When we parted with Ana, she had just met Edward Cullen Christian Grey.
She scrambles out of the elevator and stumbles, but “fortunately not sprawling on to the immaculate sandstone floor” (38). 1. Does this girl not know how to walk at a regular pace? Does she think Christian is going to chase her from the next elevator for daring to blush in his presence? (Though funny enough, from what we’ll learn about him, I wouldn’t put it past him). 2. Why do I need to know the floor is immaculate and sandstone again. Does she think I have forgotten since the last chapter that this building is made of steel and glass and sandstone? It’s not as if there were other words used to describe the building.
I race for the wide glass doors, and I’m free in the bracing, cleansing, damp air of Seattle. Raising my face, I welcome the cool refreshing rain. I close my eyes and take a deep, purifying breath, trying to recover what’s left of my equilibrium.
Do you remember when you were younger and someone told you turkeys are so stupid that they’ll stand in the rain and drown themselves accidentally because they’re staring up at the sky?
Let that image of Ana Steel standing in the middle of downtown Seattle drowning herself in the rain for a moment. Possibly in a turkey suit. Because Thanksgiving!
But seriously, not only is she being passed on all sides by busy city people (who are, I guarantee you, thinking, “stupid tourists”), she’s also getting drenched before getting into her bff’s Mercedes. Sorry, her “Merc” (How do you even pronounce that? Merk? Merse? How is that cool?!). Also also, that’s a lot of words there. There was no comma between cool and refreshing, either, by the way. That’s not my typo. I get that this is supposed to be some big, cathartic moment after her first moment of sexual arousal, but it’s a tad over the top.
Is this her being relieved of her sexual arousal by getting wet?!
Excuse me while I giggle to myself for a moment.
…and we’re back.
She goes on to tell us, “No man has ever affected me the way Christian Grey has, and I cannot fathom why” (38). Which I can understand to a point, but first let me point out that she calls him “Christian Grey.” I have a friend whose names fit so perfectly together that I always call her by her first and last. It just sounds cool. Christian Grey, though? I dunno. It just doesn’t have that I-must-say-both-names-together-at-all-times ring to it. That’s got nothing to do with style or writing; that’s just me. On another note, I’ve heard people question whether it’s possible that Ana has never been “affected” before. I have mixed feelings on this. I’ve known women who’ve never had a sex drive, so presumably it’s possible. That said, I would be interested to talk with a woman who made it to 21 without having sexual feelings at all, even if she didn’t know what they were. I don’t mean that to be mean, I’m quite serious. I still can’t think of a man that made me stumble and stutter all that much, but to be fair, Ana stumbles and stutters a lot. She also adds, while questioning his effect on her, “Is it his looks? His civility? Wealth? Power? I don’t understand my irrational reaction.” She doesn’t recognize this as sexual attraction. I mean, reasonably it could be that she’s star struck, but I doubt it. And his wealth? Her best friend is rich. Of course, she didn’t earn that money, she’s just born into it, but still. Christian was born into much of his wealth, too. (I’m not including asexuals in this equation of delayed sexuality, because as we’ll see, Ana does have a sex drive. It just hasn’t been active until now.)
She sighs for relief, reader, and then says, I shit you not, “What in heaven’s name was that about?” Oh, honey. You’re 21, not 80. I’m not saying there aren’t 21 year olds that speak like this; I was one that spoke like that. But that she’s thinking in first person present tense and telling us this is awkward. It sounds forced, and as if an older woman is speaking through a younger woman’s mouth and can’t quite wrap her head around this age discrepancy (ahem). She leans against one of the steel pillars: “I valiantly attempt to calm down and gather my thoughts. […] Holy crap – what was that? My heart steadies to its regular rhythm, and I can breathe normally again.”
Are we sure valiantly is the word we’re going to go with here?
So, Ana is fighting a dragon trying to calm her raging hormones against Grey’s steel pillar (ha!) and she is continuing to question what that was. Guys. This girl, I swear, is the most irritating skipping record I’ve ever heard. I get that the author is trying to show how perplexed this girl is with her own sexual awakening, and I understand that she’s trying to capture that thing a lot of people do when they go over and over the same question, but… really? You’re going to make me read someone else’s obsessive, repetitive questions through the whole book? I’m reading this for fun (presumably). I deal with my own obsessive, repetitive thoughts when I’m stressed; I don’t need to deal with Ana’s, too. Especially when it’s painfully obvious what that was, and we’re just waiting for Ana to wake up and smell the pheromones.
An involuntary shiver runs down my spine.
QUICKFIRE QUIZ: How many times have you shivered your spine voluntarily?
“He may be arrogant, but then he has the right to be” (39). Does he? She says he’s accomplished so much at such a young age, but given the interview we just attended (and we were there for ALL of it, none of which was particularly enlightening), what, exactly, has he accomplished? She didn’t know anything about him, remember. Nada. Didn’t even know he was “such a young age” (and she still doesn’t know how old he is; he could just look young). And yet now she’s justifying him being arrogant because he’s done all these amazing things. I don’t even… ugh. She also tells us he doesn’t suffer fools gladly, and is “irritated” that Kate didn’t give her a brief biography.
Bitch, he just suffered you, and he seemed to want to suffer you some more, so don’t even go there. And you should know how to Google. Shut the front door.
So it’s raining, and her mind is wandering, but she’s going slowly, and she tells us she’s driving more cautiously because “it’s the memory of two penetrating grey eyes gazing at me, and a stern voice telling me to drive carefully” (40). This is supposed to be her showing us indirectly that she likes taking orders from Christian, but it sounds more like he’s her father treating her like a child. Additionally, by the way, when it’s raining, driving slowly while not paying attention isn’t safe. It’s actually really dangerous. Someone going the speed limit is going to rear end you and drive you off the road. ELJ should know this. She lives in England. It rains there. A lot.
This next bit makes me laugh every damn time: “I’m truly perplexed as to what makes someone so driven to succeed. [I thought you were supposed to be clever, Ana. And a lit major.] Some of his answers were so cryptic – as if he had a hidden agenda [his ‘hidden agenda’ is only hidden because you’ve not undone his trousers yet]. And Kate’s questions – ugh! [Finally, we agree!] The adoption and asking if he was gay! I shudder. I can’t believe I said that. [Do you have no reading/speaking filter or, like, thoughts?] Ground, swallow me up now! [I feel this would have been more appropriate in the moment, rather than when driving home. Also, I know something Christian would have preferred that involves swallowing.] Every time I think of that question in the future, I will cringe with embarrassment. [She will, actually. We get to read about it. Why? Because homophobia!] Damn Katherine Kavanagh! [In this moment I think of Kristen Stewart curling a long black mustache and shaking her fist like some sort of silent film or vaudeville villain. Picture it. It’s hilarious.]
She is then immediately cheered by the thought of never seeing Christian again. If only, guys. She proceeds to turn on the mp3 player which will be important later. So remember it. She listens to “thumping indie rock music” (40). Of course she does. Because she’s a hipster. They didn’t tell you what indie rock band because you’ve probably never heard of them.
As I hit the 1-5, I realize I can drive as fast as I want.” Um, yes, if you want to die. First she drives erratically and under the speed limit and now she’s speeding in the rain? What are you doing, Ana? Especially since roads like that in the US tend to have cops along them to catch people like you. Note here that she’s going against Christian’s orders. If only she continued to do this, this book would be significantly less irritating.
We receive something telling in the next paragraph.
We live in a small community of duplex apartments in Vancouver, Washington, close to the Vancouver campus of WSU. I’m lucky – Kate’s parents bought the place for her, and I pay peanuts for rent. It’s been home for four years now.
Ana is basically living rent free through university. All four years of it. We’ll also learn that she doesn’t drink at all through university (which is fair, since legal drinking age is 21, but how many people actually follow that rule?), so she’s saved a lot of money there. She also rarely does anything outside of reading at the library and sitting around being hipster (ahem). She is a very simple girl with simple needs, but the fact that she has been basically mooching off her rich roommate (also borrowing her car, her clothes, etcetera) but still is such an absolute jerk to her (in her head) is telling. She also doesn’t know at all what she wants to do, nor does she participate in any extra-curricular activities. Christian demands hard work (giggity) but Ana is one of the least hard working students I’ve ever heard of. I worked an almost full-time job during university, while joining a couple clubs and trying to figure out what I want to do with my life. I worked hard. Ana? Ana coasted. She sounds like those students that bitch about how much work they have to do, but it’s their own fault because they put it off for SO LONG. The difference between her and I? My full time job often made it necessary to put off schoolwork. Hers, not so much.
We enter the apartment and “Kate sits in our living area, surrounded by books. She’s clearly been studying for finals – though she’s still in her pink flannel pajamas decorated with cute little rabbits, the ones she reserves for the aftermath of breaking up with boyfriends, for assorted illnesses, and for general moody depression” (41). Pausing for a moment, “living area” is not a common phrase so much unless you’re living in residence. It’s a living room. Next, Kate was so sick she couldn’t do this career defining interview she’s been planning for nine months, but she is able to be out of bed studying? I call bullshit. If she had been that sick, she would be in bed, asleep. Also, Ana’s derision at having to see Kate’s flannel pajamas – what is it? There are a lot of theories floating around that discuss Ana’s dislike of women that aren’t her. One of my favourites is that Ana is actually a lesbian, or bi, or demisexual. I find this theory interesting because it would explain the gay bashing and would also explain her relationship to Kate, and her lack of interest in men, but her obsession with women’s bodies. I’ll touch on this as I go, but look at how she responds: her first thought isn’t “My roommate is sick so she’s wearing her comfiest pair of pjs”, it’s “Those pjs she reserves for breaking up with guys”. She has been living with Kate for four years. In living together that long, you get used to a person. You get used to seeing them in their pjs. Why is Ana still so hung up on seeing her roommate and bff in her pajamas? Is it just this particular set of pajamas, or all of them? Is this Ana trying to show us she cares about her roommate by saying she hates seeing her in her comfy pjs?
She bounds up to me and hugs me hard.
“I was beginning to worry. I expected you back sooner.”
“Oh, I thought I made good time considering the interview ran over.” I wave the mini-disc recorder at her.
“Ana, thank you so much for doing this. I owe you, I know. How was it? What was it like?” Oh no – here we go, the Katherine Kavanagh Inquisition.
I struggle to answer her question. What can I say?
“I’m glad it’s over, and I don’t have to see him again. He was rather intimidating, you know.” I shrug. “He’s very focused, intense even – and young. Really young.” Kate gazes innocently at me. I frown at her.
“Don’t you look so innocent. Why didn’t you give me a biography? He made me feel like such an idiot for skimping on basic research.” Kate clamps a hand to her mouth.
“Jeez, Ana, I’m sorry – I didn’t think.”
“Mostly he was courteous, formal, slightly stuffy – like he’s old before his time. He doesn’t talk like a man of twenty-something. How old is he anyway?”
“Twenty-seven. Jeez, Ana, I’m sorry. I should have briefed you, but I was in such a panic. Let me have the mini-disc, and I’ll start transcribing the interview.
“You look better. Did you eat your soup?” I ask, keen to change the subject.
“Yes, and it was delicious as usual. I’m feeling much better.” She smiles at me in gratitude. I check my watch.
“I have to run. I can still make my shift at Clayton’s.”
“Ana, you’ll be exhausted.”
“I’ll be fine. I’ll see you later.”
There’s so much I want to talk about, and there’s more that follows this that I was tempted to include, but let’s look at this conversation for now. Kate is being nothing but apologetic and grateful and sweet and worrying. She apparently cares about Ana a lot. She keeps track of where her roommate is (in this circumstance; just wait until the Menfolk appear), and she thanks her profusely – more than is necessary, even – and yet Ana is more passive-aggressive than a group of starving Canadians deciding on who is going to have the last Timbit (I’m Canadian, and have had that conversation). She guilts Kate horribly, and when she expresses even the smallest amount of interest in how this super-important interview went, what is her immediate thought? “Oh no”. What’s her immediate response? “I’m glad it’s over”. Ana. Your roommate (apparently) was too sick to attend this interview she’s been looking forward to for months and you’re glad it’s over? That’s like telling a woman on her wedding day, “Thank god that’s over. Now, to the liquor!” Come on, Ana. Have some tact.
Sorry. I forgot what book I was reading for a moment.
And speaking of people who’re old before their time and don’t talk like a person their age, Pot meet Kettle. Come on, Ana. Do you speak like a woman of 21? Do you know anything about modern 20-something culture? Can you turn a Mac without looking at it like you’ve never seen a computer before? The answer, by the way, is no. Ana’s character is way inconsistent. She has an MP3 player, but she doesn’t know how to work a computer (which you need to use an MP3 player). She is a university student, but doesn’t have an email address, upon which I call – wait for it – complete and utter garbage. Every university nowadays gives you an email address because that’s how you communicate with your professors and a lot of the time it’s also how you submit your papers (see: TurnItIn.com). She is an English Lit major, and has never used a computer. That… what? How the hell is that possible? Did she use a typewriter for all her essays? I mean, she is a hipster of the highest decree, so I wouldn’t put it past her, but most professors have very specific requirements for essay formatting and font, and using a typewriter would be breaking with her essay requirements.
Also, Ana has told Kate she should have given her a biography. How could she throw that together without using a computer or, I dunno, researching on the internet? Run to the archives?
Ugh. Moving on.
Finally, Kate shows concern for her roommate – possibly also because if Ana gets too tired, she might catch Kate’s cold, because that’s how being sick works – and Ana’s response is all persnickety and rude. Sorry for caring, Ana. I hope your contempt for all things modern means you’ve foregone the injection for the plague and you suffer horribly from it before having to concede to the glories of modernity.
Or at least catch Kate’s cold and have to wear your comfy pjs for a whole week.
The conversation when she arrives at work goes,
“Ana! I thought you weren’t going to make it today!”
“My appointment didn’t take as long as I thought. I can do a couple of hours.”
Hold up just one damn second.
You didn’t have to go to work?
You bitched to your roommate and to the reader about your having all these things to do and you didn’t have to go to work?
If this were a supernatural fanfic instead of AU, I would be cheering for the Vulturi at this point. Goddamnit, Ana.
Thank the lord for small wonders, by the way; Ana doesn’t tell us about stocking shelves. She just tells us that she does it.
When she arrives home, Kate has gotten over the world’s wimpiest excuse for a plot device ever (ie her cold), and is typing furiously, “her teeth into a story” (44) because apparently those interview questions were bloody fascinating and controversial.
QUICKFIRE QUIZ: Besides being gamine, and wearing an absolutely hideous pair of pjs, what does Kate look like?
Yeah, I’m not entirely sure either. And no, I’ve not excluded any description.
She proceeds to inform us how exhausted she is (sigh), partially she was “holed up with…him”. Yes, it’s written like that. Is his name that sexy that she’s going to cum in her pants at the mere thought of his name?
Kate tells her, “You’ve got some good stuff here, Ana. Well done.” Well done? She read the questions you gave her, Kate. You could have emailed Christian’s office a list of questions and you would have gotten a similar response, sans the tripping and stuttering and flirting. “I can’t believe you didn’t take him up on his offer to show you around. He obviously wanted to spend more time with you.” I am disappointed, Kate. Do you do something just because a man wants you to? Ana flushes again, and bites her lip (she does this a lot), and “Kate doesn’t notice. But she seems absorbed in her transcription.” Ana, darling, you flush at everything. That’s like me being affronted that my husband didn’t notice I tucked my hair behind my ears just now. Also, who the hell starts a sentence like that with “but”?
Kate asks if Ana took notes (of course not, she would have impaled herself on the pencil) and comments that “he’s a good-looking son of a bitch” to which Ana replies,
“I suppose so.” I try to sound disinterested, and I think I succeed.
“Oh come on, Ana – even you can’t be immune to his looks.” She arches a perfect eyebrow at me.
Crap! I distract her with flattery, always a good ploy.
Um, first off. Ana, you practically came just talking to him. I get not wanting to share everything with your best friend, but… not your first crush? Also, she arches a “perfect” eyebrow. Kate is now a perfect pair of blonde eyebrows whose host body has a pink nose, and is gamine and wearing pink pjs. Second, she distracts her friend with flattery? How shallow is her friend? And why is that a “Crap!”-warranting response? I honestly don’t understand why you’d say “crap” to a comment like that. It makes no sense. Crap, she thinks I must have a libido – to the distracting?
“So what did you really think of him?” Damn she’s inquisitive. Why can’t she just let this go? Think of something – quick.
This is all together on the page. If you can tell me what’s wrong with it, gold star you.
Got the answer?
The action does not connect with the person who is speaking, thereby making it jarring to read. Also, she is your best friend, Ana. When my friends are being elusive and passive about a direct question, I ask them again unless they tell me they do not want to answer the question. Why? Because they’re my best friends, and they can be honest with me. Ana though, says,
“He’s very driven, controlling, arrogant – scary really, but very charismatic. I can understand the fascination,” I add truthfully, as I peer round the door at her hoping this will shut her up once and for all.
So one of the first things she thinks of when she’s being truthful with her bff is that he is scary. Awesome. Also, who’s fascinated, Ana? Kate didn’t say he’s fascinating. That’s all you. Also, yes, that line is typed verbatim. What the hell is going on with her commas?
Kate picks up on the “fascinated” thing, by the way, and we see why poor Ana is candid: ““You, fascinated by a man? That’s a first,” she snorts.”
She snorts? Kate, I am disappointed. Your best friend is having her sexual awakening and you snort at her.
These two deserve each other.
And then Ana makes Kate a sandwich. Which one is the man in the relationship, do you think?
Let’s pause here and think back to the characterisation that has gone on so far. We’ve seen only a few pages of Christian Grey and Ana, but keep note of how Ana and Christian, and any of the other characters, are described by their peers. Think about how much these descriptions do (or do not) match their counterpart.
Moving forward, ELJ tries to do with FSoG what Stephanie Myers did with Twilight: pin it together with classic literature. She, however, does it… clumsily.
I work on my essay on Tess of the D’Urbervilles. Damn, but that woman was in the wrong place at the wrong time in the wrong century.
And that’s it.
No, seriously. That’s the only line about this book until – spoiler! – Christian buys her a first edition or something and gets all mysterious with them. I dunno about you, but I didn’t adore every book I read in university. Of course, Ana is taking English Lit that is tailored only to her, so I guess it’s understandable that she would love every book that crossed her desk.
Also, “wrong place wrong time wrong century?” Awkward, much? Again?
I curl up in my white iron bed, wrapping my mother’s quilt around me, close my eyes, and I’m instantly asleep. That night I dream of dark places, bleak white cold floors, and grey eyes.
She’s wrapping herself in her mother’s quilt and dreaming of the first man to give her tingles in her pants. Methinks the author is infantilising the sexuality of the character. And methinks it is gross. Also, what’s with the white cold floors? No, really, I’m trying to think back to Twilight to recall if Bella encounters cold while floors – perhaps before it was edited it was cold white skin?
The next scene is Ana calling her mother just to chat, thereby showing what a brilliant mother/daughter relationship they have.
Oh, wait. Sorry. Wrong book again.
I call my mom in Georgia to check on her, but also so she can wish me luck for my final exams. She proceeds to tell me about her latest venture into candle making – my mother is all about new business ventures. Fundamentally she’s bored and wants something to occupy her time, but she has the attention span of a goldfish. It’ll be something new next week.
She worries me. I hope she hasn’t mortgaged the house to finance this latest scheme. And I hope that Bob – her relatively new but much older husband – is keeping an eye on her now that I’m no longer there. He does seem a lot more grounded than husband number three.
I do believe we’re setting up here a single mom whose daughter took care of her more than her mother took care of her. That said, I don’t believe Ana could take care of a goldfish. Also, note how her mother, who keeps trying all these ventures, fails, where Christian succeeds. The only thing Ana’s mother seems to have a head for is men. Which, though we’ll discuss later, is introduced here:
“How are things with you, Ana?”
For a moment, I hesitate, and I have Mom’s full attention.
“Ana? Have you met someone?” Wow… how does she do that? The excitement in her voice is palpable.
And again, Ana distracts someone who cares about her – it is the “best policy” – and the conversation is over.
While I recognize ELJ was going for some stuff here, I would like to point out that it was poorly done, and here’s why: the idea was to introduce the mother, while also showing how much effect Christian has on Ana because those that know her immediately recognize her as different. Great. But the conversation doesn’t show that. If anything, it shows that Ana is exhausted by and disrespects her mother, while also showing Ana is the most easily read person in the world. She is simultaneously self-absorbed, candid, blatantly readable, and lacking in self-awareness. These are strange character traits to coincide within a character.
She now talks to “Husband Number Two”, her stepfather Ray, who isn’t a talker (which is why Ana gets along with him). Their conversation consists of “grunts in response” to her questions, but she can tell from that that “All seems well with him.” What, so it’s intrusive when Ana’s mother is intuitive, but nice that Ana is? I don’t even, man.
After these horribly stressful phone calls which don’t seem to last for any time at all, nor do they seem to move the plot forward at all, Ana and Kate are hanging out Friday night (I don’t know if the calls were a week ago, or if they were the same day, or after exams or whatever since there is no mention of time passing) the token brown guy shows up. He is Spanish of some denomination (we’re not quite sure, but he does say Dios Mia a couple times. Seriously.), and is called José. He comes baring champagne, and so she hugs him.
Seriously, I don’t know if she hugs him due to the champagne, but the poor guy is firmly in the friend zone, and doesn’t like it. Allow me to introduce you to the one of the most awkward bits in this chapter. Which is saying something.
José is the first person I met when I arrived at WSU, looking as lost and lonely as I did. We recognized a kindred spirit in each of us that day, and we’ve been friends ever since.
Not only do we share a sense of humour, but we discovered that both Ray and José senior were in the same army unit together. As a result, our fathers have become firm friends too.
José is studying engineering and is the first in his family to make it to college. He’s pretty damn bright, but his real passion is photography. José has a great eye for a good picture.
“I have news.” He grins, his dark eyes twinkling.
So, we are never told, but from the fact that Ana has been living with Kate in her parents’ house since freshman year, I’m assuming she and Kate knew each other when they arrived at college, so not entirely lonely. Lost I can believe. They have been friends at first sight and – this is the part that irks me – “not only do we share a sense of humour”. Um, what does kindred spirit have to do with humour? I hate when people introduce a fact like this, as if they’d already discussed it before. Now, I know you’ll say, “but Jacinta, she’s begun a new paragraph; she can start like that as if she’s listing things!” No. Not when your paragraphs are this bloody short and don’t tell me anything. Next, the phrasing about their fathers is weird. What does the fact that the two children have common humour have to do with the fathers being fast friends?
Another thing is that we are told that José is the first in his family to go to college. He is studying engineering. This means that he is probably a very hard worker. This seems like the sort of story Christian would approve of; hard working young man picks up his bootstraps and works hard so that he can go to college and work in a field that is predominately filled with white men. However, he is portrayed as evil because he’s, what, trying to take a place usually secured by a white man?
Ohh, I see.
That’s racist, ELJ.
Later on, José attempts to take advantage of Ana when she’s drunk, and Christian swoops in and “saves” her by taking her home to his hotel room.
José, who has had a relationship with her for four going on five years, tries to kiss her, and it’s date rape. Christian, who has known her for all of ten minutes, brings her home with him and it’s saving her.
I’m not saying what José does is right, but what Christian does is flat out wrong. And the characterisation of José, then, is showing that even if a man of colour is generally a great guy and works hard, he still has some fatal flaw that makes him unsuited to taking a position usually kept by a white, middle- to upper-class male.
I will rant about it more when we get there.
She tells us that she’s aware José wants to be more than friends, but that he doesn’t give her “those trembling knees, heart-in-[her]-mouth, butterflies-in-[her]-belly sleepless nights” (52). It sounds like she wants a after school special romance, not an adult relationship.
She questions if there’s something wrong with her (the answer is yes, in case you were wondering), and concludes that her lack of sexual awareness is due to spending too much time in the company of her “literary romantic heroes, and consequently [her] ideals and expectations are far too high” (52). My theory is more along the line of her expectations are non-existent due to her lack of self-reflection. She is self-centred while simultaneously being horribly unaware of herself.
There’s nothing wrong if someone doesn’t find lust. If you’re flat-out refusing to acknowledge that you can possibly have any sort of sexuality, and refusing it and infantilizing it when it does pop up – that’s a problem. I’m half way between asexual and bi, but you don’t see me denying the fact that though I don’t feel lust the same way as others, I don’t feel it at all.
Case and point: she says:
[…] nobody’s ever made me feel like that. Until very recently, the unwelcome, still small voice of my subconscious whispers.
NO! I banish the thought immediately. I am not going there, not after that painful interview. Are you gay, Mr. Grey? I wince at the memory. I know I’ve dreamt about him most nights since then, but that’s just to purge the awful experience from my system, surely?
Really, Ana? You’re finally feeling those butterflies and your immediate response is “NO!”? Sexy dreams are “to purge the awful experience”? How old are you again, Ana? She’s also wincing at the memory again. Ana, I am disappoint.
[José]’s tall, and in his jeans and t-shirt he’s all shoulders and muscles, tanned skin, dark hair and burning dark eyes.
Hey look, a description. But how many Spanish guys does that describe?
Yes, that’s what I thought.
Know who else that describes? Jacob. From Twilight.
I will note here that between all these time shifts there are exactly no divisions. They go from “José looks up and smiles” to “Saturday at the store is a nightmare.” It’s awkward.
Ana’s back at work, and she’s working with the owners and the other two part-timers. They’re in a lull, and lo and behold:
I glance up… and find myself locked in the bold gray gaze of Christian Grey who’s standing at the counter, staring at me intently.
“Miss Steele. What a pleasant surprise.”
What the actual fuck, guy. Standing there staring at her? How long was he standing there before she looked up?!
What the hell is he doing here looking all tousle-hair and outdoorsy in his cream chunky-knit sweater, jeans and walking boots. I think my mouth popped open, and I can’t locate my brain or my voice.
Outdoorsy…tousled…cream chunky-knit sweater…? I just… what? Also, let me remind you this is first person present tense narration. “I think my mouth popped open.” You think?
She then puts on her “professional I’ve-worked-in-this-shop-for-years façade.” First, what the fuck is this. Second, this lasts all of thirty seconds.
She blushes a lot, and he buys murder supplies.
She sells him cable ties, masking tape, and rope.
If this guy is rich and into BDSM, and he wants BDSM toys, he should be going to a sex store that sells things that are specifically made for adult playtime, not some home hardware store. Know why? Because it’s safer. If he cared about his subs at all he would –
Wait, sorry. This is Christian Grey we’re discussing. Moving on.
Her heart almost strangles her – because BDSM, get it? – and she asks herself, “Why is he here at Claytons?” Her response to herself is:
From a very tiny, underused part of my brain – probably located at the base of my medulla oblongata where my subconscious dwells – comes the thought: he’s here to see you. No way! I dismiss it immediately. Why would this beautiful, powerful, urbane man want to see me? The idea is preposterous, and I kick it out of my head.
Man. Maaaaaan. What are you doing? You’re lecturing me on the underused part of your brain and you give me the name of it? I thought this book was supposed to get me tingly in the pants; give me a different sort of biology lesson. Also, I have a feeling that the medulla oblongata is not the only part of your brain that goes underused. Her subconscious – whom we’ll meet later, I kid you not – is telling her that the billionaire she just happened to meet just happened to show up to do his own DIY hours away from where he lives?
Say it with me, readers: bullshit.
Her subconscious also sneers at her and mocks her when he tells her he’s in the area checking out university farmland. Her subconscious sneers at her.
They continue to flirt and… “I feel like I’m fourteen years old – gauche, as always, and out of place” (59). I get the whole “he makes me feel young again” thing, but… fourteen is a flouring age. That’s about the time when girls get their periods (give or take). Is this girl really… a girl in every sense of the word? And again, gauche is what we’re going with here? She’s also pointing out that she’s out of place again, like she was back at the steel-and-sandstone-and-glass palace. Maybe if she tried to be a little less self-absorbed she would realize she’s the only one that thinks she’s such a special snowflake. He keeps asking her questions and she asks, “Why is he so interested?” and she then tells him the books she is interested in are: “The usual. The classics. British literature, mainly.” Pretty sure “the usual” is not always “classics”. Unless she’s listing, “:the usual, being hardcore erotica”, as well as British literature? I mean, that’s usual for him, right? He listens intently, and she thinks, “Or perhaps he’s just very bored and trying to hide it.”
Honey. Sweetie. Darling. Get over yourself.
She continues to put herself down and ignore his interest until…
Paul has materialized at other end of the aisle. He’s Mr. Clayton’s youngest brother. I’d heard he was home from Princeton, but I wasn’t expecting to see him today.
“Er, excuse me for a moment, Mr. Grey.” Grey frowns as I turn away from him.
Paul hugs her, and is “over-possessive” because he’s kept an arm draped over her shoulder, and this happens:
When I glance up at Christian Grey, he’s watching us like a hawk, his gray eyes hooded and speculative, his mouth a hard impassive line. He’s changed from the weirdly attentive customer to someone else – someone cold and distant.
Grey changes from flirty to… cold and distant. Because that’s not creepy. The two men, “weigh each other up” and “the atmosphere is suddenly arctic.” “Weigh” and “up” don’t go together. I can’t even. She then feels she has to “explain more”. That is to say, she feels the need to justify to Christian why another man – whom she has known for years - is touching her so intimately. When Paul leaves, Christian is “clipped and cool.” She wonders, “Damn… have I offended him?”
He’s a grown man, and you had a life before him. If he’s offended, that it’s his own damn problem. He’s like a toddler that assumes the world does not exist without him looking at it. Everyone else is just put there for his own amusement and…
You get where I’m going with this.
He agrees to a photo shoot, and hands Ana his business card and tells her to call him, and that he’s “glad Miss Kavanagh couldn’t do the interview” (69).
The final paragraph begins with: “Okay – I like him. There, I’ve admitted it to myself. I cannot hide my feelings anymore.”
Ana… it’s been less than a week. And “hiding”? Come on. You blush more than a virgin on a porn set. You practically melt every time you even think about him.
She bites her lip and finds herself grinning like a schoolgirl. She puts herself down a couple more times, and then we are done with chapter two.
Goddamn, this was a long chapter.
These read-alongs take about a half a day to write, so I’m planning on doing one every Tuesday, with the occasional one on Friday or Saturday depending on my schedule.
Until next time, when we get to go on a date with Christian Grey, and see a scene ripped from Twilight so beautifully obviously I’m not sure if it’s sad or funny.