Friday, August 31, 2012

A True Story About A Horrible Thing I Did At Epcot

I was a really spoiled child. Like, had-a-Cabbage-Patch-Doll-in-1982-even-though-my-grandfather-was-working-two-jobs-to-afford-that-kind-of-shit spoiled. I had the set. up. let me tell you. My mom and I lived with my grandparents and assorted aunts and uncles, and then on the other side of the coin I had my other grandparents, who let me do shitty things like eat only the middles of Oreos and rub a brick of cheese on the front of the refrigerator because I had an "independent spirit." So, basically when I wanted something, I ended up getting it.

One of these things was a trip to Disneyworld, which I got during Christmas of 1985. I had just turned five, and things could not be better for a five-year-old than to spend actual Christmas fucking day at Disneyworld. Now, I'm not telling you all this stuff about my totally entitled childhood to make you super jealous. Although you should be, because my childhood was rad. I am just telling you all this so that you understand what was going on in my mind the day I did this horrible, horrible thing.

It went down at Epcot center, in the World Showcase section of the park. My grandparents and I were dining in the Aztec pyramid that represents Mexico on the tour of nations assembled around the vast central lagoon. As a five-year-old from the midwest who had been exposed to every variation of cheese-and-potato-potluck-dish under the sun, my palate was not impressed at the variety of flavors present in my Mexican dinner, so I asked my grandparents if I could leave the table and visit the little gift shop we saw on our way in.

Because my grandparents are too trusting of the world in general, they said, "Sure, Jenny, totally go to that little gift shop full of grown up strangers and breakable merchandise." And so, I went. The gift shop was very much like any Disney gift shop, full of toys and light up shit and t-shirts, but it also had a section of hand-worked glass items. I guess people are really optimistic about their chances of carrying an insanely fragile spiderweb of glass threads woven into the shape of a swan out of the park, into their luggage, through the airport and home. But it's not my place to judge what other people spend their money on.

I knew better than to touch. Lord, I knew better. I'd had my hands smacked at the grocery store more times than I could remember, and that was from touching yogurt and poking the beef tongues through the packaging. I couldn't help it then, can't help it now. I like the squish. But the point is, I knew so much better than what I was about to do. In fact, I wasn't even tempted to touch anything. It was a bunch of boring glass stuff.

Then, I saw it. A tiny glass unicorn with a gilded horn winking seductively up at five-year-old me. It had wings, too, so I guess that made it a pegasus. A unisus? A pegicorn? Something like that. It was a winged unicorn, and around the base of each wing dangled a wreath of glass flowers in sparkling, translucent pastels. This was pure magic, and I was totally unsupervised.

Well, unsupervised except for the lady standing next to me. I can remember everything about this woman. She had a long, brown trenchcoat on (remember, it was the week of Christmas, so it was actually kind of cold out), and her hair was that oddly unnatural honey-gold-brown color all the moms were dying their hair in 1985. It was long and swept up and into a banana clip. The nearest comparison I can give you to really illustrate what she looked like is, "Imagine Natalie from Forever Knight, but give her worse hair somehow." As she perused the glass objects, she would carefully pick one up, turn it this way and that, and then set it carefully back down, all the time sparing distrustful glances for the unsupervised five-year-old standing waaaaay too close to all this glass shit.

I decided that the best way to touch the unicorn and look like a serious customer would be to imitate what this lady had been doing. I reached out with authority, picked up the unicorn, turned it this way and that, and then, out of nowhere came an explosion of glass at my feet. In my careful turning about and examination of the unicorn, one of the little flower wreaths slipped off the wing and smashed spectacularly at my feet.

Now, I reached a critical moment, a time when seconds seemed to last for years. I had no idea how much the unicorn could possibly cost. A hundred dollars? A thousand? Three cents? I was five-years-old, I had no fucking clue how much baloney cost, let alone a stunningly crafted glass Epcot unicorn. I had these horrible visions of having to sit on a time-out chair in a circle of cold white light, while the dark, indistinct shape of Mickey Mouse loomed over me, demanding answers. Or would they send the big guns? Would they send Mary Poppins to shame me? Nothing could have frightened me more than the idea that Mary Poppins herself might show up to express her displeasure.

I put the unicorn down with the speed and dexterity of a 19th century urchin picking pockets, pointed my chubby little finger directly at the lady beside me (who had seen the entire thing go down) and shouted at the top of my lungs, "WHAT DID YOU DO?!"

Every eye in the gift shop turned to this poor lady, holding a miniature spun glass teapot, who was standing awfully close to a lot of broken glass on the floor. That was my moment. I ran out of the shop as fast as I could, and never looked back.

I'm aware now, as an adult, that the consequences for breaking that unicorn at Disneyworld were probably going to be somewhere between "nothing" and "extra nothing." It's Disney. They expect there will be kids there, and I'm sure they expect that shit is going to get broken. But I didn't know that at the time. And just to be sure, when we took my son to Disneyworld in 2007, we cautiously avoided the Mexico pavilion.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

50 Shades Darker chapter 8 recap, or "I won't participate in the plot, and you can't make me!"

Welp, it's official. Life fucking sucks and we're all doomed: 50 Shades fanfic is being published as a novel. As J Bridger suggested in the comments section of the last recap, perhaps E.L. James will sue for copyright infringement. Also, maybe this is the year I quit writing and start working in a cigarette factory because that industry has some integrity compared to my industry right now.

Oh. There's also a magazine now. So, the seas should be turning to blood at any minute.

We last left Ana standing outside of Chedward's apartment, as Chedward, Taylor, Ryan Reynolds and that guy from Lost combed over it in search of a mysterious intruder.  No, wait, Sawyer had to stay in the hall with Ana, that's right, because this happens to him:
"Taylor, Mr. Grey has entered the apartment." He flinches and grabs the earpiece, pulling it out of his ear, presumably receiving some powerful invective from Taylor.
This is how I imagine Taylor's sweep of the apartment, by the way:


But of course we don't get to see any of that. No, we have to stay in the foyer with Ana, while Taylor has amazing adventures without us.
"Sorry, Miss Steele. This won't take long." Sawyer holds up both hands in a defensive gesture. "Taylor and the guys are just coming into the apartment now."
Wait, Christian went into the apartment ahead of his security team? So, why is he bothering to pay them to protect him, if he won't wait for them to do their job? Talk about control freak, he's willing to bet his life on it.
Oh. I feel so impotent. Standing stock still, I listen avidly for the slightest sound, but all I hear is my aggravated breathing.
I don't know, Ana, your posture seems kind of stiff to me. (Click here, you know what's coming)
I have no idea how much time passes, and still we hear nothing. Surely no sound is good - there are no gunshots.
What about in the beginning of The Professional, where Leon slips a garrote around the dude's neck and kills him silently? I can think of a bunch of ways to kill Christian Grey that wouldn't be loud. Poison, smothering, slit his throat before he can yell, break his neck, chloroform him and drag him to a secondary location where I've got a Dexter-esque plastic wrap set-up waiting for him...

Look, it's not like I've been thinking of this a lot, or anything.

Full disclosure: when I wrote the part about the garrote, I thought to myself, "You know, it's been a long time since I've seen that movie... it's possible that Leon doesn't use a garrote at all. I should check that out. To the DVDs!"

Self shame is often the most effective type of shame.

He totally does, though. On a guy wearing a bolo tie.

Because waiting in tense silence for someone to possibly kill your boyfriend is a super bummer, Ana decides to walk around the foyer and look at the pictures on the wall.
I've never really looked at them before: all figurative paintings, all religious - the Madonna and child, all sixteen of them. How odd.
You haven't really looked at them before because E.L. James suddenly needed a device to "foreshadow" information about Christian's mother. Ana noticed so many little details about the art, the lighting, the layout, etc. on the first time she was in the apartment, I'm no longer buying that she just "hasn't noticed" different rooms or, you know, huge art collections in the first fucking room off the elevator. Because I will not humor bad writing. If he had a mansion or a castle, I get not noticing something. If she didn't constantly comment on the art everywhere she goes, I would buy, "Oh hey, I just never looked at them." But in the real world, people tend to notice little shit like, "Oh hey, the guy I'm dating has sixteen paintings of the Virgin Mary in his foyer." You notice, because that really is kind of strange.
Christian isn't religious, is he? All of the paintings in the great room are abstracts - these are so different.
If they're so different, a girl as astoundingly bright as Ana should have noticed them.
Abruptly, the doorknob moves. Sawyer spins like a top and draws a gun from his shoulder holster.
He spun like a top, did he? So, he's whirling around in circles, gun drawn? I wish I could see it, because just imagining it is hilarious.

Christian comes out the door and gives the all clear, because he's apparently a security guy now. Why not?
"Taylor is overreacting," Christian grumbles as he holds out his hand to me.
Dude, you're the one who hired him. It must be awesome to work for Christian. "You must protect me, I am in grave danger. You have no idea how very grave the dangerous danger I am in is, but I assure you: it is quite grave. The graviest. You must protect me, big, strong Taylor." And then, the second some shit goes down and Taylor just does his job, it's all, "Taylor, you big silly fraidy cat, there's no danger! And now your overreaction has delayed my fucking!"

What a tool. I hope Christian fires Taylor, and then Taylor can get a better job. One fighting the Predator in South America.

Ana is so relieved that Christian isn't dead, she has to spend a paragraph rhapsodizing about how hot he is. Then she bitches a little about how difficult his exes are, then they go into the apartment. Then Christian says:
"Taylor and his crew are checking all the closets and cupboards. I don't think she's here."
So, the apartment hasn't even been checked out yet, and you still brought Ana inside? While Leila, the totally off-the-rails ex-sub who may or may not have a gun could still be hiding inside? That's totally sensible of you.
"Why would she be here?" It makes no sense.
"Exactly."
Ana and Christian should never try to open any kind of detective agency. Here's why:

IF SHE IS TRYING TO KILL CHRISTIAN, THE FIRST PLACE SHE WOULD GO IS TO HIS APARTMENT. WE KNOW THAT THIS IS WHAT SHE WOULD DO BECAUSE SHE HAS DONE SO BEFORE.

Ana asks Christian if Leila could get in, and Christian shoots that down, calling Taylor "overcautious." Well, funny how it works, Christian, when you hire someone to be cautious on your behalf in matters of life and death, they tend to do exactly that. Because if you die, not only do they lose their job, it also looks terrible on their CV. "Last guy I guarded died." Well, not hiring him, then, am I?

And here's another, even more confusing aspect to this sudden, "Taylor sucks at his job and he's way too careful" angle that Christian is trying to work. As an author, it's E.L. James's job to make the reader feel the tension of the situation. We're supposed to really feel that Ana is in danger here, aren't we? Otherwise, what is the point of the entire Leila plot? But if you've got the main characters saying, "Well, there's really nothing dangerous happening here," then you're destroying that tension. Or, making them look really, really stupid. In this case? She's managing to achieve both.

Ana asks Christian if he searched his playroom:
Christian glances quickly at me, his brow creasing. "Yes, it's locked - but Taylor and I checked."
I bet the reason Taylor knows about the playroom is that Chedward bottoms for Taylor all the time. You just know that Taylor is a Dom.

For the second time on this page, Christian suggests that Ana go to bed. "There might be someone hiding in your closed, but sweet dreams!" Amiright? He takes Ana to his bedroom and she gives him the note from Mrs. Robinson. Because now, when your car has been vandalized and a killer might be in your boyfriend's apartment, now is the time to discuss this?
"Are you going to call the police about the car?" I ask as I turn around.
He sweeps my hair out of the way, his fingers softly grazing my naked back, and tugs down my zipper.
"No. I don't want the police involved. Leila needs help, not police intervention, and I don't want them here. We just have to double our efforts to find her." he leans down and plants a gentle kiss on my shoulder.
This should be a big clue to Ana that the bodies of the other subs, the ones who didn't escape after faking a suicide attempt in front of the housekeeper, are buried in the walls of the apartment. Otherwise, why on earth wouldn't you call the police over a vandalized automobile and a possible stalker/intruder?

You know why? Because the plot is half-baked, so the only option in order to keep the book going is to have the characters actively resist participating in said plot in any meaningful way. It's clear at this point that the Leila subplot is, like all the other subplots in this book, just there to fill out time between lackluster sex scenes. The outcome is rigged, and the main characters clearly know it, because they won't take even a half-hearted stab at self-preservation. There is no reason for the reader to invest in their peril, because we already know that it's not going to be perilous. It would get in the way of the fucking.

Later, back at the ranch:
I wake with a jolt, disoriented. Have I been asleep? Blinking in the dim glow the hallway casts through the slightly open bedroom door, I notice that Christian is not with me. Where is he? I glance up. Standing at the end of the bed is a shadow. A woman, maybe? Dressed in black? It's difficult to tell.
Ana screams for help, and the security team comes running. Just kidding!
In my befuddled state, I reach across and switch on the bedside light, then turn back to look but there's no one there. I shake my head. Did I imagine it? Dream it?
No, it was probably this guy:

Who could be Christian, for all we know, given the BDSM context of the story.

Ana sits up, looks around the room, decides she's alone and goes out to look for Christian. Not to tell him that there was a person standing at the foot of his bed on the same night there was a possible B&E at his house, oh no. She just wants to know where he is, and blames the figure at the end of the bed on her overactive imagination.

Ana finds Christian in his study, on the phone:
"I don't know why you're calling at this hour. I have nothing to say to you... well, you can tell me now. You don't have to leave a message."
I stand motionless by the door, eavesdropping guiltily. Who is he talking to?
"No, you listen. I asked you, and now I am telling you. Leave her alone. She has nothing to do with you. Do you understand?" 
He sounds belligerent and angry. I hesitate to knock.
"I know you do. But I mean it, Elena. Leave her the fuck alone. Do I need to put it in triplicate for you? Are you hearing me?... Good. Good night." He slams the phone down on the desk.
Raise your hand if you actually believe Elena called Christian in the middle of the night. I know that's how it's written, but holy hell, can I see that going down in reverse and making way more sense based on what we know of the characters.

What is the obsession with Christian repeating everything twice? He told Ana to go to bed twice, he's telling Elena to leave Ana alone twice... this book could be a lot shorter if Christian wasn't so into repeating himself.

This chapter really made something jump out at me. See where she says Christian sounds "belligerent and angry?" Okay, those are pretty much the same thing. Belligerent means hostile, and anger is "a strong feeling of displeasure and usually antagonism." So, why both? Because someone bought E.L. James a Word-A-Day calendar, and now we all have to suffer for it. There are ten dollar words awkwardly shoehorned into this entire book, but it's never so evident as in this specific chapter.

Ana gets up the courage to knock on the door, and Chedward is so angry it frightens her. But then he tells her she looks beautiful in his t-shirt, so everything is magically okay. And Ana still doesn't mention that, hey, there was a fucking intruder in your bedroom. Even if you think you imagined that, wouldn't you mention it? Just in case?

NO! Because it would get in the way of the fucking!
He rises slowly out of the chair, still in his white shirt and black dress pants. But now his eyes are shining and full of promise... but there's a trace of sadness, too.
How is wearing a white shirt and black pants in any way contradictory to the look in his eyes?
"Do you know what you mean to me?" he murmurs. "If something happened to you, because of me..." His voice trails off, his brow creasing, and the pain that flashes across his face is almost palpable.
Only if you're touching his face. But if he's seriously that worried about it, he could call the police.
I reach up and stroke his face, running my fingers through the stubble on his cheek. It's unexpectedly soft. "Your beard grows quickly," I whisper, unable to hide the wonder in my voice at this beautiful, fucked-up man who stands before me.
This kind of makes it sound like she thinks it's fucked up that his beard grows quickly.
I trace the line of his bottom lip then trail my fingers down his throat, to the faint smudge of lipstick at the base of his neck. He gazes down at me, still not touching me, his lips parted. I run my index finger along the line and he closes his eyes.
Hold up a second. Was this the lipstick line she traced over his body like two chapters ago? So that he was wearing a skin-colored vest? What the hell, how is it still there? They've had sex twice, then went to a party at his parent's house where there was dancing and more fucking, so that's three times having sex, wearing clothing that's rubbing all over while you're dancing, then all the way home and into the house, I'm sorry, NO. The lipstick would not still be there. Also, he never took a fucking shower before he went to the party at his parent's house? The big, fancy, raise-a-million-dollars black tie party, and he couldn't be bothered to wash? He'd had sex with Ana twice before they got to that party. Not only would the lipstick line not be there, you know what would be there? Stink lines, the kind that come off smelly cartoon people. That's what would be there. And the smell would probably be fantastic, like honeysuckle and lollipops, because that's what Ana's perfect hooch smells like.

Seriously, I know that long wear lipstick exists. My son walked around our seven day Disney vacation with a kiss on his forehead that he got from Snow White on day one. Every picture we have of that vacation looks like it happened on the same day, because that lipstick was staying put. But you know what else? It was on his forehead, and he wouldn't let us wash it, like, at all. It would have come off, if he hadn't treated his forehead like a fucking shrine to Snow White's eternal promise to marry him (which, by the way, it totally was). What I'm saying is, unless Christian Grey had the same steadfast determination as a four-year-old autistic to avoid sweating, rubbing, or general touching of that lipstick on his skin, it's not going to be there.

Ana slowly takes Christian's shirt off, and then she orders him into the bedroom where, gosh, it's a little chilly. I wonder why... oh, THE BALCONY DOORS ARE OPEN.
I don't remember doing that. I recall scanning the room when I woke. The door was definitely closed.
I don't remember you looking at the door, and I'm literally in your head. But whatever you need to build suspense, Ana.

Ana FINALLY gets around to telling Christian that, oh, hey, there was a person standing at the foot of your bed and I didn't mention it until now. Christian makes Ana get dressed in his sweatpants because it's far too dangerous for her to go upstairs to where the wardrobe he bought her is. It wasn't too dangerous for her to come into the apartment before it was checked out by security, though. He gets on the phone:
"She's still fucking here," he hisses down the phone.
Well, wait. If the balcony doors were closed when Ana woke up, and now they're open, doesn't that mean that she left? But be super careful now, Christian, it will make up for you not giving a shit earlier, when you almost got your girlfriend killed.
Approximately three seconds later, Taylor and one of the other security guys burst into Christian's bedroom. Christian gives them a precis of what has happened.
"How long ago?" Taylor demands, staring at me all business-like. He's still wearing his jacket. Does this man ever sleep?
Does this man ever stop being interesting?


But it makes sense that Taylor would have stayed on the night of a home invasion. At least someone was taking it seriously. I'm looking at you here, Christian Grey.
"She knows the apartment like the back of her hand," says Christian. "I am taking Anastasia away now. She's hiding here somewhere. Find her. When is Gail back?"
"Tomorrow evening, sir."
"She's not to return until this place is secure. Understand?" Christian snaps.
Wait, wait, wait. It was totally okay for your girlfriend to enter the apartment before it was secure, but not your housekeeper? And what happened to this all being an overreaction, she would never come to the apartment, she couldn't get in, anyway, and Taylor was being too careful by checking to see if she was hiding? None of this makes any sense.

Taylor asks if Christian is going to go to his parents' house, and Christian doesn't want to bring trouble to them, so he asks Taylor to book him a hotel. And then it's Ana's turn to be stupid, because she hasn't had a chance in oh, so very, very long:
"Aren't we all overreacting slightly?" I ask.
Christian glowers at me. "She may have a gun," he growls.
She may have a sword. Or a potted plant.
"Christian, she was standing at the end of the bed. She could have shot me then if that's what she wanted to do."
Shooting someone in a dark room isn't as easy as you might think, Ana. Also, it doesn't matter why she's there, it's pretty freaking hostile to break into someone's house and watch them sleeping.

 Oh dear, how did this get here?
Christian disappears into his closet while the security guy watches me. I can't remember his name, Ryan maybe. He looks alternately down the hall and to the balcony windows. Christian emerges a couple of minutes later with a leather messenger bag, wearing jeans and a pinstriped blazer. He drapes a denim jacket around my shoulders.
"Oh, hey, there wasn't enough time for you to not be wearing my sweatpants and the t-shirt you slept in, but plenty of time for me to put on a blazer and pack." Unless that's a bug out bag. That would be hilarious, if he had such a history of mentally unstable girlfriends that he actually had a bug out bag in his closet at all times.
"I can't believe she could hide somewhere in here," I mutter, staring out the balcony doors.
"It's a big place. You haven't seen it all yet."
What the fuck? Is it the TARDIS? The only reason she "hasn't seen it all yet" is because E.L. James wants to leave her options open, in case she wants to add some new place for them to fuck later. How on earth are people not seeing this?

Yesterday, I tweeted that I was so furious at this book, I couldn't finish the recap. I'm sure that a lot of you who read that tweet thought that I was angry about the abusive relationship or the forced birth control, or some fresh hell I'd yet to share with you. Nope. I was mad because the writing is so pathetically bad, and people are arguing that it isn't. There are really people out there who think this book is super well-written, and that plunges me to such depths of crushing despair that I could not continue writing the recap.

But now I'm fresh and invigorated, so let's keep going:
"Why don't you just call her... tell her you want to talk to her?"
"Anastasia, she's unstable, and she may be armed," he says irritably.
And with the crushing despair, again. Cheward already told Ana earlier in the chapter that he didn't want to involve the police, because Leila is mentally not all there and doesn't need "police intervention." Christian wanted to find her and deal with it himself. Now, Ana is saying, "Why don't you just deal with it yourself," and he's saying, "No, because that's too dangerous." But rather than call the police, he's going to go on the run with Ana. This is not a viable option, Christian. You can't just keep running away until she gets tired of chasing you. You either have to call the police or deal with it yourself. Those are the options, and you're rejecting both. Why?

Drumroll please...

There isn't enough plot in this book to sustain it over the five hundred (yes, five fucking hundred) pages it's sprawled across. If Christian had called the police when she tried to kill herself in his house, or filed a PPO when she showed up outside of Ana's workplace (the suicide attempt, approaching Ana, and getting a concealed carry license would have been enough for them to grant a restraining order), then most of this would already be handled. But this is a Twilight fanfic, first and foremost. When the vampire James is stalking Bella, the Cullens can't involve the police, so as Leila the ex-sub is stalking Ana, so must the police also not be involved. The problem is, E.L. James (and apparently her editors as well) didn't understand that when the characters aren't vampires, this plot doesn't work. The characters just bumble around in a trap of their own making, while the reader keeps wondering, "Hey... why not call the cops?"
"Supposing she tries to shoot Taylor?"
"Taylor knows and understands guns," he says with distaste. "He'll be quicker with a gun than she is."
"Ray was in the army. He taught me to shoot."
Christian raises his eyebrows and for a moment looks utterly bemused. "You, with a gun?" he says incredulously.
"Yes." I am affronted. "I can shoot, Mr. Grey, so you'd better beware. It's not just crazy ex-subs you need to worry about."
You know what's funny about shooting, Ana? You need a gun to do it. Since Leila has one (I guess?) and you don't, your ability to shoot carries about as much weight as a hummingbird's fart in a stiff breeze. But look at how quick Christian is to express "distaste" over the idea of his bodyguard knowing how to use a gun. What the fuck was he supposed to be protecting Christian with all these years? Long range karate? Is this The Pink Panther?

Because Taylor is a better boyfriend than Christian, he's packed Ana a suitcase of her own clothes. Yup, that's right. Christian went and packed for himself, but he was going to leave Ana twisting in the wind. It's our dream man Taylor who did the polite thing and thought of Ana. And because of this, this exchange happens:
Before I can stop myself I hug him, hard. He's taken by surprise, and when I release him, he's pink in both cheeks.
"Be careful," I murmur.
"Yes, Miss Steele," he mutters, embarrassed.
Christian frowns at me and then looks questioningly at Taylor, who smiles very slightly and adjusts his tie.
I don't know if I'm more annoyed that Taylor appears to genuinely like Ana (Taylor, how could you?!), or that Christian is irritated by his girlfriend being concerned about another human being's life.

Taylor gives Christian a credit card, and then agent Ryan takes Christian and Ana down to the garage, where Ana surveys the damage to her Audi. Then this happens:
"How could she have known it was my car?"
He glances anxiously at me and sighs. "She had an Audi A3. I buy one for all my submissives - it's one of the safest cars in its class."
Ana points out that it wasn't a graduation present, if he gives them to all of his submissives, and he argues that since she never actually submitted, it was a graduation present. Ana asks Christian if he still wants her to be his submissive, and, um, not really the time, Ana. You're sort of on the run from a crazy vampire from a crazy ex.
I gaze out of the window, trying to rationalize my exhausted, overactive mind. If she'd wanted to hurt me, she had ample opportunity in the bedroom.
Leila can't hurt you in the bedroom, she's a sub. (Click here)

Christian tells Ana that he no longer hopes that she'll be a sub for him, and Ana is worried that she's not enough for him.
"You're more than enough. For the love of God, Anastasia, what do I have to do?"
Tell me about yourself. Tell me you love me.
Or you could ask him about himself, or tell him that you love him, instead of just waiting for him to volunteer this shit.

She does ask him something, and that was why he thought she would leave him if Dr. Flynn had told her "everything":
He sighs heavily, closing his eyes for a moment, and for the longest time he doesn't answer. "You cannot begin to understand the depths of my depravity, Anastasia. And it's not something I want to share with you."
You wanted to before, remember? Like when you were wailing on her with a fucking belt? Have we forgotten that?
"And you really think I'd leave if I knew?" My voice is high, incredulous. Doesn't he understand that I love him? "Do you think so little of me?"
This is a nifty trap an abuser sets up. What happens is, the abuser thinks so little of himself (or pretends to think so little of himself) that the victim immediately rushes to the position of, "I don't care how fucked up you think you are, I am not like the other girls, I will stay with you." Once the abuser has the victim in that position, the victim can't leave. If she leaves, it's giving up. It's throwing in the towel. It's quitting. And those are all things that strong, independent women of the world don't do, right? Also, by leaving, the victim is letting the abuser down, and confirming all of those negative things the abuser thinks (or pretends to think) about himself. And since the victim loves the abuser, she doesn't want to hurt him. At this point, Ana is trapped. She has to be with him forever, or break out of the victim mindset.

I bet I know how it ends:
"I know you'll leave," he says sadly.
"Christian... I think that's veyr unlikely. I can't imagine being without you." Ever...
Probably best not to mention that last "ever..." while you're both actively fleeing his psychotic stalker ex. Might make him a leeeetle bit jumpy.
"You left me once - I don't want to go there again."
Okay, is it really "leaving" someone if you didn't live together and you had only been dating for like, two weeks? I think of "leaving" as being in a committed relationship and separating your belongings and shit like that. Not breaking up after two weeks of dating. And they weren't even really dating, they were just fucking due to sex contract.

Ana asks Christian if he saw Elena after the breakup, which Christian denies:
"I didn't go anywhere last weekend. I sat and made the glider you gave me. Took me forever," he adds quietly.
Wasn't that a kid's model?
My heart clenches again. Mrs. Robinson said she saw him.
Did she or didn't she? She's lying. Why?
"Contrary to what Elena thinks, I don't rush to her with all my problems, Anastasia. I don't rush to anybody. You may have noticed - I'm not much of a talker." He tightens his hold on the steering wheel.
Maybe you should have gone to her for help with the glider, if it took you that long. His comment about not being a talker leads to Ana asking him about what Carrick told her re: Christian not talking after his mom died, which he doesn't confirm. He does talk about Mia and how much he loves her, to which Ana makes some comment about Mia trying to keep them apart at the banquet.

Oh, and all this time they're driving on the highway, just in case they've been followed. Now I'm starting to think they're being a little overcautious, myself.

Ana asks Christian about his relationship with Elena, and he reasserts that it was all consensual and good for him. Then he complains that Ana is able to "inveigle" information out of people. Except, "inveigle" means getting information out of people with deceit or flattery... Ana is actually pretty straightforward when she's talking to people. She's certainly being straightforward in the scene.

They get to the hotel, where Ana is pretty sure that the valet looks surprised at their arrival because they're so late. If it's so unthinkable that people would arrive late, why does the hotel have a third shift valet? They go inside to check in as Mr. and Mrs. Taylor, where the requisite stunned female waits to ogle Christian hungrily:
Of course, she's overawed by Christian. I roll my eyes as she flushes crimson and stutters. Even her hands are shaking.
"Do... you need a hand... with your bags, Mr. Taylor?" she asks, going scarlet again.
So, here we have Ana criticizing another woman for acting exactly the same way she acts all the freaking time. How dare this slutty, slutty slattern FLUSH CRIMSON in the presence of Christian Grey! It's unconscionable!

When Christian refers to Ana as his wife, Ana actually hides her hands because there's no ring on her finger. I love how Ana naturally assumes that the girl at the desk is going to a) check out her finger to see if it's true and b) call her on it.

By the way, I have never once checked into a hotel where I didn't have to show photo identification to get a room. So, I don't know how this whole "I'm Mr. Taylor" thing is working.

Ana refers to the receptionist as "Miss Flushing Crimson," which actively makes me want to reach into the book and slap the shit out of her. Are you kidding me with this? You're going to give her a derogatory name for something you do all the time? That would be like me calling someone a pothead in a negative way. It would be pothead/kettle.

In the room, Christian pours them some drinks and they stand by the fireplace, making infuriating conversation:
"You never cease to amaze me, Anastasia. After a day like today - or yesterday, rather - you're not whining or running off into the hills screaming. I am in awe of you. You're very strong."
NO. NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO. Just repeatedly having a character say the same thing over and over about Ana does not alter her characterization. It doesn't pull the wool over my eyes. It shouldn't pull the wool over anyone's eyes. Ana isn't strong. She wasn't able to successfully stay broken up for more than five days. She hasn't picked up the phone and called the police to protect herself, because she's waiting for Christian to protect her. And how fucking often are we going to have to read Christian saying, "I am in awe of you." What is there to be in awe of? Her mind-boggling stupidity at every turn of the page? Her inability to think for herself? Her towering misogyny? Tell me, please, Chedward, tell me what is so awe fucking inspiring about your  too stupid to live girlfriend, because I am DYING to know.
Oh, Christian, what do I have to do to make you realize how I feel?
Let him beat you, my subconscious sneers.
Oh hey... maybe I'm Ana's subconscious.

To lighten the mood, Ana brings up Jose. Actually, she asks where Christian is going to hang Jose's pictures, and then it's time for the sexy:
Very bravely - emboldened by the brandy, no doubt - I take Christian's hand and pull him toward the bedroom.
So, just be aware, ladies, the bar for bravery has been lowered for us. It used to be "rescue a toddler from a burning building," now it's "fuck you boyfriend." In other news, words don't mean anything anymore.

They start to get down, and the lipstick is still on him (bullshit), and then there is another astounding feat of bravery for us to be "in awe" at:
Taking a deep breath and beyond courageous, I reach for the hem of my t-shirt and lift it over my head so I am naked before him.
Courageous. Used to apply to pulling unconscious drivers from burning, wrecked automobiles, now means getting naked in front of your boyfriend (who has seen you naked plenty of times). Also, words continue to not mean a goddamned thing anymore.

They have sex, the word "avaricious" is used, and then it turns into a Kathleen Woodiwiss novel:
"You're going to unman me, Ana," he whispers suddenly, breaking away from me and kneeling up.
Unman? I literally have not seen that used in romantic fiction since the very, very early '90's. In historical romances.

This is how I am imagining Christian now.
No, I lied. Fabio seems like a really nice guy. He doesn't deserve that.

Christian tells Ana that she's "the best therapy," which sounds really healthy to me. Using other people to forget your problems is probably the best path toward mental health, right? Then they have orgasms and there's a paragraph break. When we return:
His head rests on my belly, his arms wrapped around me. My fingers forage in his unruly hair, and we lie like this for I don't know how long.
Pictured: Ana, "foraging" through Christian's hair.

Ana reflects on her relationship with Christian:
He's come a long way, as have I, in such a short time. It's almost too much to absorb. With all the fucked-up stuff, I am losing sight of his simple, honest journey with me.
Words continue to not mean things, and also I cry tears of blood. He hasn't come a long way. He hasn't really come anywhere. No matter what Ana says, Christian still is getting everything he wants. He's still manipulating her. And she hasn't come a long way, she's exactly the same person as she was when we first met her on page one of Fifty Shades of Grey. Just now, she's had sex. Big whoop.

When they wake up in the morning, Christian informs Ana that Dr. Greene will be there shortly. Because even in an apparently life threatening stalker emergency, Christian Grey will see that the needs of his penis are met.

Ana thinks about how she doesn't want another Audi, but that she doesn't have a choice. If I were her, I would ask for a better car. But if I were her, I wouldn't be dating Chedward, either. She goes to the dining room of the suite and finds Christian eating breakfast. He tells her she's going to need her strength today. I'm thinking he doesn't understand what a gynecologist visit entails, if he thinks you need to bolster your strength for it. Then he tells Ana he just plans to go out and get some fresh air. Since Ana is a frail and wilting Victorian, she clearly is going to need to eat so that she doesn't faint dead away from such physical exertion. Or something. Then Dr. Greene arrives.
We're in the bedroom, and Dr. Greene is staring at me openmouthed. She's dressed more casually than last time, in a pale pink cashmere twin set and black pants, and her fine blonde hair is loose.
"And you just stopped taking it? Just like that?"
I flush, feeling beyond foolish.
"Yes." Could my voice be any smaller?
"You could be pregnant," she says matter-of-factly.
Wait, what? That's not how the pill works. You don't take it to avoid spontaneous pregnancy, and if you stop taking it you get pregnant. She would have had to have unprotected sex, which they did, but I believe she was on her period at that time. Now, I realize that it's technically possible to have unprotected sex on your period and still get pregnant, but the pill wouldn't have been effective then, either, because she'd just started taking it. And after she and Christian got back together, they were having protected sex. So, yes, I suppose she could be pregnant, but it seems pretty fucking unlikely.

Still, we have to go through the agony of Ana taking a pregnancy test and worrying about what "Fifty" will do when he finds out that she's preggers. Only after the pregnancy test does Dr. Greene ask when Ana's last period was, and then she shames Ana for her irresponsibility before giving her the results of the test:
"You're in the clear. You've not ovulated yet, so provided you've been taking proper precautions, you shouldn't be pregnant. Now, let me counsel you about this shot. We discounted it last time because of the side effects, but quite frankly, the side effects of a child are far-reaching and go on for years." She smiles, pleased with herself and her little joke, but I can't begin to respond - I'm too stunned.
Okay, the part about "You've not ovulated" and "you shouldn't be pregnant," those could have happened before telling Ana she could be pregnant and taking a pregnancy test. OB/GYNs know this shit. It would have been the first thing she asked. Plus, how is she telling whether or not Ana has ovulated based on a pregnancy test? And wait a second... any good doctor would have asked Ana if she wants the shot, rather than take her boyfriend's word for it, right? So, I'm guessing Dr. Greene isn't a very good doctor.
Dr. Green launches into full disclosure mode about side effects, and I sit paralyzed with relief, not listening to a word. I think I'd tolerate any number of strange women standing at the end of my bed rather than confess to Christian that I might be pregnant.
Then you need to not be having sex. Or grown up relationships. No, wait, not having sex, because as you're sitting there thinking, "Gosh, it would be super icky to have to tell Christian I'm pregnant," you're ignoring what the doctor is telling you about the medicine you are relying on to not get pregnant.

There's another page of needless and overwrought drama about how Ana could have been pregnant, but isn't:
He furrows his brow at me, puzzled. "My reaction? Well, naturally I'm relieved... it would be the height of carelessness and bad manners to knock you up."
"Then maybe we should abstain," I hiss.
Yes, you should, because you're not emotionally ready for the responsibility of sex.
He gazes at me for a moment, bewildered, as if I'm some kind of science experiment. "You are in a bad temper this morning."
Force birth control does that to a person.
"Ana, I'm not used to this," he murmurs. "My natural inclination is to be it out of you, but I seriously doubt you want that."
Your "natural inclination" is to beat her? WHY ARE SO MANY WOMEN SO IN LOVE WITH THIS BOOK?

They go and take a long and stupidly drama-filled shower, in which they argue over whether or not Christian is worthy of love:
"I can't hear this. I'm nothing, Anastasia. I'm a husk of a man. I don't have a heart."
Okay, this is where I separate the nerd men from the nerd boys (even though I suspect the readership of this blog is mostly female...). When Christian says he's a "husk," the first thing I thought of was:

"It was like breaking up with the Joker."

If you don't get it, that means you're cooler than I am, so good for you.
"Yes, you do. And I want it, all of it. You're a good man, Christian, a really good man. Don't ever doubt that. Look at what you've done... what you've achieved," I sob. "Look at what you've done for me... what you've turned your back on, for me," I whisper. "I know. I know how you feel about me."
Okay, yeah, Christian Grey has achieved a lot. But so did like, Hitler, Mussolini, Pol Pot, Franco, Peron, they all achieved stuff and I don't see people lining up to love them into wellness. And what has he done for Ana, really? He's beaten her, he's made her cry hysterically at the drop of a hat, he's earned her a stalker, he's controlled her career, he bought her a bunch of shiny toys that serve as leashes, he's isolated her from her friends and family... and what else? Nothing of value. Oh, he gave her orgasms. I forgot about those. Orgasms trump everything. And what did he supposedly give up? His fetish. That's what he gave up. She gave up her family, her friends, her emotional well-being, her independence, but he doesn't get to cane anyone, so it all evens out.

By the way, the way he feels about her? He loves her. She says he loves her and he agrees, and the chapter is over.

In the past, I have tried to put up a recap twice a week. Unfortunately, I have a looming deadline. It's actually not looming. It's sort of... passed. So, I'm late with a book. I need to get it finished, so count on one recap per week for the next couple of weeks, until I get my work done.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

How To Shame Your Husband

Today, my friend Warnement was telling me about this funny website where owners shame their dogs. I was like, "Shave their dogs?" and he was like "Shame them," and I was like, "Aha, Joe! I told you yesterday when they were talking about this on the radio in the car that the dj said 'shamed' and you were like, 'he said shaved, why don't you get the wax out of your ears?' and look who is flying high now on a rainbow of promises. This foxy lady right here!"

There may have been a celebratory dance involved.

If you are unfamiliar with what I'm talking about, there is a website where people submit photos, more like mugshots, if you will, of their guilty looking dogs beside hand written signs that explain what it was the dog did bad. Sometimes, the dog is pictured at the scene of the crime, or with evidence of his or her doggy wrong doing. Some of them don't look guilty at all, which is even better. There is actually a chihuahua who looks like a hardened criminal facing a long sentence, but who has a tattoo of the Chinese character for YOLO. The site is here, but it's not safe for work. The first link on the right hand side is of a woman getting her butthole tatooed. And apparently, she loved it. Emphasis mine.

You get the idea, right? Well, I decided that if it worked with dogs, it has to work with humans, right? And there are all these annoying things my husband does. So, I decided to call him out on them. And he was a great sport about it:


"I clean floors before I clean the surfaces."



"I've never read Jen's books. :( " *


"I try to tell Jen how to cook."



"The only time I tell Jen I love her is when I fart in the car." **




"I leave my stubble from shaving in the sink."


*This is true. Joe has never read any of my books all the way through. He read the first three chapters of The Turning, and occasionally he will read the sex scenes from my books aloud as he chases me through the house.

**Look how not guilty he looks about this one. And it's also true. He will turn to me with such tenderness and say, "I love you." My heart will start to melt. And then I smell it.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Your heart might kill you. Heads up.

So, I wasn't planning a post for today, because I have copy edits to do and books to write. But a friend just sort of casually posted something on facebook, to the tune of, "Oh hey, you might not have realized it at the time, but I totally had a heart attack three months ago."

WTF?!

He's in his 30's!

He couldn't possibly have had a heart attack!

WTF?!

Well, he did have a heart attack, and he's written about it on his blog, Open Source Judaism. Please go and check it out, because while I'd heard of people having a heart attack in their 30's and 40's, I always assumed it would never happen to me. No matter what age you are, go read his scary story, get a bead on your very real mortality, and take better care of yourselves, because I like you.

Yes, you personally.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

50 Shades Darker chapter 7 recap, or "Nothing says romance like forced birth control."

Okay, some links for you all.

50 Shades Generator, courtesy of Tanya Eby, AKA Blunder Woman. Actually, her husband found it. So, you know, they're good for something, am I right, ladies?

This is the funniest 50 Shades twitter parody.

In The Beginning, There Was Fanfic: From The Four Gospels To Fifty Shades is a really cool article on fanfiction, how it got started, the way the community functioned before the internet, and touches on the 50 Shades phenomenon. The author raises an interesting point:
 As one leading fanfic site claims, "the majority of Twilight fanfic is porn". Many of these stories will sound spookily familiar. In one: His Personal Assistant (2009), "Bella Swan, personal assistant to handsome, rich, successful Edward Cullen, decides to make oblivious boss fall in love with her"; in another (2009) "Edward is a millionaire obsessed with Isobella Swan". One, The Submissive by Tara Me Sue, is described as "37 chapters of juicy graphic detail", "Think Story of O meets Twilight minus the vampire stuff". This story, which can be found on fanfiction.net, like the others above, predates the publication of Fifty Shades by two years and was not written by EL James.
So, not only is 50 Shades of Grey plagiarized from Twilight, it's actually plagiarized from other Twilight fanfiction. Really let that sink in a moment, the fact that people are all:


and they're doing it over a book that isn't just ripped off from the source material, but ripped off from another rip off the source material. And keep in mind, E.L. James has already had the gall to try and shut down someone on fanfiction.net for plagiarizing 50 Shades. Is this the Matrix? Is this hell?

Finally, the awesome Julia Burns left a comment on my last recap, imagining what MST3K would look like if it really was the sequel to Good Will HuntingThis is what it would look like. It's all coming together for your old friend Jen. It really is.

When we last left Bella Swan and Edward Cullen, they were at a charity ball at the Cullen mansion. Ana just bid the $24k that Christian deposited in her account on a weekend at Christian's property in Aspen. Okay, but you realize that you're not giving the $24k back, right, Ana? It's for charity, it's not like he's going to get that money back. And if you've got your shots handy, it's time for the "Drink When Ana Drinks" drinking game:
Holy shit, did I really just do that? It must be the alcohol. I've had champagne plus four glasses of four different wines.
Shots! Shots shots shots shots! EVERYBODY!

Ana looks at Christian, and notices that he looks happy, but she knows he's going to be really angry.
My subconscious has finally decided to make an appearance, and she's wearing her Edvard Munch The Scream face.
I bet E.L. James has that poster in her office. Think of how much calmer this entire book would have been if that poster had just been Monet's Water Lilies.

Now, I've noted a few places in this book and the last where an otherwise fine paragraph or sentence will be ruined by something utterly creepy. To illustrate this point, I'm going to show you two excerpts out of order. This is the excerpt that is just fine. It's actually pretty well written, and something that would get me hot in any other book:
"I don't know whether to worship at your feet or spank the living shit out of you."
Oh, I know what I want right now. I gaze up at him, blinking through my maks. I just wish I could read what's in his eyes.
"I'll take option two, please," I whisper frantically as the applause dies down. His lips part as he inhales sharply. Oh, that chiseled mouth - I want it on me, now. I ache for him. He gives me a radiant sincere smile that leaves me breathless.
"Suffering, are you? We'll have to see what we can do about that," he murmurs as he runs his fingers along my jaw.
See? Taken out of the context of Chedward and Anabella, that's actually some pretty good sexual tension. So, what was it that completely destroyed that entire passage for me? This one, that came directly before it:
Christian leans over to me, a large, fake smile plastered across his face. He kisses my cheek and then moves closer to whisper in my ear in a very cold, controlled voice.
So, read that, and go back and read the other passage, so that they're in the correct order. Literally everything that comes after large, fake smiles and cold, controlled voices is sinister and creepy. All of it.

Things do not get better. While sitting at the same table as his sister, parents, and grandparents, Christian takes Ana's hand and...
Slowly and surreptitiously, so I don't realize his game until it's too late, he eases my hand up his leg and against his erection.
His parents. His grandparents. Same table.
Taking full advantage, I slowly caress him, letting my fingers explore. Christian keeps his hand over mine, hiding my bold fingers, while his thumb skates softly over the nape of my neck. His mouth opens as he gasps softly, and it's the only reaction I can see to my inexperienced touch. But it means so much. He wants me. Everything south of my navel contracts. This is becoming unbearable.
It sure is, Ana. Seriously, wouldn't all of this be painfully obvious? I get that there is an auction going on, and people are watching it. But I think I would notice if someone at my table was gasping because he was getting an under-the-table-handy. No auction is that enthralling, that anyone would miss that subtle detail. Also, I don't think Ana's touch can be accurately described as "inexperienced" anymore. They have sex almost every chapter. Of course, as the sex piles up (lol, "sex piles"), her euphemisms do seem to be getting more general. "Everything south of my navel," could be her cunt, but it could also be her knees. I'm kind of imagining her legs stiffening up rigor mortis style and Ana toppling from her chair.

Now, let's learn about pronoun agreement!
A week by Lake Adriana in Montana is the final lot for auction. Of course Mr. and Dr. Grey have a house in Montana, and the bidding escalates rapidly, but I am barely aware of it. I feel him growing beneath my fingers, and it makes me feel so powerful.
Do you see it? Let me give you a hint:
A week by Lake Adriana in Montana is the final lot for auction. Of course Mr. and Dr. Grey have a house in Montana, and the bidding escalates rapidly, but I am barely aware of it. I feel him growing beneath my fingers, and it makes me feel so powerful. 
Yup. Due to clumsy writing, Ana is now jacking off Christian's father. Or both of them. Maybe she's got one in each hand? That has to attract some attention at the dinner table.

Ana and Christian want to sneak off and have sex, because they are at his parents' house, after all, but Mia ruins their plan by bringing up the First Dance Auction.
"The first dance will be with me, okay? And it won't be on the dance floor," he murmurs lasciviously into my ear. My giggles subside as anticipation fans the flames of my need. Oh yes! My inner goddess performs a perfect triple Salchow in her ice skates.
That bitch can do it all!

Christian gives Ana a kiss, and gives us all something to think about:
Glancing around, I realize that our fellow guests at the table are astonished. Of course, they've never seen Christian with a date before.
So, if they're all astonished about that kiss on the cheek, what are the chances that they saw Ana fondling his dongle? Pretty high, right? He's never appeared in public with a date before, so everyone is going to be watching him. It wouldn't be a big deal if he was a womanizing billionaire like, oh, Tony Stark, right?

 Look at this suave motherfucker. It's not just unsurprising, it's damn well expected that someone will jack him off under the dinner table.

But Chedward isn't Tony Stark, he's the opposite. He doesn't flaunt his conquests, so when he's with a woman, it's going to draw a lot of attention.

No, this whole comparison wasn't just an excuse to work a picture of RDJ into my blog. Shut up. You don't know.

Ana and Mia join ten other women - including Lily the requisite jealous bitch - on the stage, where horrible clarity dawns on Ana:
"Gentlemen, the highlight of the evening!" the MC booms over the babble of voices. "The moment you've all been waiting for! These twelve lovely ladies have all agreed to auction their first dance to the highest bidder!"
Oh no. I blush from head to toe. I hadn't realized what this meant. How humiliating!
Okay, she didn't realize what it meant when, on the last page, Mia said:
"The First Dance Auction. Come on!" 
What else could you possibly infer from the words "first dance auction"? It's one of the most cliche fundraising events of all time, too. Seriously, what did Ana think was going to happen up on that stage?
"It's for a good cause," Mia hisses at me, sensing my discomfort. "Besides, Christian will win." She rolls her eyes. "I can't imagine him letting anyone outbid him. He hasn't taken his eyes off you all evening."
Mia senses her discomfort because Alice is psychic.

So, you've probably already deduced that this is going to be yet another chance for Ana to prove her Mary Sueishness by earning the highest bid for her first dance. You might think that you are prepared for the cliche that is to come, and that you will be able to weather the storm. You are wrong. It's so much worse than you could have imagined.

You are going to need this again.

First of all, there is the angst: 
Yes, focus on the good cause, and Christian is bound to win. Let's face it, he's not short of a dime or two.
But it means spending more money on you! my subconscious snarls at me. But I don't want to dance with anyone else - I can't dance with anyone else - and it's not spending money on me, he's donating it to charity. Like the $24,000 he's already spent? My subconscious narrows her eyes.
How dramatic can one person reasonably be about how another person spends their money? Or about dancing with someone else? Ana, you're just going to dance with someone, not fuck them. And it's going to raise money for drug addicted parents of small children, let's not forget that.
"Now, gentlemen, pray gather around, and take a good look at what could be yours for the first dance. Twelve comely and compliant wenches."
Jeez! I feel like I'm in a meat market. I watch, horrified, as at least twenty men make their way to the stage area, Christian included, moving with easy grace between the tables and pausing to say a few hellos on the way.
Okay, maybe I was wrong, because this is starting to sound like a really, really fancy gang bang. "Comely and compliant?" That's a bit creepy, isn't it? Wasn't there a scene like this in the movie where Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman pretended to be into each other sexually, and no one was buying it? That had masks in it, didn't it?

 Okay, there were masks. Maybe not an auction scene, maybe not credible heterosexuality, but definitely masks.

The MC announces each woman with little made up biographies. The first two women, Jada and Mariah, go for $5,000 and $4,000, respectively, and during this part of the auction, Mia mentions that she hopes Christian wins the first dance with Ana, so that there isn't a "brawl." 
Christian is watching me like a hawk. Brawler Trevelyan-Grey - who would have known.
"How long ago?" I ask Mia.
She glances at me, nonplussed.
"How long ago was Christian brawling?"
"Early teens. Drove my parents crazy, coming home with cut lips and black eyes. He was expelled from two schools. He inflicted some serious damage on his opponents."
Okay, the first time I read this chapter, I totally missed the part where Mia said that there might be a brawl, so it looked like the conversation was coming out of nowhere and I was super confused. So, for all the people who say, "Who has the time to read a book multiple times just to bitch about it?" this is one of those cases that proves that if you're going to rip something absolutely apart, you have to read it a few times or risk criticizing an element of the work that isn't actually flawed.

However, holy fuck, is this flawed. First of all, they're on a stage in front of three hundred guests. And they're having this conversation about something intensely personal. Guess what, you're not invisible, ladies. Someone is going to see you talking, someone is going to pay attention to what you're talking about. Second, oh, hey there proof that Christian shouldn't be involved in BDSM. If you have serious anger issues, to the point that your frequent physical assaults of other people had actual medical consequences, maybe being a Dom isn't for you. Just saying.

We don't find out how much the next girl goes for, because Ana stops paying attention, but the bidding is up to $4,000. Let's recap:
  • Jada went for $5,000.
  • Mariah went for $4,000.
  • Jill's only mentioned bid was $4,000.
So, what do you want to bet Mr. Grey bids for Ana?
"Beautiful Ana plays six musical instruments, speaks fluent Mandarin, is keen on yoga... well, gentlemen -" Before he can even finish his sentence Christian interrupts him, glaring at the MC through his mask.
"Ten thousand dollars." I hear Lily's gasp of disbelief behind me.
Did Lily bid? Also, why is Christian glaring at the MC? The MC is doing his job.
"Fifteen."
What? We all turn as one to a tall, impeccably dressed man standing to the left of the stage. I blink at Fifty. Shit, what will he make of this? But he's scratching his chin and giving the stranger an ironic smile. It's obvious Christian knows him. The stranger nods politely at Christian.
OMG.  Is it Taylor? OMG. Is it Jack Hyde? OMG OMG OMG.
"Well, gentlemen! We have high rollers in the house this evening." The MC's excitement emanates through his harlequin mask as he turns to beam at Christian. This is a great show, but it's at my expense. I want to wail.

Full disclosure: this post took me super long to write, not because of the stuff I'm writing, but because I spent literally two hours looking at each and every "Look at all the fucks I give" macro on the damned internet because I give so few fucks about Ana's mortification that I had to get the exact. Right. One. There were Doctor Who ones, there was one of Renee Fleming, I'm telling you, there were a lot to choose from. There was a Darth Vader in a kilt riding a unicycle and playing the bag pipes one. But ultimately, MST3K won, because they seriously do not give a fuck and neither do I. Oh, poor Ana! You're the belle of the ball again. That must be absolutely humiliating, to have two men fighting over a dance with you to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars, while the other women have all gone for like, four. Oh, how horrifying, that such attention is being called to you, because you don't like it, even though you fucking thrive on it, because you're a Mary Sue so Mary Sueish that they'll have to retire the goddamned term and start using "Anastasia Rose Steele" instead. Poor. Poor. You.
"Twenty," counters Christian quietly.
The babble of the crowd has died. Everyone is staring at me, Christian, and Mr. Mysterious by the stage.
"Twenty-five," the stranger says.
Could this be any more embarrassing?
I don't know, Ana. You could be watching it happen. Second hand embarrassment is often more crushing than actual embarrassment. Trust me, I'm having it right now, for both you and the author.
Christian stares at him impassively, but he's amused. All eyes are on Christian. What's he going to do? My heart is in my mouth. I feel sick.
"One hundred thousand dollars," he says, his voice ringing clear and loud through the tent.
Okay, fine. She's embarrassed. And it is kind of an embarrassing thing. But you know what's more embarrassing? Being the girl who went for $4,000, when Ana went for $100,000. Just saying. I know that it buys into the whole patriarchal thing of a woman being worth what a man believes she's worth, but this is a fun, albeit cliche, activity to raise money for a charity that helps parents of small children get off drugs. Maybe keep that in focus, take the ego stroke, and shut the fuck up about it. No one forced you to participate. Mia is overbearing, but if you had said you didn't want to do it, she wouldn't have made you.

Ana asks Christian who the other bidder was, and he says that he'll tell her later. They have time for a quick fuck before the first dance actually happens, so he spirits her away to Edward Cullen's bedroom:
"This was my room," he says quietly, standing by the door and locking it behind him.
It's large, stark, and sparsely furnished. The walls are white, as is the furniture; a double bed, a desk and chair, shelves crammed with books and lined with various trophies for kickboxing, by the look of them. The walls are hung with movie posters: The Matrix, Fight Club, The Truman Show, and two framed posters featuring kickboxers. One is named Guiseppe DeNatale - I've never heard of him.
Wait, has she heard of the other one? I love how Ana's mind works, like she expects she's going to have this knowledge of kickboxing because she knows fucking everything because she's so "bright." "Oh, Guiseppe DeNatale? I've never heard of him. I should comment on how I've never heard of him, because the reader obviously trusts that I have encyclopedic knowledge of every subject on the planet, and I wouldn't want to mislead them. With great intelligence comes great responsibility, to paraphrase Spiderman."
"I've never brought a girl in here," he murmurs.
Oh, play her the lullaby you wrote for her, Edward! Please do!

They have a brief discussion about how she wants him to spank her, but he won't because he said he wouldn't do the punishment thing anymore.
"I vowed to myself I would not spank you again, even if you begged me."
"Please," I beg.
Well, clears that up, right? He's down to spank her if she promises to use the safe word if she needs to. And then, it's on to our latest installment of Word Rep Theatre. Emphasis mine:
He swallows, then takes my hand, and moves toward the bed. Throwing the duvet aside, he sits down, grabs a pillow, and places it beside him. He gazes up at me standing beside him and suddenly tugs hard on my hand so that I fall across his lap. He shifts slightly so my body is resting on the bed, my chest on the pillow, my face to one side. Leaning over, he sweeps my hair over my shoulder and runs his fingers through the plume of feathers on my mask.
Sometimes, word rep is unavoidable. Not these times. None of those times. It could have easily read:
He swallows, then takes my hand and moves toward the bed. Throwing the duvet aside, he sits. He gazes up at me and tugs me down, so that I fall across his lap. He shifts slightly so my body is resting on the mattress, my chest on a pillow beside him, my face turned away. Leaning down, he sweeps my hair over my shoulder and runs his fingers through the plume of feathers on my mask.
Nothing of value is lost by losing the word rep. This is actually a very common mistake a lot of writers make, thinking that they have to spell things out like assembly instructions, when it's often just a few key words that get the description across. If you don't believe me, read Tolkien's Fellowship of The Ring and try to find the exact description of Rivendell. Then go look at what it looks like in the movie. Hardly any of the stuff you see in the movie is described in detail by Tolkien in the novel, but everyone had the exact same image of it in their heads, so that when they went to see the movie, they saw what they had seen when they'd read the book. It might be unfair to compare any author to Tolkien, but it's just an example. Like J.K. Rowling with Privet Drive. She doesn't go into a lot of detail about Privet Drive, but it still showed up in the movies as looking exactly the way people imagined it in the books. It's not about using more words or more description, it's about using the right words. Well, that and not repeating the same words over and over and over when it can be avoided.

Christian asks Ana if she really wants to be spanked, and why:
I groan as soon as his hand makes contact with my skin. I don't know why... you tell me not to overthink. After a day like today - arguing about the money, Leila, Mrs. Robinson, the dossier on me, the road map, this lavish party, the masks, the alcohol, the silver balls, the auction... I want this.
Let's pick out the bad reasons from the good:

Good reasons to want to be spanked:
  • All geared up from Ben Wa balls.
  • Inhibitions lowered by alcohol (now, this would be a bad reason to be all, "cane me!" but a light spanking with a bare hand would probably be okay).
  • The roleplay mystery of wearing masks at a fancy party gets you all revved up.
Bad reasons to want to be spanked:
  • Because you feel inferior in comparison to his ex-girlfriends who were more willing to explore BDSM fantasies, and to whom you're afraid you're going to lose him.
  • Because you argued about money.
  • Because he profoundly invaded your privacy.
I have no problem with Ana getting spanked, but let's make sure it's because she's horny and wants it, okay? Not because she's trying to prove that she can be just as good at getting spanked as his exes were.

He spanks her and fingers her for the next page, and then they have sex, and it's super sexy, with Christian saying things like:
"This is going to be quick, baby,"
Oh, how I've longed to hear a man say that to me, let me tell you.
"Ana, shit," he hisses as he comes, and the tortured sound sets me off again, spiraling into a healing orgasm that goes on and on and wrings me out and leaves me spent and breathless.
"Healing orgasm" sounds like it comes directly from one of those orgasmic birth books.

So, they get done and Ana notices a picture of a woman on a bulletin board in Christian's room. She looks familiar, but it isn't someone she can immediately place, and Christian won't tell her who it is.  So, it's probably his bio mom.

They go back out to the dance floor for the first dance, and halfway through, the mysterious other bidder cuts in. It's Dr. Flynn, Christian's psychologist, so it's super professional of him to be at a party at Christian's parents' house, right? I suppose one could make an argument that he's a friend of  the family, but in that case, shouldn't he not be Christian's doctor? We have a psychologist friend of the family, and she won't work with any of us because of ethics or whatever. Or maybe I'm wrong, maybe we're just way too cray for her. But I'm betting it's not cool for a psychologist to hang out with patients in their down time.
The band strikes up another song, and Dr. Flynn pulls me into his arms. he's much younger than I imagined, though I can't see his face. He's wearing a mask similar to Christian's. He's tall, but not as tall as Christian, and he doesn't move with Christian's easy grace.
Just in case you were wondering, Christian is still the most handsomest, most graciest, most awesomest.
What do I say to him? Why is Christian so fucked-up? Why did he bid on me? It's the only thing I want to ask him, but somehow that seems rude.
I like that she thinks of two things she wants to ask him, but it's singularly "only" the "only" thing she wants to ask him. She's so "bright."
"I'm glad to finally meet you, Anastasia. Are you enjoying yourself?" he asks.
"I was," I whisper.
What a charmer, ladies and gents. And to think, it only costs $100k to dance with her.

Dr. Flynn asks if he's the reason she's not having fun anymore, and her answer is even more gracious:
"Dr. Flynn, you're the shrink. You tell me."
He grins. "That's the problem, isn't it? The shrink bit?"
I giggle. "I'm worried what I might reveal, so I'm a little self-conscious and intimidated. And really I only want to ask you about Christian."
I'm not a mental health professional, but I think it must get really annoying to have everyone around you feel so certain that their brains are utterly fascinating to you and that you're going to constantly be analyzing them. I bet Dr. Flynn has heard this kind of thing so many times that he wishes he could shoot lasers out of his eyes and incinerate anyone who jokes about the fact that he's a psychologist.
He smiles. "First, this is a party so I'm not on duty," he whispers conspiratorially. "And second, I really can't talk to you about Christian. Besides," he teases, "we'd need until Christmas."
I gasp in shock.
"That's a doctor's joke, Anastasia."
I flush, embarrassed, and then feel slightly resentful. He's making a joke at Christian's expense. "You've just confirmed what I've been saying to Christian... that you're an expensive charlatan," I admonish him.
You wanna back the rude train up a fucking minute, Ana? First of all, you were totally down with Dr. Flynn spilling intimate personal details about Christian if it would help you in your quest to be OMG THE BEST GIRLFRIEND EVER WHO FIXES HIM YAY!, but when he won't break with doctor/patient confidentiality for you, you believe he's crossing a boundary by making a joke?  So, it's totally okay for you to go behind Christian's back and ask his doctor for personal info, but his doctor making a joke about it is so totally inappropriate that you call him a "charlatan?" And not just calling him that, saying that you've called him that in the past, when you have no idea how he runs his practice, what his methods are, or if he's actually helping Christian at all. You decided he was a charlatan because you think you can fix Christian better, with the magical healing power of your super vagina.

Of course, rather than get offended, Dr. Flynn is utterly charmed by Ana, because this book makes no goddamned sense:
Dr. Flynn snorts with laughter. "you could be on to something there."
Ana grills him on where he's from (England) and why he came to America (he doesn't tell her).
He snorts. "No, Anastasia. that you don't give much away."
"There's not much to give away," I smile.
No shit.

Their dance finishes and Christian comes back to claim her from the sinister Dr. Flynn.
"It's been a pleasure to meet you, Anastasia." He gives me his warm smile again, and I feel like I've passed some kind of hidden test.
Yes, because as I mentioned before, your brain is so fascinating that Dr. Flynn couldn't help but analyze you outside of office hours.

Ana jokingly tells Christian that Dr. Flynn told her everything about him, and it turns into angst-o-rama times:
Christian tenses. "Well, in that case, I'll get your bag. I'm sure you want nothing more to do with me," he says softly.
I stop. "He didn't tell me anything!" My voice fills with panic.
Christian blinks before relief floods his face. He pulls me into his arms again. "Then let's enjoy this dance." He beams down at me, reassuring me, and then spins me around.
Why would he think that I'd want to leave? It makes no sense.
Does anyone else feel like they're reading about high schoolers? And not like, one high schooler and one really immature hundred year old dude who is a vampire, I mean like, two fourteen year olds? "I can't dance with anyone else!" "You want to leave me now!" "I don't want to leave you!" Ugh. You're at a swanky party with lots of swanky people. Why don't you just shut the fuck up and enjoy yourselves, already?

Ana goes to the bathroom, and on the way she gets sidelined by Mrs. Robinson, who wants to also act like a fourteen year old. She tells Ana that Christian is in love with her:
I am reeling. Christian loves me? He hasn't said it, and this woman has told him that's how he feels? How bizarre.
A hundred images dance through my head: the iPad, the gliding, flying to see me, all his actions, his possessiveness, $100,000 for a dance. Is this love?
No, it's not love. He bought you the iPad to avoid telling you how he feels. He took you gliding because it's an activity he enjoys. He flew to visit you in Georgia, yes, but he did it after you told him not to, because you wanted time away from him. He paid $100,000 for a dance because he wanted to display to everyone that he owns you. Possessiveness is not love. Nothing he has done has been an expression of love.

But on to Mrs. Robinson acting like a fourteen year old:
"I've never seen him so happy, and it's obvious that you have feelings for him, too." A brief smile flits across her lips. "That's great, and I wish you both the best of everything. But what I wanted to say is if you hurt him again, I will find you, lady, and it won't be pleasant when I do."
Yeah, Ana. Now that you're with him, you're with him forever, because if you break up with him and hurt his feelings, Mrs. Robinson is going to beat you up. Because this is high school.
She stares at me, ice-cold blue eyes boring into my skull, trying to get under my mask.
Taken literally, that sentence is really funny, and implies that Ana is wearing the mask under her skull.

Just when I thought this entire chapter was just going to be one long, slow backslide into alcoholism for me, this happens:
"I'm laughing at your audacity, Mrs. Lincoln. Christian and I have nothing to do with you. And if I do leave him and you come looking for me, I'll be waiting - don't doubt it. And maybe I'll give you a taste of your own medicine on behalf of the fifteen-year-old child you molested and probably fucked up even more than he already was."
BOOM. Atomic burn. I'm even going to ignore the fact that Ana kind of threatens to molest Mrs. Robinson there, because she called her a molester to her face. Good for Ana!

Ana leaves the tent all angry, and still needing to pee, and Christian intercepts her, wanting to know what's wrong. Ana tells him to ask Mrs. Robinson, and Christian says he'll talk to her:
"You will do no such thing." I cross my arms, my anger spiking again.
Okay, so what do you want him to do here, Ana? Because you're mad at him for what Mrs. Robinson did, which doesn't make a lot of sense. He can't control whether or not she approaches you. But are you saying, "You will do no such thing," because you don't want him to confront his molester, or are you saying it because you don't want him to talk to a woman who you feel is competition for his affection? I think it's the latter. Yet, you somehow want him to make this situation right by you. The only way he can do this is by speaking to her, and yet if you ask him to do this, you're asking him to defend you against his rapist.

Obviously, in this situation the only thing to do is say, "Look, she's way too possessive of you. I'm not going to try and cross her path again, let's just avoid her and let the cray cray die down." So that's what they do.

HA! No, I'm totally kidding. Ana calls Mrs. Robinson "old" (I thought she was forty) and then goes to the bathroom, and then when she comes back out:
Christian is on the phone some distance away and out of earshot of the few people laughing and chatting nearby. As I get closer, I can hear him. He's very terse.
"Why did you change your mind? I thought we'd agreed. Well, leave her alone... This is the first regular relationship I've ever had, and I don't want you jeopardizing it through some misplaced concern for me. Leave. Her. Alone. I mean it, Elena."
Wait a second... aren't they at the same party? Why is he calling her?

Christian and Mrs. Robinson on the way to homeroom.

Christian gets off the phone, and Ana has to make another crack about Mrs. Robinson's age:
"How's the old news?"
Har har. We all remember Ana's description of Mrs. Robinson, right? That she looked like she was in her late thirties or early forties? You're not going to be twenty-two forever, Ana. Your youth and ability to wear low-waisted jeans will fade. And when that day happens, I hope Christian dumps your ass for a twenty-two year old blonde with pigtails and lipstick you don't approve of.

Christian asks Ana if she wants to stay for the fireworks, and she is all about fireworks, so they're going to stay.
"We'll stay and watch them, then." He puts his arms around me and pulls me close. "Don't let her come between us, please."
Well, that's really not Ana's responsibility, is it? Mrs. Robinson is actively trying to come between the two of you. She's the one to blame. The best course of action is to ignore her, not call her the second Ana goes to the bathroom. He goes on to say that Mrs. Robinson is a good friend. How good a friend can she be if she took sexual advantage of him as a child? And if Christian rejects the idea that his relationship with Mrs. Robinson is wrong, then wouldn't it be his job to make sure Mrs. Robinson doesn't come between them? The fact that Christian feels helpless and unable to control the situation with Mrs. Robinson only reinforces what we already knew, that she's a creeper and Christian is her prey. So now Ana and Christian and Mrs. Robinson are locked in this chain of abuse. Mrs. Robinson has abused Christian, so Christian reacts to her as though she were an abuser, Christian is currently abusing Ana, so Ana reacts to him as though he were an abuser.

Christian's dad wants to dance the last dance with Ana (I guess to pay her back for the under the table bad grammar action earlier in the chapter), and to feel her out to make sure she can afford the $24k bid she made during the auction.
"I'm delighted to be able to contribute. I unexpectedly came into some money. I don't need it. And it's such a worthy cause."
He smiles down at me, and I seize the opportunity for some innocent inquiries. Carpe diem, my subconscious hisses from behind her hand.
How does someone "hiss" a phrase with no sibilant consonants? And you know, if my son was a billionaire, and his broke ass college student girlfriend was so casual about dropping $24k, I would be on full gold digger alert. Especially if I knew she lived rent free with a roommate whose parents have supported her financially all through college.
"Christian told me a little about his past, so I think it's appropriate to support your work," I add, hoping that this might encourage Carrick to give me a small insight into the mystery that is his son.
Way to carpe that diem, Ana, in a totally passive way.

Carrick tells Ana that he's never seen Christian so "buoyant," and that it's clearly all Ana's doing. He tells her that Dr. Grey was on duty when Christian was brought into the emergency room, and that he didn't speak for two years after his bio mom's death. Playing the piano was what made Christian start to come out of his shell, as did the addition of Mia to the family.
"He's always been such a loner. We never thought we'd see him with anyone. Whatever you're doing, please don't stop. We'd like to see him happy." He stops suddenly, as if he's overstepped the mark. "I'm sorry, I don't mean to make you uncomfortable."
I don't know if it's that Carrick "overstepped the mark" or that the author just showed her hand. You know how when you start filling up a glass of water when you're really thirsty, halfway is good, full is better, but it gets to that point that the glass is overfull and if you try to take a drink, you just get water everywhere? This chapter. This chapter is equivalent to exactly that. If one person had commented, "Hey, you guys make a cute couple," I wouldn't have noticed so much. If maybe one other person had also commented on Ana and Christian's relationship, it would have still seemed like the characters were reassuring Ana that they liked her and her involvement with Christian. but somehow, when Carrick does it, near the end of a chapter that has been an endless parade of "You're so good for him/you're totally saving him just like you wanted to/you guys are going to get married and have babies forever!" I suddenly snapped and realized that this is the author trying to force the reader to accept them as a couple. "All these fictional characters think the relationship is love everlasting," I imagine E.L. James screaming at the computer as she mashes two paper doll characters together in front of the screen, "so you have to, as well, reader! Because I say so!"

Well, that's not how it works. Nothing really happens in the bulk of this chapter, apart from Ana showing up at this party and impressing everyone (making a huge bid, having a huge sum of money bid on her), and then having little side conversations with people who reassure her that she's the best thing that ever happened to Christian. Even Mrs. Robinson, who does it in a jealous way, is moved to threaten physical harm should Ana ever bar access to her magic hootchie and its healing powers from Christian Grey. That's the entire point of this chapter, in fact, to clumsily show the reader the magical power of the love between Chedward and Anabella without actually doing the super hard work of building their personalities and forging their relationship in an organic way.

What's even more enraging is that once the dance ends and Christian comes back to claim Ana, this happens:
"I think my dad likes you," Christian mutters as he watches his dad mingle with the crowd.
"What's not to like?" I peek coquettishly up at him through my lashes.
"Good point well made, Miss Steele." He pulls me into an embrace as the band starts to play "It Had to Be You."
Just in case you missed it, reader, Ana is amazing. She charms or threatens everyone she meets, by virtue of being super duper awesome. And in case you're still not getting it, she's going to pretend false modesty in the vein of, "Aw, shucks, I know nobody really likes me, so it's okay if I say they do," and then a song about how fucking perfect she is starts playing.

This woman. This fucking woman.

I also want to take this opportunity to point out that before she dances with his father, Christian tells Ana the fireworks are going to be in five minutes. Then she dances an entire song ("Come Fly With Me") with Carrick, and she's now going to dance to another song and then start walking toward the firework display after the paragraph break. So, it seems like that would all take longer than five minutes. Nit. Picked.

Everyone takes off their masks to watch the fireworks by the dock, and Ana spots the security team:
Christian has his arm around me, but I'm aware that Taylor and Sawyer are close by, probably because we're in a crowd now. They are looking anywhere but at the dockside where two technicians dressed in black are making their final preparations.
That's right. Look everywhere BUT at the guys with tons of explosives. They seem legit.

Unfortunately, no one is hit with a stray firework, and it's the most glittering and amazing fireworks display ever, obviously. The MC tells the crowd that the benefit has raised $1,853,000, and then Christian and Ana are ready to leave, to get home to more sexy times, probably.
He glances up again, and Taylor is close, the crowd dispersing around us. They don't speak but something passes between them.


 Just heads up, I'm never going to get tired of using the telepathic conversation pictures. NEVER.

Taylor makes them wait until the crowd disperses, because he's like, on high alert or something:
"I think that fireworks display probably aged him a hundred years," he adds.
"Doesn't he like fireworks?"
Christian gazes down at me fondly and shakes his head but doesn't elaborate.
 OMG. You guys, Taylor is really coming together. I bet he was a Navy SEAL or something. OMG.

Oh, this is a good time to clear something up:
"You were quite overcome, Miss Steele. A most satisfactory outcome, if I recall." He smiles salaciously. "Incidentally, where are they?"
"The silver balls? In my bag."
Okay, so here's the thing. Last recap, everyone was like, "What did she do with the balls?!" And I feared it would turn out like the panties thing, where I didn't remind everyone in the one chapter that Christian still had Ana's panties, and people were all, "How did her panties magically reappear?" I never mentioned it, because 1) I can't reproduce every line of these books, that would strain the boundaries of fair use. So please, don't use these recaps to find continuity errors. If there is a continuity error, I will probably point it out, unless I miss it, but unless you've read the books and found it that way, don't be all, "She had these silver balls and they just disappeared!" Because then some anonymous commenter comes in (as they did with the panties) and claims that I'm purposely not excerpting bits of this book in an attempt to make it look worse than it is. Which is not the case. Actually, leaving out huge chunks of text makes the book more readable. And 2) I usually will only excerpt things that are problematic or move the story along. Ana putting the Ben Wa balls in her purse didn't fulfill either requirement, so I didn't mention it. So, you know. Just so we're all on the same page here.

Mia wants Ana and Christian to stay for the after party, but Christian says they can't, because they have a big day the next day. Ana doesn't know what he's talking about, but she goes along with it. Then Mia invites Ana to go to the mall, and Ana graciously accepts:
"Sure, Mia." I grin, though in the back of my mind I'm wondering how since I have to work for a living.
I have to work for a living, too, Ana, but I can still grin. Seriously, how shitty is it to respond to an invitation with that thought? Way to belittle Mia, who is just trying to be friendly, by immediately thinking she's lazy and too rich.

We can't leave the party without one more reassurance that Ana is OMGSAVINGCHRISTIAN'SLIFE! and that OMGEVERYONEWITHAVAGINAISSUPERJEALOUS!:
"I like seeing you happy," she says sweetly and kisses him on the cheek. "Bye. You guys have fun." She skips off toward her waiting friends - among them Lily, who looks even more sour-faced without her mask.
 Lily was giving her the "You're dead to me" look.

I'm going to include this next part, so you can play "Is It A Plot Point, Or An Entirely Useless Sentence" as we go along:
I wonder idly where Sean is.
Christian and Ana say goodbye to his parents, but not his grandparents, who, Ana must remind you, she does not care for:
Fortunately, Grace's parents have retired for the evening, so at least I am spared their enthusiasm.
Ugh, I know. It's so fucking terrible when people like you and behave in a way that makes you feel welcome. Guh.

As they walk to the car, Ana asks Christian what he means by "big day tomorrow," and his answer (and her response to it) should probably turn you into a quaking ball of rage:
"Dr. Greene is coming to sort you out. Plus, I have a surprise for you."
"Dr. Green!" I halt.
"Yes."
"Why?"
"Because I hate condoms," he says quietly. His eyes glint in the soft light from the paper lanterns, gauging my reaction.
No matter how romantic the soft fucking light from the paper fucking lanterns is, I'm sorry, E.L., but you cannot make forced birth control sexy. I feel like I'm rapidly approaching that line between hating the book and hating the author as a person for all the terrible shit she's feeding to women everywhere. How romantic, ladies! The hero of your dreams refers to going to the gynecologist as having a "big day" and thinks you need to be "sorted out" because your pesky fertility is interfering with his sexual pleasure. I'm so wet. Oh, that's because I started drinking at about seven-o-clock last night and didn't stop for breakfast because I'm in a state of alcoholic despair about the way women in the western world clamor to be treated like fucking livestock and we as a culture throw handfuls of money at the stupid jerk asses who feel that this is the romantic ideal, so I missed my mouth when I tried for that last swig of cheap wine.

Lucky for me, before I can have a moral quandary about crossing that book/author line, E.L. does me a solid and pushes me right the fuck over it:
"It's my body," I mutter, annoyed that he hasn't asked me.
"It's mine, too," he whispers.
Oh, shit is that a rich white guy telling a woman he has ownership over her body? I would call Chedward a Republican Conservative, except he seems to like feeding poor people, so maybe he's a Libertarian?
I gaze up at him as various guests pass by, ignoring us. He looks so earnest. Yes, my body is his... he knows it better than I do.
BECAUSE YOU'VE KEPT YOURSELF PURPOSELY IGNORANT! There are tons of resources out there for women to learn about their bodies, but you're one of the women who apparently has no hinderance like a strict religious upbringing or prior sexual abuse or any of the other horrible circumstances that keep women ignorant of their bodies who simply CHOOSES TO BE FUCKING STUPID ABOUT YOUR BODY! BECAUSE YOU WERE WAITING FOR A MAN TO TELL YOU WHAT IS UP!


This book. This fucking book.

Oh, by the by? That's it. That's her decision. Immediately followed by Ana untying his bow tie and saying:
"You look hot like this," I whisper. Actually he looks hot all the time, but really hot like this.
IT'S OKAY THAT HE WAS GOING TO FORCE ME ONTO HORMONAL BIRTH CONTROL GUYS, BECAUSE HE'S REALLY HOT ALL THE TIME.


They go to the car, and Sawyer gives Ana an envelope. Guess who it's from? You know who. It's from Mrs. Robinson:
I may have misjudged you. And you have definitely misjudged me. Call me if you need to fill in any of the blanks - we could have lunch. Christian doesn't want me talking to you, but I would be more than happy to help. Don't get me wrong, I approve, believe me - but so help me, if you hurt him... He's been hurt enough. Call me: (206) 279-6261
She even signs the note "Mrs. Robinson," meaning Christian told her all about his conversations with Ana. That's probably healthy. But maybe I'm "misjudging" a grown woman who would fuck a child. I need the blanks filled in. Someone call that number, I'm dying to know if it's a real phone number, but I don't have the balls to call it myself, lest it be some kind of high-frequency mind control noise that will trick me into liking this book.

In case you were wondering if Ana really sees Mrs. Robinson as a rapist or competition, when Christian says he'll deal with her on Monday, Ana thinks:
And though I'm ashamed to admit it, a very small part of me is pleased. My subconscious nods sagely. Elena is pissing him off, and this can only be good - surely.
Ana falls asleep in the car, and Christian wakes her up when they pull up to his building. Due to yet another grammatical error, Ana has a little conversation with Sawyer. Emphasis mine:
As we stand in the elevator, I lean against him, putting my head against his shoulder. Sawyer stands in front of us, shifting uncomfortably.
"It's been a long day, eh, Anastasia?" 
I nod.
"Tired?"
I nod.
"You're not very talkative."
I nod and he grins.
"Come. I'll put you to bed." He takes my hand as we exist the elevator, but we stop in the foyer when Sawyer holds up his hand.
So, there you see some pronoun confusion. Sawyer is the last male character with an action before the dialogue, so it looks like Sawyer is the one speaking. But then we find out after the fact that it was Christian, and good thing, because I'm betting if Sawyer said he was going to put Ana to bed, Christian would have him killed. Probably by Taylor.

Ana and Christian find out that the tires on Ana's Audi have been slashed, and someone threw paint all over it. Obviously, Leila did it, and now they're concerned she's gotten into the apartment. Well, everyone except Christian, who says, "She can't get into the apartment." Which is not true, because she did it before, when he was in Georgia. But whatever. The chapter ends with Ana standing in the hallway while security guards (their names are, I shit you not, "Ryan" and "Reynolds") check the apartment for intruders.