Fifty Shades of Grey · Writing

Fifty Shades of Grey, Chapter Four

Kiss me damn it!

Welcome back.

I’m staring at Christian Grey’s exquisitely sculptured mouth, mesmerized, and he’s looking down at me, his gaze hooded, his eyes darkening.

(109)

Girl stops breathing, and dude “closes his eyes, takes a deep breath, and gives me a small shake of his head as if in answer to my silent question,” and he now has a “steely resolve”. So what you’re saying is that Christian actually knows what she’s thinking because he’s psychic because he’s really Edward? the two of them are so in cinch? Edward then tells Bella Christian then tells Ana that she should “steer clear” of him because he’s “not the man” for her. She wonders, “where is this coming from?” and thinks, “surely I should be the judge of that. I frown up at him, and my head swims with rejection.” It’s ironic because later on, Christian gives Ana zero choice in anything. Also,  her head swims with, not rejection, but lack of air. Recall, she stopped breathing. Christian has to remind her to breathe: “Breathe, Anastasia, breathe. I’m going to stand you up and let you go.”

Adrenaline has spiked through my body, from the near miss with the cyclist or the heady proximity to Christian, leaving my wired and weak. NO! My psyche screams as he pulls away, leaving me bereft.

(110)

Bereft? That’s what we’re going with? The loss of my grandfather left me bereft. Because he died. Christian just let her stand up on her own. After almost being hit by a…bicycle. He also asks her if she wants to, “come and sit down in the hotel for a moment?” because it was such a close call. Know what this reminds me of? Victorian literature where the heroine is literally so delicate that if someone so much as says something inappropriate, she swoons. I’m not saying that getting hit by a bike isn’t scary – I live in Toronto, trust me, it’s not fun – however, it’s not so panic inducing that we need to bust out the smelling salts and fainting couch. And does adrenaline make you weak? Is that a thing now? She also freaks out, by the way, because clearly he doesn’t want her because she “royally screwed up the coffee morning”. Come on, Ana. What does that even mean. She can’t read people, first off; second off, she jumps to the first, most “horrible” conclusion possible (horrible being relative since it wouldn’t be so horrible if they didn’t get together, but I digress). She then informs us that she needs to “get away from him”. We should assume it’s because she’s embarrassed, but I think she’s just too overwhelmed by him to think clearly. Grey, of course, is equally melodramatic, and he “shudder[s] to think what could have happened to [her]” because, again, swoon. He releases her, finally, and she’s “standing in front of him feeling like a fool” (111). Why? Because she “misread” the situation “so utterly”. Aw, self-hate, I missed you: “All my vague, unarticulated hopes have been dashed. He doesn’t want me. What was I thinking? I scold myself. What would Christian Grey want with you? My subconscious mocks me.” Wow, so it’s not just her subconscious mocking her, but she’s scolding herself. Way to be a self-assured woman, Ana. “I wrap my arms around myself” (keep in mind this is going down on the sidewalk outside a coffee shop) “and note with relief that the green man has appeared” (Oh, Tom Bombadail, I didn’t know you were in this book!). “I quickly make my way across, conscious that Grey is behind me” (Um, you’re walking to the same place, of course he is. Way to make it awkward, Ana).

“Thanks for the tea and doing the photo shoot,” I murmur.

“Anastasia…I…” He stops, and the anguish in his voice demands my attention, so I peer unwillingly up at him. His grey eyes are bleak as he runs his hand through his hair.

He looks torn, frustrated, his expression stark, all his careful control has evaporated.

(112)

Aaaaangst. Also, he is anguished after telling her she should stay away, and he looks frustrated, and her response is as follows:

“What, Christian?” I snap irritably after he says – nothing. I just want to go. I need to take my fragile, wounded pride away and somehow nurse it back to health.

“Good luck with your exams,” he murmurs.

Huh? This is why he looks so desolate? This is the big send off? Just to wish me luck in my exams?

“Thanks.” I can’t  disguise the sarcasm in my voice. “Good bye, Mr. Grey.” I turn on my heel, vaguely amazed that I don’t trip, and without giving him a second glance, I disappear down the sidewalk toward the underground garage.

(112)

So, this bit isn’t great, but it isn’t bad. She’s misreading him horribly, which is why I will again point out that although we’re told later on how bright she is, I call bullshit because no matter how much I’m told she’s bright, I won’t believe it ‘til I see it. The upside is that she’s standing up for herself, sort of. She doesn’t want to put up with his angsty BS, so good on you, Ana. But then this happens:

Once underneath the dark, cold concrete of the garage with its bleak fluorescent light, I lean against the wall and put my head in my hands. What was I thinking? Unbidden and unwelcome tears pool in my eyes. Why am I crying? I sink to the ground, angry at myself for this senseless reaction. Drawing up my knees, I fold in on myself. I want to make myself as small as possible. Perhaps this nonsensical pain will be smaller the smaller I am.

There’s going to be a few paragraphs that I’m going to give you from this section, but this is her first reaction to a man she’s only just met not kissing her. I will say for her, at least she realizes this reaction is unreasonable, but she still goes and sits on the ground in an empty parking garage and has what amounts to a panic attack. Stuff like this makes me wonder more if she has mental problems, and – this goes without saying – I don’t mean that in a “bad” way (whatever that means). It’s a sincere observation from someone who has suffered from mental problems. She has a breakdown from being rejected, she thinks horribly about herself at all times, and she feels the need to be small and unnoticeable so the pain cannot find her. This reminds me of the panic attacks I used to get which were rooted in a deep sense of unworthiness.

Placing my head on my knees, I let the irrational tears fall unrestrained. I am crying over the loss of something I never had. How ridiculous. Mourning something that never was – my dashed hopes, dashed dreams, and my soured expectations.

(113)

Dashed hopes and dreams? Does this girl have no ambition whatsoever outside of love? Oh, right. Victorian romances. Even those girls, though, occasionally had other hopes and dreams outside romance. I’m starting to think Ana wasn’t a very good English major. I really want to read an analysis of Nabokov, written by Ana. Oh, God. Why did I just give myself that idea? Anyways, so, she goes on in her pity party:

I have never been on the receiving end of rejection. Okay…so I was always one of the last to be picked for basketball or volleyball – but I understood that – running and doing something else at the same time like bouncing or throwing a ball is not my thing. I am a serious liability in any sporting field.

Romantically, though, I’ve never put myself out there, ever. A lifetime of insecurity – 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.

(113)

The underline is mine. She rebuffs ADMIRERS. PLURAL. Not that one awkward guy in her Chem class she talks about (which, BTW, remind me, what class does Bella meet Edward in again? Nicely done, ELJ.), but admirers. Including, but not limited to, Paul and José. This girl describes herself as pale and skinny, which are desirable in our culture, “scruffy” (who pictures Tramp from Lady and the Tramp? Just me? Also, whose fault is that?!), and uncoordinated. Note that she doesn’t at any point talk about her personality. Not once. She also says none of them have ever “sparked [her] interest”. Is that their fault, Ana, darling? They’re not all going to look like “Christian damn Grey.” She says, “Maybe I should be kinder to the likes of Paul Clayton and José Rodriguez, though I’m sure neither of them have been found subbing alone in dark places.”   Is that not a phrase out of a Victorian novel? I mean, I want to go through my Bronte collection and see where they call giving attention to a man “kindness” because I’m certain I’ve read it before. And what does it matter that they’ve never been found sobbing alone in dark places? First off, Ana, you don’t know them; maybe they have mental issues, too. Second, you haven’t been found, except by the multiple folks that seem to occupy your mind. Third, angst much? She’s worse than Harry Potter in the Order of the Phoenix. And I hated Harry in that book. The 5th was one of the ones I read least, second only to the last one (because the emotional pain of Snape’s death was just… *sob*).

Hey, welcome back, subconscious: “Stop! Stop Now! – My subconscious is metaphorically screaming at me, arms folded, leaning on one leg and tapping her foot in frustration. Get in the car, go home do your studying. Forget about him… Now! And stop all this self-pitying, wallowing crap” (114). How, excactly, is her subconscious metaphorically screaming while also actively doing physical action? The first time the subconscious turned up, there were no actions, so you could almost use metaphorical (no, you couldn’t) but here, it’s an actual person, so… no. She’s doing action, so is she not also able to speak? Even if it’s not out loud? By the way, Ana is all oh my god I have to study but… she’s an English major. Just English, as far as I’m aware, so… what is she studying, exactly? There was very little that was possible to study whenever I wrote exams because English exams tend to be essays you write in class the day of. All you need to know is know the books you’ve read, and Ana makes it sound like all she does is read old literature, which I assume is all she’s studying because that’s the only literature she deems important, so what the hell is she studying?

Ana gets home to find Kate at her laptop (see, Ana, Kate the journalist knows how to use a laptop; why don’t you?), and Kate is very worried when she sees her best friend has been crying. She asks, “Ana what’s wrong?” to which Ana’s thoughts reply, “Oh no… not 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” (115).  That, Ana, first off, is insulting to people with disabilities. Shame on you. Also, Ana has this thing where she describes actions with definitive meaning, as if the viewer of the action should know exactly what it means, or that every facial expression has an exact definition. This reminds me distinctly of “Curious Case of the Dog in the Nighttime” by Mark Haddon which is a fabulous book I recommend to everyone, but in which the protagonist is Autistic and at one point describes how his teacher shows him the various meanings of facial expressions using pictures to help him understand what people might be thinking, such as:

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You’re welcome. Second, if your best friend whom you know rarely cries showed up at home after a date with her eyes red from crying, would you ask what happened? And would you, being a modern person, knowing your friend is exceptionally sexually limited in her experience, perhaps worry that she’s been, oh, I dunno, forced to do something she didn’t want to do because of her naivety? That’s what I thought.  Ana, though, takes it as a huge infringement of her privacy that her friend cares about her enough to stop her own studying and check what’s wrong.  Ana calls Kate “scary”  when she growls, “What did that bastard do you to?” and Ana replies, “Nothing”, to which her thoughts add, “That’s actually the problem” (115). I know (I hope) I’m reading too much into this when Kate basically asks Ana if she has been raped, and Ana replies, “no, and that’s the problem”. Being in English major mode, I realize that’s a stretch, but it’s very telling about the rest of their relationship. Ana then “distracts” Kate from “…him” (she actually thinks “…him”) by mentioning she was almost hit by a bicycle, to which I then hope again I am over-reading by seeing a parallel between this and the “Oh, I just bumped into a table/door/etc.” that abused women often use to cover the fact that their significant other is beating them, or the “Oh I’m/he’s just really stressed” line that people covering for emotional abuse use. You shouldn’t have to distract your friends from the fact that you’re emotionally broken by the person you’re into. I get that Ana is supposed to be super private, but this is over the top. She won’t even say to Kate “I’d rather not talk about it”; she just deflects the conversation entirely. She hides from confrontation so completely that when she gets in too over her head with Christian she can’t find a way to escape without causing drama, and so she stays and allows herself to defuse miniature problems rather than the most important one (ie. The fact that she’s in an abusive relationship). The two girls have a conversation where we go from this: Ana: “’Christian saved me,’ I whisper,” to Kate: “’How was coffee? I know you hate coffee.’ [Ana:] ’I hate tea. It was fine.’” Drama queen, one. Two, Kate is supposed to be worldly. What’s with these women thinking that “want to go for coffee” literally means “I am going to buy you coffee, you better drink it”? I don’t understand. I thought these two were supposed to be smart. Ana tells Kate she won’t be seeing Christian anymore because he’s “a little out of [her] league” and that it’s “obvious” to which Kate replies, “Not to me. […] He’s got more money than you, but then he has more money than most people in America.” Um, also, he’s a grown man with a business, whereas Ana is still in university? And since when does that matter, anyways? There’re men and women both who devote their lives to marrying rich; why is Ana not allowed to transgress that line? Ana insists that he’s physically out of her league to which Kate replies, aptly, “Ana! For heaven’s sake – how many times must I tell you? You’re a total babe.” Ana thinks, in response to this, “Oh no. She’s off on this tirade again.” I WONDER WHY, ANA. There’s a theory around that questions if Ana and Mia (Mia being Christian’s sister) are stand-ins for Anorexia (Ana) and Bulimia (Mia) because those are the names used within these communities to make their eating disorders sound more friendly. Ana is described as really, really skinny, and we see throughout the book where Ana refuses to eat so often that it seems maybe she does have a problem with food. I feel like if that were true, this moment here is where we see how hard Kate is trying to tell her anorexic roommate that she is, in fact, attractive in an attempt to curb her eating disorder. It’s Kate’s turn to change the subject by asking Ana if she wants to see the article, and Ana thinks, “Do I need a visual reminder of the beautiful Christian I-don’t-want-you Grey?” This is my immediate thought:

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She magic’s a smile and looks at the photo, “and there he is, staring at me in black and white, staring at me and finding me lacking”. I find it interesting that it’s a black and white photo, and Ana sees all human relationships, indeed the world, in black and white. She then pretends to read the article that her friend worked so hard on, and it’s “suddenly, blinding obvious [why he’s not the man for her]. He’s too glorously good-looking. [They are] poles apart and from too very different worlds.” Since when are all beatiful people from a different world than people who aren’t? Does beautiful translate directly into rich? Because Kate is described as beautiful, and she’s rich. Is that it? If you’re rich you’re beautiful, and therefore unable to interact efficiently with the likes of us plebes? Does she think Donald Trump is Adonis? With that comb-over? Really? And she has a vision of her “as Icarus flying to close to the sun and crashing and burning as a result”. Pretty sure Icarus drowned, but nevertheless. Do we recall why Icarus was flying so close to the sun? He was there because his father, Daedalus, built him wings to fly, to escape captivity, and Icarus didn’t heed his father’s warning to not fly so close, because his wings would melt. The story works; just not the way it feels like ELJ meant it to. Ana is warned off of Christian time and time again, and yet she goes to him, and arrogantly thinks that she can fix a man. She tries, but ends up drowning in his abuse and manipulation. God, if this book weren’t so bad, I would think it were well written.

Sidenote: this is something that Nabokov writes about often, one such time being in “Pale Fire”. He basically mocks the reader’s attempts to analyze. I’m mocking myself as I read, while also wondering if ELJ is really as terrible a writer as I think she is, or if she’s a brilliant writer, and uses shitty grammar and bad everything else to cover up a really interesting observation of abuse. And then I cry a little inside, because all the slut shaming and all her interviews and all her responses to real abuse victims tell me otherwise – that is, that her writing is actually just an embodiment of all things gender-related in this world in the worst possible way.

I digress.

Ana decides Christian’s rejection is “easier to accept” if it’s because she’s not pretty enough and her subconscious has a “final swipe” at her before “unleashing itself on [her] dreams”, by which Ana means that she dreams of “gray eyes, leafy patterns in milk, and […] running through dark places with eerie strip lighting” (119). Let me remind you, in case you’ve forgotten due to all the tedium, this is supposedly the most erotic novel ever written, and I have yet to be titillated. I mean, I get metaphorical dream sequences, but this? This is actual dream stuff. It literally just tells us again what went on. It’s the opaque conclusion sentence at the end of a bad essay. She also continues that sentence at the end, by the way, with: “I don’t know if I’m running toward something or away from it… it’s just not clear.” No shit. You don’t know something/it’s not clear? How stupid does Ana think we are, having to tell us that if she doesn’t understand something it’s not clear? She also keeps, “coming back to the ‘I don’t do the girlfriend thing’  quote”, to which I say, one, stick with one method of quotation, and two, why is she saying “quote” here? “Quote” is what you say when quoting a book; you don’t say “quote” when talking about what someone just said to you. It’s not a quote. Then, without any page break or indication of time, “I put my pen down. Finished. My final exam is over.” Is this an extension of the dream sequence? And does she mean her final final exam, or her final for that class? “I feel the Cheshire cat grin spread over my face.”

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Note: the crazy look of desperation, and the unnecessary over-indulgence in hyperbole. So Ana is done her exam before Kate, who is “scribbling furiously, five minutes to the end”. Why do I feel like Ana is one of those people who brags about when they finished their exam to people like Kate who actually care about their grades, thereby making them freak out? Also, why are Ana and Kate in the same exam room? They’re taking different courses, presumably, and usually when universities put multiple classes in the same “sports hall” (way to use North American terms) they mix programs, such as English with Science. Did ELJ just put this here so we know that Ana is actually smarter than Kate because she finished her exam first? That’s not how exams work, ELJ. I aced 90% of my exams, and often I was the last one writing because I wanted to edit and/or add details that I had thought of while I was writing a different part of the paper.

“It’s Friday, and we shall be celebrating tonight, really celebrating. I might even get drunk! I’ve never been drunk before.”

(119)

This is actually important, because after this day, Ana drinks like a fish, especially when she is in Christian’s presence. She thinks, while she is sitting there, “This is it, the end of my academic career. I shall never have to sit in rows of anxious, isolated students again. Inside I’m doing graceful cartwheels around my head, knowing full well that’s the only place I can do graceful cartwheels,” at which point I wonder if this girl can commend herself on anything without simultaneously putting herself down. The two, “head back to [their] apartment together in [Kate’s] Mercedes, refusing to discuss [their] final paper. Kate is more concerned about what she’s going to wear to the bar this evening” (120). Bull. From what we know about Kate, I guarantee you that bitch would nitpick every damn piece of her final exam on the way home. Either that, or Kate is not nearly as independent or intelligent as we have been lead to believe. They get inside, and “Kate is excited as she heads into the kitchen for [their] ‘Exams are finished hurrah Champagne’.” That’s a hell of a specific champagne name. And, if it’s real champagne, wouldn’t it be en francaise? “Examens sont finis champagne hourra”? Also, I’m not sure if Kate is excited for the champagne, or for the package that has arrived, since the line reads, ‘“Open it!” Kate is excited […]’ Anyways, while Kate gets the first drink of many, Ana opens a parcel which has mysteriously arrived. Inside the box is a

“half leather box containing three seemingly identical old cloth-covered books in mint condition and a plain white card. Written on one side, in black ink in neat cursive handwriting is: 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…

I recognize the quote from Tess. I am stunned by the irony as I’ve just spent three hours writing about the novels of Thomas Hardy in my final examination. Perhaps there is no irony… perhaps it’s deliberate. I inspect the books closely, three volumes of Tess of the D’Urbervilles. I open the front cover. Written in an old typeface on the front plate is: ‘London: Jack R. Osgood, McIlvaine and Co., 1891.’

Holy shit – they are first editions.

(122)

So, Grey has sent her books that, according to Kate’s “good friend Google”, are worth upwards of 14K. I did a quick Google search myself, and this is what popped up. It’s the first thing that appears when you Google “Tess of the D’Urbervilles first edition”. Way to Google, Kate. Also, if ELJ wanted to show what a high roller Christian was, he should have bought her a first edition Casino Royale, which apparently is going for 75K from the same site. This reminds me of the time my Grandmother bought me a $5,000 silk, hand-woven rug that is still residing in a drawer in my parents’ house because, as broke newlyweds, my husband and I have fuck all to do with a rug of that quality. That money could pay for 1/6 of my student loans, or four months’ rent. I’m grateful and everything, but how practical a gift is that? You don’t actually read books like that unless you’re studying them for a PhD because touching them and not keeping them in a very particular atmosphere will ruin them.

Way to not give a shit about antique books, Christian. Using them just to impress his paramour. Such a hipster.

Ana and Kate gush over the books, though Ana does less gushing and more angst-ing, with Kate pointing out how much Grey is into Ana, and Ana being all, I’ve been thinking of him non-stop but “he told me I wasn’t for him”. No, Ana, he told you, and I quote, “I’m not the man for you” (109). We’ve been over this already; we were there. He said almost literally the exact opposite.  Ugh. This girl, I swear. The quote, by the way, if you were wondering (and I know you were): “Tess says it to her mother after Alex D’Urberville has had his wicked way with her” (123), to which Kate replies, “I know”. I get that some people think English and Journalism classes are the same, but they’re not. And not everyone that enjoys reading loves “the classics”. Kate seems to be more of a post-modern feminist lit sort of person. I understand that the inference here is that they both just wrote an exam on these books, but like I said before, they’re not in the same major, so they wouldn’t have the same classes, especially in their last semester. Kate asks, “What is he trying to say?” and Ana replies, “I don’t know, and I don’t care.” Bullshit you don’t care. She says she’ll send them back with “an equally baffling quote from some obscure part of the book”.

Admittedly, I’ve never read Tess of the D’Urbervilles, but it sounds like the moment a man has his “wicked way” with a woman back in those days is kind of a significant thing. The fact that they can name the section exactly doesn’t sound “obscure” to me. Also, if she’s so smart, how is that quote “baffling”?  I mean, it’s actually kind of obvious. It’s also another moment I wonder if ELJ was actually trying to warn women against abusive douches like Christian because they’ve read this novel that tells them the tricks an abusive man might use on them. Ana and Kate giggle about the fact that Ana is going to return the books by quoting “the bit where Angel Clare says fuck off” and Ana tells us, “I love Kate, she’s so loyal and supportive” (123).

WHAT.

Hold the fuck up, Ana.

You’ve been thinking nothing but mean thoughts about Kate this entire time, including when she was checking up on you to make sure you weren’t raped, and now she’s “loyal and supportive”?! Goddamnit, Ana. I have friends like Ana, and they’re so irritating to have around sometimes. You always feel as if you have to apologize for being there for them, or for expecting them to be a friend back to you.

They head out to the bar after predrinking their champagne, and José joins them. We find out he’s a year younger than them, or at a year behind them (because he’s graduating “next year”), which makes no sense since he and Ana met during her first year, unless they’re saying he’s taken less classes and/or failed classes over the last four years.  I like to think that José has had to work a bunch of jobs to support himself because he’s just that awesome, and Christian can suck it. José asks, “so what now Ana?” which confounds me again, because isn’t he her other best friend? Shouldn’t he know what she’s doing? It’s as if ELJ is just using him as a tool to have this conversation so that we the reader know what’s coming next… even though we’re obviously going to be reading about it later. And then this happens:

“Kate and I are moving to Seattle. Kate’s parents have bout a condo there for her.”

“Dios mio, how the other half live.”

(124)

See? He worked hard to support himself through school, because “the other half here” I’m assuming means rich people. We get it, ELJ, it’s awesome to be rich and have your parents buy you a flat in your university town, and a condo in Seattle. Is this supposed to turn me on? Because it doesn’t. He offers her another drink, and she asks if he’s trying to get her drunk and giggles, where later Christian will actually get her drunk and she’ll be mad. She gets a pitcher of beer (because we all know if you’ve had too much to drink, you drink beer.) and Kate “bellows”, “More drink, Ana!” Grammar police! What is that sentence, Kate? I am disappointed. Even when I’m tipsy I am grammatically correct, and Kate supposedly “has the constitution of an ox” so I don’t see why she’s so drunk she’s acting like a cavewoman. She’s got an arm “draped” over the photographer we met earlier (so we do see him again!) and he’s only got eyes for Kate because, “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.” That’s a really weird outfit for a rich college girl. Is camisole different in UK English than Canadian English? Because here, a camisole is a tank top with skinny straps. Ana, because she can’t go a paragraph without putting herself down, says, “Me, I’m more of a Converse and T-shirt kind of girl, but I’m wearing my most flattering jeans”.

As a woman who wears Converse and rocks them, I hate the thought that there are women in the world who started wearing Converse because of this book. Converse are awesome, Ana, and you can’t bloody have them. Besides, I get that Ana’s a hipster, but I feel like she’s the weirdest hipster ever; she reads old English literature, and wears jeans and Converse, and has never had a drink before (supposedly, but we’ll see how that works out with never being kissed). We are then given this description: “Woah. Head spin. I have to grab the back of the chair. Tequila based cocktails are not a good idea” (126). I’m not one to claim that fiction is often biographical, but this makes me wonder if ELJ’s no-go liquor is tequila (like many others’). Most people have a liquor they can’t drink because it reminds them of a crazy drunken night. My one friend can’t drink Sambuca or stand the smell of licorice because she drank almost an entire bottle once and heaved it up pretty spectacularly; another, gin and cranberry juice.

Ana staggers to the line for the powder room and, “there’s a line, but at least it’s quiet and cool in the corridor”. When’s the last time ELJ was at a college bar, do you think? Hands up, college friends, if you know of college bars where there is an inch of space that isn’t a broom cupboard that is both quiet and cool, especially where the line for the “powder room” is. Get a bunch of drunk girls together, pretty sure it will be both loud and hot. Ana pulls out her phone and looks through it, and finds Grey’s number. She thinks, “If he wants me to stay away, he should leave me alone” (126). True that, dear girl. She “hits the automatic re-dial” – AKA the call button. I tell my students, don’t add words just for the sake of padding word count, because it will inevitably not make sense. Case and point, who calls it the automatic re-dial? That button doesn’t exist. And if it did, it would call the last person you dialed, not the person whose number you’re highlighting. Anyways, Grey answers on the second ring, and she thinks, “He’s surprised to hear from me. Well, frankly, I’m surprised to ring him.” First, “ring” is a Briticism.  Second, you hit the button, Ana; you shouldn’t be. Her befuddled brain then registers, “how does he know it’s me?” Oh, I dunno, call display? Is that possible? No? That doesn’t exist? He’s only a mogul in the telecommunications company. It’s not like he’d have simple things like call display. She “slurs” at him, “why did you send me the books?” and he comments she sounds strange. “His voice is filled with concern.” She replies, ‘“I’m not the strange one, you are,” I accuse. There – that told him, my courage fuelled by alcohol.’  This is what amounts for courage, ladies. Telling a man he’s strange. Not calling him out on his bullshit or anything, just telling him that he’s strange. He asks if she’s been drinking, and where she is, and how she’s getting home. “This conversation,” she tells us, “is not going how I expected.” Wait, what? You told us you were “surprised” you were calling him, and now you’re saying you had expectations for the phonecall? I don’t understand how this girl thinks, at all. He demands she tell him where she is; “His tone is so, so dictatorial, his usual control freak.” This stranger is demanding to know where she is when she is drunk, if you didn’t get that. And she’s known him all of a week and she knows his “usual”? She hands up on him, and this is the thought pattern that follows:

I hang up. Ha! Though he didn’t tell me about the books. Mission not accomplished. I am really quite drunk – my head swims uncomfortably as I shuffle with the line. Well, the object of the exercise was to get drunk. I have succeeded. This is what it’s like – probably not an experience to be repeated. The line has moved, and it’s now my turn. I stare blankly at the poster on the back of the toilet door that extols the virtues of safe sex. Holy crap, did I just call Christian Grey? Shit. My phone rings and it makes me jump. I yelp in surprise.

(129)

So, if she’s drunk, how are we getting a sober thought pattern, first off. Next, she tells us the mission was not accomplished, she has been talking about the phonecall, and then she says, “the object of the exercise was to get drunk”. Did she get drunk off of talking to Christian? Pretty sure that’s what made her call him in the first place. “This is what it’s like – probably not an experience to be repeated.” Who’s saying the latter part? Often, the italics indicate the subconscious, but we’re usually warned when that bitch is going to show up. Sometimes it’s recalling a quote – though that’s not usually consistent either. What’s with the inconsistent text notation, then? Also, interesting to note, she begins to drink more and more as the series goes on. Words mean things, by the way, and so staring blankly and also noticing what something says do not equate; how can she stare blankly at a poster and also know it extols the virtues of safe sex? I find it funny, too, that she’s on the toilet right now, she says “holy crap”, and then, “shit” and then her phone rings and she jumps and yelps. All while sitting on the toilet in a supposedly quiet college bar bathroom. Christian calls her and informs her that he’s coming to get her. No, really.

“Hi,” I bleat timidly into the phone. I hadn’t reckoned on this.

“I’m coming to get you,” he says and hangs up.

(129)

First off, sheep bleat. Second, why is she answering the phone in the toilet? Third, how could she not reckon on him calling her back? Fourth, and finally, he has informed her that he, a stranger, is going to come get her while she is drunk at a bar with her friends and doesn’t even ask if that’s ok, and she never tells him where she is. Guys. She says, “Holy crap” and pulls her jeans up, which gives me a really bad mental image. Know what else gives me bad mental images? This:

My heart is thumping. Come to get me? Oh no. I’m going to be sick… no… I’m fine. Hang on. He’s just messing with my head. I didn’t tell him where I was. He can’t find me here. Besides, it will take him hours to get here from Seattle, and we’ll be long gone by then.

She thinks, “oh no” at him telling her he’s going to come get her; she feels nauseated; she says, “he can’t find me here” as if she’s hiding from him, and “we’ll be long gone by then” as if they’re running away from him. Know what else uses this sort of language? Battered women trying to escape their abusive partners. This is immediately followed by, “I wash my hands and check my face in the mirror./I look flushed and slightly unfocused. Hmm… tequila.”

This girl’s priorities are horrible.

A stranger has just told her he plans on kidnapping her from the bar where she is celebrating with her friends, and she checks herself out in the mirror. She also doesn’t tell her friends about the phonecall or threat (I will call it a threat, because it was), and then she steps outside alone to “get some fresh air”. Kate calls Ana a lightweight but lets her go outside by herself. What happened to looking after your friend, Kate? That’s, like, rule number one of girls going clubbing or bar hopping nowadays. You never go anywhere alone. It’s way too dangerous. Ana realizes she’s way drunk, to the point that she is seeing doubles of everything “like in old re-runs of Tom and Jerry Cartoons.” Back to the child imagery when she’s going adult things, again? Alrighty. “I think I’m going to be sick. Why did I let myself get this messed up?” Granted, that’s pretty drunk, but then, it’s her first time being drunk, and she’s celebrating with a bunch of people who it would seem are heavy drinkers. And she did it because she wanted to have fun. Which is apparently not allowed. Now, ladies and gentlemen, is one of the scenes that makes me want to throw my iPad across the room. Trigger warning. Ready? José appears, and asks if she’s ok; she replies that she’s had too much, and he murmurs, “Me, too.”

His dark eyes are watching me intently. “Do you need a hand?” he asks and steps closer, putting his arm around me.

“José I’m okay. I’ve got this.” I try and push him away rather feebly.

“Ana, please,” he whispers, and now he’s holding me in his arms, pulling me close.

“José, what you doing?” [sic]

“You know I like you Ana, please.” He has one hand at the small of my back holding me against him, the other at my chin tipping back my head. Holy fuck… he’s going to kiss me. “No José, stop – no.” I push him, but he’s a wall of hard muscle, and I cannot shift him.

His hand has slipping into my hair, and he’s holding my head in place.

“Please, Ana, cariña,” he whispers against my lips. His breath is soft and smells too sweet – of margarita and beer. He gently trails kisses along my jaw up to the side of my mouth. I feel panicky, drunk, and out of control. The feeling is suffocating.

“José, no,” I plead. I don’t want this. You are my friend, and I think I’m going to throw up. “I think the lady said no.” A voice in the dark says quietly. Holy shit! Christian Grey, he’s here. How? José releases me.

“Grey,” he says tersely. I glance anxiously up at Christian. He’s glowering at José, and he’s furious. Crap.

(132)

Let’s pause here for a  moment and look at this. José is without a doubt in the wrong here. He shouldn’t be kissing his friend who has informed him that she has had too much to drink, so point one against José. He also tries to use the fact that he cares for her as an excuse for his actions, so take away point two. Let me say yay for Ana for saying no, and sticking to it. That said. Christian fucking Grey. I THINK THE LADY SAID NO?!  What absolute  bullshit. The lady said no to him; she said don’t come get her. Just because he happened to come across José doing something bad and happened to save her in this moment from unwanted male attention, is irrelevant; Christian’s attention is also unwanted. We know Ana never told Christian where she was, so how the hell did he find her? Clearly, being utterly computer illiterate, she hasn’t been Tweeting or Facebooking all night, so it’s not that way (which would be equally creepy anyways). We find out later that he tracked her cell phone.

This is NOT ok.

The only way a person could have the right to do that is if you give them that permission. My husband has my permission – my permission – to track my cell phone if I am late coming home and he hasn’t heard from me. It’s not ok for Christian – a man whom Ana explicitly told to not come find her – to do it just because. I had an ex that expected to know where I was at all times. He would get upset with me if I didn’t keep him updated at all times. That was bad. This is worse. Ana begins throwing up “spectacularly”, and Grey holds her hair back. Aww. Guys. He held her hair back. We should forgive him stalking her, see? He’s so nice! My ex raped me, but he once took care of me when I wasn’t feeling well. Guys, he’s so nice! I should definitely not be upset about the whole rape thing. COME THE FUCK ON. Ana then “tries awkwardly to push [Christian] away” because he’s holding her while she vomits, but that’s ok because he’s helping her.

She then vows that she’ll never drink again, and I laugh, and then cry a little inside.

“This is too appalling for words.” Hey look, Ana and I agree on something.  Christian hands her  a handkerchief, and she comments in her head that, “only he would have a monogrammed, freshly laundered, linen handkerchief.” Apparently I’m Christian Grey, guys, because I have one. And why is “freshly laundered” included in this list? Should I assume that unless that’s mentioned that it’s dirty? Ew.  She continues thinking, “I didn’t know you could still buy these.” Really? I just… I can’t even describe the frustration I feel with this girl’s cluelessness. Is she aware that a handkerchief, aka a pocket square, is a key piece of clothing for well-dressed men? And that you can get pretty much anything cloth embroidered? I thought this girl was supposed to be smart. Also, she’s drunk, guys. This is all going through her head while she’s wiping her mouth of vomit, “swamped with shame, disgusted with [herself].” She attempts to think of a moment worse than this, and she comes up with Christian’s rejection”. She was almost a victim of date rape, and her being rejected is worse? I just. I can’t. What the actual. What.

I glance at José who looks pretty shamefaced himself and, like me, intimidated by Grey.

No, I don’t think he is intimidated by Grey in the same way Ana is. I doubt José is shy around him because he wants the D so bad he’s willing to overlook stalkerish behaviour. Or maybe he does. I’m sure there’s slash shipping along those lines somewhere. Hot sex aside, I imagine José’s “shy” because realizes that Christian is a witness to his forcing himself upon his friend.

I have a few choice words for my so-called friend, none of which I can repeat in front of Christian Grey CEO. Ana who are you kidding, he’s just seen you hurl all over the ground and into the local flora. There’s no disguising your lack of ladylike behaviour.

Apparently, being upset with the person who was forcing himself on you is unladylike. I don’t even know what to do with this except point to it and go: THIS is one of the problems of our culture right here. My ex’s mother asked me, “Why didn’t you stop him from raping you? Why didn’t you leave? He was drunk, he didn’t mean it. You shouldn’t be upset with him.” I wanted to scream at her, guys; I wanted to ask how dare she make apologies for him, and how dare she blame me. I wanted to tell her how much her son had put me through, what he’d done to me. How much my cervix had hurt for ages afterwards. But I didn’t. I told her, calmly, that he and I were no longer in contact and that he had to forgive himself. Afterwards, I broke down, crying hysterically in my later-to-be-husband’s car. Was I ashamed? No. Ana makes it sound that being upset is unladylike, and she makes the thought of confronting José more appealing by saying she’s already dispelled all thoughts of ladylike behaviour by throwing up. I’m going to throw up because of this stupid trope, and I hold it to be true I’ll still be ladylike after. Ana apologizes to Grey for the phonecall, and other things – “the list is endless” apparently – and he scolds her: “I’m all for pushing limits, but really this is beyond the pale. Do you make a habit of this kind of behaviour?” Who says that, first of all; second, even Ana asks, “What the hell has it got to do with him?” – it’s none of his damn business what she does with her body. “I didn’t invite him here” she reminds us, and I go, yay backbone! You go girl. Now find that courage and say it out loud! “He sounds like a middle-aged man scolding me like an errant child.” Quite right; he does. But weird that she’s using father/daughter jargon to describe their dynamic.

Part of me wants to say, if I want to get drunk every night like this, then it’s my decision and nothing to do with him – but I’m not brave enough. Not now that I’ve thrown up in front of him. Why is he still standing there?

Where is he standing exactly? Did she expect him to leave after he saved her, like Superman just flying up and away after he defeats a villain?

“No,” I say contritely. “I’ve never been drunk before and right now I have no desire to ever be again.”

I just don’t understand why he’s here.

Because he’s a creepy stalker. Also, Ana told Kate she’d be back in five minutes. No way this whole event has gone down in less than five minutes. Where the heck is Kate coming to check on her friend who has never been drunk before? José is back; why isn’t Kate worried about Ana? Christian, “hoists [her] into his arms, holding [her] close to his chest like a child.”

“Come on, I’ll take you home,” he murmurs.

“I need to tell Kate.” Holy Moses, I’m in his arms again.

“My brother can tell her.”

(136)

This is not ok. A man she’s met all of twice is telling her that he will take her home, and that his brother – whom she has never met – will tell her friend that he has done so. First, why would Ana believe that his brother is actually there? That could be a big ol’ lie. She doesn’t know. Even if his brother is telling her, though, why would Kate ever stand for it? If some man I’ve never met walked up to me and informed me that his brother was taking my drunk best friend home, I would be hard pressed not to call the police.  Ana asks Christian how he found her:

“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.

(137)

Goddamnit, Ana. She’s questioning if it’s legal, and mentally calling him a stalker, but it’s him so it’s ok. No, it’s not ok. And what is it about him? Is it because he’s super attractive? Rich? Older? None of those make stalking ok. Christian asks if she has a jacket or purse:

“Err… yes, I came with both. Christian, please, I need to tell Kate. She’ll worry.” His mouth presses into a hard line, and he sighs heavily.

“If you must.”

Excuse you, Christian, but she’s being smart and telling her friend where to tell the police to go if her body ends up being found somewhere. Honestly, for a man so focused on her being careful, he sure gives zero fucks about her safety. The following is something that annoys me if only because it’s so easily fixable: “It’s noisy, crowded, and the music has started so there is a large crowd on the dance floor.” What was it like before? Was there no music? Since when do bars not play music, and was it not noisy and crowded earlier? She’s been gone maybe fifteen minutes, and during that time she has been standing at the front of the building. Did the giant crowd of people that apparently appeared not see her being sexually assaulted outside? Or maybe the bouncer?

They get back inside, and Ana does this confounding action: “I struggle into my black jacket and place my small shoulder bag over my head so it sits at my hip.” Now, I get what they’re trying to say. I do. But the thought of drunken Ana putting the strap on her head just makes giggle. Ana describes Christian as having a, “clean, fresh smell” again, and I wonder if the men in her life just don’t wash. She has “forbidden, unfamiliar feelings that [she has] tried to deny surface” so apparently feeling aroused is forbidden now. She thinks, “Somewhere deep, deep down [her] muscles clench deliciously” and I wonder vaguely if she knows what vaginas or penises are.

Ana tells Christian where Kate is, and they walk over to her together he must exert his control over her first and leads her over to the bar, where they are served immediately, “no waiting for Mr. Control-Freak Grey.” If the bartender served Christian first, it’s only because he’s dressed in a way that shows he’s rich and the bartender wanted a good tip. Which I bet Mr. C-F G didn’t give him anyways. I doubt it’s because he’s famous since he’s so “enigmatic”.

Speaking of control freak, he shouts at Ana to drink the “very large” glass of ice water, and when she starts off by sipping it, he shouts at her, “All of it.” Since when is it a good idea to chug a glass of ice water when you’ve been drinking? Drink a glass of water, yes. Basically getting her to chug it though could have unfortunate, vomit-inducing results. Christian will do this a lot throughout the series; he tells Ana to do something because he believes it’s best for her, even if it’s against, say, a doctor’s orders, or a police officer. She thinks to herself that she is a “silly drunk girl”, and wonders if she will “ever live this down”. This, by the way, includes “ringing him”, and requiring needing rescuing from her “over amorous friend”. That’s what we’re calling attempted rape now? Not cool. Calling attempted rape “overly amorous” makes it sound like he got carried away and had no control over his actions. That’s a little dangerous, isn’t it? And Ana notes that she needed rescuing from him. Did Ana never watch Miss Congeniality?  S.I.N.G.!

So, Ana has chugged the water, and now Grey wants to dance with her, and – Goddamnit, Christian is wearing Converse, too, now? Goddamnit. Hipster Christian is wearing, “a loose white linen shirt, snug jeans, black Converse sneakers, and a dark pinstripe jacket. His shirt is unbuttoned at the top, and I see a sprinkling of hair in the gap. In [Ana’s] groggy frame of mind, he looks yummy” (140). I only put this here to note that they’ve been hanging out a while now, and only at this point does she notice what he’s wearing. I get it. She’s drunk, and sometimes you miss things when you’re drunk, but how is it this girl has been going on about his sexiness and yet she didn’t notice earlier what he looked like? Wouldn’t that be something the writer would put in earlier to, I dunno, set the scene or something? Also, they’re in a dimly lit, crowded bar. How can she see all this?

Christian takes her hand and leads her to the dance floor. Ana is reluctant, but he smiles an “amused, slightly sardonic smile” and he gives Ana’s hand “a sharp tug” so that she’s in his arms. “Boy, can he dance, and I can’t believe that I’m following him step for step. Maybe it’s because I’m drunk that I can keep up.” It’s interesting because through the rest of their relationship, Ana gets drunk so she can keep up with him in the rest of their life together, too. Funny how that works out.

And sad.

Ana thinks to herself, “My mother’s often-recited warning comes to me: Never trust a man who can dance.” Why? Because he’ll be so good at seduction he’ll break your heart? Because he’s secretly – gasp! – homosexual? Good lord. And considering her mother has been married four times, is she really the best person to take relationship advice from?   Ana sees Kate finally, and she’s dancing with Christian’s slightly-less-gorgeous brother, Elliot, “making her moves”, to which Ana can only think a) “she ever really does that [dancing her ass off] when she likes someone. Really likes someone.” and b) “it means there’ll be three of us for breakfast tomorrow”. Shows what Ana knows about Christian and “taking her home”.

So, Christian talks to Elliot, who talks to Kate, who waves at Ana, and “Christian propels us off the dance floor in double quick time,” at which point Ana thinks, “But I never got to talk to her. Is she ok?” I’m glad Ana is worried about Kate, even if she does think to herself following that, “I need to do the safe sex lecture” which makes me laugh since Ana knows exactly diddly over squat about sex where Kate seems to be experienced. What troubles me is that this broken telephone thing happened and Kate didn’t think it was weird that Christian just…. dragged Ana off like that.

Ana passes out in Christian Grey’s arms, and the chapter is over.

I’m becoming frustrated with this book, and I’m only at the end of chapter four. Goddamnit.

Til next time!

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