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The ladies were involved in a discussion about their summer beach reading. They mentioned this novel and that, but, as with every conversation in the summer of 2012, invariably the topic became the ubiquitous 50 Shades of Grey. Lo and I have discussed this phenomenon quite a bit. When it comes to literature, Lo can be quite the snob. Not anywhere as snobbish as I, but don’t ever dare to say that you think Dan Brown is a great writer or, God forefend, Stephanie Meyers! You will incur the loathing of Lo. Not all modern popular novels are panned by Lo, but the poorly written ones are scathingly critiqued. As far as Shades is concerned, Lo is disgusted by the enormous popularity of this — let’s face it folks — mediocre, mild-mannered erotica.

I, on the other hand, am perplexed by its popularity, but I do not begrudge it the success it has received since it has been, or may be, the gateway fiction that does for literotica what 1984 or Fahrenheit 451 did for science fiction. Not that Shades will become standard high school reading, but it may just legitimatize the genre, or at least open up the publishing house gate keepers to better authors of erotica. It also may serve another important role: opening up otherwise inhibited women/couples to explore possibilities they may not have ever even imagined on their own. However, I have to admit, I have not read the book. When I want erotica, I turn to the classics: Lucius Apulius, Li Yu’s The Carnal Prayer Mat, Sappho, The Song of Songs, among others.

Lo’s friend Kaylee said she had not read the book, but to her surprise her mother had and — she giggled as she said this — recommended it to her. She couldn’t get over this and, for that very reason (the source of the recommendation) she felt that she couldn’t read it.

Lo’s other friend Val, a heavy-set blond woman who is married to the voyeur, Dan, rebuked Kaylee and said with enthusiasm, “Oh, you have to read it! You’ll love it! I’ve read the whole series,” and then she blushed (perhaps as she recollected in her mind the specifics of reading it). Now, though Val is a bit heavy, she carries her weight in an impressive manner — proudly wearing a bikini, and walking with the confidence of a Gaston Lachaise statue created in the image of his muse, Isabel Nagle. Her ample, powerful flesh commands attention and respect, yet her cute, almost cherub like face and blond curls suggests a sweetness and femininity befitting her friendly and happy personality. She projects an innocence and purity that is in contrast with an almost imperceptible deviant strain that most people would overlook, but keen observers with similar freak flags, people like Lo and me, pick up on. So, it was with a bit of embarrassment that the words escaped her mouth about the dark and salacious Shades.

Not to worry, Val, because your friend Erin eagerly agreed with you and immediately sat up from her reclining, sun-tanning position, and said, as her eyes lit up, “I did too! I never thought I’d be into that sort of thing — you know — but it was so good.” She was practically touching her pussy over her bikini bottoms as she said this; she was so carried away with her excitement. And, from what she said, it was difficult to tell whether the read was so good, or trying it out at home was so good. Maybe both.

Lo cast a knowing look at me that said, “Amateurs.” I responded with a reserved, hidden, knowing smile. We just listened, curious as to how these newbies to erotica understood it and we weren’t disappointed because as soon as Erin said it, she asked, “But do you think that so many women have a desire for all of that?” Erin had a way of emphasizing many of her words accompanied by exaggerated facial movements.

“What do you mean?” asked Kaylee.

“The spanking, the rider’s crop, the. . .” she paused and looked up at me. My privileged position as a fly-on-the-wall for this “gal-chat” suddenly became conspicuous, but the cat was out of the bag now and she had to finish her sentence. “The Ben Wa balls?”

The girls all giggled, that is, except for Lo who just smiled and squirmed a little in her chair. “Lo,” said Kaylee, “this is your field. What do you think?”

Lo looked around and then back at me and said, “There are statistics out there on this stuff. The numbers showing women experimenting with S&M, anal sex, and other types of kink are, in my opinion, incredibly low. I mean, anecdotally speaking, my experience has been that far more than 11% of women engage in S&M, or 40% of women in anal sex, or 60% of women masturbate; at least among women in their 20’s and 30’s.”

The girls laughed and poked fun at Lo’s use of statistics and then they joked about “her experience,” since, in her coy, scientific way, she totally avoided saying what her experience actually was. Someone repeated, “But what do you think. Do women really like all that?”

Confronted with the teasing, Lo simply said, “I know I do” and she looked lovingly at me. Now it was my turn to blush.

This gave the girls pause and then Kaylee, looking back over her shoulder, said in a hushed tone, “I wish Cory would be a little more adventurous in the bedroom with me.”

Cory, Kaylee’s boyfriend, who was over by the grill talking with Sally, Jeff (Sally’s boyfriend), Dan and Steve (Erin’s boyfriend), is a twenty-something black man with a great build (he was a running-back on his college football team) and a friendly smile. The ladies all leaned in closely to hear what Kaylee had to say. She continued in almost a whisper. “It’s always missionary position with him. Once in a while he might take me from behind. But I’d like him to do something more. . .” she was struggling to find the right word, “crazy,” was all she could find.

“But he’s so hot,” said Erin with her exaggerated facial movements again.

“And I bet he has a huge cock,” said Lo, unabashed.

“Don’t go stereotyping,” rebuked Val, “just cause he’s black.”

“I’m not stereotyping,” said Lo, “anyone can see it when he wears that bathing suit.”

The girls all laughed because they all knew that they had been looking and seeing exactly what Lo was talking about.

Kaylee laughed too and said, “Yeah, I am lucky that way. Even if it’s boring, it is massive. The first time I slept with him I thought I was going to die. No, really — I couldn’t take all that. . . length and girth. I thought he was splitting me in two. I had to beg him to stop.”

Lo looked at me and I at her because I know that that is exactly what she longs for. I mean, I’m well-endowed and thankful for every inch of it, but Lo has had larger and her holy grail is a cock she can’t accommodate.

The girls laughed and giggled and this caught the attention of the guys by the grill. One of them called out, “What’s so funny over there?” This threw the girls into hysterics. The guys ignored them as silly and Kaylee went on: “So, I can’t complain, but it would be nice if he used some of those muscles on me in some other ways.”

“Then you have to read this book,” said Val, “and never mind that it was your mom who recommended it to you.”

“Or,” said Lo, “have Cory read it to you and see if you don’t both find something you’re comfortable with.”

[Excerpt, from the story, “Topless Beach Reading,” from the blog:]

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Just your average nymphomaniac next door. I love fan mail:

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