The five saddest things I saw last week, with rebuttals of happiness.

1. Woman reads last page of Fifty Shades of Grey series, sighs, acquiesces to sexless reality

If you take public transportation at all, you’ve seen tons of women toting around whatever installment of the Fifty Shades of Grey saga they’ve made it up to. It’s inevitable, these books are just insanely popular for some reason. I commute, and I see several Shades readers a day (given, I’m very nosy about what people are reading on the subway.) Thursday, I had the pleasure of sitting next to the saddest E.L. James enthusiast in the world.

When I sat next to her, she had about ten pages left in Fifty Shades Freer, the ultimate novel in the Twilight-fanfiction-minus-vampires-plus-S&M series. I could hear her softly vocalizing her emotional reaction to whatever inane bullshit is in those last ten pages (I earned the right to make fun of these atrocities because I tried to read the first one. This is not blind hate). She reads the last sentence, looks up from the book, and stares out into space for a bit. That’s a moment anyone who has read an emotionally affective book can identify with. She closes the thing and places her hand gently on the sex-handcuffs-emblazoned cover. Then the sigh: a sad sigh, a relenting sigh.

The sigh was saying goodbye to a world she never got to live in. She knows she will never have her Christian Grey, but now she’s even deprived of the fantasy world where she could imagine having him; she’s finished the books, so there’s no more Christian left to read. She’s used up Christian Grey.

For a while she was whisked away to a poorly-written reality where romantic sado-masochism flowed free. She temporarily inhabited a world where the most shoddily characterized people found love no matter how woodenly vacant their speech. Now she’s just back to commuting to her bullshit human resources job, before commuting home to her sexless marriage and mediocre children. With no more Edward-Cullen-inspired whips and chains to read about, she can only reminisce about her time with Christian when she sees Robert Pattinson on the cover of a tabloid while waiting in line at the grocery store.

Happy rebuttal: Maybe her brief time immersed (can a James novel actually immerse?) in a fictional world of fulfilled desires will be the impetus she needs to make some changes in her life, to “go for” the things she wants, to experiment a little with life, to live. Maybe she could even write Fifty Shades fan-fiction. Her extreme connection with the story and characters would summon a storm of creativity, and she’d add more sex, and take out more vampires (so there’d be negative vampires), fully emulating the E.L. James path to success. The novel would be so successful that it too would spawn fanfiction, with even more sex, and even less vampires. This would continue, fanfiction infinitum, until literary perfection was reached. I’m pretty sure that’s how the Bible was written, actually.