At the airport, Ana’s mom rattles off every motivational poster she’s ever seen hanging in an insurance agent’s office:
“Follow your heart, darling, and please, please – try not to over-think things. Relax and enjoy yourself. You are so young, sweetheart. You have so much of life to experience yet, just let it happen. You deserve the best of everything.”
Hang in there, baby! I hate Mondays! Creation is 10% inspiration, 90% perspiration!
“Darling, you know what they say. You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince.”
Okay, enough with the inspirational quotes, Carla, Jesus!
As Ana leaves her mother, her thoughts turn to Christian. Because Ana has two modes of operation, thinking about Christian and having sex with Christian.
What does Christian know of love? Seems he didn’t get the unconditional love he was entitled to during his very early years. My heart twists, and my mother’s words waft like a zephyr through my mind: Yes, Ana. Hell – what do you need? – a neon sign flashing on his forehead? She thinks Christian loves me, but then she’s my mother, of course she’d think that. She thinks I deserve the best of everything.
Then why does she want you to be with Christian? That seems counter-intuitive to the whole “wanting the best for you” process. But I really am admiring the way E.L. James teases out the “People who like BDSM are damaged from childhood” theme, slowly twisting it like a biopsy probe to wring out maximum offense.
Ana realizes that she “needs” to be loved by Christian Grey. And it brings up another point about Ana that really irks me:
This is why I am so reticent about our relationship – because on some basic, fundamental level, I recognize within me a deep-seated compulsion to be loved and cherished.
EVERYONE. HAS. THAT. ANA. I absolutely loathe the kind of person Ana is, that is, the kind of person who makes these profound statements about obvious, shared experiences. Ana telling the reader, “Hey, I think that deep down, I really just want to be loved,” is like Ana telling the reader, “I came to the most stunning realization… did you know that water is wet?” Almost everyone in the world has a need to be loved. It’s part of the human condition. Ana coming to this realization as though it never occurred to her makes me want to shake her again.
Speaking of shaking Ana, commenter Julia Burns suggests that me shaking Ana would look something like this:
And because of his fifty shades – I am holding myself back. The BDSM is a distraction from the real issue. The sex is amazing, he’s wealthy, he’s beautiful, but this is all meaningless without his love, and the real heart-fail is that I don’t know if he’s capable of love. He doesn’t even love himself. I recall his self-loathing, her love being the only form he found – acceptable. Punished – whipped, beaten, whatever their relationship entailed – he feels undeserving of love. Why does he feel like that?
I feel like Ana is making a lot of presumptions here. She doesn’t know that Christian doesn’t love himself. In fact, to the casual observer (reader), it seems like he loves himself more than he loves anyone else, because he’s a narcissist. All Ana knows is that Christian’s relationship with Mrs. Robinson involved her “acceptable” form of love. Because she’s jealous and a narcissist herself, Ana assumes that Mrs. Robinson “broke” Christian. She can’t fathom that in the years since his relationship with his molester, Christian could have come to some kind of inner peace about his upbringing. I’m not trying to give credit to a molester here, I’m just saying, maybe the experience spurred some inner changes in Christian that led to him being better, not worse. Ana didn’t know Christian six years ago, even a year ago. She’s known him for a few weeks, and suddenly she thinks she knows what’s best for him.
Worse, she seems to get off on playing Florence Nightingale to Christian’s tortured soul, despite not knowing if he really is messed up or not:
I close my eyes, imagining his pain, and I can’t being to comprehend it.
There is word for people who abandon their own problems and self-development to meddle with the problems and development of others. They’re called Britta.
Crap. Okay. Jeez. What is eating him? Perhaps ‘the situation’? Maybe Taylor’s gone AWOL, maybe he’s dropped a few million on the stock market – whatever the reason.
Pff, just a few million? Way to be cavalier about something else’s money. Although I did get a laugh at the thought of The Situation from The Jersey Shore doing a bunch of bath salts and literally eating Christian Grey.
Ana keeps emailing him until she can finally construe something as an apology, and I realize at this point that Ana and Christian are both terrible people and probably deserve each other. How fucking rude is that? “I know my boyfriend has some dire thing going on, but he needs to be paying attention to meeeeeeeeee!”
Perhaps ‘the situation’ is out of hand.
Ana bought a gift for Christian to say thank you for flying her first class and taking her gliding. I wonder if she bought her mom anything to say sorry for abandoning her in the middle of a visit to go bonk a boyfriend who lives like, fifteen minutes away most days. But she doesn’t know if she’s going to give him the gift, because he might not like it if he’s in a strange mood. When is this guy not in a strange mood? I ask aloud in my lonely office while my family wonders if I’ve finally gone round the bend.
As I mentally flick through all the scenarios that could be ‘the situation’,
I become aware once again that the only empty seat is beside me. I shake my head as the thought crosses my mind that Christian might have purchased the adjacent seat so that I couldn’t talk to anyone. I dismiss the idea as ridiculous – no one would be that controlling, that jealous, surely.
Right? The only kind of person who would do something that crazy is the kind of person who would like, track your cellphone and abduct you from a bar when you’re good and roofied, and then try to make you sign a sex contract and follow you across the country because they can’t stand to be away from you for four days.
Ana arrives in Seattle eight hours later (she must have had a layover) and Taylor is there with little chauffeur sign with her name on it. And of course, when he sees Ana, she can tell that he wants to smile at her, because everyone loves Ana, against all reason and logic.
I remember, though I would like to erase it from my memory, that this man has bought me underwear. In fact – and the though unsettles me – he’s the only man who’s ever bought me underwear. Even Ray’s never had to endure that hardship.
Where does she buy underwear, that it’s such a hardship? Does she have two asses, so you have to special order it? This is another of the things that irks me about Ana, her utter immaturity turns things that aren’t remotely sexual into embarrassing pseudo-sexual problems. “Oh no, he bought me underwear, tee hee.” He’s probably bought a lot of underwear for women, working for Christian Grey. It’s no big deal, almost everyone wears underpants, Ana. I have such a hard time believing, “Yeah, she’s going to be totally into being hit in the clit with a riding crop,” when she is mortified at the thought of someone buying her underwear.
In the car, Ana decides to pick at Taylor for information:
“How’s Christian, Taylor?”
“Mr. Grey is preoccupied, Miss Steele.”
Oh, this must be ‘the situation’.
In the great room, Christian is on his BlackBerry talking quietly as he stares out of the glass doors at the early evening Seattle skyline. He’s wearing a gray suit with the jacket undone, and he’s running his hand through his hair, he’s. H agitated, tense even. Oh no – what’s wrong? Agitated or not, he’s still beyond beautiful. How can he look so… arresting? It’s such a pleasure to stand and drink in the sheer sight of him.
Note, that fucked up bit in there was totally in the book. I didn’t get a weird case of the spaz fingers. I like how Ana is seemingly surprised to find that something’s wrong, when she’s been aware that something is wrong since he left Georgia.
“No trace… Okay… Yes.” He turns and sees me, and his whole demeanor changes.
From tension to relief to something else: a look that calls direction to my inner goddess, a look of sensual carnality, gray eyes blazing.
See, he’s gone from “Frost Giant” to “Fuck Me.” There really are only two modes here.
“Keep me informed,” he snaps and shuts of his phone as he strides purposefully toward me. I stand paralyzed as he closes the distance between us, devouring me with his eyes. Holy Shit… something’s amiss – the strain in his jaw, the anxiety around his eyes.
Aaand it looks like he’s stuck somewhere between those two gears. He’s gonna need a whole new transmission. And note how Ana continues to point out that something is wrong. We know. We are already painfully aware. Yet you keep pointing it out without giving the reader any new information. At this point, I don’t even care what the problem is anymore, I just want them to say “the situation” a few more times because I have a cache of hilarious pictures of Mike.
Despite the extremely fucked up state of affairs – that the reader still knows nothing about – Christian wants to have sex with Ana, and of course it’s going to be super erotic and amazing, but first, the medical review:
“I want you now. Here… fast, hard,” he breaths, and his hands are on my thighs, pushing up my skirt. “Are you still bleeding?”
“No.” I flush.
No, I’m not still bleeding, because I store all of my blood in my face. Permanently. But let’s look at this whole, “Are you still bleeding” thing. Ana started her period the day before Christian arrived in Georgia. Christian was supposed to have dinner with Ana on her last night at her mother’s house, because when she spoke to Christian on the phone, he said he would see her “tomorrow”. Which means that Ana’s period only lasted… three days? Is she currently breastfeeding? Think about that, she had a heavy enough flow that she bled all over him having sex, but she’s not bleeding now? Ana is blessed with unusually short periods, I guess. That, or she has a tumor.
They have sex, it’s mind-blowing and all-consuming, she explodes, etc. And they don’t use a condom. There is a debate raging in the chapter twenty-three post about when and how she should have started her birth control, but I’m thinking back to when I was on the pill, you started it the Sunday after you started your period. So, would Ana even have started the pill yet? If today in the book is Friday, and she was at her mom’s house for four days, and she started her period the day before Christian got there… she hasn’t even gotten to Sunday yet. So, they’re having completely unprotected sex. I’m quite disappointed, because earlier I had praised E.L. for making her hero wear a condom when so may romance authors talk their heroines out of it. Even me, although my characters were vampires who couldn’t conceive.
When they’re all done having sex, Ana tells Christian that she has a job, and he has no idea where, because he hasn’t been stalking her. But they don’t have a lot of time to talk about unimportant shit like her new job, because Christian wants to take a shower with her.
“Ow,” I squeal. The water is practically scalding. Christian grins down at me as the water cascades over him.
“It’s only a little hot water.”
And actually, he’s right. It feels heavenly, washing off the sticky Georgia morning and the stickiness from our lovemaking.
“How’s the um… situation that brought you to Seattle?” I ask tentatively.
Christian doesn’t want to talk about it, though, and he tells her that she needs to be ready and in his playroom in fifteen minutes. Oh, and he’s bought her a whole closet full of clothes. Because apparently ‘the situation’ was a Denim & Co. marathon on QVC. He tells her to get ready in her room.
Ho! My subconscious has her snarky face on. I ignore her and make my way upstairs toward my room so, it is still mine… why? I thought he’d agreed to let me sleep with him.
I suppose he’s not used to sharing his personal space, but then, neither am I. I console myself with the thought that at least I have somewhere to escape from him.
You could go to your apartment, Ana. You do have one of those.
Ana waits for him in the red room.
Anticipation runs bubbling like soda through my veins. What will he do? I take a deep steadying breath, but I cannot deny it, I’m excited, aroused, wet already. This is so… I want to think wrong, but somehow it’s not. It’s right for Christian. It’s what he wants – and after the last few days… after all he’s done, I have to man up and take whatever he decides he wants, whatever he thinks he needs.
That’s right, ladies. Listen to the nice, sexy book everyone is talking about. If your man buys you stuff, you have to do the sex things he likes. HAVE TO. Ana is always so worried about being a ho, but then she can make a statement like the one above without any irony whatsoever.
The memory of his look when I came in this evening, the longing in his face, his determined stride toward me like I was an oasis in the desert. I’d do almost anything to see that look again.
These sentences tell us two very important things about Ana. 1. She is severely codependent, and is more turned on by the thought of someone desperately needing her than loving or desiring her. 2. She is a better sub than she thinks. She just doesn’t know what a sexual submissive is. All along she’s been laboring under this delusion that to enjoy sexual submission means giving up all personal autonomy. Now, we can’t entirely blame her for this impression, because she’s inexperienced and she’s being taught by a guy who also doesn’t understand submission. He’s not a dom, he’s a control freak. But the way she’s sitting there, thinking she wants to do things to please him, to the point that she’s getting wet from imagining it, well, I dispute Chedward’s claim that she doesn’t have a submissive bone in her body.
Christian comes in, he’s so hot that Ana says “Jeez” in her head, her subconscious and her inner goddess are both ready to go, and while he takes stuff out of a chest, she thinks about how she wants to lick his sexy, naked feet. He tells her to get on her feet and reminds her of the safe words, “red” and “yellow”.
I feel like I’m skipping over a lot in this chapter recap, but there’s just another sex scene, except he puts a blindfold on her and some headphones so she can’t hear him in a sensory deprivation type thing. It’s just that it takes so fucking long for him to tell her what he’s going to do, that I was thoroughly bored with reading it the first time, not to mention when I’m reading it now to recap it.
Okay. A musical interlude, not what I was expecting. Does he ever do what I expect?
Jeez, I hope it’s not rap.
Thank you, Ana, for officially taking over as musically oblivious 8th grader:
He braids her hair for her and then we get the exceptionally erotic language this book is known for:
He hums softly as he does, and the sound resonates through me. Right down… right down there, inside me.
He ties her to the bed, blindfolds her, puts headphones on, etc. and she listens to Gregorian chant while he uses a fur glove on her before he starts in on her with the flogger. When he’s got her all worked up, in comes the seemingly impossible sex position I’ve been trying to figure out with stick figures for the past two months:
Then, grasping my hips, he lifts me so that my back is no longer on the bed. I am arched, resting on my shoulders. What? He’s kneeling up between my legs… and in one swift, slamming move he’s inside me… oh fuck… and I cry out again.
Here’s what I’m trying to figure out. How tall is Christian, if his dick can reach her from a kneeling position when her body weight is resting on her shoulders? I keep trying to imagine this position and I just can’t make it work. Are her legs off the bed, then? Is she doing that bridge thing from gymnastics? But she’s not using her hands to support her, she’s on her shoulders… what the fuck is going on in that sentence? Whatever it is, it sounds super uncomfortable. I assume that the “oh fuck” and her cry is because he just broke her neck with his “slamming” thrust.
Christian fucks her in time to the music until she has the most intense orgasm ever. It’s hard to get excited about that, considering that every orgasm she has is the most intense ever. You know, fucking to music is fun, but it works better with something like Tool or Nine Inch Nails, I think. King Diamond, if you really want to get a workout. When they’re done, Christian tells her all about the music, which I guess in hindsight isn’t really Gregorian chant:
“It’s called Spem In Alium, or the Forty Part Motet, by Thomas Tallis.”
“It was… overwhelming.”
“I’ve always wanted to fuck to it.”
According to Wikipedia, that bastion of truth and infallibility, the text of the piece translates to:
I have never put my hope in any other but in You, O God of Israel who can show both anger and graciousness, and who absolves all the sins of suffering man Lord God, Creator of Heaven and Earth be mindful of our lowliness
Oh yeah, that gets me hot, I don’t know about anyone else. While Christian gives her a back rub, they talk about what she says and doesn’t say in her sleep:
“What did I say to you in my sleep, Ch – err, Sir?”
His hands pause their ministrations for a moment.
“You said lots of things, Anastasia. You talked about cages and strawberries… that you wanted more… and that you missed me.”
Oh, thank heavens for that.
“Is that all?” The relief in my voice is evident.
Christian stops his heavenly massage and shifts so that he’s lying beside me. His head propped up on his elbow. He’s frowning.
“What did you think you’d said?”
Oh snit, how is Ana going to recover from that one?
“That I thought you were ugly, conceited, and that you were hopeless in bed.”
This doesn’t throw Christian off the scent, but he doesn’t get an answer before the chapter ends.