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Grey matter 

Popular novel prompts questions

I'm stumped, Dan. In the novel Fifty Shades of Grey, which has been the subject of much discussion due to its controversial subject matter (a young woman gets involved in a BDSM relationship), the term "canning" is used numerous times. Despite my best efforts, I cannot find a definition for this practice. Who else can I turn to but you?

Confused And Naive, New Era Definition

It's not canning ("a method of preserving food in which the food contents are processed and sealed in an airtight container"), it's caning ("a form of corporal punishment consisting of a number of hits with a single cane usually made of rattan").

I don't know if the author of Fifty Shades of Grey dropped that extra "n" in there, CANNED, or if you did. But here's hoping that millions of women all over the world aren't fantasizing about having themselves canned by kinky billionaires. A person can survive — a person can even enjoy — a good thrashing. But being sealed in an airtight container? Not so much.

Full disclosure: I may be the only sex writer on earth who has yet to read Fifty Shades of Grey. While I plan to avoid reading Grey, just as I've avoided watching "2 Girls, 1 Cup" (and for similar reasons, i.e., I'm easily nauseated), I think it's wonderful that this book is inspiring a whole new generation of American women to get their kink on.

I'm a 43-year-old woman, married for 19 years, and I need your help! Like most middle-aged moms, I read Fifty Shades of Grey. I understand that it is fiction. But it has motivated me to spice things up in the bedroom. The problem is that my husband is a dud. He's not open to trying anything that isn't missionary or doggy. I feel as if I've tried everything. He's happy with the way things are. Period. What do I do?

Woman Has Interesting Perversions

Here's what you do: Get in a time machine and go warn your younger self not to make the same mistake that so many women make in their 20s. That is, dumping guys with relatively harmless, easily indulged kinks — the foot fetishists, the guys who wear panties, the guys who want their girlfriends to wear superhero costumes — because kinky guys are "weird," "not normal," or "probably gay."

Backing way the hell up for a moment: I've been writing about sex and relationships, men and women, kinky sex and vanilla sex for 20 years. It is my informed opinion that men typically become aware of their kinks when they're teenagers. Many women, on the other hand, don't seem to become aware of their kinks until they're in their 30s or 40s. Maybe it has something to do with the sexual peak, which men are believed to hit in their teens and women in their 30s (and which many people believe to be bullshit), or maybe it simply takes women longer to overcome the misogynist slut-shaming that they're subjected to as girls and to openly embrace their sexualities and sexual interests.

Whatever the cause, I've seen it happen again and again: A woman tosses aside a series of decent but somewhat kinky guys until she finds a guy whose sexual interests are "normal," e.g., missionary, doggy, and no-hands-on-the-back-of-the-head oral. And that's the guy she marries. Then, 10 or 20 years later, she develops some "weird," "not normal," "probably gay" sexual interests of her own. Now she wants to spice things up, but — fuckadoodledoo — 20 years ago, she dumped a nice kinkster and married a total sexual dud instead.

So here's what you do: Get in a time machine and go tell your twenty-something self not to dump someone because he's kinky, WHIP, because one day you're going to come into your own kinks.

If you don't have access to a time machine, WHIP, tell your husband that while he may be happy with the way things are, you're not. Which means things have to change.

CONFIDENTIAL TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Thanks, man.

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