My hair is 50 shades of grey

By Mike Murphy

I can tell from recent television commercials that it’s time for Valentine’s Day again. They’re hawking all sorts of pink and red goodies. Of course, you could just resort to a card. The French take credit for the first Valentine’s Day card back in 1415 when Charles, Duke of Orleans, sent love letters to his wife while imprisoned in the Tower of London (“Wish you were here . . . instead of me.”)

In modern-day Saudi Arabia, Valentine’s Day is banned because such a holiday is sinful and “encourages immoral relations between unmarried men and women.” On the other hand, it’s perfectly acceptable for Saudi princes to maintain harems of 50 or more women. Apparently, under Sharia law, what’s good for the gander is a lot of geese.

At my elementary school, kids loved Valentine’s Day when we could exchange cards during recess. Most popular with boys back then were the cracked Valentines with sarcastic sayings such as “You look like a million bucks — all green and wrinkled.” Boy, were we clever or what?

As a young man, my Valentine’s Day consisted of wine, women and song. All right, more often than not it was just wine while my single buddies and I hit various nightclubs. Of course, marriage narrows a guy’s focus quite a bit, and the Valentine’s card with flowers routine usually will suffice.

Nowadays, the only February holiday I get excited about is Groundhog Day while trying to guess whether Punxsutawney Phil will bite the mayor or not. Maybe that’s because at my age I’m starting to resemble Phil more than Cupid.

People used to tell me that I looked a lot like Clint Eastwood as Dirty Harry in 1971; now they tell me that I just look like Clint Eastwood. It’s like when we were younger, my wife would say “Look but don’t touch.” Now it’s gotten to the point that she says “Touch but don’t look.”

This year for Valentine’s Day, young men could skip boring boxes of chocolates and take their sweethearts to see “Fifty Shades of Grey,” the movie based on the best-selling novel of the same title, which is the fastest selling paperback ever in England, beating “Harry Potter,” while flashing magic wands of a different sort.

The movie is rated R because of some “unusual behavior,” which is sort of like saying that Pete Carroll made an “unusual call” on the goal line play that most likely cost Seattle the Super Bowl.

In the film, a man and woman perform acts that the media refers to as BDSM, a new acronym for me. Now a.m./p.m. I’m familiar with, along with AM/FM and a good ol’ healthy BM, but BDSM? Why with my memory as weak as it is now, even if someone told me what it stood for I’d forget everything after “B” by the time I jumped into bed.

Based on a trailer available on the Internet, I know it has something to do with wearing a blindfold while handcuffed to a bed. If the blindfold is so you cannot see what’s going on, well, I’m way ahead of these folks because my eyes are so bad that I have to use my reading glasses just to avoid putting my underwear on backwards.

I do see an advantage to being handcuffed to the bed because I have fallen to the floor during nightmares in which I’m being chased by a doctor brandishing a colonoscope.

Because of the novel’s popularity, sales of blindfolds, whips and chains have soared — and not just to the CIA. Why, if I showed up in the bedroom wrapped in chains, my wife would dive under the covers thinking that Jacob Marley’s ghost has crawled out of his grave again!

In addition, when I read that online erotic adult toy sales of something called “jiggle balls” have risen by 200 percent, I immediately logged on and bought some . . . shares of jiggle ball stocks!

Very surprising is the fact that women by far outnumber men as the purchasers of the book. Why would that be? When I was younger, only men bought Playboy magazine. In fact, I just recently canceled my Playboy subscription and now subscribe to AARP Magazine, which has some pretty arousing ads for new hearing aids.

Maybe it’s because women are concerned about the fact that in England, France and the U.S., sex frequency has decreased from five to three times a month. Three times a month! Gosh, I’m exhausted just thinking about that.

I doubt if I will spend any money on either the “Fifty Shades of Grey” book or movie. Although I wouldn’t mind having a trapeze that hangs from the bedroom ceiling that I saw for sale in an online adult store — I could use it to help pull myself out of bed in the morning.

Mike Murphy of Pocatello retired after a 35-year teaching and coaching career. He has a master’s degree in English from the University of Nebraska and is an Associated Press award-winning columnist.