By now almost everyone on earth has read or watched “50 Shades of Grey“, a cultural juggernaut about… I don’t really have to tell you what it’s about do I? Google it.
Yeah! I know! THAT!
THAT is, by definition, the giving or receiving of pleasure from acts involving the receipt or infliction of pain or humiliation. Pain and humiliation are the WORST but you know what is right up there with them? FOMO. Where’s the smut for the less dangerous among us? Well, as it turns out, Pennsylvania.
What would happen if a 37 year old man decided to read an Amish romance? What then? Raise a barn with Ratty in this month’s installment of Less Dangerous.
Less Dangerous #3 Collage
Before I get started I should state that I have never read a ‘Bonnet Ripper’, I’ve never even read a romance. The closest I’d come to the genre was finding a website that housed pictures of romance writers from the 70’s. I was fascinated by how unattractive they were. I recognize how unfair it is to expect a romance writer to be physically attractive but life isn’t fair. Clearly. I mean I’m about to read an Amish romance.
“The Shunning” by Beverly Lewis is supposed to be one of the better Amish romances. Or at least one of the first. To be clear here this is a book. There are, by my count, 288 pages in it. Fortunately there is a rule out there for book reading. Here’s the important part:
Give a book 50 pages. When you get to the bottom of Page 50, ask yourself if you’re really liking the book. If you are, of course, then great, keep on reading. But if you’re not, then put it down and look for another.
When you are 51 years of age or older, subtract your age from 100, and the resulting number (which, of course, gets smaller every year) is the number of pages you should read before you can guiltlessly give up on a book.
I read 30 pages which, if my math is right, means I’m reading at a 70 year old level. I am very cool with that because 30 pages was more than enough. The plot, at least up to that point, surrounded a wedding being planned and a secret not yet revealed. There was talk of a ‘quilting frolic’ and ‘canning bee’ which I think are things the Amish do to make work sound fun, just tack a nice word on the end (‘Weeding frolic’, ‘Data entry bee’, etc;). And there were things in it that were just sort of remarkable from a non-sexual standpoint. This sentence for instance:
The rumors about all the celery Mamma and I had planted last May would stop.
A lot to unpack here. First that there would be celery rumors. That is fun to consider. But also, why? Turned out they needed the extra celery for a wedding. CELERY! My kind of wedding!
The fact of the matter is that none of it was even remotely risque. When I say, “Less dangerous” I don’t mean, “Not dangerous”. It occurred to me that I’d traveled too far in the opposite direction. So, what is less dangerous than Christian Grey but more dangerous than the Amish? Simple: DINOSAURS!**
It’s pretty rare that I laugh out loud at a book. Rarer still that I’ll say, “Oh God no!” out loud while reading a book. I guess that’s part of what makes “Taken by a T-Rex” by Christie Sims stand apart from other books I’ve read. That and there’s a lady that does it with a dinosaur. I want to state up front that in the interest of fairness I only read about 30 pages of this book too. Unfortunately for me it was only around 30 pages long.
The story (there is one) centers around Drin a young cavewoman who is more into hunting than the advances of Grul, the leering cavebro. A T-Rex destroys her village and kills a bunch of people so she gets mad and sets her sights on revenge. The next time the T-Rex shows up months have passed. As it wanders into camp Drin seeks out Grul who she catches in flagrante delicto with another cavelady. This is what passes for foreshadowing in “Taken by a T-Rex” although it does not sufficiently foreshadow the abject terror that awaits.
Grul is having no part of the T-Rex so our brave heroine bounds off into the woods with Sexy Rexy in hot pursuit. Here she navigates her foe into a series of pre-set traps. It gets hit with a log. It falls into a pit. Drin is getting the upper hand and it’s gets angrier and angrier which somef’nhow manages to titillate Drin. An angry T-Rex. Takes all kinds. It’s at this point the T-Rex catches up
In her seminal cultural studies piece “Reading the Romance” Janice Radway states that:
By picturing the heroine in relative positions of weakness, romances are not necessarily endorsing her situation, but examining an all-too-common state of affairs in order to display possible strategies for coping with it.
I dunno about all that. All I know is that at this point Drin engages in sexual congress with a T-Rex, an act that was both horrifying and hilarious. Horrifying that someone thought this up and hilarious that I was reading it but, again, horrifying that I was reading it. I know very little about dinosaur anatomy but based purely on the bloodlust of this particular dino and the skeletons I’ve seen at museums the kind of behavior described in the final quarter of the book was not even remotely intelligent. It was, I’d wager, VERY DANGEROUS. We weren’t growing celery here gang!
Apart from some cool facts about dinosaurs I didn’t feel like I really learned anything when it was all said and done. I just felt confused and very off put. I wonder now, at the end of my challenge, if my experience has been really that far removed from how people felt after reading “50 Shades of Grey”.
“Taken by a T-Rex” ends with Drin casting a wider net.
Drin had washed herself down and rejoined the small community around another large fire, scanning the young men for a suitable looking man to service her.
The good news for Drin is that the world is full of men that aren’t unlike her T-Rex: big and dumb and scary. Just not sure how many of them will have those teeny tiny arms.
** I know some of you are thinking, “Dinosaurs could EAT Christian Grey! Clearly more dangerous! WHY AM I READING THIS?!”. If they squared off in a vacuum I would have to agree but the fact is dinosaurs no longer exist so y’know, less dangerous. Christian Grey’s on the other hand? You know THEY exist.