Thursday, June 21, 2012

50 Shades of Grey chapter 23 recap. You've been waiting for the infamous tampon scene, and now here it is. Here it fucking is.

Once again, the excerpts in this post are riddled with format errors that are not present in the text of the book. So don't hold them against E.L. James or The Writer's Coffeeshop.


I would really appreciate it if you would do me a favor and read the next excerpt while listening to this. I think we're both going to be better people for it:



I glance nervously around the bar but cannot see him. 
 "Ana, what is it? You look like you've seen a ghost."
"It's Christian, he's here."
Yup. After she asked him, once again, to give her space, what has he done? He's followed her to Georgia, after she expressly told him in chapter twenty-one that she didn't want him to come with her. After he promised via email to give her space. Okay, he promised to try to give her space, but how difficult is it to not suddenly be in Georgia if you live in Washington? Answer: not too damn difficult.
I have neglected to mention Christian's stalker tendencies to my mom.
Or the police, which is probably the better idea.
I see him. My heat leaps, beginning a juddering thumping beat as he makes his way toward us. He's really here - for me. My inner goddess leaps up cheering from her chaise longue. Moving smoothly through the crowd, his hair glints burnished copper and red under the recessed halogens. His bright gray eyes are shining with - anger? Tension? His mouth is set in a grim line, jaw tense. Oh holy shit... no. I am so mad at him right now, and here he is. How can I be angry with him in front of my mother.
Where to start? First, Ana's inner goddess has so many fucking props, I imagine the inside of Ana's head looks like something from Storage Wars. Second, Christian's hair is moving smoothly through the crowd? What about the rest of him? Third, why would he have any right to be angry? He's the freak who flew cross-country after his girlfriend told him not to. Finally, you have every right to be angry with him, even in front of your mother, because he has no concept of boundaries whatsoever.

When she introduces Christian to her mother, we finally get to find out her mother's first name. It's Carla. That's actually a great name for someone who goes to the beach in big hats, isn't it? I'm writing that down. Her full name is Carla Adams, something Ana has not divulged.
How does he know her name? He gives her the heart-stopping, Christian Grey patented, full-blown-no-prisoners-taken smile.
It is the law of the land that Christian's smile be described in no less than one hundred adjectives at any moment.

That actually gives me an idea. I know that there are a lot of big names flying around, who should play Christian Grey in the movie. Most of them are too old to play twenty-seven. But not one guy. Not one very special guy, with a winning smile:

Ridiculously Photogenic Guy for Christian Grey. Come on.


 "What are you doing here?" My question sounds more brittle than I mean, and his smile disappears, his expression now guarded. I am thrilled to see him, but completely thrown off balance, my anger about Mrs. Robinson simmering through my veins. I don't know if I want to shout at him or throw myself into his arms - but I don't think he'd like either - and I want to know how long he has been watching us.
Oh, of course she's not angry that he followed her to Georgia. Of course she wants to throw herself into his arms. Because Ana is operating under the misconception that it's totally okay to stalk another person, so long as you're rich and gorgeous. Something tells me that if Jose or Paul from the hardware store pulled this kind of shenanigan, she'd file for a restraining order. But when Ridiculously Photogenic Christian Grey does it? Then it's okay.
"Well, yesterday you said you wished I was here." He pauses trying to gauge my reaction. "We aim to please, Miss Steele." His voice is quiet with no trace of humor.
She also said that she wanted time away from you. Interesting how you missed the mark when you aimed to please on that one. 
Crap - Is he mad? Maybe the Mrs. Robinson comments? Or the fact that I'm on my third, soon to be fourth Cosmo?
ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME WITH THIS? I wish, so very, very hard, that I could reach into the book and shake Ana. Just shake the ever living shit out of her. Give her whiplash. Why should Ana be worried whether or not HE is mad at HER? She isn't the one who stalked him. So what if she has a few drinks? He plies her with liquor literally every time they're together. He gets her drunk on purpose to manipulate her. But yeah, let's really worry if HE is angry.
"So you just happen to be staying in the hotel where we're drinking?" I ask, trying hard to keep my tone light."Or, you just happen to be drinking in the hotel where I'm staying," Christian replies. "I just finished dinner, came in here, and saw you. I was distracted thinking about your most recent email, and I glance up and there you are. Quite a coincidence, eh?" He cocks his head to one side, and i see a trace of a smile. Thank heavens - we may be able to save the evening after all.

This guy. This fucking guy. And there's Ana, worried about saving the evening, because God for-fucking-bid Christian be unhappy after he's worked so hard stalking and intimidating her.

Christian compliments Ana on the top she's wearing, and her EZ-LUBE Vagina (tm) gets all fired up. All is forgiven, I guess, because he makes her happy in the pants region. In fact, she's more upset at her mom, for staring at Christian, than she is at Christian for refusing to honor boundaries.
 "I don't want to interrupt the time you have with your mother. I'll have a quick drink and then retire. I have work to do," he states earnestly.
You know, Chedward, IF YOU DIDN'T WANT TO INTERRUPT THE TIME SHE HAS WITH HER MOTHER, YOU WOULDN'T HAVE FLOWN TO SAVANNAH IN THE FIRST PLACE.  And I love that he "has work to do," because he never fucking works. So what work could he have to do in Savannah? He probably needs to get on the phone to some (blonde, evil) assistant and bark vague commands about it being "shit or bust" time.

Ana's mom invites Christian to dinner the next night, and he accepts, then Carla excuses herself to the bathroom. That's when Christian decides it's time to bring up Ana's email. He assures her that his sexual relationship with Mrs. Robinson was over a long time ago, and now Ana is the only person he wants.
"I think of her as a child molester, Christian." I hold my breath, waiting for his reaction.Christian blanches."That's very judgmental. It wasn't like that," he whispers, shocked. He releases my hand. Judgemental?
I'm right there with you, Ana. How is it judgmental to call it what it is? Clearly, Christian really is damaged goods, if he's still seeing a relationship between a child and an adult as consensual. However, I would be remiss if I did not point out that Ana only thinks of Mrs. Robinson as a child molester as a cursory stop en route to jealous lover town. Ana points out that if the roles had been reversed, if Mrs. Robinson had been Mr. Robinson and Mia had been in the relationship with him, Christian would probably feel differently. But Christian feels that Mrs. Robinson was "a force for good. What I needed."
"Anastasia, your mother will be back shortly. I'm not comfortable talking about this now. Later maybe. If you don't want me here, I have a plane on stand-by at Hilton Head. I can go."
Laters, asshole.
"No - don't go. Please. I'm thrilled you're here. I'm just trying to make you understand. I'm angry that as soon as I left, you had dinner with her. Think about how you are when I get anywhere near Jose. Jose is a good friend. I have never had a sexual relationship with him. Whereas you and her," I trail off, unwilling to take that thought further.
Of course you don't want him to go, Ana. You're psychologically all screwed up, in a manner of weeks, because this guy is a master manipulator.
"Anastasia, she helped me, that's all I'll say about that. And as for your jealousy, put yourself in my shoes. I haven't had to justify my actions to anyone in the last seven years. Not one person. I do as I wish, Anastasia. I like my autonomy.
And Ana doesn't like her autonomy? Or maybe she just doesn't deserve it. And did anyone else think of Forrest Gump when he said "that's all I'll say about that?" Because I totally did.

 I may not be a smart man, but I know how to track a cellphone, Jen-nay.

That reminds me, I need to do a blog entry at some point about how that movie ruined my fucking life.

Okay, where were we? 

That's right, Chedward doesn't think Ana deserves autonomy, but he does, and he lets it slip that he has to see Mrs. Robinson, because they're business partners. Ana asks why Christian stopped sleeping with Mrs. Robinson and the answer is, unsurprisingly, because her husband found out. That earns something stronger than a Jeez! from our heroine.
"I don't think you'll ever convince me that she's not some kind of paedophile.""I don't think of her that way. I never have. Now that's enough!" he snaps.
"Did you love her?"
Ana doesn't get an answer to the paedophile question, because her mom comes back to the table and they have to act like everything is hunky dory. Just a heads up, British people, "pedophile." Stop trying to, as Eddie Izzard might say, cheat at Scrabble. Christian tells them to charge the drinks to his room, and Ana's mom gets all gooey over the fact that Christian uses Ana's full name. Then he leaves, with a "laters, baby."
"Well strike me down with a feather, Ana. He's a catch. I don't know what's going on between you two, though. I think you need to talk to each other. Phew - the UST in here, it's unbearable." She fans herself theatrically.
What the fuck is an UST? Unresolved Sexual Tension? Does Ana's mom write fanfic, too? Carla tells her daughter that she needs to go see Christian, even though Ana points out that she came to visit her, not her boyfriend from back home who has horned in on shit. Upon learning that Christian has a private plane, Ana's mom is even more pushy about Ana going to talk to him, and Ana confesses that she thinks she's in love with him. Carla tells Ana that it's obvious that Christian is in love with her, too. Hey, stalking is a form of love!

Ana goes to Christian's suite, which is of course "ultra modern" because everywhere Christian stays must be "ultra modern" in this book. He's on the phone, talking about some expensive mistake, and he starts filling the bathtub. When he comes back, he says something about being interested in some land there. So, not only will he stalk Ana, he will buy property near her family so that he can continue to stalk her? Ah, romance. When he gets off the phone, it's shit or bust time:
"You didn't answer my question," I murmur."No. I didn't," he says quietly, his gray eyes wide and cautious."No you didn't my question or no you didn't love her?" he folds his arms and leans against the wall, and a small smile plays upon his lips."What are you doing here, Anastasia?"
Um, visiting her mother. What the fuck are you doing here, Chedward?


He tells her that he didn't love Mrs. Robinson, and then it's straight to the fucking, even though they're supposed to be having some meaningful conversation. 
"I don't remember anyone but my family ever being mad at me. I like it." He runs the tips of his fingers down my cheek. Oh my, his proximity, his delicious Christian smell. We're supposed to be talking, but my heart is pounding, my blood singing as it courses through my body, desire, pooling, unfurling... everywhere. Christian bends and runs his nose along my shoulder and up to the base of my ear, his fingers slipping into my hair. "We should talk." I whisper. 
"Later."
 Yeah, Ana, later. Your pesky concerns are meaningless, as you're just a sex toy/employee to him.

But now, my lovely, lovely friends. Now, you are about to be treated to what is undeniably the most needlessly disgusting sex scene ever written by someone whose last name is not "de Sade" or "Waters". Let me preface this scene by saying that I'm not one of those self-hating women who thinks her period is super gross. I'm a woman who realizes that menstruation is a part of a woman's life, and normal cycles are a sign of good reproductive health, which I am all for. However, I do suffer from OCD, and my feelings about bodily fluids are that I would like them to stay, you know, contained. For the most part. Your heroine can gush all she wants in a sex scene, that's fine. But period blood is a waste product. I'm sure that out there, somewhere, there is a writer who has the skill to pull off this scene without making me cringe about blood-born pathogens, but that writer? Is not E.L. James. So don't be flooding the comments to this fucking entry with shit about being moon sisters and our bodies are beautiful and we need to celebrate our womanhood and take the mystery out of it, because there's nothing mysterious about it to me. I know how it works, but I'm mentally ill. I don't want a goddamned lecture here about how I should finger paint in my menstrual blood. My crippling disorder is my free pass to mock the shit out of this scene, take it or leave it.

Now you know what you're getting into, okay? Let's set the mood a little. Ah, this song should do nicely:


"I want you," he breathes.I moan and reach up and grasp his arms."Are you bleeding?" He continues to kiss me.Holy Fuck. Does nothing slip by him?"Yes," I whisper, embarrassed."Do you have cramps?""No." I flush. Jeez...
He stops and looks down at me."Did you take your pill?""Yes." How mortifying is this?
I think you mean, "How sexy is this?" Ana, because this is supposed to be every woman's sexual fantasy, right? I should be jilling off to this in the tub, right? (Apologies to my friend Jill, who hates that expression).
He takes me into the bathroom which is two rooms, all aquamarines and white limestone. It's huge - In the second room a sunken bath, big enough for four people with stone steps that lead into it, is slowly filling with water. Steam rises gently above the foam, and I notice a stone seat all the way around.
This is a hotel suite. So just imagine the number of prostitutes that have been murdered in that tub.


Yes, that's another obsessive thought of mine, I'll try to keep it from further intruding on the sexual fantasy unfolding before you.


 Because she's "Bleeding Love," he's going to have sex with her in the bathroom. He gets her naked, and then they look at her naked body in the mirror while he talks about how sexy she is, and he uses her own hand to rub her body while he whispers sexy things to her, and it's really by far the best sex scene in the book yet. And then. Good lord. And then.
"When did you start your period, Anastasia?" he asks out of the blue, gazing down at me. "Err... yesterday," I mumble in my highly aroused state."Good." He releases me and turns me around."Hold on to the sink," he orders and pulls my hips back again, like he did in the playroom, so I'm bending down.He reaches between my legs and pulls on the blue string... what! And... a gently pulls my tampon out and tosses it into the nearby toilet. Holy fuck. Sweet mother of all... Jeez.
Sweet mother of all Jeez, please protect and guide they humble servant through this sex scene, and please shine they holy light upon that turlet, which will surely become clogged because you ain't supposed to put lady trash in them. Amen.


They fuck, it's amazing, yadda yadda.


Did she just "yadda yadda" sex?

Remember what I said before about how I'm a story ruiner, I will ruin stories by going just a step beyond what is necessary, and in doing so I bring everyone down?
We sink slowly to the floor, and he wraps his arms around me, imprisoning me. I am curled on his lap, my head against his chest, as we both calm. Very subtly, I inhale his sweet, intoxicating Christian scent. I must not nuzzle. I must not nuzzle. I repeat the mantra in my head - though I am so tempted to do so. I want to lift my hand and draw patterns in his chest hair with my fingertips... but I resist, knowing that he'll hate it if I do. We are both quiet, lost in our thoughts. I am lost in him... lost to him.I remember that I have my period."I'm bleeding," I murmur.
Here's the thing: I know, intelligently, that having sex while on your period is no big deal. Just like I know, from a feminist standpoint, that to have a scene like this in a groundbreaking (for whatever sad reason) bestseller is a coup for women everywhere. It's saying, "We're not ashamed of menstruation. We can read about it, we can even get turned on by the thought of a dude pulling out our tampon." But from a personal standpoint, full of fears of bodily fluids and smells and mess, I cannot look at this scene and think anything other than, "What does it add to the story for Ana to be having her period?" It adds nothing. This sex scene was actually pretty well written, for a change. But there is no level of eroticism added, in my opinion, by having him pull out her fucking tampon, and then reminding the reader that she's bleeding all over him. It just doesn't work for me. If it works for you, more power to you. But just like I don't read medieval historical romances while thinking, "Gee, if only they could talk more about how everyone smells bad and there's no penicillin," I don't read erotica and think to myself, "This scene would be way better with menstruation all up in it."

They get up to go have a bath (and I'm sure that bathtub has seen its share of blood, what with all the prostitute killing that has happened in it), and Ana notices the scars on his chest again.
They are not chicken pox, I muse absentmindedly. Grace said he was hardly affected. Holy shit... they must be burns.
Ana wonders if Mrs. Robinson burned him with cigarettes, or if his birth mom did it. That actually makes me a little sad. I'm all for someone stubbing a cigarette out in this jackoff's eye, but that now, not then. I wouldn't advocate doing it when he's a little defenseless toddler. Ana confronts him about it, and he tells her that of course Mrs. Robinson didn't do it. So, that leaves us with a case of child abuse. Oh my god, everything Dr. Drew said is coming horrifically true!
He's standing there, naked, gloriously naked, with my blood on him... and we're finally have this conversation. And I'm naked too - neither of us has anywhere to hide, except perhaps the bath.
Water is clear, Ana.

As they sit in the bath, Ana decides that she's going to get her answers from him, no matter how much silent treatment he dishes out, and finally he tells her that if Mrs. Robinson hadn't molested him, he wouldn't be the person he is, he would have become just like his birth mother. He tells Ana that Mrs. Robinson "'loved me in a way I found... acceptable,'" and then goes on to explain:
"She distracted me from the destructive path I found myself following. It's very hard to grow up in a perfect family when you're not perfect." Oh no. My mouth dries as I digest his words. He gazes as me, his expression unfathomable. He's not going to tell me any more. How frustrating. Inside, I'm reeling - he sounds so full of self-loathing. And Mrs. Robinson loved him. Holy shit... does she still?
Here's Christian, finally answering Ana's questions, and what's she worried about? Does she have a romantic rival or not. That's not, you know, disgustingly selfish or anything. They argue a little more about how Christian never talks and always tries to distract Ana from her questions. Then he admits that while he's not talking to her about their relationship, he does talk to Mrs. Robinson about it.
"Why do you talk about me?" I endeavor not to sound whiney and petulant, but I don't succeed. I know I should stop. I am pushing him too hard. My subconscious has her Edvard Munch face on again."I've never met anyone like you, Anastasia.""What does that mean? Anyone who just didn't automatically sign your paperwork, no questions asked?"He shakes his head."I need advice.""And you take advice from Mrs. Paedo?" I snap. The hold on my temper is more tentative than I thought.
 Christian threatens to spank her if he keeps talking about Mrs. Robinson that way. Because if he doesn't like something, well, by God, he'll beat the shit out of it until he does. He's finished answering her questions, and then he turns the table on her, asking what she thought of his latest email. As a reader, I don't know what email he's referring to, because the bulk of the last chapter was made up of their emails. The email device, that I once found kind of cute, has devolved into this horrific, confusing ordeal. If I never read another email again, in this book or in my real life, I might be able to recover.
He gives me a genuine, relieved smile. "I'm please I'm here too - in spite of your interrogation. So, while it's acceptable to grill me, you think you can claim some kind of diplomatic immunity just because I've flown all this way to see you? I'm not buying it, Miss Steele. I want to know how you feel."
Yeah, Ana. He worked so hard at stalking you, how very dare you not do as he commands! Selfish.

Chedward asks Ana what she thinks about their arrangement, and she's finally honest with him:
"I don't think I can do it for an extended period of time. A whole weekend being someone I'm not." I flush and stare at my hands.He tips my chin up, and he's smirking at me, amused."No, I don't think you could either."And a part of me feels slightly affronted and challenged."Are you laughing at me?""Yes, but in a good way," he says with a small smile.He leans down and kisses me softly, briefly."You're not a great submissive," he breathes as he holds my chin, his eyes dancing with humor.
 FINALLY! I'm so relieved that this is out in the open. Now it's not a BDSM relationship, it's just a regular old abusive relationship, and we can approach it with honesty.

Just kidding! Ana realizes that hitting her is how he shows that he cares. And he says nothing about discontinuing with the BDSM.
"You can always safe-word, Anastasia. Don't forget that. And, as long as you follow the rules, which fulfill a deep need in me for control and to keep you safe, then perhaps we can find a way forward."
Look at that, right there. What he's saying is, quite literally, "We can't continue this relationship unless you let me control you, because my needs are the only important ones."

Fear me, love me, do as I say, and I'll let you be my girlfriend, Ana.

"But, here's the thing - one moment you say don't defy me, the next you say you like to be challenged. That's a very fine line to tread successfully." He gazes at me for a moment, then frowns."I can see that. But you seem to be doing fine so far.""But a what personal cost? I'm tied up in knots here.""I like you tied up in knots," he smirks.
See, it's okay! He's fine with Ana being emotionally crippled by the relationship! Problem solved! And that's a good thing, because the time for talking is over, and the time for sexing has begun anew. They fuck in the bath, and she thinks,
I love this man. I love his passion, the effect I have on him. I love that he's flown so far to see me. I love that he cares about me... he cares. It's so unexpected, so fulfilling.
This horrible relationship is super fulfilling, and I know that, because I, Ana Steele, have a ton of experience with this sort of thing.

Without any transition at all, they're lying in the bed, where we find out that Christian has had seventeen sexual partners in his lifetime, and his favorite movie is The Piano. Which I had completely forgotten about, and totally recommended everyone watch a few recaps back. I still recommend it, but I hate that it's Christian Grey's favorite movie. I don't like having anything in common with him. One thing we don't have in common? He's paid for sex.

Oh my god. I just realized that in comparing Jareth to Christian Grey, I have absolutely slaughtered my fond memories of my budding childhood sexuality.

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