Tuesday, September 3, 2013

50 Shades of the Complainist: Chapter 17

Ana and Kate move to Seattle, then Ana goes to Christian's house. 

This chapter is a waste of everyone's time. 

EL announced some cast details for a dumb movie about her dumb book that I'll end up going to see probably because literally several people are counting on me to deal with this shit so that they never ever have to. (Editor's note: We'll put up some type of sponsorship deal where you can sponsor our ticket or all the booze we'll have to drink ahead of time to make it through two hours of Ana blushing. Because we're not paying for this thing ourselves. We're just not.)

Ana and Christian are going to be played by Dakota Johnson and Charlie Hunnam in a film to be released in 2014, directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson. You may have seen Dakota Johnson in The Social Network, but I didn't because who cares. You will not know Sam Taylor-Johnson from anywhere. You may have seen Charlie Hunnam in lots of thing, but the only one to leave any impression on me is Sons of Anarchy. Here's my main impression: "This guy is great at playing a greasy motorcycle guy!" Here's an impression I never got from him: "He seems like a billionaire British vampire!" Although he was born in England, it turns out, so maybe he'll be ok? Whatever. For me, and all "true" "fans" of this mess, there can be but one Christian Grey, and his name is Sherlock Holmes Khan Julian Assange Benedict Cumberbatch. Whatever. I'm angry at myself for actually having an opinion about this, and I kind of do have an opinion about this! What's wrong with me? (Editor's note: Let's assume that was rhetorical.)

How about a little game!

To transition back to our regularly-scheduled sad-snark! Chapter 17 starts with Ana waking up. Let's count the other chapters that start with Ana waking up: 5, 9, 14 explicitly. Chapter 1 starts in the morning, before Ana has gone anywhere, but after she's already out of bed. 16 seems very much like it's morning, but it's actually still night. It has that "just waking up" feel even though it eventually becomes clear that it takes place at night. So what I'm saying is that depending on how you count things, EL starts about 1 in 4 chapters with Ana waking up. This is the sort of repetitive, lack of creativity that makes this book difficult to stand. One could easily lose one's place, then accidentally skip backwards, and say, "Well, this sounds familiar but then, this book usually sounds familiar, so I guess I'll keep reading."

And that's my excuse for why nobody reads this thing anymore! Or, more accurately: my excuse for why people keep reading Chapter 1 and then saying, "Well, that's enough!" I don't blame them. I guess that wasn't even that fun of a fun game. Sorry! But then, we aren't doing any of this for entertainment, right? This academia! This is rigorous study!

So where were we?

  1. Ana meets Christian, the dreamy billionaire, for an awkward interview. 
  2. She then encounters him a few days later when he buys supplies for his sex dungeon at the hardware store where she works. Ana gets his phone number and decides to help her friend Kate set up a photo shoot with CG because that somehow makes more sense than just seeing if he wants to hang out like a regular person. 
  3. Ana's admirer José joins Ana and Kate to photograph Christian, after which Christian takes Ana to a cafe, where they both act awkward. Christian starts to push Ana away, for reasons she does not understand. Then, Ana is nearly hit by a bike, but Christian yanks her out of harm's way.
  4. Christian tells Ana that they're incompatible and she gets sad. Ana drunk-dials Christian and he freaks out and traces her phone Batman-style, just in time to chase off José, who's acting rape-y. Ana passes out at the bar.
  5. Ana awakes in Christian's hotel room. Christian explains that he brought her there because he didn't want her to puke in his car. He says that they can't take things further until he's explained his secrets, so they arrange a helicopter ride together to Seattle and make out in an elevator.
  6. Ana and Christian fly to Seattle in a helicopter. Ana signs a non-disclosure agreement and then opens up the door to the sex dungeon.
  7. Ana and Christian tour the sex dungeon and we see some of his much-discussed paperwork, which is an agreement far more all-encompassing than, say, a typical marriage, even though they met less than two weeks ago. CG gets super angry when he learns that Ana is a virgin. 
  8. Ana and Christian have sex and later, when Ana wakes up, CG is playing a piano because he has a case of the feels.
  9. The next morning Ana cooks breakfast and then they have sex in the bath and then in the bed and then Christian hears his mom talking to his manservant, Taylor. 
  10. Mom leaves right away, so Ana and Christian drive from Seattle to Vancouver and also they stop at a restaurant and CG reveals that he played the role of submissive to an older woman when he was a teenager. 
  11. Ana reads the sex contract and gets a new computer from Christian and they exchange some emails and Ana reads about BDSM on wikipedia.
  12. Ana sends a "joke" email to Christian, telling him that she doesn't want to see him again, so he sneaks in and forces himself on her. 
  13. Ana and Christian meet for dinner to negotiate their sex contract, and CG largely accepts Ana's rather cosmetic demands. 
  14. Christian speaks at Ana's graduation and also her stepdad is there and Ana agrees to CG's contract.
  15. Ana and Christian talk about "soft limits" and then have sex. 
  16. Christian spanks Ana and then they have sex. Christian leaves and Ana sends him sad emails so he comes back and sleeps. 
Ana wakes up and is too hot because Christian is sleeping next to her as though she's his teddy bear, which I kind of guess she is, and CG is just one of those jerk kids who's real rough on his toys. As she wakes, we get an uninteresting repeat of some lines from last chapter about how she felt like Icarus, combined with some pretty trite "moth / flame" imagery which is really the exact same thing only with a bug instead of a person so who cares. 

Ana likes to state something, and then let us know that she's noticed it, too, even though she wouldn't have been able to tell us about the thing in the first place if she hadn't noticed it as well, thus wasting more of everyone's precious time. Example: "I take a moment to absorb that he's still in my bed and fast asleep, and it's light outside--morning." This comes right after Ana tells us all about how CG is all cuddly in his sleep. So we know he's still in her bed. We don't know that it's morning, but we're going to assume it because why wouldn't it be? Also, EL could've just said it was light outside, and let us piece together that it was morning, or vice versa. Most of EL's readers will probably understand the relationship between "light" and "morning." 

Ana decides to touch him while he's asleep because he's always like, "no touching!" 
But he wakes up instantly. Also he has a boner because of course he does. But he's all, "I think we should wait until Sunday" and I have no idea when Sunday is in relation to this scene, or what it's significance is, because I long ago lost track of this book / my will to live. 

Here's what Ana does next: "I flush, but then I feel seven shades of scarlet from his heat." Oh hell no. I am seriously turning this car around if that becomes a thing. We go to the ocean! And it's thirty shades of blue! I get a banana for breakfast, and it's ten shades of yellow! I look in the mirror, and my behind is twenty shades of purple bruises after my punishment spanking! (Editor's note: That took a dark turn. Don't blame us! Blame EL James!) 

Four lines later: "I flush some more." And I'm here thinking, holy crap how many shades is she now? Eight!? Yawn. 

CG freaks out because it's 7:30 and he has a meeting in Portland at 8 and I don't believe him at all. Do you think that EL just has never had a job? CG is like, boss of a whole empire. He is not scheduling 8AM meetings. Also, what day is it anyway? Did Ana graduate on like, Monday? Was this a special Monday graduation ceremony? What college does graduation any day other than Saturday? And if not Saturday, Friday, right? How is it not the weekend? Whatever. 

"Sunday," he says, and the word is pregnant with an unspoken promise. Everything deep in my body uncurls and then clenches in delicious anticipation. The feeling is exquisite. 

Anybody want to explain this to me? Does she have parasites? I mean, I understand that this is meant to be taken as a metaphor, but a metaphor for what? Not sure! moving on. (Editor's note: I spent like, an hour trying to find you a picture of a "trill" from Star Trek since that's a wiggly parasite thing that can live in somebody's low, low belly, and it looks like a slug, and I'm pretty sure it's the perfect representation of Ana's libido. But I couldn't find a good one and also I don't want you to know how familiar I am with Star Trek but now you do anyway ugh never mind.)

CG peaces out: "And like a whirlwind, he's gone." This is another good analogy. Whirlwinds are best known for their tendency to disappear, right? That's what we mean when we use the word whirlwind, right? Thing that disappears? 


Then we get another paragraph of totally unnecessary recapitulation:

Christian Grey spent the night with me, and I feel rested. And there was no sex, only cuddling. He told me he never slept with anyone--but he's slept three times with me. I grin and slowly climb out of my bed. I feel more optimistic than I have in the last day or so. I head for the kitchen, needing a cup of tea.

"And there was no sex, only cuddling." Um. They had a bunch of sex. They had two chapters of sex. Chapter 15? Sex. Chapter 16? Spanking, then sex. Then CG leaving. Then coming back a half-hour later or whatever. But yeah, after that, no sex. Besides achieving coitus twice in quick succession, no sex at all. I keep wanting to ask if anyone is proofreading this thing but of course i know the answer. No. No one is proofreading this thing. Not even a little bit. 

And the tea--who cares? No one. What is this establishing? Product placement? Is EL James in the pocket of "Big Tea"? There's no reason to mention it--nothing happens in the kitchen. EL spends page after page discussing these useless details that just waste time. The main problem is this: EL has no idea what to do when CG is not in a scene. Ana is simply too passive to take a chapter anywhere on her own. 

The next thing that "happens" is that Ana sends CG an email, as per their discussion the night before about how she was so good at writing emails and so bad at talking in real life. That argument was really only half true--she's bad at both. Whatever. What I'm saying is this: EL James never took this valuable bit of advice from the EL we just lost, Elmore Leonard: "Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip." Good advice, Elmore! EL (the terrible one, I mean) could've done this book in under a hundred pages if she'd tried to leave out the parts that readers tend to skip. Oh well! 

Of course, Ana can't use her computer without using the phrase "mean machine," so she does use that phrase, and I roll my eyes. EL thinks that people pay careful attention to the subject lines of emails, kind of like I did when I was sending lots of emails when I was 15. Hers? "Subject: Assault and Battery: The After-Effects." Pretty serious! You may be thinking what I'm thinking: "Hey so um. Spanking between consenting adults, that's kind of no big deal. But um, if afterwards, you're thinking of it as 'Assault and Battery' then um. Maybe dump this dude, at a minimum?" But hey! She's never going to dump this guy! If she did, we wouldn't have two more shitty books to read after this one. (Editor's note: SPOILER ALERT: Ana dumps CG, but only for the length of time between books 1 and 2. So basically, no time at all. Whatever.)

And here's how she feels about getting spanked:
I was happy that you were happy. I felt relieved that it wasn't as painful as I thought it would be. And when I was lying in your arms, I felt . . . sated. But I feel very uncomfortable, guilty even, feeling that way. It doesn't sit well with me, and I'm confused as a result.

Gross. What's happening here is that Ana is basically accepting CG's argument: my brain hates it but my body likes it so I guess that's a yes? 

This message is time-stamped 8:05. CG writes back a pretty lengthy note back, sent at 8:24. I'm going to take this as proof that his 8AM meeting he had to rush off to was bullshit. (Editor's note: Also, we went ahead and consulted a calendar. WSU Vancouver holds graduation on a Saturday like a regular school. The calendar in this novel puts graduation on a Thursday afternoon.) 

In a later email, CG says that he's "in a meeting discussing the futures market" which is ridiculous. Just another one of the vague businessy-sounding phrases that EL likes to use. Keeps her from having to actually spend ten seconds to decide what the hell Grey Enterprises Holdings Business Acquisitions Mergers Limited, Inc or whatever it's called actually does for like, making money or whatever. 

Then, he hassles Ana for not using a safeword, which I've forgotten about and she probably has too. This is pretty patently unfair of him. He creates this situations in which Ana feels like she has no choices, and then, after the fact, says, "Oh, but you had choices! Not my fault!" Gross. Oh and grosser: he reminds Ana that he can track her cellphone because he's Batman or whatever. So no running away, Ana!

They exchange some more bullshit emails and, again, I think this stuff is supposed to be cute maybe? It's not. Ana calls CG a stalker, but like, you know, in a fun, cute, joke way. And it's not fun, cute, or a joke, because he is a total stalker. 

Ana goes to work. It's her last day at her fake job at the fake hardware store that opens at random times and requires basically nothing of its staff. (See previous chapters.) CG sends Ana a BlackBerry because that way he can stalk her better and also because he has a thing for obsolete bits of technology. (Editor's note: we looked, and actually, 2011 was about when BlackBerry's growth peaked. But still, sending Ana an Iphone would've made way more sense, since CG is some kind of Mac guy it seems. Whatever.)

No idea why EL wrote this part where Ana goes to work. Nothing happens, besides an implausible moment in which her employers make everybody watch while they give her a check for three hundred (?!) bucks. What the hell? Is that one week's severance, or what? So weird. It's plausible that she makes three hundred bucks a week. Or maybe it's two weeks! Maybe she works two days a week, and that translates into a check every other week for three hundred bucks. Could be! But um. Ceremony-worthy? Not the kind of thing you commemorate with a speech, right? Not like the hardware store is losing a valuable worker. Whatever. This is just another scene of padding. EL sends Ana somewhere because she has to tread water for a minute and decide what happens next. 

Soon, Ana is back home with Kate. Yawn. Another email from CG. This time, it's just him saying to meet at 1PM on Sunday because, and this is not optional, she'll be meeting with some kind of house-call doctor so that poor CG doesn't have to wear a condom on his vampire penis. (Vampenis.) A thought Ana has: "He can be such fun one minute, and then he can be so formal and stuffy the next." I'll be sure to let you know if CG ever does anything that could be considered fun. 

Next, CG's manservant Taylor stops by to pick up Ana's old car because in this book, you don't have to like, sign a thing in order to change the title on a car from one person to another. You can just sell any car to whomever, without any proof that you have permission to do so. Car theft is a huge problem in the 50-Shades-Iverse. (Editor's note: Is this too obtuse and weird? It's just an abbreviation for "50 Shades Universe," as in the specific, fictional "reality" in which this books take place. Ala "Marvel Universe" or whatever.) 

Also, Taylor tells Ana that CG is a "good man" and there's no reason that anyone should doubt anything that anybody says about their employer, particularly when that person is on the clock. Ana: "Taylor thinks he's a good man. Can I believe him?" Alden: "Well, you have never had a conversation with Taylor, so you have no reason to trust his opinion, and also, Christian makes you super unhappy whenever you aren't literally having an orgasm, so I'd say 'no.' Don't believe him." But, nobody ever listens to me. 

Our friend José stops by the apartment just as Ana and Kate are done packing. Way to help out, guy! He "brings several bottles of beer" because of course, beer is not sold in any particular quantity. People just buy an amount of beer, at least in the northwest. You know the bulk section of grocery stores? Where you buy rice or granola or whatever? We have that for beer. You bring your empties and fill them up and then they weigh your beer at checkout. That's why it's totally natural for José to have "several bottles" rather than a six-pack. 

Fortunately things are back to normal between Ana and José:

The atmosphere between José and me has returned to normal, the attempted kiss forgotten. Well, it's been swept under the rug that my inner goddess is lying on, eating grapes and tapping her fingers, waiting not so patiently for Sunday. 

Writers: did you ever accidentally write a metaphor so complicated that by the end, you had no idea what you were trying to say? Yeah? And then you deleted that shit, right? Not EL! She takes the cliché "swept under the rug" and makes it literal, kinda. How do you sweep a kiss? Not sure. Baffled, actually. But that's nothing new. 

Next, CG's bro Elliot shows up and makes out with Kate so Ana and José are like, "gotta go!" There's a half page where we get every indication that Ana and José are totally going to do it and now I super want them to. Not because I care about José. More because I'm like, "Well hey that would constitute something happening! A love triangle! That would be a thing!" And something happening would be a cool improvement. Not to writers out there: make sure things happen in stuff that you write! Readers tend to enjoy that shit. 

Ana and José are "giggling like teenagers" on their way to the bar and then this: 

As we stroll down to the bar, I put my arm through José's. God, he's so uncomplicated--I hadn't really appreciated that before. 

Ok. You know this dude wants you, so chill out, ok Ana? I want you to make out with him, sure, but that's just because I know it would piss off CG and I want CG to be unhappy. But for your sake, Ana--make sure you're sending the signals that you want to send, yeah? Oh and "so uncomplicated" is patronizing. You're like one step away from telling me about his simple village life in the old country, and it's pretty gross. 

I guess it could sound like things are happening, because Ana keeps moving from place to place. But no, nothing is happening. This is the shit that you edit out when someone says, "Hey so how was your day?" What they want to hear is the interesting stuff. The stuff that's important to you, or unusual. Ana isn't doing anything interesting. But she keeps telling us about it anyway. Mainly, she's just bumbling around, filling up time in between emails. 

She gets home from the bar about one paragraph after leaving for it, and back at her apartment, Kate and Elliot are having loud sex. Ana is embarrassed; I'm intrigued. They probably have way better sex than Ana and CG so I'm instantly more interested. But Ana hides in her room, and EL hits CTRL-V and pastes this oft-used, dumb phrase into her novel again: "Once in my room, I check the mean machine, and of course, there's an e-mail from Christian."

I really wish I had an intern to give assignments. Here's what I want: a list of each time the phrase "mean machine" appears in this book. I just want to show you a post of nothing but those sentences that include "mean machine." Like a supercut! Supercuts are fun!

Like this one! "Nicolas Cage Losing His Shit." Great, right? It has been suggested to me that I should ask Craigslist for an intern. Maybe I should! The "writing gigs" section is mainly people saying, "Hey! Come work for my blog for free! No money, but maybe there will be money later! Who knows!" Maybe I could find somebody to parse through this terrible book and just count different dumb things that I want counted. (Editor's note: we are currently accepting applications for an intern because why not.)

But anyway. CG sends Ana a nastygram because he's a super-stalker and she didn't send him an email earlier and he wants her on a short leash. (Editor's note: Literally! Ha! Get it? What--I can't make jokes too?)

Ana calls CG: "With a deep dread uncurling in my stomach, I scroll down to his number and press 'call.'" This is confusing. Dread and sexual arousal both cause uncurling, so I'm glad we get some other words so that we can tell the two feelings apart. 

But you know what? As nasty as the email is, they talk on the phone, and it's all fixed right away. He's basically pleasant and they end with a classic (read: clichéd) you hang up - no, you hang up - no you hang up! So once again, stakes were raised, only to be lowered again on the next page. EL is just totally stuck--no sense of where to take this thing at all. This first part of the chapter may literally be the absolute most useless part of the book so far. Ana went to work and hung out with people and sent a bunch of emails, but absolutely nothing so far has advanced the story in any way. None of it. Oh- she got a Blackberry. Whatever. Could've just as easily found it waiting for her in her new car. Could've introduced it in a single sentence. I cannot believe how inefficient this story is. This is the Humvee of novels. Big, dumb, wasteful. 

But then, after fifteen pages of excruciating, pointless detail, we get a little section-break on page 306 and they're all moved into their new apartment in Seattle! Let's count some of the terrible things about this terrible paragraph:

Elliot stands and admires his handiwork. He has replugged our TV into the satellite system in our Pike Place Market apartment. Kate and I flop onto the couch giggling, impressed by his prowess with a power drill. The flat screen looks odd against the brickwork of the converted warehouse, but no doubt I will get used to it. 

Ok, here we go:
1. This move took no time at all. It's a three-hour drive from Portland to Seattle. And as of late Friday night, Ana and Kate didn't have anything packed into a truck. They just had boxes. So they packed away all that furniture Saturday morning, drove, and unloaded it all, and now they're setting up TVs? 
2. Elliot drilled into a brick wall to install a TV? In a rental?
3. They have an apartment in Pike Place Market? This is absurd. 

Here's how Ana describes their new place:
The apartment is not large, but it's big enough, three bedrooms and a large living space that looks out onto Pike Place Market itself. It's all solid wood floors and red brick, and the kitchen tops are smooth concrete, very utilitarian, very now. 

Let me put this in terms that people who have never been to Seattle will understand: Imagine the most touristy part of your city, or of some large city you're familiar with. Now imagine an apartment in this area that's super contemporary. Now let's imagine how much such a place would cost. 

There are some apartments in the market; they are predominantly occupied by low-income seniors and I think there might not even be any three bedroom apartments inside the market proper, so that's completely silly. You know how I found this out? By looking on the mutterblushing internet. Here's the page that EL could've looked at, which is all about apartments in the market. One minute looking at it should've convinced her that, oh yeah, maybe these ladies should move somewhere else. But, I guess one minute of research is just too much to ask? 

So let's pretend that they live in a building very close to Pike Place Market, and not in the market. My estimate for what such a place would cost? Recently repurposed building? Recently remodeled interior? Three bedrooms? Downtown? Probably has a spectacular view of the water, since the market is basically on the water?

Eight thousand a month. That's what I'm saying this place would cost. Perfect for the recent college grad! 

Also: if you've been to Pike Place, you'll agree with me that living right next to it would be terrible. "Great! I always wanted to live as close as possible to a constant stream of bumbling tourists!" said nobody ever. Ooh! Except for pickpockets, maybe. I bet one time, a pickpocket said that. So, unless Ana and Kate have decided on some sort of theft-based career, EL should have checked the internet and found somewhere better for them to live. She could've literally just typed "cool neighborhood seattle" into google, and chosen any of the results. Any of them would've been totally fine choices for fictional characters. 

If I have learned one thing from reading this terrible book, it is this: it is frustrating and insulting to read about some aspect of your own life, as described by an author who lacks any interest in accuracy. As a white American from nowhere in particular, I at least have the good sense to know that western authors have been committing far greater insults to other parts of the world than EL does here. Not bothering to think about what would be a good part of Seattle for some fictional characters to move to is just lazy; it's not like, an affront to Seattle "culture" or something. What EL is doing is inventing a sort of generic "White People Town" based on nowhere in particular and labeling it with actual geographic terms associated with the Pacific Norhwest. It's obnoxious, but at least she's writing about her own culture, broadly speaking--it's not like she's writing a novel set in Mumbai, for instance, or someplace with a relationship more fraught than that between the US and the UK. What I'm saying is that this could be far, far worse, but it's already pretty bad. 

Back to our fantasy apartment, set in the Market District of "White People Town." Ana keeps talking about "crates" which I find funny. 
You know- the wooden things that you smash in order to find new weapons in video games? Those? That's what Ana and Kate brought with them to Seattle, I guess. 

Next, a "delivery boy" arrives with champagne and a balloon, and says, "Delivery, Miss Steele, Miss Kavanagh." And not to belabor the point, but c'mon. There is zero chance that that's how the courier would say things. Not everyone is a British vampire, so not everyone uses these antiquated modes of address. Particularly on the west coast. I'm not sure if I've ever heard anyone say "Miss" in Washington. I very much doubt I have. 

Also, the delivery boy is a cartoon character. "His mouth falls open when he sees Kate, all tight jeans, T-shirt, and hair piled high with escaping tendrils." This is fun for a lot of reasons. 

First, let's talk about the mouth-falling-open situation because you know what? Big cities have a lot of attractive people in them. It's a fact! Even in Seattle, where everyone dresses like your parents do when they're on vacation. I see attractive people every day! Literally every day! But you know what? I manage to do so without turning into a weird cartoon character like this poor courier. Ridiculous.

Also: the way Kate is described? Not necessesarily sexy! I mean, I guess tight jeans can be sexy. That's a kind of jean that a person can look sexy in, sure. But beyond that, we get T-shirt, which could mean anything. Oh, and 90s hair. Basically, Ana makes me think of late-career Deanna Troi.

I mean, am I wrong? It's not a bad look! But this is not a 2011 look. Nor is it an "I just spent the whole day moving" look, either. 

And then the delivery guy is gone again. So why? That's what I would ask if I had the chance to talk to EL. Why? Why all this weird nonsense, just thrown in, then abandoned, page after page? Why show us the horny courier's reaction to this super vague description of Kate's looks? What is that serving, exactly? I guess it's yet another example of Ana's constant jealousy. But what's the point

Here's a thought, which is basically a longer, less impressive version of that line from Elmore Leonard quoted above: Good writers care about every sentence equally. When you're reading something mediocre, you can tell the moments when the author is just putting in bridges from one "important" part to another "important" part with little care for what comes in between. Something has to come in between! So something comes in between, and eventually, you've got a whole novel of something. Something has to happen in between emails and sex scenes. So put in something and let's get on with it. If you're not careful, you end up with all this chaff--shit that you didn't want to write, but felt like you had to, which is also the shit that nobody wants to read, either, because you knew it was pointless when you were writing it, and you expressed your own boredom to the reader perfectly. You can pretty much feel EL's boredom in this chapter. She perks up every once in a while when she needs to come up with some dumb joke for Ana to email CG, but for the most part, she snoozes through the whole mess, and it's making me snooze too. 

They drink the champagne brought by the courier out of teacups because "they were the last items to be packed" which makes no sense at all. Everything is in boxes ("crates" as Ana puts it) and the boxes have all been brought into the apartment, so it doesn't matter what was packed last. All the stuff is in a pile and they could've just as easily found reasonable glasses. Whatever. EL just loves champagne in a teacup. That's her thing, I guess. Champagne in teacups, toes in mouths. Simple pleasures!

The next day we get more emails and more of Ana's dissociative identity disorder:

You should really be unpacking these, my subconscious nags, pursing her harpy lips together. No. . . today's the day. My inner goddess is beside herself, hopping from foot to foot. 

Gross, right? I mean isn't it? Yeah. It is. I mean, it's super weird obviously. But I find it particularly sad that Ana picks such misogynist language with which to criticize her more sensible impulses. One thing I do want, though, is to actually see subconscious and inner goddess actually have a fight, because wouldn't that be the weirdest? So far, her other personalities are just kind of commenting on what Ana chooses. It'd be better if they actually fought for supremacy, after which one would just tell her what to do all the time. And by "better" I mean, "That would be weird," because I don't think there's any chance this book can actually get better, but I do hold some hope that maybe weird stuff can happen.

"I hear the ping of incoming mail from the mean machine on the floor beside my bed." Hey did you guys know that Mean Machine is the name of a British movie adapted from the football-in-prison-movie The Longest Yard and that it's one of the almost-zero Jason Statham movies I haven't seen? I mention this fact to distract myself from how angry every sentence in this book makes me.

Hey you know what kind of machine would actually maybe send out an audible alert in the year 2011 when it receives an email? Maybe some kind of smartphone-like device, like a Blackberry or something. Too bad Ana doesn't have one of those, since that would be more likely to actually make a noise. Whatever. 

The email is just some pointless shit about access codes to CG's fancy apartment. Yawn. Soon she's there. Yawn. "I check out my plum dress--well, Kate's plum dress. . . I'm wearing the underwear that Taylor bought for me. I flush at the thought of his buzz cut roaming the aisles of Agent Provocateur or wherever he bought it." 

1. So, I know Ana was upset about the idea of CG buying her clothes, but c'mon. Homegirl needs some new clothes. If I'm Kate, I'm already sick of my roomie quite possibly doing sex in clothes borrowed from my closet. Buy some new stuff, Ana. Don't let your inner goddess choose though. She's got terrible taste. 

2. Literally anything makes Ana flush, right? I mean, I guess it's kind of funny imagining Taylor buying panties, sure. But is it embarrassing? Really isn't. For Taylor, maybe, but I expect he was cool about it. Not embarrassing for Ana. Maybe she'd be embarrassed if she ran into him and started thinking, "OMG he touched the underoos I'm wearing!" But what's so embarrassing now? Oh, I know! It's embarrassing that Ana, an adult woman, not living in poverty, only has one outfit she's comfortable wearing on a date, and it features a borrowed dress and panties purchased for her by some dude so she had something clean to wear the morning after passing out drunk and basically getting kidnapped. That is embarrassing!

3. Agent Provocateur, as all my readers know, is an expensive lingerie brand. Not a store that might feature a number of different brands. So, either the underwear is from there, or it isn't. Probably has a tag that says.  (Editor's note: probably isn't. They don't have a store in the northwest. I don't really blame EL for not knowing that, though. It took me literally an hour to click through page after page of underwear models before I finally found the page where they list where their stores are.) 

And who's waiting for Ana at the door? Taylor! If we're sticking with this dumb idea that Ana is just going to keep wearing the same underwear every time she goes to see CG, the perfect time to mention it is here, when Ana runs into Taylor. Why? Because that's the moment she might actually be embarrassed! Oh snap! If only Taylor knew I was wearing the "Abbey brief" he purchased for me at Agent Provocateur! That thing cost $190, before tax! Fits like a dream, though! Worth every penny, and I recommend it to all my friends! I mean to Kate, my only friend! 

(Editor's note: Yeah, yeah, we established that whatever Ana's wearing, it isn't actually Agent Provocateur. But as we mentioned last week, we're pursuing different opportunities to monetize this blog. One that we're excited about involves some rather specific product-placement. Don't judge! Just trying to put underwear on the table! So to speak.)

Weird that Taylor works every day all the time, right? I'd look for a better job if I were him. Maybe as a personal shopper? I mean, according to Ana, he's great at it. 

CG is chilling, reading the newspaper. Can't be bothered to answer his own door, even when it's precisely 1PM and he told his main squeeze to show up precisely at 1PM to avoid getting spanked again. And also I guess he's paying Taylor time-and-a-half to answer the door? Sure, why not. 

Somehow CG and Ana got photographed at graduation and it ended up in the Seattle Times with the caption "Christian Grey and friend at the graduation ceremony at WSU Vancouver." Forgetting how unlikely it is that this picture would be deemed newsworthy, let's take one second and imagine a more likely caption: "Christian Grey and a graduate at WSU Vancouver commencement." Right? Because CG was part of the ceremony, and Ana was part of the ceremony, so nobody at any newspaper would infer that they had any relationship beyond their roles in the ceremony itself. Oh well! 

CG freaks out about how Ana hasn't eaten enough for the first time in a couple chapters. Ana doesn't have the good sense to say, "I haven't eaten lunch," instead of "No." They're meeting at 1PM! That schedule has "lunch date" written all over it, right? Who shows up on a date and says, "Oh, snap. Sorry, yeah. Just ate. Damn. Should've thought that through." I wonder if EL James has ever been on a date. Or in a human relationship. She seems awfully perplexed by the mechanics. 

CG invites Ana to dinner with his fam later that evening. Yawn. 

Speaking of stuff-that-doesn't-happen-on-dates! Next, a house call from "the best ob-gyn in Seattle," according to CG. 

"Ready for some contraception?" he asks as he stands and holds out his hand to me.
"You're not going to come as well, are you?" I gasp, shocked.

No, he isn't. But I'm not going to lie to you: I wish he would. Because this book is getting way boring, and even the sex is boring, and I'm desperate for something weird to happen. Something that's going to make me say, "Wait, what?" and reread a couple pages just to be sure. Something to get me out of my stupor!

But no. Still stupefied. 

Earlier, I talked about how good writers work at every little moment. EL basically took this whole chapter off as a break. There's absolutely nothing happening of any consequence. Why? Because the chapter starts with Christian leaving, and ends with Ana getting back to Christian. Nothing is allowed to happen when they're apart, so any chapter where they're in different places is just going to be some time-wasting bullshit. That's what Chapter 17 is. Time-wasting bullshit. Sure, Ana and Kate moved into their imaginary Pike Place Market apartment, but this isn't a book about living in apartments. It's about Ana and CG and literally nothing else, so if they aren't together, you should just skip ahead. 

I guess we are going to meet CG's sister soon. (Yay?) And maybe, just maybe, Ana's doctor appointment is going to get weird. (Editor's note: SPOILER ALERT: It does not get weird. I mean, it's weird that this Sunday house call is happening, but otherwise, no. Not weird.) But really, this thing has gone absolutely nowhere since that false ending at the end of Chapter 15. I feel a little like I'm letting you down, but I hope you don't blame me. I'm doing the best I can with what I have. 

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