Oh, shit, I'm mixing this blog up with Catholic School somehow. Look, it's been (and will continue to be) a long week. And it's, what? Tuesday? But I have to get these done so that my writing vacation will be a peaceful oasis of NOT THIS FUCKING BOOK.
In the first class lounge, Ana has gotten a manicure and a massage, and she's drinking champagne. I've only flown first class once, but I never saw the lounge, so I can't say with certainty that these things did not happen. However, I question the time frame. How early did Ana arrive for this flight, that she has time to not only jump through TSA's myriad hoops, but also to get a manicure and a massage? I'm glad they have champagne, though, because lord knows if she goes dry for just a second...
Ana emails Christian to thank him for upgrading her flight and to joke about his stalking tendencies, because it's definitely cute when your rich boyfriend somehow tracks down your flight number without asking you, and not super duper creepy. Christian is more concerned with who, exactly, was massaging her back, because he's jealous and super duper creepy.
Aha! Pay back time. Our flight has been called so I shall email him from the plane. It will be safer. I almost hug myself with mischievous glee.Safer for who? They tell you not to use your wireless devices on those things, because the plane will fall the fuck out of the sky. Ana calls her dad for literally a three line conversation:
I call Ray to tell him where I am - a mercifully brief call, as it's so late for him."Love you, Dad," I murmur."You too, Annie. Say hi to your mom. Goodnight.""Goodnight." I hang up.Don't waste your minutes or anything, yeesh. I feel so bad for Ana's friends and family, because this isn't the first time she's though something was "mercifully brief" where it concerned them. Stupid friends and family, always getting in the way of more important thoughts about Christian Grey. She emails him from the plane:
A very pleasant young man massaged my back. Yes. Very pleasant indeed. I wouldn't have encountered Jean-Paul in the ordinary departure lounge - so thank you again for that treat. I'm not sure if I'll be allowed to email once we take off, and I need my beauty sleep since I've not been sleeping so well recently.Ana has a little glee over the fact that when Christian gets the email, she'll be out of reach. Besides, it's all in good fun, because Ana thinks that Jean-Paul the masseuse was probably gay. She won't bring that up to Christian, though, because then he wouldn't be jealous.
Kate is right. It is like shooting fish in a barrel with him. My subconscious stares at me with an ugly twist to her mouth - do you really want to wind him up? What he's done is sweet, you know! He cares about you and wants you to travel in style. Yes, but he could have asked me or told me. Not made me look like a complete klutz at check-in. I press send and wait, feeling like a very naughty girl.How did you look like a klutz? You came in, the guy said you'd been upgraded, and you argued a little about that. You didn't BellaSwandive in front of the ticketing counter.
"Miss Steele, you'll need to stow your laptop for take-off," the over-made-up flight attendant says politely. She makes me jump. My guilty conscience is at work.So is your utter contempt for other females. Off the top of my head I can think of one other female who has been described in a positive context in this book, and it's the receptionist that Ana kept staring at in the last chapter. And maybe Mia.
Ana realizes that the downside to emailing Christian from the plane is that she'll have to wait to know if he replies or not. Oh, the horror. A whole, what, four, five hour ride without being in contact with him? How will you survive?
The cabin has filled up, except for the seat beside me which is still unoccupied. Oh no...a disturbing thought crosses my mind. Perhaps the seat is Christian's. Oh shit... no... he wouldn't do that. Would he? I told him I didn't want him to come with me.You also told him you didn't want to be spanked, you told him you didn't want a car, phone, laptop, or expensive books, you told him you didn't want him to come to the bar... you realize that your wishes aren't even remotely a factor in this relationship, right? But the plane pulls away from the terminal, and Ana is actually disappointed that he didn't override her wishes on this one. Then she takes her BlackBerry out, because the safety of the other passengers is of minimal importance when Christian might have emailed her. And lo, he did, and Ana looked upon it and saw that is was probably the most creepy email any man has ever sent his girlfriend, ever:
I know what you're trying to do - and trust me - you've succeeded. Next time you'll be in the cargo hold, bound and gagged in a crate. Believe me when I say that attending to you in that state will give me so much more pleasure than merely upgrading your ticket.So, yeah, he wants to bind her and gag her in a crate. Jesus Christ, even Flat Stanley got to take snacks in his little envelope.
I'm escaping an abusive relationship!
Ana says that she can't tell if he's really angry, or just joking. If you can't tell if your seriously rich boyfriend who actually could pull off tying you up and stowing you in an airplane cargo hold is joking about doing that, maybe you need to reevaluate your relationship, like I've been saying for the past, you know, twenty or so chapters. Ana is still typing away on her fucking BlackBerry in total disregard for the safety warnings. It's that kind of behavior that gets people kicked off flights, Ana. Christian notes this in his reply:
How can you be emailing? Are you risking the life of everyone on board, including yourself, by using your BlackBerry? I think that contravenes one of the rules.He signs off as the "two palms twitching CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc," and Ana is all, wow, two palms, I better not make this plane fall out of the sky. Then she pulls out Tess of The D'Urbervilles and calls it "light reading" and that makes my palms twitch, because I want to smack her for being so unbearably pretentious. She gets to Atlanta and the local time is 5:45 am. Okay, let's run this down, to make sure E.L. did her homework:
- Ana's flight left Seattle at 10:25pm.
- Seattle is three hours behind Atlanta.
- So Ana's flight left Seattle at 1:25am.
- The flight should take somewhere between four and five hours.
- So Ana arriving at 5:45am is totally appropriate.
And here is what makes all that so infuriating: E.L. James has clearly done her research about stuff like this flight, what the floor plans in the Escala are like (they're available here, just go and see if they do not absolutely match the descriptions of Christian's apartment), the geographical distances between the cities in the book, the names of the highways... she's put this incredible attention into the these details while writing the book an ocean away from its setting. Yet she made only half-hearted attempts at the basics, like characterization, and grammar, and avoiding word repetition. It's absolutely maddening. If the book was cleanly written, if the characterization didn't rely on all-too-common tropes (the evil! blonde, the endearingly spastic! little sister), if the book were good, a reader could overlook mistakes like, "Oh, she wouldn't have arrived at that time," or "she wouldn't have taken that highway," or "The apartments in that building don't look like that." Those are the things readers can forgive. Not, "This couple is in love because I told you they are."
When Ana arrives at her layover in Atlanta, she of course emails Christian. And she surprisingly finds her ovaries and stands up to him in it:
You know how much I dislike you spending money on me. Yes, you're very rich, but still it makes me uncomfortable, like you're paying me for sex. However, I like traveling first class, it's so much more civilized than coach. So thank you. I mean it - and I did enjoy the massage from Jean Paul. He was very gay. I omitted that bit in my email to you to wind you up, because I was annoyed with you, and I'm sorry about that.
But as usual you overreact. You can't write things like that to me - bound and gagged in a crate - (Were you serious or was it a joke?) That scares me... you scare me... I am completely caught up in your spell, considering a lifestyle with you that I didn't even know existed until last Saturday week, and then you write something like that I want to run screaming into the hills.The email goes on to reassure him that she wouldn't leave him, because she would miss him, and that she's not a submissive, but she'll do it for him, even though she really hates the idea. So, way to have some strength for about two paragraphs, Ana. I honestly didn't think you'd have even that much in you.
Let me just excerpt another part of her email here, I assure you it comes into play later:
I am so happy that you have said that you will try more. I just need to think about what 'more' means to me, and that's one of the reasons why I wanted some distance. You dazzle me so much I find it very difficult to think clearly when we're together.Okay, keep that in mind for later. In the meantime:
Do I dazzle you?
So, the Sparkles McGee award for plagiarism goes to E.L. James. If there was any doubt in our minds that Chedward was not Edward Cullen, allow her to blast them the fuck extremely apart with that dazzling comment.
Ana arrives in Savannah. Then this happens:
My mom is waiting with Bob, and it is so good to see them. I don't know if it's because of exhaustion, the long journey, or the whole Christian situation, but as soon as I'm in my mother's arms, I burst into tears.Ana's mom and other stepdad are obviously concerned, but she kind of blows their concern off, because she can't outright tell them she's in an abusive relationship, right? Bob the other stepdad takes Ana's backpack and he complains about how heavy it is, and Ana attributes that to the Apple laptop in there, because if there is one thing Macs are known for, it's being huge and unwieldy. Of course, with a 1tb hard drive, okay, probably heavier than my Macbook Pro, but still. Macs are light.
Ana really wants to get it across to you that it's hot in Savannah:
I always forget how unbearably hot it is in Savannah. Leaving the cool air-conditioned confines of the arrival terminal, we step into the Georgia heat like we're wearing it. Whoa!If there is anything you take away from this book, it should be this: pay attention to inane details, like arrival and departure times for flights, but ignore the fact you used the same word four times in two paragraphs, and you will have a runaway bestseller on your hands.
It saps everything. I have to struggle out of Mom and Bob's embrace so I can remove my hoodie. I am so glad I packed shorts. I miss the dry heat of Vegas sometimes, where I lived with Mom and Bob when I was seventeen, but this wet heat, even at 8:30 in the morning, takes some getting used to. By the time I'm in the back of Bob's wonderfully air-conditioned Tahoe SUV, I feel limp, and my hair ahs started a frizzy protest at the heat.
Ana sends texts to let everyone know that she has arrived safely, and then wonders if she should invite Christian to go to Jose's art show. That's a great idea, Ana, you should definitely do that. Nothing could go wrong.
Ana goes to Tybee Island Beach to relax, but all her mom wants to do is talk about Christian. Like mother, like daughter, right? Ana's mom tells her that men aren't complicated, they're very simple creatures. She suggests Ana take everything Christian has said literally. Ana thinks this is a great idea, because she's focused on shit like "'I don't want to lose you'" and "'You've bewitched me,'" but what about when he's said shit like, "I'll track your cell phone," and "I'll put you in a crate in the cargo hold?" Doesn't sound so good now, does it, Ana?
I gaze at my mom. She is on her fourth marriage. Maybe she does know something about men after all.I'll just leave that there.
No time to linger at the beach, though, because Ana has to get back to her email! At her mom's house, Ana fires up the thousand pound laptop and finds a response from Christian:
I am annoyed that as soon as you put some distance between us, you communicate openly and honestly with me. Why can't you do that when we're together?Because you dazzle her, duh. Well, that and you refuse to participate in anything remotely resembling and open dialogue when you're together.
He goes on to tell her that she needs to get over him being rich, and he never meant to scare her, he was joking about putting her in a crate, etc.
I want to share my lifestyle with you. I have never wanted anything so much. Frankly I'm in awe of you, that one so innocent would be willing to try.Um, excuse me, but why are you talking like a vampire?
The email goes on to basically blame Ana for everything. She's not telling him when he's not being communicative enough, she's not telling him when he's not meeting her needs, except... well, Christian, she really is. She keeps trying. You keep shutting her up or cutting her off.
Having said that, the only time you do assume the correct demeanor for a sub is in the playroom. It seems that's the one place where you let me exercise proper control over you, and the only place you do as you're told.Christian apparently wants to the reader to Men In Black themselves so they don't remember all the shit he's pulled to control Ana outside of the playroom. Shit like giving her presents that only serve his intentions, shit like not respecting her desire for space, you know, all that kind of shit. Sorry, but I can't just let that stuff go because the narrative tells me that it's not controlling behavior.
I will endeavor to keep an open mind, and I shall try and give you the space you need and stay away from you while you are in Georgia.How hard is it to avoid Georgia from Seattle? But still, keep that in mind.
He wants to make this work too. Oh Christian, so do I! He's going to try and stay away! Does this mean he might fail to stay away? Suddenly I hope so. I want to see him. We've been apart less than twenty-four hours, and knowing that I can't see him for four days, I realize how much I miss him. How much I love him.You have known him for like two, three weeks. As a writer, I realize that a common trope that we all have to deal with is making our characters fall in love in a pretty limited amount of pages and, therefore, a pretty accelerated amount of time. But the only reason they're "so in love" is because he forced the intimacy on her with his constant, "I want you/stay away, I'm dangerous!" act at the beginning of their relationship, with his insistence on meeting everyone who is close to her, with his "I'll rescue you (even if you don't need rescuing)!" pseudo-heroics. Everything he has done has been a calculated move to draw her in, even if he isn't self-aware enough to know that this is not how healthy relationships work.
Ana takes a nap and her mom wakes her up to go to dinner, but Ana can't go, not just yet, not without another freaking pages long email exchange with Christian, about spanking.
I press send and immediately the image of that evil witch Mrs. Robinson comes into my mind. I just can't picture it. Christian being beaten by someone as old as my mother, it's just so wrong.Nooooo.... it's wrong because Christian was fifteen and Mrs. Robinson was an adult. Not because her age makes her so old and icky. Well, okay, admittedly, age is a factor in statutory rape, but seriously. Focus on the important part here, that he was raped, not that it's gross that he got raped by an old lady of thirty or forty.
The email exchange descends into email sex, and I'm wondering why they don't just get skype. That's what skype is for. Long distance sexing. But she doesn't have time for that, because she has to go to dinner with her mom and Bob.
I dash into the hall where Bob and my mother are waiting. My mother frowns. "Darling - are you feeling okay? You look a bit flushed."HOW CAN YOU TELL?! She is flushed all the time!
We get a brief rundown on the dinner later, when Ana is in the shower. She likes that her mom is making friends and that Bob is such a good fit for her, and then, it's right back to the Mac and Cheesward Show. Christian has sent her an email with a subject line that reads "Plagiarism" and I spit take like I'm in a silent movie. The plagiarism he refers to is the fact that she signed off her earlier email with "laters, baby," and then they argue about how it's not his line, it's Elliot's line, and it's not Elliot's line because he probably stole it from someone else, and suddenly I find myself staring into infinity, a cold, hard void completely without irony, folding in on itself again and again, spiraling into the very eye of God himself.
Christian mentions to Ana that he's going to have dinner with an "old friend," which Ana immediately interprets as Christian is going to have dinner with Mrs. Robinson. She wonders why he can't see Mrs. Robinson for the child molester that she is:
How dare she? How dare she pick on a vulnerable adolescent? Is she still doing it? Why did they stop? Various scenarios filter through my mind: he had had enough, then why is still friends with her? Ditto her - is she married? Divorced? Jeez - does she have children of her own? Does she have Christian's children? My subconscious rears her ugly head, leering, and I'm shocked and nauseous at the thought.Usually, I would argue that Ana is "nauseated" and not "nauseous," but I won't because really, the word fits. The way Ana vacillates between anger at Mrs. Robinson, child molester, and Mrs. Robinson, ex-girlfriend, grosses me out. Ana admits that Mrs. Robinson is a rapist, and yet she still compares herself against her as a romantic rival.
Awash with jealousy and slight concern over the fact that her boyfriend was molested, Ana gets on Google and searches for pictures of him. She finds no pictures of him with women, except for the one taken of them at her graduation. Since she can't find pictures of Mrs. Robinson, she sends Christian an email flat out asking him if he had dinner with her. Then she goes to sleep, with her BlackBerry in reach, in case he emails her back.
The next night, at a bar, Ana's mom is asking some probing questions, but Ana's just concerned with the fact that Christian might be fucking his rapist. Not because that would be emotionally unhealthy, or anything, just because it might mean he likes Mrs. Robinson better than he likes Ana:
I have not heard from Christian all day. No email, nothing. I am tempted to call him to see if he's okay. My worst fear is that he's been in a car accident, my second worst fear is that Mrs. Robinson has got her evil claws into him again. I know it's irrational, but where she's concerned, I seem to have lost all sense of perspective.Gosh, Ana, you think? But then Christian emails her and tells her that she was totally right, he was out having dinner with Mrs. Robinson. Ana sends off another email, asking if Mrs. Robinson is still fucking teenagers, and this is the email she gets back:
This is not something I wish to discuss via email.How many Cosmopolitans are you going to drink?THE EMAIL IS COMING FROM INSIDE THE BAR! THEN WHO WAS PHONE?!