"I'll never forget the first time I saw Gronk spike a football. It changed my life forever."
This is the opening line of the new erotica novella, A Gronking to Remember. Yes, Gronk as in Rob Gronkowski, the New England Patriots tight end, a football position that is itself the catalyst for endless sexual innuendo and jokes.
The 38-page work is by Lacey Noonan, and I am not sure even how to describe it. But here is an attempt: protagonist Leigh has been married to Dan for six years and their marriage is fizzling. She loves to sew but absolutely hates football. Her husband loves football (especially the Jets), has the guys over every Sunday, and always drinks too much. One fateful weekend in November, Leigh just happens to be in the kitchen when she sees Gronkowski score a touchdown and do his touchdown dance, which caused "jiggling ribbons of electric jelly through my body and [it] melted my knees like two pads of margarine—turned me on quicker and made me wetter than at any other time in my life besides my wedding night."
She's so turned on, she gets herself off in the garage when she's out there getting more beers for her husband and his friends: "I reach for the refrigerator door where Dan keeps his extra football beer but my hand doesn't make it… Nope, not at all… My fingers take a detour to the front my pants. I back up against the door to the kitchen and sink my hand all the way down the front of my panties into my hot pussy and begin furiously rubbing my clit."
Indeed. Photo by Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Leigh becomes obsessed with the Gronk. The next weekend, when Dan refuses to turn on the New England game, she goes upstairs and watches YouTube videos of the "Gronk spike" and Noonan gives us this ridiculous scene: "This is it. My left hand slides up the inside of my thigh. Here it comes… Gronk raises the football high above him. And then he swings it down with utmost velocity. The ball impacts on the ground, and I feel it in my body—that's how into it I am." She fantasizes about Gronk in the locker room shower, she sneaks away during work to watch videos of him, and she eventually tries to put the spark back in her marriage by pleading with her drunk husband one night:
"Spike me," I said.
"Spike me, Daniel, through the goalposts of life."
"Like Gronk does."
"Do to me what Gronk does to a football."
"Here on the bed."
"I'm going to say it again. What?"
"Fuck, I'm turned on," I drawled and began to undo his pants. "C'mon! Fuck me like Gronk!"
But really, what?
"Gronking," for those wondering what the title verb means, involves (spoiler alert!) Gronk spiking the ball, Leigh on all fours in the endzone, and the phrase ""between her butt-cheeks." The novella ends with a ridiculous fantasy scene of Gronking on the field in Gillette Stadium and Leigh having the biggest orgasm ever, all while falling back in love with her husband who made the magical, sexual moment happen for her.
Noonan, for her part, seems to think this is as funny as most of us do.
"I was sitting there zoning out and the idea came to me and I had to ask myself if it was possible," she said in an interview with VICE Sports. "And then I kept asking myself, so it seemed silly not to try. I actually did the cover first before I even wrote a word. I felt the words would come from that, and they did, luckily." In an interview with Slate, she called the idea "absolutely stupid."
The "stupid" is not that this work is about someone famous (fan fiction is robust, and plenty of famous people end up in all kinds of relationships, including plenty of NFL players). It's that it's Gronk and he's a real, live goofball. He makes awkward sausage jokes and weird boob jokes on TV. Knowing that, knowing Gronk, it's hard to take lines like "Maybe I would get to see Gronk spike another football through my heart" in any serious way.
The erotica genre and especially the market for it, though, are serious business. Most of it is created and consumed by women. Because of that, though, erotica is often treated as less than literary. One need only think of the phenomenon of and endless jokes about Fifty Shades of Grey as the best example of this. A Gronking To Remember is well aware of society's view of erotica, and is in on the joke. Why else center a book around Gronk of all NFL players?.
Most disappointing, though, is how the book treats female football fans, who I would assume are the actual target audience of an erotic novella about a famous NFL player. Early on Leigh asks herself these questions about those female fans: "do they really understand what's going on out there on the field? Are they just there to keep an eye on their husbands, make sure they don't fall over a balcony? Or are the enticements of overpriced, bland hot dogs and Bud Lite really too much to turn down for these ladies of the 'Gridiron Appreciation Club'?" And later, while attending the game in Foxborough, Noonan writes that Leigh hates everything about attending an NFL game live, most especially because of the female fans in attendance: "There were women all around us. Football women. Screaming just as loud as the men, waving signs and wearing authorized team gear. It was evident they didn't understand a lick about what was going on on the field—just that things were happening and a certain pageantry was involved and frothing fervor was required. The fervor they displayed in cheering for the teams could easily be misconstrued as panic and fear of being outed for not understanding anything that was happening around them."
Look. I can forgive shitty sex scenes that center the Gronk spiking a football and a woman rubbing one off over it. But as a female sports fan and a woman who consumes romance novels and erotica on the regular (including sports-centered ones—there's a whole market, folks), this is an unforgivable flaw in an otherwise perfectly ridiculous story.
The subtitle of A Gronking To Remember is Book One in the Rob Gronkowski Erotica Series. Noonan told VICE Sports, though, that the subtitle was a joke, and she "actually had no intentions of writing any more Gronk stories. But now she has to. "Twitter will have my neck if I don't!"
I, for one, will not be eagerly awaiting Book Two. But we can imagine a whole bevy of fun things that could come out of this: the Gronk reading this, more people learning about the awesome world of erotica, people who get off on watching NFL players feeling vindicated about it, and people shouting "spike me!" at the Gronk. Please, someone, shout "spike me!" at the Gronk. That could change my life forever.