Fifty Shades of Humiliation… at Costco.

WARNING:  Kids, my kids (adopted or birthed), do not read this one! Do not read it. Trust me, it’s embarrassing enough without you thinking of fifty new ways that your mom is not who you thought she was. Best to skip to some other post, if you must read these. There are other people who I might advise similarly, but no doubt that just makes it more compelling. The kids know from past experience, that I mean what I say when I say don’t read this. You are officially warned.

Note # 2:  Note to new readers:  Our family took in two foreign exchange students this year. Denmark is a 17 yr old girl. China is a 16 yr old boy. The U.S. is our 15 yr old son (Little Man). Israel, when home, is our 22 yr old daughter (Principessa), and Canada our 19 yr old son (Middle Man). I am The Secretary General. Smart Guy is dad. Together, we are the U.N.: a home where laughs come daily, chaos reigns and borders fall easily, as we live like a real family.  Know that no foreigners were hurt in the making of this blog post or in the incidents cited. All parties were aware that their comments were being noted, and pictures were used with permission, and assistance in editing for privacy. That said…

I’ll start with by saying: I deserved it. I believe in Karma and admittedly, I got a big dose of whoop ass humiliation karma at Costco, for going back on all I’ve said for months, and for doing something that I was embarrassed enough about, that I was actively trying to hide it when the whoop ass rained down on me.  But, in fairness, it all started with a simple trip to Costco…

We had been out of maple syrup for 10 days, an official crisis at the U.N.  “Ma! We have no syrup! Can I put this on my waffles?” China had asked, after taking a couple of different spreadable things from the fridge.  The kid’s been known to spread Nutella on liverwurst. Yes, really.  No, stick with Jam, I suggested. “We have nothing to eat!” U.S. pointed out for several mornings, adding “We really need syrup!”  For those who know me, starvation is a real and frequent cause for concern around our house… (if you’re clueless  blindfolded  too lazy to check the pantry or extra fridge)  Seriously? Nothing? I at least tried to sound concerned. Denmark knew enough not to ask when I was going to the store, fully aware of my resistance to going to Costco, unless absolutely necessary.  I admit it:  Eggos are critical in this house; and ridiculous amounts of maple syrup are consumed with them. I have considered switching to fake syrup, just to drive home a point about portion control and quality. However, I fear that several nations will actually like the high fructose corn syrup varieties and that slippery slope would inevitably lead to Jiff, Hamburger Helper and eventually, Wonder Bread. So I continue to buy real Maple Syrup and remind them continuously: “Please use less syrup!”

<– Flowers at Costco

Anyway, we were out… for 10 days… and there was clear multi-nation unrest. I had a list of the usual items that I try to buy only at Costco because it kills me to pay the ridiculous prices for less at the local store. Seriously kills me. I was organized and determined to get in and get out, and not wander into areas I didn’t need to be in. I was doing remarkably well. I’d even bought myself a beautiful Mother’s Day bouquet, the first I’ve purchased since Mom’s death a few months ago. I bought her flowers there weekly, and it’s just been something I’ve avoided since. In her honor, I bought myself some flowers. I had all my groceries, and was searching for a snack item that U.S. requested when I found myself near the books… the evil stacks of low priced books that has always landed me in trouble. They’ve moved it, and personally, I thought it was less available and thus better for people like me who have a forever stack of “need to reads.” Nope, there it was, right in my path.

Can’t hurt to make a quick browse, I thought. There might be that… hmm, can’t remember the title, but the one so and so recommended. I’ll just take a very quick glance, I continued to rationalize consider as I moved quickly through the stacks. And then, it happened. I saw Fifty Shades of Grey sitting there in one of three mile high Fifty Shades of Grey piles.. If you haven’t heard of it:  Quick, lift the rock you’re under and enter the world of porn literary dilemmas extraordinaire!  Fifty Shades is a book that was written and self-published on-line initially, initially based on the popular Twighlight Series (which I didn’t read). It went viral on line, then was self-published by author E. L. James in e-book and print on demand, and eventually picked up by Vintage books for recent re-release in paper back. It’s so huge now, that Costco is selling it… And that is where my fifty shades of humiliation begins.

This book has prompted all kinds of dialogue since it first appeared on the scene (before it’s release in paper book). It’s been called erotica, chick lit, garbage, BDSM (bondage/discipline/ sadism/ masochism), “mommy porn” (by the press), romance, brilliant, and a million other things. I haven’t seen so much written about one book in a very long time (like this, and this, and this, and this…) and as I started reading more and more about it, it began coming up in conversation after conversation.  Wink wink nod nod moments with friends and sometimes women I hardly know. Based on reviews and feedback from a few readers, I resolved that it didn’t interest me. I had read enough about the degradation of the young heroine of the novel and the poor writing to believe that I didn’t need or want to read this.  And so, that’s what I told everyone who I discussed this with: I’m curious, but I don’t plan to buy it or read it, blah blah blah. (Excuse me while I grab another bite of humble, from my pie)

I glanced around, and then hesitantly grabbed a copy. This is that moment when the music would change and there’d probably be a clap of thunder.  No one was looking; that’s key. I knew that picking up this book meant something. Without a thought, I grabbed another book (that I definitely didn’t plan to buy) and covered Fifty Shades with it. The very fact that I didn’t want to be seen holding it is evidence enough that I was embarrassed…By a book… Never a good sign. I eventually ditched the other book (a lofty biography of Churchill) and buried Fifty under my groceries. Sign two: I generally place all books in the front kid seat area, so that produce doesn’t leak on the pages. I buried this baby deep under the bread. Then I pretended to peruse other books (clearly sign #3) for a few moments before making my way up to check out, avoiding any eye contact… with anyone. Free and clear, I thought.

And then it happened. I’ve shopped at this same Costco for nearly eleven years now. I’ve gotten to know some of the people who work there, if only peripherally. We at least say hi and chit chat at check out. As I was doing just that, I saw the book approaching the scanner and then as if in slow motion (cue Jaws music), the woman at the register looked at me, looked back at the book and (serious karmic bitch slap here) said: “Oh, look what you’re reading! Someone’s going to be having some fun! He he he.” I kid you not; pretty much exact words. I have no doubt I was blushing, but I tried to remain calm and cool. I am a grown woman. I can read whatever the blankety blank  I want. Right?  Oh, yeah. Ha ha. I’m just curious. I tried to sound neutral. “Curious, riiiight!” she laughed.  I take it you know it?  Steady tone, calm breath. We were just discussing books… I thought. “Know it! I couldn’t put it down… Holy cow, that is some book! Yoooou’ll see!” She was evilly positively amused by the whole thing. Giddy even. She clearly saw us as sharing a secret sexy sisterhood.”We should be selling out of these pretty quickly!”  She added with gusto and a big smile. (Great, now I’m part of the mass Costco mommy porn industry.) Right then, just when I thought it couldn’t be more embarrassing, I got the second hard slap. Late twenty-something, 6’2″ macho guy, putting my groceries in my canvas bags, looks over; picks up the book and grins. Grins! He looked just like the Grinch, when you first see that sneaky, smarmy look cross his face. That is absolutely what he did. And everything got Fifty Shades worse, all around.

“Well! Look at you.” (No, please don’t) He grinned bigger. “I’ve heard about this book! Guess we know what you’re up to now…” (No! You don’t!  Really, you don’t!)  I could not believe this was all happening. All those times I joked around with these guys, all those times I was friendly, had somehow given the impression that I actually have a sense of humor, or can take some ribbing. Not. NOT!  I hardly think a book makes that big of a difference. A book doesn’t mean I’m up to something.  I tried, really tried, to maintain some dignity as I said that. “Riiight.” (Hello? What’s with the Riiiights?)  “Well, everyone knows there’s plenty to be up to in here. I’ll be looking at you a little differently from now on!” (Oh my God! Seriously… seriously, silly boyish thing?) I could barely look him in the face. Any previous cougarish thoughts I might have had, vanished instantly. The very second he said that. Poof!  I know he thought it was funny, and did not get the entirely inappropriate level he’d reached, but my head felt like it might explode. The gal ringing up my groceries was roaring by now.

It is not the topic of sex that made me want to leave my groceries and dash out.  Again I’m an adult, and for the most part, that topic isn’t the worst topic in the world. Granted, at the Costco check out it was a bit jarring. And let me be clear here: I haven’t read it yet, but for the record, I write pretty good sex all on my own. I’ve already shared that in Sex and Flyfishing, Bad Parent and Bikers… Not That They’re Connected, and in a few other posts (by the way, don’t head off to that link thinking you’ll find any examples… just references to the fact). Hell, if I plan to see my own book published (which I do, and it’s in the works) I might as well fess up now and not worry when it’s finally out there. It’s fiction; I stand by that.  It wasn’t any of that that had me cringing sideways and backwards. It was the mere fact that all of that sex was in a book that I’d heard was bad.  A book that I was told was very poorly written, by source after source. I’d vowed I wasn’t reading it. I’d actually sat with a friend the day before and said firmly No, I’m not buying it either. Twenty-four hours later, karma was bitch slapping me ferociously for my sanctimonious statements, for the fact that I was blatantly breaching said statements and buying the book after all, and worst of all, for being jealous of E.L. James for making millions and selling millions when all I want is to see my book properly published. Damn. Karma sucks. (And, yes, I know that this is not technically karma… it’s just a play on words… doesn’t really matter; the humiliation was real. Real.)

By now, everyone was having a good laugh but me. I was a having a “show-them-this-doesn’t-phase-you-laugh.” I was trying to have my freckles not blend entirely with my blushing cheeks, and act like I only cared about how my bags were packed. I was trying not to look at the elderly couple behind me in line, who were both looking suspiciously at the book now, and I was pretending very hard that I absolutely didn’t hear when the lady said “Well, now I have to see what that book is.”  It was just like that moment from When Harry Met Sally, in the deli, only I was standing in Billy Crystal’s role.  I sincerely wanted to crawl out of Costco. I did not respond. I refused to even look at someone’s grandma.  Instead, I watched the woman at the register as her face got a few shades more serious, and she told the older woman, “Oh, it’s just a very popular romance novel.”  Oh man! Now I was buying a romance novel at Costco. Someone just call Fabio. There was no saving face at that point. The lady and her husband just looked away politely. They’d heard everything said previously, and clearly they had their own ideas about what kind of reading I do. As I was leaving, the bad bag guy handed me the cart and said, “See you next time!” I swear he winked… jokingly, but he winked. I looked both of them squarely and said, I think I’ll be driving to blank city from now on. It will be worth the extra fifteen minutes of driving to avoid seeing anyone for a while.  Oh how they laughed as I walked away, holding my cart for support. I can say with absolute certainty, there is no amount of maple syrup that could justify the fifteen minutes of sheer hell I had at that check out.

<– There it is, tucked away in a dark, safe place… for now.

Now, the book sits hidden away. As I work through my PTSD, I have not been able to look at it. No dogeared good parts, no skimming for the stuff that has millions talking. Nothing, nada. I put it away before any of the groceries, just so it wouldn’t inadvertently end up on my counter and I’d have to explain to Smart Guy or the members of the U.N. (kids).  Hiding books… hmm, maybe this is Fifty-one shades of humiliation.

So I’ve shown you mine; now show me yours. Do you think in Grey now?  Are you curious, but too scared to buy it… and now, after reading this horror tale, determined not to?  Why should I, or should I not go pick this up right now and read it??

Finally, since I went down this path anyway… Come on, make me feel good. Stroke my…. ego. Hit the title of this article and then click on the Like icon at the bottom. Share your thoughts in the comments section.  It makes me feel soooo good. And to make it really last, if you haven’t already done it: go to my Tales from the Motherland Facebook page and hit Like there.

About Dawn Quyle Landau

Mother, Writer, treasure hunter, aging red head, and sushi lover. This is my view on life, "Straight up, with a twist––" because life is too short to be subtle! Featured blogger for Huffington Post, and followed on Twitter by LeBron James– for reasons beyond my comprehension.
This entry was posted in Aging, Awareness, Blog, blogs, Ego, getting published, Honest observations on many things, Humor, Life, Musings, My world, Parenting, Sarcasm, The U.N., Women, Women's issues, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

36 Responses to Fifty Shades of Humiliation… at Costco.

  1. Nissa says:

    Sorry, but this made me laugh! I can think of so many similar instances in my life, always made worse by the fact that I was self-conscious to begin with, so it seemed the whole world was peering at the bottom of my pile with laser eyes. This is the first I have heard about the book, and not intending to get it, but you’ll have to let us know how the read goes! Where are these Costco employees when I go?? Loved the super awkward dialogue dance, but sorry you had to endure it! 🙂


    • Thanks Nissa! “Awkward”would be the tip of this iceberg… groan worthy, endless moments for sure! I’ll try and drop a quick book review in a future post, but no promises. I have yet to pick it up off my shelf, where it remains hidden under a stack of papers! Thanks for taking the time to read this and share your thoughts. 🙂


  2. kjlangton says:

    Ah, what a tart piece of work…the writing, Dawn, the writing! I like how your saucy book is nestled against stickers from the Boynton family calendar…


    • That book is nestled between Boynton and school directories… how’s that for ironic and saucy? Stuck in my hoarder’s den! Thanks for reading k; always much appreciated… even if it means I’ll blush when I see you next! 😉


  3. Brian says:

    Dear Dawn–well, I hope you didn’t forget the maple syrup. What a distater that would have been. Anyway, bring the book to TKs this summer, read a few chapters on the deck. Can’t wait.



  4. pinkagendist says:

    At least it wasn’t a Jackie Collins 😀 Now that would have been permanent damage.


  5. I saw it in Costco too but resisted.. dying to know what you think of it, Dawn. Read and share, please! btw, I’m reading Alice Hoffman’s Dovekeepers and love it. Your daughter might like it — story of 4 women at Masada.


    • If you weren’t so nice, I’d say damn you cyclingrandma! Not only did you pass on the smutt at Costco, I get to hear the lofty book you’re reading, that I couda, shouda, woulda been reading! I’ll pass on the title to her. Thanks. 🙂


  6. springfieldfem says:

    I actually just finished the series. It was a guilty pleasure read. A lot of ladies I know have been reading and talking about it so much, that I decided to read it. I found myself reading it and saying, “What the —?!” a lot. Just a lot of….a lot of things to take in. 😉


    • No doubt, I’m curious, but now it’s stuck in hiding until I pull my head out of the Costco mess I made. 😉 I imagine, frankly, that I’ll end up finding a lot of things to edit or correct and make myself feel holier than thou all over again! thanks for taking the time to read and share springfieldfem. Much appreciated!


  7. Meh. Downloaded it to my Kindle. As some blogger said, it’s the “skinny vanilla latte” of bdsm porn. I would completely agree. It’s poorly written and I found myself skipping around to sex scenes that weren’t even that great. I think you showed great restraint with the Costco employees. I would have made some snarky comment that made it clear they were way out of line. 🙂


    • Well darlin’, I started out dishing it back, but it got so raucous and there were so many eyes… Oh man. I barely left that store on my own two feet! Can’t return for a good long while, so I stocked up on lots of syrup! Thanks for reading the post and sharing your thoughts. 🙂


  8. mamaheidi60 says:

    Can I borrow it when you are finished so I don’t have to go through the humiliation?:)


    • mamaheidi60 says:

      Should I make you a brown bag cover to hide what you’re reading? hahaha


    • I’m pretty sure there are a few of you wanting to benefit from my hard earned humiliation… by then, I expect the pages will be dog eared and worn, and I won’t be able to risk having any of you see that. I think Kindle is your best bet. 😉 Thanks for reading friend.


  9. You put back a biography of Winston Churchill! Are you nuts, woman! Geeze, I don’t know you at all. HF


    • Oh please, HF; give a girl another chance! I was confused and disoriented. I was slipping down a wicked path. I have a Churchill and Gandhi biography at home. You know me. 😉


      • Okay, one more chance. As to the porn you bought (I already know you have a potty mouth), well, it’s the writing with which I have a problem. Not having read it, I shouldn’t be too critical, but the reviews from those I trust say the writing is awful. When bad books become successful, it hurts all writers. This is especially true right now with e-publishing. I have read books (or started to) that I swear have never been edited! This is not a good trend. Not everyone is a writer. The cream needs to rise to the top. HF


        • Exactly! That is my point in the end… it was far more embarrassing to be buying a bad book, than a book that’s been deemed “mommy porn.” Hmm, the fact that this point is not clear, does not bode well for my own writing, but that is precisely why I love getting comments! This helps me think about what I missed, and what I hit. Thanks friend.

          I couldn’t agree more, with your point. I have read similar books and it always drives me mad! My manuscript is soon on it’s way to yet a 2nd professional editing… line by line for grammar, content, etc. I would rather shelf it all together than risk it going out with silly errors, or bad writing. That said, I have blinders too, and I can only hope others think it’s well written. 🙂 Thanks!


  10. Hilarious post! I felt like I was right there with you in the line at Costco. My stepmother bought it for me – the Kindle edition, thank goodness. She said she thought it sounded like a “fun” read. Hmmm. I will start reading it when you start reading it!


    • Apparently SNL had a skit about giving mom Fifty Shades on a kindle for Mother’s day; haven’t seen it yet. I’ll let you know (privately) when I pick it up… maybe. 😉 For now, it remains hidden in my office, where nothing can be found! Thanks for reading Jean.


  11. jillcoburnmay says:

    Just let me know when you’re ready for your spanky-spanky.


  12. Valery says:

    Now I want to go out & buy the foolish book just to see the reactions! I have been curious about it from all the hype, but not enough to make me actually read it. (I’ve picked too many disappointing “bargains” lately.) So cheeky of them to make those comments to you. That’s a bit too familiar & un-professional, even if they do feel like they “know” you. They are the ones who should feel ashamed, not you!


    • Yes, overly cheeky! I think, in retrospect, it must have been one of those weird days when they were all feeling a little loosey goosey and I came along. I guess I’ll read it now, but I haven’t started it. No doubt your instincts (and my initial ones) were better! Save the money. 🙂


  13. Rita Russell says:

    Ha – I also bought the damn book this past week also. My excuse is that north of the border we don’t get as much publicity on this stuff – only saw that it was on the New York best seller list! But I have been reading it and hiding it. It’s just like those Real Housewives – you gotta watch/read it but you know it’s awful!


  14. It’s a good trilogy to learn speed reading to 🙂


  15. Katalina4 says:

    Can’t believe they made you feel embarrassed!!! Like, it’s not as though you’re the only person on the planet reading it, EVERY one has been reading that piece of crap! (someone sent me the PDFs of all 3 of the books – dismal, flat, pedestrian prose – awful. Didn’t even make it through book 1).



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