Thursday, June 6, 2013

50 Shades chapter 18 in which the book pretends to have a plot again

Sorry for the rough updating lately. Being Sick TM and its many, many complications has taken some of the wind out of my sails. I've been medicating with Sailor Moon (which anyone who follows me on twitter @SnappyErika knows well. There's probably a post about Sailor Moon being written in the near future....) and Will and I had parents visiting from out of province the last two weeks. Further proving the fact that our life is a sitcom. The last two episodes were the "parent" ones! Still, things seem to have gone back to "normal" and updates will hopefully continue on as such. I AM however (at least for now) dropping the Cat's Cradle posts, and the "every other Sunday" slots will be used sporadically, unless there is someone out there interested in running a bi-weekly thing (another deconstruction? Themes editorials? Corgi comics? I'm listening). If you are, e-mail (or comment/tweet/send messenger pigeons) your idea to

Right! Onto business! So the last chapter was brutal, but Chris, my drunken guardian angel, stepped in to save me from that mess. Trust me, no one would have made it out of the Dr. Flynn scene sober if it had been me writing it. Chris spared us ALL a great deal of suffering. You should all go back to last week's post to leave him some love. Now, ONWARDS! With Ana meeting Grey's shrink and getting the seal of approval from a professional that Grey is troubled but cute and probably not going to peel Ana's skin off and wear it as a snuggie (probably) they go for a drive. He, once again, has a "surprise" for her.


Seriously, can he never just... make plans with her? His constant "surprising" has reached the point that it's a pattern. He doesn't want Ana to have a say in what they do/what he buys her, so he constantly "surprises" her with extravagant gifts (which she has previously resisted) and outings? Now, they're always "romantic" and Ana is incredibly easy to please, so she's into it, but this is the point where Ana wants to return the favor. She has been buying little things as part of Grey's birthday gift, and teasing him by not telling him what she's planning. He... will react really horribly to it later. Like, full-blown fight over it, yet he gets to plan all these whimsical and romantic things for her, but when she does it, it panics him? People who hate surprises don't usually plan them. Is his need of total control over Ana and her actions so great that he can't stand NOT knowing what she's doing at all ever?

What is the surprise this time?

A house.

No, really.

Sorry, "an idea". He's actually making sure she likes the view before he buys it.

The drive is up to the Sound (the waterfront they sailed up before) which is filled with beautiful, expensive mansions. One is for sale. Old house, Ana falls in love, Grey just wanted to show her the view because he plans to tear it down and build something more environmentally friendly, but she loves it and wonders if they can't just convert the standing one into being more green.

Just another "he is the perfect fantasy man" scene, but one that is actually not bad. I only kind of want to set myself on fire here. There is also one bit in there I kind of like in there when the realtor suggests they could get horses because naturally that is a rich-person thing to do.

“The paddock would be where the meadow is at the moment?” I ask.
“Yes,” Miss Kelly says brightly.
To me the meadow looks like somewhere to lie in the long grass and have picnics, not for some four-legged fiend of Satan to roam.

And the reason I like this? Because this isn't a generic characterization. This isn't "likes to read and watch sail boats drift by" this is specific, and, if we're talking in "every woman" terms, an oddity. Bitch media has even been doing a series on "cowgirl" narratives and I remember a middle school teacher teasing that girls go through a "horse phase". "Four-legged fiend of Satan" is just so out of the expected norm, I can't help but like it.

So they begin to drive back to town, to "celebrate" Ana's new job at one of Grey's clubs (member, shockingly not owner) and there's this charming little show of privilege here.

“So you’re going to buy it?” I ask.
“You’ll put Escala on the market?”
He frowns. “Why would I do that?”
“To pay for . . .” My voice trails off—of course. I flush.
He smirks at me. “Trust me, I can afford it.”
“Do you like being rich?”
“Yes. Show me someone who doesn’t,” he says darkly.

Well, lottery winners are usually depressed AFTER winning millions of dollars and it took me all of half a second to come up with that. This is just--EVERYONE wants to be wealthy or would enjoy wealth? I think many people would feel overwhelmed, or guilty, or pressured about it. People constantly asking for money, having to hire freaking bodyguards, not being sure if your friends/lovers are into YOU or your money... I can see some downsides. I always said I'd rather be rich than famous (although now that I understand how author fame tends to work, I'd be pretty happy getting there, just saying...) but truth be told I've never really wanted more than the means to not need to WORRY* about money.

Grey does not mesh well with the idea that people are not monolithic. He operates under very broad, general assumptions (all straight men want to have sex with Ana--and maybe even some gay ones, now that I think about some of his previous responses--all women like spas 'n shit, and that is woman-specific, and everyone wants to be rich). I'm not sure if this is a reflection of EL James, or lazy writing. Either way, the whole thing was a show of wealth for Grey because he's trying to convince Ana to marry him. I feel I could get away writing a documentary-style voice over for the mating habits of Grey.

They go to his club, which is called "The Mile High Club" and Grey orders THE EXACT SAME THING that they had at the Heathcliff in book 1 (oysters and asparagus!) to celebrate Ana's new job. Now, I need to take a moment here to go on a food wizard rant. The odds of these two places having 2 courses worth of identical menu items is... slim. Like, down to the sides with the fish (although EL James does nod to the impossibility of this scenario by making it a different fish). Just--is this the end-all be-all of romantic or fancy food? Because any foodies reading at home may have gone along with it once, but twice? Fuck off. There is nothing inventive in this menu! Hrmpf. Now, this time Grey is taunting Ana by not QUITE fingerblasting her at the table, and tauntingly not-actually-touching her and being super gross by feeding her. No, really. I would hate both of them if I were at that club--maybe more than I do already.

“You’re not turning the tables on me, Miss Steele.” Smirking he reaches over and takes the spear from me—amazingly and annoyingly managing not to touch me again. No, this isn’t right—this is not going according to plan. Gah!
“Open your mouth,” he commands.


So after a bunch of taunting over dinner, they get in the elevator, with other people.

Oh my. I gape at the people in front of us, staring at the backs of their heads. They have no idea what we’re up to. Wrapping his free arm around my waist, Christian pulls me to him, holding me in place as his fingers explore. Holy fucking shit . . . in here?

He is fingerblasting her, in an elevator with other people around. The more I learn about kink, and the kink community, though much of it baffles me, the more I am determined to try and keep an open mind. My general stance has become "So long as no one is being harmed without their consent". I then realized that there is one fairly acceptable kink that, under my own rule, I have a major problem with. People who want to have sex in public spaces because they enjoy the danger of being caught. What Grey and Ana are doing is borderline illegal. Those people are not consenting to being apart of their sexy-fun-times. They just had a nice dinner and are heading home. But they ARE a part of it, like it or not. Just--

Again I stifle a groan when his fingers find their goal.
“Always so ready, Miss Steele,” he whispers as he slips a long finger inside me. I squirm and gasp. How can he do this with all these people here?
“Keep still and quiet,” he warns, murmuring in my ear.

And now I understand why he kept giving her shit for making noise during. He was training her for exhibition foreplay. Going to go sob now, BRB.

The elevator is getting crowded. Christian moves us both farther back so that we’re now pressed into the corner, holding me in place and torturing me further. ... if anyone could be bothered to turn round and see what we’re doing . . . And he eases a second finger inside me.

Out of the elevator, and through the lobby....

“I’ve never had sex in a car,” I mumble. Christian halts and places those same fingers under my chin, tipping my head back and glaring down at me.
“I’m very pleased to hear that. I have to say I’d be very surprised, not to say mad, if you had.”
I flush, blinking up at him. Of course, I’ve only had sex with him. I frown at him.
“That’s not what I meant.”
“What did you mean?” His tone is unexpectedly harsh.
“Christian, it was just an expression.”
“The famous expression, ‘I’ve never had sex in a car.’ Yes, it just trips off the tongue.”
Jeez . . . what’s his problem?


“So you want sex in a car,” Christian murmurs as he switches on the ignition.
“Quite frankly, I would have been happy with the lobby floor.”
“Trust me, Ana, so would I. But I don’t fancy being arrested at this time of night, and I didn’t want to fuck you in a restroom. Well, not today.”
What! “You mean there was a possibility?”
“Oh yes.”
“Let’s go back.”

One thing I will give 50 Shades, it is not shy about showing female lust. Ana wants sex, Ana LIKES sex. She's slowly coming to terms with these not being bad things (and even seeing them as good) and to try to take the ebb off my rage, I'll try to concentrate on that. I mean, sure, Ana herself constantly shames and thinks herself better than any woman who dares appreciate the view of HER man and/or show their sexuality (Kate exempt, but barely) and has spent most of the last two books being pretty prudish but... now I'm sad again.

It's hard not to rage at this book when, ONCE AGAIN, we find out the reason Grey has taken a step away from instant gratification and back to sexy torture is because he's mad at Ana for not saying yes to his proposal yet. He knowingly, and repeatedly, uses sex as a way to punish her. Hngkdeojhetj42ijpdgf.

I just want all of these characters to burst into flames. Or be beaten up by Batman. Chris was right, there is not nearly enough Batman in this book (although Grey likes to pretend with his "Dark Knight" bullshit).

So, up to the apartment and fucking now.

Positioning himself, he pauses. “Keep your eyes open. I want to see you,” he whispers and clasping both my hands with his, he sinks slowly into me.

You know, if someone closes their eyes, YOU can still see them, Grey.

“Yes, Ana!” he cries. He collapses on me, releasing my hands and resting his head on my chest. My legs are still wrapped around him, and under the patient, maternal eyes of the Madonna paintings, I cradle his head against me and struggle to catch my breath.

Sooooo.... that's creepy. You're really going to not only draw images of Ana=Madonna, you're going to do it post sex, EL James? It's like she read the Madonna-whore complex and thought "this is a great idea!"

Ana thinks of something ELSE to surprise him with for his birthday, and has to "prepare" it the next morning. The reader isn't told what it is, but she grabs the jeans he wears in the red room of pain, and goes to grab a tie. When she does that, she finds a MYSTERIOUS BOX! Ana obviously being a lover of adventure RPGs cracks it open to get to the treasure and finds....

Ana then asks the sweet, prim and proper Mrs. Jones if she has the keys to the playroom (no, actually uses those words) so she can continue preparing her "surprise" (although she's less keen on it than before now that she's found he has pictures of naked women). Mrs Jones, by the way, has the keys, and knows what Ana is talking about. I kind of like that the woman just doesn't respond when asked, just "Er, yup. Here ya go!"

Off to work! The previously mentioned 'Grey getting angry at Ana for "hiding things"' exchange is had via e-mail. Kate gets back to town and Ana goes out with her, Ethan, and Jose. I like that we get a scene with Ana and her friends, and I hate how quickly it rushes to the bits about Grey because the rest doesn't matter. It'd be nice to feel like there are people in Ana's life who matter besides Grey.

Then Kate gets a call from Elliot, but he's calling to talk to Ana!

“Ana.” Elliot’s voice is clipped and quiet, and my scalp prickles ominously.
“What’s wrong?”
“It’s Christian. He’s not back from Portland.”
“What? What do you mean?”
“His helicopter has gone missing.”
“Charlie Tango?” I whisper as all the breath leaves my body. “No!”

That's right! Grey has gone missing! Two options: 1) Trying to manipulate Ana into marrying him by making her realize how much she loooves him. 2) His ex, Leila. Bets?

And that's all she wrote! This Sunday will be Ender's Game, and next Thursday should be more 50 Shades! Less than 60 pages of this shit show left! *weeps with joy*. Sound off in the comments, and until next week!

*There is a big difference between "supporting yourself" and "not having to worry". Not having to worry means I can splurge from time to time, and don't need to closely watch how much I spend at the grocery store, but still need to be responsible and budget/can't go out and buy a pony. Supporting myself is when I could pay the bills without panicking. At least, that is how I define the difference.


  1. Melissa Mateo BlankJune 6, 2013 at 1:41 PM

    "You know, if someone closes their eyes, YOU can still see them, Grey."

    Maybe All-frown is a Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal, from the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, a creature so remarkably stupid that it assumes that if you cannot see it, then it cannot see you...

    Just so you know, it makes me feel icky that this horrid excuse for fiction made me think of my favorite piece of fiction... *shudder*

  2. I feel like the pull of a really rich boyfriend is somewhat less when he uses all that money to manipulate your life and make you uncomfortable by buying huge gifts (and then refuses to accept yours, as if the income gap wasn't a hard enough position to be in in the first place).

    Also 2 things re: exhibitionism.. 1. If there are actually other people around, and it's not just a possibility that someone might walk in (at which I'm assuming you stop unless they are cool with it), you don't have sex in front of them without clearing it and 2. you definitely don't start having exhibitionist sex WITHOUT CLEARING IT WITH THE PERSON YOU'RE BANGING. I just... I can't.

  3. CN: rape this the first time where Christian has unambiguously raped Ana, since I didn't see anything in there that could have been even a vague check-in for consent?

    If that is the case, then I can't really see why this has been such a popular book, really, with as much consent-overriding as there is here...

  4. For obvious reasons, it isn't played that way in the book, and with all the "you should finger blast me at the table because I am just SOOOO HORNY". Grey never really asks either, implied consent in relationships and all that, and just goes for it, and Ana is ALWAYS into it. They had framed it in such a way that I totally missed those implications. DECONSTRUCTION FAIL (and I feel that in and of its self is a comment on how we are socialized to see "passionate" sex).

  5. Well, Ana always being into it is highly unrealistic all by itself (black magic and all that), but that ruins the eroticism in the book. And because the source (Twilight) regularly ignores consent in how Edward treats Bella, it makes sense that the amped-up erotic fanfiction version would keep all the consent-overriding and just make it more explicit. This one just struck me as odd because there's usually some sort of foreplay or declaration by Grey that he's going to do something to her and for her to say how much she wants it. This time, he just does it and tells her to be quiet. If we hadn't already done all the explicit abusive behavior in the previous books, right about now is where we'd be telling Ana to really get out because he's decided to be explicitly and publicly abusive...

  6. Yesssss to all of this. The bit in the elevator was particularly icky to me, because I cannot envision a surreptitious way to do that. There would have to be disarranged clothing, or some really awkward standing positions. Had I been on the elevator, I wouldn't have been turning my head either-- because I would know damn well what they were doing and would not want to see as well as hear. Unless I was feeling particularly shirty, in which case I'd loudly call them out on what they were doing with copious amounts of very uncomfortable eye-and-only-eye contact. Kink is one thing. Non-consensually involving anyone in sex things is another. Not a fine distinction, and yet these muppets fuck it up every chance they get.

  7. Can I just say that there is no way, NO WAY I would have sex with anyone who has just eaten asparagus. Because, seriously, damn. I'd rather traipse through a field of corpse flowers in bloom. Nothing kills the drive faster than that smell. NOTHING.

    EL James has never ever had anything remotely close to actual sex, has she?

  8. Already happened about two chapters ago when Ana said "no" twice, and Christian said "Don't overthink this" and kept going.

  9. Two words. Asparagus.Fingers.

  10. alice in wonderlandJanuary 8, 2014 at 3:44 PM

    naked lady pictures? that is just wrong