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.
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!
May 11, 1994
Thank God Tak had a normal toilet. If not for her boyfriend’s obsession with all things American, Elle’s face would now be lying in a pool of her own vomit.
Having lived in Tokyo for nearly two years, Elle was accustomed to traditional Japanese-style toilets which didn’t have seats and meant users were in for some serious squatting. She was actually a big fan of this system—it seemed much more sanitary (there was no danger of accidentally touching someone else’s ass germs), and Elle liked to think she was getting in a good thigh workout every time she used the bathroom. But at this moment, as she desperately hung on to the toilet seat to maintain her balance while heaving out thick, sallow bile, Elle was eternally grateful for the good ol’ solid American porcelain bowl.
Elle felt like shit. She was in a cold sweat from the sheer physical exertion of throwing up bile, she had a throbbing headache, a severe case of dry mouth, and her left cheek stung—she must have hit it against the toilet seat while puking. Worst of all, a relentless tingling sensation on her upper lip signaled a cold sore was on its way.
Fuck! Fuckity, fuck, fuck, fuck!
And what was that smell? It was sour and warm—the unfortunate result of a combination of undigested sushi and stomach acid. Wanting to remove herself from the source of the nasty odor, Elle gingerly sat up and turned away from the toilet, her back resting against its base. She needed water—her tongue was like an enormous cotton ball in her mouth—but she was too nauseous to stand up and go to the sink.
Completing the utter clusterfuck of her present situation, Nirvana’s “Heart-Shaped Box” was reverberating up through the vents from Tak’s nightclub, Samantha’s, which was directly below the bathroom. Kurt Cobain’s howls of despair were like fingernails against a chalkboard—each screech thumped in concert with the throbbing ache in her temples.
Was the club still open? What time was it, and how long had she been in the bathroom? Elle looked around. Daylight peeked through the small window above the toilet. It was definitely morning, probably around ten-thirty, the time Samantha’s cleaning staff came in to erase any traces of the previous evening’s debauchery. They must be vacuuming, which would explain the blaring music.
If she hadn’t been so preoccupied with her hangover, Elle would have realized hearing Nirvana was a bad sign. Kurt Cobain had just killed himself in April, so there was that, and as sad and tragic as his death was, she didn’t really get the appeal of angsty grunge bands anyway. The music was hard to dance to, and greasy-haired guys dressed like lumberjacks didn’t do it for her. Eighties music ruled. Sting, Jon Bon Jovi, and Bruce Springsteen—now those were men worth throwing your panties on stage for.
Irritated, Elle tried to drown out all the noise and focus on how she had ended up in this predicament. What, exactly, had happened the night before?
Think, Elle. Think.
Elle couldn’t remember anything. Her brain was scrambled, like the egg splattered in the frying pan on the TV commercial from high school. “This is your brain on drugs.”
Oh right, drugs . . . there had been the cocaine. That would explain why Elle felt so shitty now—she could drink so much more when she was high. She shouldn’t have used again; she had promised her best friend, Mitch, that she was done with all of that. Disgusted by her lack of self-control and ashamed of all the lies, Elle put her head down in her hands and covered her face in shame.
What the fuck is wrong with me?
This wasn’t a rookie mistake. It’s not like she was a freshman waking up in her dorm bathroom after a night of over-drinking at a frat house kegger. She was a twenty-four-year-old college graduate. She had woken up strung out by coke with her face in a toilet. She was better than this.
Get it together, Elle.
Determined—she’d battled through worse before—Elle carefully stood up and plodded her way over to the sink. As she scooped water into her dry mouth with cupped hands, she heard a door slam and the sound of men talking. Elle immediately recognized her boyfriend Tak’s rapid, commanding Japanese. The other voices were likely those of his “bodyguards,” Johnny and Mike.
Shit. Tak was the last person she wanted to see.
Elle looked in the mirror. It was bad. Her eyes were red and puffy and her left cheek was swollen and smeared with dried blood from what appeared to be a deep cut—man, she must have really hit the toilet bowl hard. There was a clump of blonde hair (Clairol #59 Platinum) matted against her forehead, and she could see the offending cold sore starting to develop, a third eye on her dry lips.
In anticipation of Tak’s arrival, Elle instinctively brushed the matted hair behind an ear and attempted to smooth her miniskirt. Her thong underwear was wedged uncomfortably up her ass, and she pulled at it as Tak stormed in with Johnny and Mike following closely behind.
Despite names indicating otherwise, Johnny and Mike were both Japanese. As equally fixated with America as Tak, they had given themselves Western-sounding nicknames. Elle found it rather absurd, but whatever. At least Tak had agreed to drop “Tim,” the name he had introduced himself with. No way she was going to call him that. She didn’t come all the way to Japan to date a guy with the same name as a shoe salesman at Sears.
Elle could tell by the redness of Tak’s nose and cheeks that he had been drinking. Her boyfriend couldn’t hold his alcohol, and his face betrayed this weakness every time. That he was drunk this early in the day worried her.
“You are okay?” Tak said in heavily accented English. He didn’t make eye contact with Elle, which was unusual. Instead, he seemed intently focused on turning the ring on his left pinky finger. The same ring that had been covered in another man’s blood a few weeks earlier.
“I’m fine.” Elle tried to sound rueful, unsure of where this was headed—Tak’s behavior had become increasingly erratic of late. She needed to be careful; he could be a mean drunk. Still, it was hard to play nice—Elle was in no condition to deal with Tak, and the smell of his generously applied Polo aftershave was noxious. She nearly hurled again.
Tak turned his back on Elle and abruptly left the bathroom. Again, his behavior was confusing. Normally, he would stay and take care of her. Regardless, Elle was relieved, pleased even, to see him go. Mitch had been right about her boyfriend—he was bad news and needed to be ditched, right along with all the drugs.
Elle was left with Johnny and Mike and the lingering smell of Polo, which at least masked the warm and sour stench of vomit. Although she didn’t particularly like either of Tak’s companions, Elle appreciated their presence. She could have them go to the McDonald’s down the street and get her a Diet Coke with extra ice. And maybe an Egg McMuffin. Or better yet, a Big Mac and some fries. There really was nothing better than Mickey D’s for a hangover. Elle started to place her order when, with an overly dramatic flourish of his arm, Johnny removed a small object from his pocket.
“You know what this is? This yours?” He held out what appeared to be a small square of shiny gold paper. Half of Johnny’s front tooth was broken off, and his tongue protruded out through the gap it left when he spoke. It gave him a slight lisp and made his halting English even more difficult to understand.
Johnny’s tone pissed Elle off. Had he forgotten who she was? Hoping to indicate that he was lucky she even acknowledged his question, Elle rolled her eyes and sighed heavily. She didn’t need his attitude. Annoyed, Elle strained to see what Johnny was holding. After a few moments, she recognized it as an empty condom wrapper with one corner torn off. “It’s a rubber package. So what?” Why was he wasting her time with this?
Johnny scowled. “It yours?”
One long second passed. Then another.
Reminders of the previous evening came to Elle in quick flashes, like frames from a horror movie: the hot Brazilian, the violence, and Tak’s fury. Sensing the magnitude of the situation, her body reacted immediately. Nauseous and light-headed, Elle quickly got down on her knees and grabbed hold of the toilet bowl to steady herself for what was to come. From the nightclub below, she could hear the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Under the Bridge” playing. This was another bad sign.
Japanese toilet, American toilet—it didn’t much matter now. Elle was in trouble. Big trouble.
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.