,” he said.
“A little bit, I read it over a lady’s shoulder on my flight from New York to Paris a couple of weeks ago. I read something about a blindfold too – is that what you’re getting your wife for Christmas?”, I joked.
Blindfolds and Bragging
The four male colleagues all laughed and bragged that their wives didn’t need blindfolds or handcuffs. French men know what a woman wants but, if their partners did express a desire to be bound to the bed post, that wouldn’t be a problem. The French lover aims to please. Jean-Jacques offered us all a second cup of coffee so that we could have time to continue this conversation. No one was in a hurry to go back to their desk.
“What about toys? Would you use sex toys too?”, I asked.
“Of course! No problem with anything our lady desires.”
“How about a three-way?”
“This country invented the “ménage a trois” before you were even born! Before your country was even born!”
Proud of Being French
We then got into a general discussion of whether or not this book would be a success in France. My four colleagues all participated in the debate. (They are usually very quiet, almost docile when they’re sitting in front of their computers. Sometimes I jokingly pinch them as I walk by to make sure they’re still breathing. I didn’t have to pinch anyone this lively Monday morning.)
They talked about Brigitte Bardot, the 1974 French erotic film, “Emmanuelle” and the swinging “free sex” clubs that are all over Paris. In the end, these guys all agreed that that “Fifty Shades of Gray” wouldn’t do as well in France as it has in the USA simply because there is no need for it. Their collective opinion was that French women were sexually satisfied – thanks to them.
A Friendly Wager
I didn’t believe them. But, instead of saying that out loud and damaging any fragile male egos, I challenged that premise with a wait-and-see attitude and a little friendly wager. I suggested that we go review this same topic four weeks from now and see how the French version of “Fifty Shades of Grey” is doing. If it is as successful as they assured me it would NOT be, they lose and I win.
“OK,” agreed Jean-Jacques, “what happens if we lose?”
“That’s easy,” I said. “If you guys lose, you all have to buy the book for your wives – just think of it as marriage insurance.”
“And if we win?” they collectively asked.
“I’ll buy you all coffee – and an extra set of handcuffs.”
I’ll let all you readers know in a month how this works out. I hope they lose since I have no idea where to buy handcuffs in Paris!