Fifty Shades of Flannel

By Nancy O'Toole

"Damn you Lanz nightgown," I think as I fall into the office of Christian Grey who is the mind-reeling combination of former crack baby, Adonis, billionaire, public university graduate and financial savant.

How did I arrive in the spacious and austere offices of Mr. Grey and in my favorite flannel sleep garment, no less? My daughter, Anastasia Steele, was supposed to interview this wunderkind for her college newspaper.

Let me start again. Actually her roommate, Kate, was supposed to conduct the interview. She fell ill and pressed Anastasia into service. When Anastasia's car (unreliable VW!) broke down, she called me, and well, here I am.

Mr. Grey seamlessly moves as if a gazelle gliding on Crisco to help me up. His hand feels solid and forbidding on my elbow.

"Let me help you, Mrs. Steele."

I bite my lower lip (a childish habit which I'm told drives some gentlemen wild) and straighten out the elastic on my sleeves. I push back a stray tendril of hair (Revlon Colorsilk Medium Ash Brown) and attempt to steady myself in my forest green Crocs.

"I'm so sorry. Please forgive me. I wouldn't blame you a bit if you wanted to spank me."

I looked quickly into his piercing eyes as he regarded me with wonder and a hint of intrigue.

Spanking? Where had that come from?

"Mrs. Steele, I can assure you I would never lift your Lanz without your permission."

I felt my face grow hot.

He knows Lanz. What other woman secrets does he understand and yet tantalizingly keep just beyond my grasp? Biore Pore Strips in my ears? Waxing my big toe? Pinot Grigio and Fritos whilst watching Real Housewives?

My reverie was broken by his manly hand extending a piece of paper towards me.

I adjusted the cotton lace at my neck and my yellow Scrunchie. He scowled. But why?

"I'd like you to read this Mrs. Steele. I know we've just met, but I feel that you and I have a connection...a potential for a relationship that will be both terrifying and satisfying."

I calmly remember that I am, after all, the married mother of three: a cornerstone of the Parent Association: a neighborhood icon, if you will; woman who has seen the inside of a front-loading washer after clothes come back from camp. I know terrifying Mr. Grey, I think smugly.

He looks amused and points me towards a sleek black leather couch. I take a seat and promptly slide off. Flannel, you cruel mistress. I silently curse.

He helps me up once again, and I am certain his eyes quickly take in the high-cut briefs with happy frog pattern that I have inadvertently flashed him. High-cut, Mr. Grey.

I settle myself once again on the couch. This time being careful to fold my Lanz into a sort of pantsuit arrangement around my thighs.

"Dominant-Submissive Agreement" reads the first line on the creamy ivory paper I am regarding.

The first line on the piece of paper. Holy cow! What in the name of metal balls in people's butts is this?

Flannel is to be worn only when the Submissive is in the presence of the Dominant.

Ankle-length athletic socks of a clean white nature MUST be worn at all times. Particularly whilst vacuuming and watching TV.

The Submissive is to refrain from adjusting the elastic sleeves or buttons on the front (or back if Submissive is a "Reverse Wearer" of Lanz) unless specifically instructed to do so by the Dominant.

The list went on and my head swam with details. This beguiling satyr of a man! He knows the ways of Lanz: the ballooning illusion of comfort that hides a roiling sea of passion. So few understand. So few will ever know.

He stood in his charcoal suit regarding me steadily. He knew I knew that he knew. What I know that now he so clearly knows too.

I had never been as frightened or as sure of anything in my life.