In hindsight, this was a poor idea.
* * *
Lots of things come without solid explanations -- furniture from IKEA, French toddler toy sets, EDM music. Also was my reasoning for thinking it would be a good idea to sit down with my 85-year-old grandmother and her friends while we all watched Fifty Shades of Grey. And not just the theatrical release, but the uncut version.
This is only interesting, of course, because the movie is basically soft-core porn. The script sucks. The movie sucks. I did this purely for comedic value.
So here is what a gang of old ladies had to say during the most sexually explicit movie of the year, broken down into the meaty, good parts.
A half-an-hour in, things seemed fine. The first cringe moment for me didn't happen until 30:16 into the movie, when Bro, played by Jamie Dornan, said,
Bro: I want to bite that lip.
Dakota Johnson: I think I'd like that too.
Followed by a pause, and then,
Grandmother: What did he say?
Brenda: He wants to bite her.
Grandmother: Bite her?
You'd be correct to assume that hearing was at a premium. True story, my grandmother's hearing aids were being "repaired," so she was operating at about 40 percent auditory capacity. Which means there were lots of "what did he say" and "what was that" moments.
At 36:30, I felt physically nauseous when Dornan said,
Bro: I don't make love. I fuck. Hard.
I thought, this is awkward, because that's how I...
I exhaled loudly -- too loudly, actually, and I seriously contemplated what I was doing with my life when I heard my grandmother say,
"Oh, brother?" "That's a phrase you say when you hear or see something that reminds you of a past experience. Had somebody said this to my gram at one point in her life?
At 38:00 into the movie, Dornan ushers Dakota Johnson into his play room, which is like a man-cave, but cooler. Brenda, one of my grandmother's confidants on level one, moaned,
I remember those days...
Wait. What? What days? Are you talking about those key-swapping party days? BECAUSE THOSE HAPPENED!
* * *
It starts to get really uncomfortable for me at 42:22. And if you've seen the movie, you know where we're at. It's our first foray into full-blown sex. We're talking oral (Maybe. It's hard to tell.), nipple play. Everything. And I'm watching this with a bunch of women that probably haven't had this kind of attention in decades. And I'm trying really hard not to think about that.
The visual of Dornan's backside at 43:43 results in a gasp from Rita, a sixty-something-year-old who likes to drink boxed wine by the box.
Someone says, "I hope he's using protection." He's not, though. Because this is make believe, and nobody uses protection in make believe.
The pièce de résistance is about to go down at 44:34. This is where we see full penetration. It's pretty much Cinemax at 3AM. I'm hoping nobody says anything--which of course means my grandmother blurts out,
"Just like that?"
I know. No foreplay whatsoever.
Keep in mind that the volume is on level 76. So anyone walking into the front hallway can probably hear all of this. In fact, no, they definitely can hear this because whenever I visit, I can hear the news as soon as I open the door.
Minutes later, and Dakota Johnson is still naked. She's naked a lot. The pointy nipples are giving me flashbacks to college days, and I'm basically hoping that the scene ends quickly because it's daytime in the movie. I could somewhat deal with the sex scenes at night. At least in the dark, the shadows and cataracts that these women all have can hide the private parts.
* * *
The only bit of useful information that I've found to be of any value comes at 1:03:15, when Bro lifts Dakota Johnson's shirt up after tying her hands above her head. The shirt catches on her arms and acts as a blindfold. Genius in my opinion. And if I must say, I'll be stealing this move.
Dornan then takes her from behind, and I'm not going to lie, it's pretty difficult to watch this with octogenarians in the room.
One of the ladies says,
What is he doing to her?
And I almost said, "It's doggie..." but I caught myself and said, "It's doggie... gotta go out? The dog has to go out." There are dogs everywhere in this place. Little shit dogs, too. Nothing cool like a Vizsla.
The spanking at 1:18:30 was nice. The S&M at 1:27:00 was even better, though Brenda didn't know what S&M was. Cute. But I don't believe her for a second.
* * *
I emailed my grandmother the next day to ask her what she thought of the movie. She said, and I'm quoting,
"Brenda didn't care for the violence and that man had nothing on your Papa."
Wait... are you saying my grandfather was an animal in bed?
* * *
I've now been in a room with my grandmother while the sentence, "vibrator, dildos, and genital clamps" has been spoken. For that, I may seek intense therapy for an undetermined length of time.
Chris Peak is a freelance writer from Boston. Visit him on Twitter.
Image: Ondrea Barbe/Corbis PR