Chick Lit/ Women’s Fiction
Date Published: June 6, 2017
Elle Martin has it all.
Handsome and successful husband. Check.
Daughter and son attending exclusive private high school. Check.
Privilege, status, and wealth. Check, check, check.
But there is more to Elle’s story.
Already struggling to keep up appearances in a social set full of pretension and ultra-competitiveness, Elle’s façade of perfection is threatened when her husband makes an announcement that will force her to confront a dark past she has successfully hidden for years.
What will happen when long-buried secrets are unearthed and haunting new revelations are discovered? Will Elle find the happy ending she so desperately seeks?
Toggling between the early nineties and the present day, Grannie Panties Are UnderRated captures the Gen X experience from latchkey kid to helicopter parent with keen insight and precision. A page turner full of surprising twists, it is a must read for anyone who has struggled to reconcile the chasm between the person they once were, the person they have become, and the person they long to be.
The Waitresses: “I Know What Boys Like”
October 24, 1993
Elle stood at the bar smoking a cigarette, pleased with herself. With her encouragement, in addition to the Dom, Mitsuya had ordered a bottle of The Macallan 40-Year-Old Scotch—she was in for a hefty commission. Even better, as she had helped him into a taxi, he had handed her a thick wad of yen in thanks. All told, she had made almost a grand. She couldn’t wait to tell Mitch.
Elle looked at the clock—10:52. Mitch would be there soon, and then there would be only one more hour to kill before they could go out. Elle had the perfect buzz going and predicted they would have a very good night.
There was a flurry of activity at the front door. Elle turned to see what was going on. A group of five or six Japanese twenty-somethings had walked in. Although smartly dressed, they were too young for the Big New York Apple Club. Elle saw Mae-san approach them and assumed she would ask them to leave, to come back after they’d made their first million and grown tired of their young wives.
So Elle was surprised when Mae-san led the men toward a table and waved at her to join them. Although in her early sixties, the madam was still stunning and Elle noticed the young men admiring her as they sat down. Mae-san was also very good at her job—the ideal combination of savvy and sweet.
Elle guessed she had been a very famous geisha back in her day, well-known for her grace and beauty. She had fallen in love with one of her wealthy clients and was set to marry him, but then he had been in a horrible accident, one too cruel to make sense of. Distraught and convinced she would never again find true love, she had settled on opening a club of her own.
At least this is what Elle liked to think. The truth was, she had no idea what Mae-san’s background was. Like most Japanese, she gave little away and was hard to read. Regardless of her story, Elle held Mae-san in high regard. She answered to no one.
Elle put her cigarette out in the red glass ashtray on the bar and approached the group.
Mae-san held her hand out to the man closest to her. “Tak-chan, this Erre-san.”
The young man stood and bowed politely to Elle. He was tall and his black hair was slicked back in a neat, short pony-tail, which highlighted a strong jaw and rugged, angular features.
Holy shit! He was hot.
Tak wore a diamond earring in his right ear and was dressed in a rather showy black striped suit with an eggplant-colored shirt and matching skinny tie. He was far from the preppy, conservative guys Elle had liked in college, yet she was inexplicably drawn to him.
Elle held out her hand, full of anticipation. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
“Nice meet you. Please. Sit.”
By his heavily accented and halting English, Elle knew that Tak’s grasp of the language wasn’t very strong, but she didn’t care. She was attracted to him in a way she hadn’t ever experienced before and was flustered by it.
As Elle sat down next to him, she was overcome with the smell of Polo cologne. This would normally be a deal breaker—it was too reminiscent of all the guys she went to high school with—but on Tak, it didn’t bother her. Elle’s leg brushed against his and she felt a powerful magnetic energy, like an electric shock. It made her dizzy with excitement.
“I know Tak-chan father, Akimoto-san,” Mae-san explained.
So that’s why they were allowed in. His dad was someone important.
Elle turned toward Tak and noted with approval that he had perfectly straight teeth and a well-defined, muscular body, with incredibly broad shoulders. He had a confident swagger Elle found particularly appealing. Finally, someone she actually wanted to flirt with!
Tak looked at Elle with a directness and confidence unusual for a Japanese man. Especially a young one. “You call me Tim.”
Tim? Really? That wouldn’t do. “I like the name Tak much better. Is it okay if I call you Tak?” As she spoke, Elle rested her hand against Tak’s arm and felt another titillating burst of energy. She couldn’t deny the chemistry. Did he feel it, too?
Tak took Elle’s hand in his and kissed it. It was a bold move—the Japanese were typically not physically demonstrative. “Yes, okay. Sure.” He moved her hand away from his face, but didn’t let go of his grip.
It was a little presumptuous, yet Elle’s cheeks flushed and a tingling sensation raced down the back of her spine. She liked the contact. She liked him.
“Tak it is.” Elle gently extracted her hand from his. She didn’t necessarily want to remove herself from his touch, but it was imperative to give the impression that she was in control. She put Tak’s hand next to the top of her thigh and noticed that he was wearing a large diamond-encrusted gold ring on his pinkie finger. Again, this was something that would normally be a turn-off—the ring was rather garish—but on Tak, it seemed masculine and necessary.
Tak looked intently at Elle. She became light-headed. It felt deliriously intimate, like the room had shrunk, and they were the only two people who existed. He placed his hand on Elle’s thigh and they spent the next hour intently trying to communicate with one another.
Elle had been right about Tak’s English—it wasn’t very good. He could understand everything she said if she spoke slowly and deliberately, but it was hard for him to find the English words to respond with. Elle could have made it easier for him by speaking in Japanese, but there seemed to be something incredibly romantic about the way he was trying so hard in English. She decided to keep her knowledge of Japanese a secret.
Elle was so engrossed in conversation with Tak, she completely missed it when Mitch came in. She only noticed him later, happily sitting at his regular spot playing Ms. Pac-Man. When they made eye contact, Mitch gave her an approving thumbs-up.
Elle was confident Tak was the leader of the group—he paid the others little to no attention, yet one of them was always ready to pour him more beer and to light his cigarettes. At closing time it was one of Tak’s companions—Elle thought he had said his name was Johnny—who discreetly paid Mae-san.
Tak’s focus never left Elle. When it was time to leave, he cupped his hands under her chin and said, “You are coming with me.” It wasn’t a question as much as a forgone conclusion.
Tak was so sure of himself, cocky even, that Elle should have been put off—but she wasn’t.
Quite the opposite. Elle wanted nothing more than to go with him. Still, she wondered whether it was a good idea. Technically he was a client. She hadn’t planned to go there. Elle excused herself for a minute. She would go see what Mitch thought.
Elle sat down at the Ms. Pac-Man table across from Mitch. “He wants me to go with him. What do you think?”
“Cheeuh! Are you kidding me? Go!”
“I don’t know—I mean, I said I wouldn’t go out with customers.”
“Elle, come on. It’s not like he’s some sketchy old man. He’s hot. Go for it.”
“Yeah, but . . .” Elle was still not convinced. She had been out of the dating game for too long. Maybe she should listen for a sign. Over the course of the past year, Elle had stopped taking direction from music. It hadn’t been a conscious decision; it just didn’t seem necessary anymore. Elle was having too much fun. But this was a big deal. She should listen for a sign.
Elle concentrated on the music in the background of the Big YAC, expecting to hear something by Elvis Presley. He was Mae-san’s favorite pop star and “Love Me Tender” and “Can’t Help Falling in Love” seemed to be on an endless loop in the club. To her surprise, instead of Elvis Presley, something from a Japanese band was playing. Elle didn’t recognize the song and couldn’t decipher the lyrics. She decided this was a sign that a sign wasn’t necessary. Elle knew what she was doing.
“Okay. It’s just like meeting a guy at a bar, right?” Remembering they had plans to go dancing, Elle felt guilty bailing on Mitch. “Do you want to come with us?”
“As intriguing as a threesome sounds, I’ll pass. Besides, I know what kind of underwear you’re wearing.”
Elle thought about her underwear: plain, white, boring grannie panties. She lifted both hands over her mouth in horror. “Oh no! Shit!”
Mitch shook his head in mock dismay. “How many times have I told you? A girl should always be prepared. Wearing sexy underwear—hello!—underrated.”
“You’re right. What should I do?”
Mitch took a drag of his cigarette and smiled. “You gotta ditch the grannie panties.”
“Really? You think they’re that bad?”
“Honey, I love you, but you don’t have to be straight to see they’re a total boner-kill. Ditch ’em, or forget about playing hide the salami with your new friend.”
Elle was shocked by Mitch’s suggestion. “I’m not planning on sleeping with him!”
“Why the hell not?”
Because I’m not that kind of girl. A full-on make-out session and some dry-humping was one thing, but sex with a guy on the same night you met him at a bar? No way. That was a total slut move. “I don’t know, don’t you think that’s a little rushed?”
“Elle, please don’t tell me you’re going to go all Puritanical on me now. You’ve only had sex with one person and that was way back in college. You’ve finally met a guy you’re into. For God’s sake, do him!”
Mitch was right. Elle hadn’t met a man she was interested in in a very long time and she might not have this chance again. Besides, she was in Tokyo. No one knew her here. Who cared what she did? And Tak was hot. Really hot.
Elle would go with him. It would be fun.
Now, if she could just figure out where to ditch her grannie panties . . .
Praise for Grannie Panties Are Under Rated
"...a highly entertaining and thought provoking book!"
"Gayle Erickson is brilliantly gifted in telling this engaging, sometimes disturbing, yet compulsively addicting story of a woman in crisis due to the bonds of the guilt-filled lens of her past"
"It is visually rich and culturally expansive,"
"You will fall in love with each of these honest, imperfect characters and identify with their struggles, demons, and challenges. Exposing the raw truths we often try to mask..."
"Loved this book, could not put it down"
"A great retrospective of how we come to be who we are and where we are, often without intention or a road map. Like "Grannie's" characters, we all find moments of clarity or awareness, which give rise to change. All this and an accompanying playlist! A song for every chapter...what brilliant context!
Spotify Playlist by Author to compliment the Novel:
About the Author
Gayle Erickson is a Colorado native and graduate of The Colorado College. She lived in Tokyo, Japan and taught English for several years after graduation. Upon her return to the United States she worked in the non-profit sector. Gayle currently lives in suburban Denver with her husband, twin teen-age children, and two dogs. Grannie Panties Are Underrated is her debut novel.