Because this is yet another unbearably long chapter (thirty-three pages, according my Kindle app), I’m dicing this one up. For my reading challenge, I’m reading Anne by Constance Fenimore-Woolson, and the chapters in that are also very, very long. The reason for this is that it was a serial in Harper’s Bazar, and serial installments back in the day were long-ish. Grey is not a serial, and therefore that is absofuckinglutely no need for these chapters to be this long.
I don’t know what I have against long chapters, I honestly don’t. It’s not just this particular book. And it’s not like I don’t write them, either. But as a reader, I absolutely loathe them. Maybe I like that sense of completion you get from reaching a natural stopping point. I don’t know.
Turns out Boyce Fox, a character that even I could not remember, is the author Ana signs to her publishing house. He’s mentioned briefly in the third book, if I remember correctly. They’re “expanding” Boyce’s role in the films, so I assume he’ll be yet another handsome man who can’t resist Ana. Okay, I know that I can’t resist Dakota Johnson, either, but this isn’t about me. This is about the fact that the last two movies are apparently being written by E.L. James’s husband, so let’s not kid ourselves. E.L. probably wants the role expanded so her onscreen avatar can be lusted after by even more hot guys.
Also, Hugh Dancy has joined the cast as Dr. Finn, since being in one show about a shitty psychiatrist wasn’t enough for him. He’s dead to me now.
Since the original intended release date of Fifty Shades Darker the movie has come and gone, news is starting to roll out about the sequel. Dakota Johnson wants Jamie Dornan to take it all off, full frontal style, and though she may just be joking, it does seem only fair. Major roles have been cast, including Kim Basinger as Elena Lincoln, and filming is apparently underway. They’re going to do the final books in the trilogy back to back, and are now describing them as “thrillers” and talking up how “scary” they’ll be. I think we all knew it was going to be scary, just not in the way the studio is hyping it.
Now, let’s all place our bets on whether or not the final book will be split into two unnecessarily dragged out pieces, in keeping with the Twilight rip-off theme.
If you’re reading along with my Fifty Shades of Grey recaps, this chapter will cover chapters eight and nine.
Also, CW: There’s like, a lot of gross pedophilia vibe in this thing. Although at this point, everyone should just assume that all content warnings ever apply to this stupid fucking book.
Also, Also: Welcome to yet another enormous chapter that I’ll break up into parts, since nobody at the publisher could be arsed to.
So, we left off with everyone deciding that they need to get to a radio station that will, realistically, be of absolutely no use to them, for reasons more than explained by Trout Nation resident experts in the comments section last time. Thank you to everyone who took the time to teach us a lesson in radio communications, by the way, that was fantastic!
Recently, a friend asked me if I had stopped doing these recaps. And I was like, yeah, I had to, because they were putting my dog to sleep. But I was just kidding. I’m hilarious like that.
Anyway, no I haven’t stopped, and I’m not going to stop, because I’m over halfway done with this, and there’s no sense in putting myself through the first 66% of the book and not finishing. It would be like letting a Civil War surgeon on a dirty battlefield half amputate my leg and then just leave the job unfinished.
A word of caution here: due to recent injury, I’m using dictation software to write this recap. So some stuff will probably look weird, and I will likely not catch it when I edit. It’s just my luck.
FLASHY GIF WARNING: There is a flashy gif in here. It’s not so flashy that it triggered any events for me, but you know your stuff better than I know your stuff, so heads up, there’s a picture with blinky text on it. It’s David Tennant, and it comes after two pictures of me looking alternately hopeful, then angry.
This book was a finalist in the GoodReads Reader’s Choice awards this year.
One time, I was hanging out with one of my editor friends, and she was working on an author’s manuscript. She was complaining about how the revisions process with this particular author was driving her crazy, and she said, “At some point will there be sex in your erotic novel?” It made me laugh so hard, because I was thinking, wow, that’s something, an erotic novel with no sex. Stuff like that just tickles me. Anyway, I guess what I’m asking here is, “At some point will there be science fiction in your New Adult Sci-Fi novel?” Because if there is, it’s not in chapter four.
Yesterday, after I posted my ode to all that is wonderful in chapter four of 50 Shades of Grey, news broke that Ian Somerhalder, aka Damon on The Vampire Diaries, would be interested in playing Christian Grey on the big screen. Yeah, that’s a great idea, Ian. Go from a fucking terrible show about vampires to a fucking terrible movie ripped-off from fucking terrible books about vampires. That’s a great lateral move. At least The Vampire Diaries had awesome source material (even if the screen writers ignore it). You and your rescue cats will be in kitty kibble and toy mice for ages, but how will your soul feel, Ian? Cheap. Used. Poorly written. That’s how it will feel.
What seems really bizarre to me is how people are like, “How are they going to make this into a movie? It would have to be rated NC-17.” Well, certainly not for the language, but seriously? Is there any sex in this thing? Everyone keeps telling me there’s all this hot sex that’s going to save my marriage, whether it needs saving or not (and likely I’ll realize how much saving it needed when I read this book that shines holy sexual light from its pages, and then I’ll take back every bad thing I ever said about it in between giving blow jobs so enthusiastic I’ll have a neck like a fucking line backer), but I have yet to see anything sexy happen. I mean, Ana seems to think there’s a lot of sex going on, but I’m just not seeing it.
So, with that I bring you chapter five of 50 Shades of Grey, also known as The Search For The Sex That Never Was.
Ana wakes up in Christian Grey’s bed at the hotel. Holy crap. She remembers drinking, drunk dialing him, nearly getting date raped, and vomiting. She doesn’t remember how she got to his room. Now she’s in his bed with no pants or socks on. This ups the ante from “holy crap” to “holy shit”. Christian has left orange juice and two pills, Advil, beside the bed. You better be damn sure that’s Advil, because this guy is weird.
I’m not saying this will happen. I’m just saying it could happen.
Ana drinks the orange juice:
It’s thirst quenching and refreshing. Nothing beats freshly squeezed orange juice for reviving an arid mouth.
This message brought to you by the California Citrus Grower’s Association.
There’s a knock on the door. My heart leaps into my mouth, and I can’t seem to find my voice. He opens the door anyway and strolls in.
Since it is customary to mark the first appearance of a character in a scene by referring to them by name, and since E.L. James has chosen not to do so here, I must assume that we are now referring to Christian Grey as capital H “He”, as is befitting of God Himself.
Holy hell, he’s been working out. He’s in gray sweat pants that hang, in that way, off his hips and gray singlet, which is dark with sweat, like his hair. Christian Grey’s sweat, the notion does odd things to me. I take a deep breath and close my eyes. I feel like a two-year-old, if I close my eyes then I’m not really here.
His pants are hanging off his hips in that way. You know, in that way. Which way? Because every person wearing a pair of pants right now are wearing them hanging from their hips. Unless they are very old men who don’t like to wear their pants below their bellies, so they jack them up over their moobs. And two-year-old? Again with the proximity of children to sexuality. Oy.
Christian explains (“Phlegmatically”, which can either mean “having to do with phlegm” or “calm and unemotional”, but I’m going to go with “having to do with phlegm”) that since he didn’t want her puking in his car the night before, he brought her to the hotel rather than driving her home. She asks if he undressed her, which leads to the requisite blushing and questioning whether or not they had sex.
“Anastasia, you were comatose. Necrophilia is not my thing. I like my women sentient and receptive,” he says dryly.
“I like my women like I like my coffee… bound with cable ties and screaming in the trunk of my car.” So, Christian actually did the decent thing (after not doing the decent thing at all by tracking her phone and coming to pick her up when she didn’t want him to) for her after the puke-a-thon in the parking lot, but the moment he tries to lightly tease her about the events of the evening, she complains internally about being “made to feel like the villain of the piece.” When he defends himself, she teases him, and of course, his icy demeanor is melted again. Because if there is one rule that does not apply to Ana, ever, it is “treat others the way you would like to be treated”. It’s okay for her to tease him, but not for him to tease her.
In one of my very favorite twists of awesome fate ever, Ana says Christian talks “like a courtly knight.” And Christian responds with, “Dark knight, maybe.” Which means I get to use this picture again:
It’s also kind of funny that he calls himself a “Dark knight” and he just tracked her location via cell phone. Remember when Batman did that? Morgan Freeman was pissed, yo.
Christian and Ana have some back and forth over whether or not she’s eaten, and she accuses him of scolding her, and then this happens:
“Well, if you were mine, you wouldn’t be able to sit down for a week after the stunt you pulled yesterday. You didn’t eat, you got drunk, you put yourself at risk.” He closes his eyes, dread etched on his lovely face, and he shudders slightly. When he opens his eyes, he glares at me. “I hate to think what could have happened to you.” I scowl back at him. What is his problem? What’s it to him? If I was his… well I’m not. Though maybe, part of me would like to be. The thought pierces through the irritation I feel at his high-handed words. I flush at the waywardness of my subconscious – she’s doing her happy dance in a bright red hula skirt at the thought of being his.
So, in other words, the hero of this story is saying he would beat the heroine if she had the audacity to go out with her friends to celebrate graduating from college. He’s also subtly blaming her for nearly getting raped. Let me reiterate for you, gentle reader, this is the man women of America are falling in love with. There was a particularly gross article on The Huffington Post the other day where a woman lamented the fact that her husband isn’t more like Christian Grey. No, there isn’t a slow gas leak in your house, this is happening. Women across the country are feeling somehow cheated by life because their husbands won’t beat them if they want to exercise their right as a human being to go out and get drunk with their friends. Because their husbands won’t blame them if they get raped. Seriously, if any one of my friends dares to complain like that in front of me, I will drown her for the good of the female species. This I vow.
Christian goes to take a shower, so of course, Ana sits there on the bed in a puddle of girl goo because he’s so sexy. Victim blaming gets her so wet, you have no idea.
One minute he rebuffs me, the next he sends me fourteen-thousand-dollar books, then he tracks me like a stalker.
And for all that, I have spent the night in his hotel suite, and I feel safe. Protected. He cares enough to come and rescue me from some mistakenly perceived danger.He’s not dark knight at all, but a white knight in shining, dazzling armor – a classic romantic hero – Sir Gawain or Lancelot.
They should print this out and just stick it in the pamphlets for women’s crisis centers hidden in the bathroom at the gynecologist’s office. “Is this how you feel about your partner? Call this confidential help line.” There’s nothing romantic or noble about “rescuing” a woman from her friends. Okay, yes, she was being assaulted when he showed up at the bar, but (and this is an important ‘but’) she wasn’t being assaulted when she called him. He had no reason to believe she was in any danger, and every reason to believe she was just out having a good time. This isn’t romance. This is an abusive relationship in the making.
Christian comes out of the shower in just a towel, and she’s there in just her t-shirt, and the sexual tension is palpable:
“If you’re looking for your jeans, I’ve sent them to the laundry.” His gaze is a dark obsidian. “They were spattered with your vomit.”
Swoon. Then, Ana flushes scarlet. I’m wondering what other colors she thinks people flush. I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone flush azure. The good news is, Christian’s bodyguard has bought Ana some new pants. She goes to take a shower and while she’s in there, she realizes that for the first time in her life, she’s sexually attracted to someone. But he hasn’t made a pass at her, like Paul and Jose have. I like how this book not only tries to justify Christian’s abusive behavior as romantic, but seems to also caution against normal human interaction as some kind of future warning. Jose asked her out like normal guys do, but then he kisses her without her consent. Paul asks her out, but then turns into a jerk when she says no. See, ladies? You don’t want a guy to just ask you out. He needs to stalk you and buy scary items at your work.
In the shower, the smell of Christian’s body wash get Ana all hot and horny, and she’s pretty invested in a solo heavy petting session when he knocks on the door to tell her breakfast is ready. Ana gets out of the shower and finds that along with jeans and new shoes, Christian’s bodyguard has also picked up matching, lacy blue bra and panties for her. Ana flushes when she thinks of the bodyguard buying them for her, but I like to think that he considers shopping for ladies underwear is a perk of his job, and maybe he picked up something frilly for himself, too. Everything fits perfectly, because this is a fantasy, and everyone knows that women ultimately fantasize about clothes that fit perfectly, so good on you for this one, E.L. James. Ana also struggles with her just plain awful hair, but not for as long as the opening scene in the book, thank God. She takes a deep breath and goes out to the bedroom, but Christian is gone, so she takes another deep breath. This is a throwback to her time on the space station and her fear that the room beyond the next airlock would have been compromised and without oxygen.
Taking another deep breath, I enter the living area of the suite. It’s huge. There’s an opulent, plush seating area, all overstuffed couches and soft cushions, an elaborate coffee table with a stack of large glossy books, a study area with a top-of-the-range Mac, an enormous plasma screen TV on the wall, and Christian is sitting at a dining table on the other side of the room reading a newspaper. It’s the size of a tennis court or something, not that I play tennis, though I have watched Kate a few times.
That’s a big newspaper. Thinking of Kate’s privileged life reminds Ana that her friend exists. Crap! Christian explains that Kate knows where she is, because he texted his brother.
Oh no. I remember her fervent dancing of the night before. All her patented moves used with maximum effort to seduce Christian’s brother no less! What’s she going to think about me being here? I’ve never stayed out before. She’s still with Elliot. She’s only done this twice before, and both times I’ve had to endure the hideous pink PJs for a week from the fallout. She’s going to think I’ve had a one-night stand too.
I’ve been having a hell of a time imagining these seductive, yet fervent, dance moves since they were mentioned in the last chapter. The way they’re described in the prose gives the impression that these are some fast, sweaty dance moves, but they’re somehow seductive. Is Kate a cabaret belly dancer? I like how Ana automatically assumes that Elliot is just using Kate for sex (like Ana is using her for cheap rent), and that her concern isn’t necessarily for her friend’s emotional well-being, but that she might have to see the bunny pajamas again for as long as a week. I hate when the rich friends I live with for practically no rent have the gall to wear pajamas I don’t like. Ana’s most immediate concern after that is, naturally, also a selfish one. Kate is going to think Ana has slept with Christian Grey, and as every adult woman knows, sleeping with a man is the worst thing you can do.
Christian doesn’t know what Ana likes for breakfast, so he’s ordered a little of everything on the menu. It’s a scene that steals from Pretty Woman more than from Twilight, and it’s a nice change. You’d think that after a wicked black-out drunk, pancakes and eggs would be welcomed, but as we have already learned, Ana is horrible and she likes absolutely nothing in life:
“I didn’t know what you liked, so I ordered a selection from the breakfast menu.” He gives me a crooked, apologetic smile.
“That’s very profligate of you,” I murmur, bewildered by the choice, though I am hungry.
Profligate? I would have called it “considerate”, but by all means, criticize the guy who was trying to give you a nice breakfast. But also, maybe be aware of the consequences of eating that breakfast. It could be drugged.
Although this would improve the book, drastically.
Christian remembers how she likes her tea (“Jeez!”) and “scolds” her for having damp hair. After a shower. What does this guy do, just glare and act churlish toward his hair until it dries perfectly, just moments after a wash? Ana thanks him for the clothes and offers to pay for them, and he’s offended at her offer, saying that he bought the clothes and the extremely expensive first edition books for her “because I can,” which is basically open intimidation. He’s rich, he’s going to do what he wants. And what he wants right now is to be Edward Cullen:
“Well, when you were nearly run over by the cyclist – and I was holding you and you were looking up at me – all kiss me, kiss me, Christian,” he pauses and shrugs slightly, “I felt I owed you an apology and a warning.” He runs his hand through his hair. “Anastasia, I’m not a hearts and flowers kind of man, I don’t do romance. My tastes are very singular. You should steer clear from me.” He closes his eyes as if in defeat. “There’s something about you, though, and I’m finding it impossible to stay away. But I think you’ve figured that out already.”
Christian, please to elaborate on the “something” about Ana that you can’t stay away from. Is it the way she loathes her friends and mentally belittles them at every opportunity? What about the way she has barely mastered the fine art of walking? All we’ve really seen by way of interaction between the two of them is Ana insulting him half the time and mumbling the other half. Where is the connection? It makes no sense for a rich, powerful man to want to put up with Ana’s teenage angst bullshit. But since this fanfic would be sunk if Edward and Bella didn’t get together, I as the reader must bend over and accept that this romantic connection exists. I’ll get the lube.
Anabella suggests that if Chedward can’t stay away from her, maybe he shouldn’t. Then she asks him if he’s celibate. He’s not, and he wants to know what she’s doing for the next few days. Chedward is direct. She’s working, and packing, since she’s going to be moving to Seattle next week. He asks her a few questions about this upcoming move, and you know how Ana likes being asked questions born of genuine interest:
The Christian Grey Inquisition is almost as irritating as the Katherine Kavanagh Inquisition.
Here are Jennifer Armintrout’s helpful tips on how to be a good friend to Anastasia Rose Steele:
Never make fun of her name.
Give her things of monetary value. Jeans, Converse sneakers, or something intangible, like low rent.
Don’t ask her questions.
Don’t wear pajamas she doesn’t like.
Put her at the center of the universe when she wants you to, fade into the background the rest of the time
There isn’t a lot of pay off to this plan, because she’s horrible, but it will be so worth it, because she’s the heroine of the book and therefore you have to like knowing her. Christian again offers Ana a job, which she doesn’t want, because being a college graduate with a paying job is so 1996.
“I’d like to bite that lip,” he whispers darkly.
Oh my. I am completely unaware that I am chewing my bottom lip. My mouth pops open as I gasp and swallow at the same time. That has to be the sexiest thing anybody has ever said to me.
And gasping and swallowing at the same time has to be the sexiest noise anybody has ever made. Rather than assuming Ana is choking and immediately leaping up to give her the Heimlich Maneuver (please note that I spelled “Heimlich” correct on the first try, but it took three times to get “Maneuver” right), Christian explains that he’s not going to touch Ana without written consent. And, I would assume, some sort of extra hazard insurance. He wants to explain everything to her over dinner in Seattle, and he’s pretty sure she’s not going to want to see him again once he does explain it all.
Holy shit. What does that mean? Does he white-slave small children to some God-forsaken part of the planet? Is he part of some underworld crime syndicate? It would explain why he’s so rich. Is he deeply religious? Is he impotent? Surely not, he could prove that to me right now. Oh my. I flush scarlet thinking about the possibilities.
So, she thinks he would whip out his cock and beat it to tumescence right at the breakfast table to prove he’s not impotent? Okay, we’ll go with that. Christian arranges a helicopter ride from Portland to Seattle for after Ana’s shift. I don’t get why she doesn’t just call in. She’s not going to keep working in Portland when she’s living in Seattle, right? And she has these expensive books she doesn’t want to keep, she could live off the money from those for a while. (This is why I have been unable to keep any job that wasn’t writing, by the way. This line of reasoning right here). Christian commands, literally commands Ana to eat, because he has an issue with wasted food. He wants her to clean her plate, and he really does expect her to listen to him. When she’d done, he rewards her with a “Good girl” and sends her to dry her hair because he doesn’t want her to get sick, going outside with wet hair. There is absolutely nothing sexier than a guy who gives the same advice as my grandma, let me tell you. Christian also reveals that he’s never slept with someone and not had sex, which means he’s either never been to scout camp, or he has some really bad memories from scout camp.
What in heaven’s name does that mean? He’s never slept with anyone? He’s a virgin? Somehow I doubt that. I stand staring at him in disbelief. He is the most mystifying person I’ve ever met. And it dawns on me that I have slept with Christian Grey, and I kick myself – what would I have given to be conscious to watch him sleep. See him vulnerable.
Okay, 1) you know he’s not a virgin, he said he wasn’t celibate. Words mean things. Didn’t you just graduate with a degree in English? 2) You’re missing a question mark. 3) That’s creepy, and you’re doing this all wrong. Bella sleeps, Edward watches. Get your shit together.
Ana goes back to the bathroom to dry her hair, and while she’s in there she encounters the most erotic, the most thrilling, the most positively tantalizing of all temptations:
I want to clean my teeth. I eye Christian’s toothbrush. It would be like having him in my mouth.
[Note: the following section should be read in the voice of Morgan Freeman in The Shawshank Redemption.] I wish I could tell you that Ana did not use Chedward’s toothbrush. I wish I could tell you that she respects personal boundaries and would never do something so incredibly gross as put another person’s toothbrush in her mouth.
Hmm… Glancing guiltily over my shoulder at the door, I feel the bristles on the toothbrush. They are damp. He must have used it already. Grabbing it quickly, I squirt toothpaste on it and brush my teeth in double quick time. I feel so naughty. It’s such a thrill.
This is a real book, is all I’m saying.
Back in the living area, Christian is on the phone. You can tell it’s something important about business, because he’s name dropping far-off locations like he’s trying to prove that the Earth is his BFF and he’s been on its yacht. Suez, Ben Sudan, Darfur, he’s an important guy and he spends Earth day in the VIP room, with the cake and bottles of Grey Goose. Then they leave, while Ana thinks how weird it is that even after she was a drunken mess the night before, he’s still there. Well, it is his hotel room. They get on the elevator, which apparently emits super horny rays, because the second the doors close, Christian Grey is all over her.
“Oh, fuck the paperwork,” he growls. He lunges at me, pushing me against the wall of the elevator. Before I know it, he’s got both of my hands in one of his in a vice-like grip above my head, and he’s pinning me to the wall using his hips. Holy shit. His other hand grabs my ponytail and yanks down, bringing my face up, and his lips are on mine. It’s only just not painful. I moan into his mouth, giving his tongue an opening. He takes full advantage, his tongue expertly exploring my mouth. I have never been kissed like this.
I’m going to assume Ana has never been kissed, ever, at all, since until the morning she went for coffee with Grey, she hadn’t even held hands with anyone. She goes from first kiss to wanting to have public sex in one paragraph. And then, we have the first appearance (and I have been assured there will be many) of Ana’s “inner goddess.” Christian notices that she’s brushed her teeth (so… he was going to kiss her with all of this morning’s breakfast and last night’s vomit still clinging in a film to her teeth? Hot.), and she fesses up to using his toothbrush. Instead of recoiling in horror and asking her what the fuck she thought she was doing, he’s amused, and they leave the hotel together.
And that’s it for chapter five. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go brush my teeth. With my own toothbrush, thank you very much.
The response to this ongoing recap has been overwhelming. You know what else is overwhelming? Reading the damned book. This weekend, author DJ DeSmyter sat next to me at an event for the Kent District Public Library. Either he or I brought up 50 Shades (probably me, because my every waking moment is consumed in it) and it was like opening up an abscessed wound. All my anger poured out like so much pus. I’m sure he regretted being seated next to me. Sorry, DJ, and I hope someone clicks that link and buys your book to make up for it.
The event went pretty well, but a few of the authors there brought up a terrifying truth: it is now easier than ever to be a published author. Does that mean we’ll end up with more fanfic-with-the-names-changed plagiarism? Will someone put a stop to it? Will it end fanfic forever? I sure as hell hope not. At least, not before the Les Miserables movie comes out in December and I get to indulge in a fresh wave of Valjean/Javert slash.
With that ethical quandary firmly in mind, let’s continue our journey through 50 Shades of Grey.
When we left off, Miss Steele (not Ms. Steele, Miss Steele), was nearly run down by a bicycle. Christian Grey, who has better peripheral vision (and who wasn’t busy flushing and looking up from beneath his lashes), saw the calamity about to happen, and rescued her from peril by pulling her against his gorgeous, gorgeous body. It was in that moment that Miss Steele decided that she has a sex drive, after all, and she wants to be kissed. So badly, in fact, that she uses some uncharacteristically strong cursing:
Kiss me damn it! I implore him, but I can’t move. I’m paralyzed with a strange, unfamiliar need, completely captivated by him. I’m staring at Christian Grey’s exquisitely sculptured mouth, mesmerized, and he’s looking down at me, his gaze hooded, his eyes darkening.
He’s breathing harder than usual, and I’ve stopped breathing altogether. I’m in your arms.
Can we all hear the soundtrack of swelling orchestration? She’s in his arms. Both of them. His arms. I love that he’s “breathing harder than usual”. She’s so keyed into him that she knows what his usual resting respiration is? I’ve been with my husband for ten years, and the only way I notice his breathing is if he’s snoring or having an asthma attack. I guess we’re just not that into each other.
Because he’s a telepath or something, Christian shakes his head in denial of her silent pleas, and closes his eyes. Because he’s Edward Cullen, he immediately crushes the moment between them by insisting that Ana should stay away from him, he’s bad for her.
What? Where is this coming from?
It’s coming from Twilight, Ana. Try to keep up. Ana has apparently been holding her breath so long that Christian has to remind her to breathe before setting her on her feet. Ana is devastated at the loss of contact, and keyed up from having touched him in the first place. She feels she’s made it “pretty damn obvious” that she wants to be kissed. So, did she step off the curb into the path of the cyclist on purpose? Because she’s done nothing that seems like a come on. She gets almost hit by a bike, causing her to fall, he catches her, and she apparently dies from asphyxiation. If those are romantic signals, then I’m even more glad than ever that I am not a dude. Of course, she blames herself for his rejection. After all, it’s not like he’s some manipulative control freak who could be using her low self-esteem as a weapon against her, right?
She thanks him, in a whisper, for “saving” her. Look, I’m not going to downplay the dangers of pedestrian/cyclist accidents. Your shit can get seriously fucked up if you get hit by a cyclist. But he didn’t slay a dragon. He didn’t even keep you from being hit by a bus. Why are you dramatically whispering about it? The entire book so far, Ana has been trying to make mountains out of the smallest possible mole hills. Christian Grey is handsome, oh my god, it’s the end of the world. I embarrassed myself in front of a stranger I will probably never see again, I better be surly about it forever. It’s like she’s deliberately trying to make the bike near-miss as dramatic and important to him as it is to her. So, basically, these crazy kids have the communications skills to make a relationship last a lifetime.
“Anastasia… I…” He stops, and the anguish in his voice demands my attention, so I peer unwillingly up at him.
Anguish? Is that the word choice we’re going with here? I thought anguish was like, when your child died, or you find out your spouse is cheating on you. Anguish is for when you’ve been rejected, not when you’ve rejected somebody. But okay, whatever. Let’s just get through this. Ana acts like brat because Christian didn’t propose to her or something, and when they say goodbye at the hotel, she literally falls on the ground, balls up and cries in the parking garage. Let’s look over the deep emotional connection they’ve made so far that would cause her to feel this “anguish”:
She went to his office to interview him, fell down, talked about art, and insulted him to his face.
He came to her work and bought some stuff.
She watched him get his picture taken.
They went out for coffee/tea.
Is Ana like, Glen Close in Fatal Attraction? Or Laura Flynn-Boyle in Wayne’s World? There is no reason at all for her to be so emotionally destroyed by a casual acquaintance not wanting to kiss her. She acknowledges that it’s “nonsensical pain” and “ridiculous”, so of course she gets up off the parking garage concrete and deals with it like a big girl. Nope, she doesn’t. She sits there, in a vertical fetal position, and mourns her “dashed hopes, dashed dreams, and my soured expectations.”
I’m too pale, too skinny, too scruffy, uncoordinated, my long list of faults goes on. So I have always been the one to rebuff any would be admirers. There was that guy in my chemistry class who liked me, but no one has ever sparked my interest – no one except Christian damn Grey. Maybe I should be kinder to the likes of Paul Clayton and Jose Rodriguez, though I’m sure neither of them have been found sobbing alone in dark places.
This paragraph sums up all that is wrong and infuriating about Ana. She thinks, “Maybe I should be nicer to all the guys I’m rejecting left and right,” and then in the next moment goes, “Nah, because their pain isn’t possibly as beautiful and tragic as mine is.” Real talk time. I once knew a woman who operated under this exact set of principles. She could not feel empathy, because she was certain no one felt as keenly as she did. Do you know what happened to her? I don’t, because when she finally dropped out of my life, I was super happy to see her go. She was an exhausting psychopath. She once demanded to be driven to the house of a guy who didn’t offer to have sex with her after know her for one day, so she could scream at him for rejecting her. Everyone who came in contact with this person ended up hating her. And yet, women of America are desperate to be that kind of person, because they want to be Ana Steele, she of the short-circuited empathy switch.
Stop! Stop Now! – My subconscious is metaphorically screaming at me, arms folded, leaning on one leg and tapping her foot in frustration.
Ana’s subconscious and I have a lot in common. We both can’t stand Ana. Vowing to never think of Christian Grey, ever again, even though it is too much to hope for at this point, Ana goes home. Kate, you may remember, was worried about Ana going out with Grey in the first place. I felt you needed this reminder, because you might have forgotten about the moment Kate’s enthusiasm for the apparently budding romance made a one-eighty.
Kate is sitting at the dining table at her laptop when I arrive. Her welcoming smile fades when she sees me.
“Ana what’s wrong?”
Oh no… no the Katherine Kavanagh Inquisition. I shake my head at her in a back-off now Kavanagh way – but I might as well be dealing with a blind deaf mute.
I’m pretty sure Ana has Asperger’s or some other spectrum disorder. She walks into a room after crying her eyes out on the ground in a parking garage, and someone rightly is concerned for her. When they express that concern, it’s an annoyance to her. Did anyone see Community last week? That’s a stupid question, of course no one did, it’s the least watched show on television. Anyway, last week, Annie and Abed were in the Dreamatorium (a sort of low-tech Holodeck), and Annie forced Abed to feel empathy. When she did this, it caused Abed to have a mental breakdown. The only difference between Ana and Abed? I actually like Abed and wouldn’t want to see him fall into a thresher.(note: I’ve received a lot of email for this paragraph. It seems a lot of people have taken “I’m pretty sure Ana has Asperger’s” to be another crack at Ana, that Asperger’s is being used as a pejorative. Or that my only experience of Autism comes from a television show. None of this is the case. In this chapter, Ana exhibits behaviors indicative of a high-functioning level of spectrum disorder–swinging from meltdown to shutdown–, so I mentioned it, because she’s written that way. I realize that I spend most of the time talking about what a horrible, shitty person Ana is, but I didn’t point out the similarity of her emotional pattern to that of someone on the spectrum because I think it’s what causes her to be horrible and shitty. I pointed it out because it’s yet another case of E.L. James unintentionally capturing something fairly realistic that she didn’t mean to portray. Ana is a horrible and shitty character, neurological profile aside.)
On a very serious note: If you are a writer… hell, no, wait, if you’re a person who isn’t Ana and has feelings and empathy for others, do not describe the non-speaking Deaf as “deaf mute”. A lot of people are going to get pissed off/hurt feelings if you do. I don’t know how the deaf-blind community feels about the term, but seriously. No “deaf mute”, unless it’s being used in dialogue in your historical set in the 1800’s.
Abed doesn’t like it. And Abed is Batman now.
Ana is, of course, surly about the fact that someone is trying to care about her. Kate even goes so far as to get up and hug Ana, because it’s obvious that she’s been crying. That bitch. Ana explains that she was almost hit by a cyclist, and tells Kate that Christian Grey isn’t interested in her, at all, because there’s nothing worth being interested in. St. Katherine of Kavanagh tries to bolster her confidence, telling her that she’s “a total babe,” you know, the kind of thing you say to your miserable friend when you know they’re miserable and lonely, but you also know that it’s not physical deformity, but a deeply flawed psyche, that’s making people hold them at arm’s length. And how does Ana respond to her friend trying to comfort her with compliments?
Oh no. She’s off on this tirade again.
Never, in the history of ever, have I wanted to reach into a book and smack the shit out of a character with the passion and vigor that I want to smack the shit out of Ana. Kate asks if Ana wants to see the article that she’s just finished. Looking at the pictures Jacob Jose took, Ana realizes why Christian Grey isn’t the man for her. He’s too good looking.
He’s too gloriously good-looking. We are poles apart and from two very different worlds. I have a vision of myself as Icarus flying too close to the sun and crashing and burning as a result.
With respect to Icarus, Ana, if you had been Icarus, you wouldn’t have made it to the sun. You would have tripped over your own feet leaving your house. I know Icarus, and you, Sir, are no Icarus. (This is a lie. I only know Icarus from that album cover). So, she has this sudden realization that he’s too beautiful and she’s not beautiful. I don’t know how this counts as sudden, since this is a thought that she’s had literally every time she’s been near him. She goes to study (after not reading the article her friend has been slaving over… no, instead of reading it, she just stares at the picture and says, “Very good,” to Kate). She has dreams with imagery relating to the last chapter, because her subconscious is super subtle like that. Then, without any kind of transition from her dream, she’s suddenly finished her exam. As thrown as I am by a paragraph on her dream being followed immediately by “I put my pen down,” I’m very, very glad we didn’t have to sit through the entire exam with her. I imagine it would have gone something like: “Where x is -9, find the value of… Oh… -9 is the exact number of times Christian kissed me when I wanted him to. Woe is me. My skin is so pale! And I’m so damnably thin! No one will ever love me. Verily, crap and jeez!”
With her exam finished, Ana is thinking about going out and getting drunk. She’s never been drunk before (quelle suprise!), but she wants to do something to celebrate the fact that she’s never going to be in college ever again. In case you were wondering, Ana finished her exam before Kate did. She made sure to note that for the reader. When they get home they find a package waiting at the door. When Ana opens it, she finds three volumes of Tess of The d’Urbervilles waiting for her. There’s a card, too, that reads “Why didn’t you tell me there was danger? Why didn’t you warn me? Ladies know what to guard against, because they read novels that tell them of these tricks…” The books are all priceless first editions, so she knows immediately who sent them.
So, let’s just examine that quote again. If you’ve read Tess of The d’Urbervilles, and I have not, but if you’ve read the SparkNotes for Tess of The d’Urbervilles, you might recall that the quotation on the card comes after Tess’s child, born out of wedlock, has died, and she has to make a choice to either marry the father (whom she does not love), or linger in disgrace. This is not the most romantic quotation to be putting on a card. It becomes even less so when we remember that Christian Grey has already acted like a psychopath to her. He stalked her at her job. He bought kidnapping supplies. He took her out for coffee, and then immediately turned cold to her. He views using his first name as a privilege to bestow upon others. This guy is a weirdo, and he’s just spent a fortune on a present for Ana, so that he could include a quotation about men being dangerous in the present.
So, of course Ana calls the police immediately. Of course she doesn’t! Instead, she plans to send the books back, with “an equally baffling quote from some obscure part of the book.” That shouldn’t be difficult, actually. It’s Thomas Hardy, it’s all baffling and obscure.
“The bit where Angel Clare says fuck off?” Kate asks with a completely straight face.
“Yes, that bit.” I giggle. I love Kate, she’s so loyal and supportive.
What, pray tell, in the actual fuck, are you talking about? Whenever Kate has shown any kind of concern for Ana or sympathy thus far, Ana has rejected it as an annoyance and a sign that Kate is overbearing. Oh, but now that Kate is in step with her opinion on Christian Grey, she’s loyal and supportive?
Kate and Ana toast to their new lives in Seattle, where they’re moving now that they’re college graduates. They go out to the bar with Jose, who is not graduating and whose name I still can’t figure out how to put an accent over in blogger.Mea culpa. Jose buys a pitcher of margaritas, and Ana, the non-drinker who has never been drunk before, has five. That’s right. She drinks champagne, then goes to the bar and has five margaritas. Now, maybe Ana has an iron liver to go with her two left feet. But I’m thinking that a non-drinker would have been on the floor after a bottle of champagne. Let’s say they didn’t finish the bottle, they just had a glass. Five margaritas and still vertical pushes my suspension of disbelief a little bit too far.
Some people say that Jose is to blame… but I know it’s Ana’s own damn fault.
The bar is packed, so they have to shout to Jose about how they’re moving to Seattle to live in the awesome condo Kate’s parents bought her. I wonder if the books didn’t come from Kate’s moneybag parents. Like, maybe Kate was talking to them and she was all, “Hey, I think that Christian Grey guy is into Ana,” and they were like, “Christian Grey? Wasn’t he a suspect in that string of coed murders a few years ago?” and then they sent the books thinking Ana would totally get the message. Well, she didn’t, because Jose starts to get handsy and keeps plying her with drink. She decides it’s safer to move onto beer, because there’s no alcohol in that, right? First, though, she has to comment on how hot Kate is compared to her:
She’s all tiny camisole, tight jeans, and high heels, hair piled high with tendrils hanging down softly around her face, her usual stunning self. Me, I’m more of a Converse and t-shirt kind of girl, but I’m wearing my most flattering jeans.
I can tell right here that this was written by a non-American author who probably doesn’t go out much in America. College girls do not dress the way Kate is dressed, even when going out. The key to college girl hotness is looking like you’re not trying. Oh, they might wear a tank-top and jeans, but they’re not going to wear heels with it. No one in the United States has worn heels with jeans since 1994, and if they have, they shouldn’t have been doing that, because it’s ridiculous. In any case, Ana is so super drunk, she drunk dials Grey while she’s waiting in line for the bathroom. He can tell right away she’s drunk, and demands to know exactly where she is, probably so he can swing by and murder her. She won’t tell him, and ends up hanging up on him. He calls her back to say he’s coming to get her. Just like that. “I’m coming to get you.” That’s just about as creepy as, “The call is coming from inside the house.”
Well, Christian, what if she doesn’t want to go with you? She’s a grown ass woman. She went out with her friends and got drunk. Big deal. You do not need to come storming in like John Goodman in Coyote Ugly, fucking up your daughter’s good time. Ladies of America, this behavior is not chivalrous. It’s creepy and domineering. It’s stalker behavior. It’s gross. STOP WANTING CHRISTIAN GREY RIGHT NOW YOU ARE EMBARRASSING THE REST OF US!
Ana realizes how drunk she is and staggers outside, where Jose comes to check up on her. Or feel up on her, which is what he ends up doing, and aggressively so. Ana is struggling with him when Christian Grey walks up, and Ana tosses her cookies all over the ground. This causes Jose to say “Dios mio” for the second time in the chapter. This causes me to now and forever imagine that Jose is really The Jesus:
“Dios mio, man.”
Grey holds her hair back while she horks up all those margaritas in a flower bed in the parking lot. Then, she dry heaves. Finally, some romance! When she’s done being a one woman water feature, Christian lends her his monogrammed hanky to daintily wipe the vomit from her lips. She’s embarrassed. She wants to bitch out Jose (rightly so, since apparently the only thing stopping him from sexually assaulting her was an aversion to partially digested margarita mix). She drops the big double c-word: “Double crap,” when she realizes that she doesn’t know how to navigate this situation. This comes as no surprise to the reader, because so far, Ana has been unable to navigate totally normal social situations, ones that don’t involve vomit. I’m kind of hoping for a patented Bella Swan face plant right into her own vomit, but alas, it’s time for her to apologize to Christian for being sick in front of him. For a self-centered prick, he’s actually cool about it, throwing out the usual, “Hey, we’ve all been there, am I right”-type comments. He offers to take Ana home, and when she suggests telling her friends where she’s gone, he says that his brother can explain it all to Kate, since he’s talking to her. At some point, unspecified to the reader because, as you may have noticed, any character who is not Ana or Christian are unimportant nuisances that should stand off stage and wait to be called, Christian’s brother Elliot has come with him to the bar to retrieve Ana, and now that same brother is talking to Kate inside the bar. How Christian can see into the crowded, loud bar to discern this information, I have no clue. But there is still that little detail of how he knew where to find Ana.
“I tracked your cell phone Anastasia.” Oh, of course he did. How is that possible? Is it legal? Stalker, my subconscious whispers at me through the cloud of tequila that’s still floating in my brain, but somehow, because it’s him, I don’t mind.
And thus began every abusive relationship ever. “I don’t mind if he’s acting creepy, because it’s him.” They go inside and Ana has to put her mouth very close to his ear to tell him something. When she does this, she realizes how good he smells, and “deep, deep down my muscles clench deliciously”. Okay, Ana, but on the flip side of all that sexiness, you just sent a warm, puke-scented cascade of your own breath right over his face, so don’t get your hopes up, is all I’m saying here. He forces her to drink ice water, then takes her onto the dance floor. See, he doesn’t know her as well as we do. We know that, when Ana Steele is involved, “He moves us through the crowded throng of dancers to the other side of the dance floor,” will be followed immediately by, “and there were no survivors.” But somehow, they manage to make it to Kate and Elliot, who are, by all accounts, getting it on vertically out there. Luckily, before anyone can be hurt by what will undoubtedly be the worst dance disaster of all time, and before we can be forced to read about said disaster, Ana passes out, thus ending the chapter.