Tuesday, September 24, 2013

50 Shades of the Complainist: Chapter 20

Ana and Christian have boathouse sex and then go home for mild spanking and bed sex and then we get a pretty uninteresting revelation about Christian's past.

There is a bunch of sex but it isn't as gross as the end of Chapter 19 hinted it would be. 

Here we are! Chapter 20! The home stretch, I guess! Well. The home stretch of the first book, at least. Chapter 19 somehow managed to inspire my best-ever day of traffic, and my previous forays into non-50 Shades posts have made it clear that you only like me when riding EL's coattails. The combination of these two facts means that I'll eventually get to books 2 and 3, though I think I've earned a bit of a break and will not move immediately from this book to whatever the next one is called. I think it's Fifty Shades Into Darkness but I forget. Anyway- if you have any suggestions for things I ought to mock pointlessly (since that's my only real skill) do let me know. I would like to add some sort of non-EL project into the mix to serve as a break between books.

And thank you for telling your friends to read my little blog. You must have done so; I long ago gave up trying to do much of anything to add readers.

A dear friend let me know that there are, in fact, certain people who do not want to read my analysis. I share her story below, so that we might all learn from it. (Editor's note: she also mentioned that a security guard was fired from her workplace for watching pornography from his station, but I think that was more of an anecdote than a warning.)

And I learned another lesson about 20 minutes ago. Don't be stupid and forget that you are at St. Bernard Parish Hospital and that means the people here are a certain way. So when you see someone reading something on a kindle, dont get all excited cuz you were dumb and forgot where you worked CUZ BOOKS and then happily nose into their beeswax asking what they are reading cuz you love to know what people are reading cuz OBVIOUSLY they are reading fucking 50 Shades for the 2nd time cuz this is st bernard and they sold that book at the counter of Main's Grocery store, the ONLY BOOK EVER to be sold at that counter.  And stemming from that same lesson in not forgetting where you work, DO NOT THEN TELL THAT PERSON who is reading 50 Shades FOR THE SECOND TIME that your friend is writing a blog where he breaks down all of the ways in which that book is terrible. Because it is a dumb fucking thing to say, you idiot, cuz when a person reads in this parish, it is a BFD, and to read a thing TWICE is a VBFD, and mocking that thing makes that other person's face turn red as they make a face at you that clearly states you are an asshole and the conversation is over.

You guys have heard of St. Bernard Parish, right? The place next to New Orleans where they found brain-eating amoebas in the water supply? No? Well they did! But anyway, lesson learned. You know, I'm effectively reading this book twice, so I guess I can't really complain about anyone else reading it twice, either. So I'll save my worst insults for anyone who reads it three times. Or enjoys it once. 

Moving on!

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. Christian gives Ana a car. 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. 
  17. Christian gives Ana a Blackberry. Ana and Kate move to Seattle. Ana goes to Christian's apartment. 
  18. Ana has an appointment with a gynecologist at Christian's house. She's prescribed birth control, and then Ana and Christian have sex-dungeon sex.
  19. Ana joins Christian for dinner at his parents' house, along with Kate, Elliot, (who is Kate's boyfriend and Christian's brother) and Mia, Christian's sister. Christian gets mad because Ana says she wants to visit her mother in Georgia so he drags her off to the family boathouse for punishment and sex.
There's something categorically unfair about having to start this chapter with a sex scene, but there you go! (Editor's note: tequila, Campari, grapefruit soda. You're welcome.) EL is kind of a punisher of readers, and as such I can't really pretend to be surprised about this rough start. As mentioned above, at least EL does not let things get as dark as she hints at during the conclusion of Chapter 19. It's gross, sure, but it's the sort of regular-gross that we're getting more and more accustomed to / bored by. 

Ana gives us a thorough, though uninteresting and forgettable description of the interior of the Grey family boathouse, despite the fact that she's being carried fireman-style over CG's shoulder. It's hard to imagine a position from which a person could have a more obstructed view without being unconscious or blindfolded, but still Ana is regaling us in her standard mode which is both over-long and vague at the same time. "It's decorated with a nautical New England theme: navy blues and creams and dashes of red." It's not that I care how the boathouse looks--it's more that I'm annoyed with having my time wasted. I have no better sense of the interior after reading Ana's description than I had before, so what's the point? She's always giving us lists of colors like this, with plurals. Which in turn begs a question: are there really five different colors in this boathouse? Five colors is a lot of colors. If you're at a place and it's decorated with more than five colors, it's probably a Chuck E. Cheese, right? 

And what is the first thing that Ana says to CG in this chapter? "Please don't hit me." Please don't hit me! It's hard to imagine a more explicit sign that a person ought to get out of a relationship. 

Ana placates CG by kissing him or whatever, and we return to one of EL's pet themes: Ana is like, special or something? And has like, magic powers over Christian, or something? 

CG is all, "What are you doing to me?" And "No one's ever said no to me before. And it's so--hot." I'm not sure what that dash is for, either. But that's pretty gross, right? Ladies saying 'no' to me is a total turn-on! 

"His eyes widen, filled with wonder and lust. It's a heady mix." (Editor's note: have the interns figure out exactly how many times EL uses this sentence right before Ana and CG get their swerve on: "It's an [ADJECTIVE] mix.")

It seems like CG is being pretty gross, right? Well, let's just hear his side of the story before we rush to judgment, shall we?

"I'm mad because you never mentioned Georgia to me. I'm mad because you went drinking with that guy who tried to seduce you when you were drunk and who left you when you were ill with an almost complete stranger. What kind of friend does that? And I'm mad and aroused because you closed your legs on me." 
. . . 
"I want you, and I want you now. And if you're not going to let me spank you--which you deserve--I'm going to fuck you on the couch this minute, quickly, for my pleasure, not yours."

There's a lot to love enjoy hating here. Let's break it down

  1. CG is jealous that Ana wants to visit her mom.
  2. CG is jealous that Ana had a drink with José, her only friend besides Kate, whom she hates.
  3. CG's primary reason for hating José is valid--he was super shitty to Ana that one time. But check out CG's secondary reason: CG is saying that it was also shitty of José to leave Ana alone with Christian Grey. I agree with Christian on this! It was pretty shitty! But it's weird and surprising and hilarious for CG to use this against José. What kind of monster would leave you alone with me, Christian Grey? 

Moving on: my actual favorite part of this is the very end, where CG notes that the sex he's about to force on Ana will be for his pleasure, not hers. Thanks for making that clear, CG! Up until this point, you've been all about looking after Ana's needs! Finally Christian is going to get sex the way he wants it, instead of catering to all Ana's fantasies about being chained up or whatever. Wait, who was the one who wanted to have sex in the dungeon and use zip ties and everything? That was also Christian, right? Ohhhh right it was. So exactly how will it be different for this to be all about CG? 

It won't be different! It'll be exactly the same, only he's going to make sure that Ana doesn't have an orgasm, and we'll be saved a sentence like this one: "And then it happens. I shatter into a billion pieces, like a delicate flower made of glass and dropped from the top of a tall building, only then the little pieces of glass reform into a beautiful jewel or something and I lose myself and find myself all at once." I made up this sentence myself, which is why it's slightly more insane than the sort of orgasm-descriptor EL would write for us. 

But we don't have to read about Ana's orgasm in the boathouse because she doesn't have one! Nope! Only CG does! I'm not sure what we're supposed to get out of this. Are we supposed to find Ana extra-relatable now that her boyfriend is failing to leave her sexually satisfied? Are readers supposed to think, "Wow! Sometimes Ana has sex that is exactly like the terrible sex I usually have in my sad, loveless relationship!" I have no idea. And although I did say that I'm not sorry to read another one of Ana's cringe-inducing orgasm-descriptions, I'm pretty hostile to this sex scene. In every other scene, CG makes it clear that things are all about him. And in this one, he's like, "Ok this time it's really all about me." I feel like there are only two ways that a reader can relate to a sex scene. 1) Oh! I wish I were one of those people in that situation! or 2) Oh! This is intriguing! I wish I were a firsthand witness! This is a sex scene that I cannot relate to on either level. Oh well! This one is all about Christian! Not even the poor jerks reading this book are allowed to enjoy it!

We see, of course, a few examples of EL's annoying tics. For instance, when a condom is introduced, we first get it as "foil packet," as though every time Ana sees a wrapped condom, she has to take an extra second in order to determine that, yes, indeed, that thing that looks like a wrapped condom is indeed a wrapped condom. Also, "foil packet" just doesn't seem like that good a descriptor, does it? Whatever! We know what EL means because she says it every single time sex happens. Another one: "He rolls the condom down over his impressive length." So impressive! But is Ana still so impressed that it makes sense for her to be impressed anew each time CG whips it out? And of course, since Ana has never even canoodled with anyone other than CG, does it mean anything that CG is impressive to her? I'm sorry, Ana, but I just don't know that you have the necessary credentials to serve as judge of penises. 

Here's a thing that happens right after CG is done: "He stands and removes the condom, knotting it at the end, and puts it in his pants pocket." I don't feel like I really need to comment on this one, do I? No? Great, moving on. 

"From his inside pocket, he produces my panties." Is that the pocket of a sports coat? I guess? Just kind of odd phrasing since we don't know what sort of garment we're talking about. Ana is very proud of herself, of course: "My inner goddess nods in agreement, a satisfied grin over her face: You didn't have to ask for them." Yes, yes, very impressive. You negotiated CG down from "punishment spanking" down to "dissatisfying boathouse fuck," and now you're wearing underwear again. Congrats! Now we see who's really in charge. 

Mia shows up at just the wrong time--the sex is done, and things are settling back to normal. Any earlier, and she might've accidentally created some kind of interesting conflict, but no. This is not the right book for interesting conflicts. CG is annoyed at his sister. Maybe she's supposed to know that the boathouse is his special quicky-spot? Whatever.

Here's the sort of paragraph I adore hating:

I scowl back at him, hastily restore my panties to their rightful place, and stand with as much dignity as I can muster in my just-fucked state. Quickly, I attempt to smooth my just-fucked hair.

Not only do we get some that trademark EL repetition, it's repetition of one of my most despised phrases. "Just fucked" is bad enough when it's general, but "just-fucked hair" is a phrase that I'm pretty sure makes me die a little each time I read it. 

While Mia climbs the stairs to join them, Ana and CG have the sort of "cute" conversation that they have from time to time, which really isn't cute at all. Which reminds me of something: Ana and Christian never have fun together. Can you imagine being in a relationship where you never had fun? It's astounding, really. They have the occasional little quip, which is never clever. And they have a bunch of sex, with they both enjoy, even there in the boathouse, even when Ana is verboten from having an orgasm. But mostly, they just brood and stew quietly in their own misery and anxiety, and Ana worries about whether or not CG will hit her. Fun! In other words, they're pretty much a model relationship and clearly we should all be the most jealous. 

The three return to the house. Kate and Elliot are getting ready to leave, and Kate makes a solid case for herself as "only person in this book with a mutterblushing clue." Kate and I have had our differences, sure, but take a look at this exchange:

"I need to speak to you about antagonizing Christian," I hiss quietly in her ear as she embraces me. 

"He needs antagonizing; then you can see what he's really like. Be careful, Ana--he's so controlling," she whispers. "See you later."

I KNOW WHAT HE'S REALLY LIKE--YOU DON'T! I scream at her in my head. I'm fully aware that her actions come from a good place, but sometimes she just oversteps boundaries, and right now she's so far over that she's in the neighboring state. 

This is one of the moments where you almost want to think that EL is secretly doing this whole thing as an elaborate portrait of the psychology of an abusive relationship. But then you remember how terrible the prose is, and decide that, no, EL isn't capable of doing anything elaborate at all. But still, isn't this section wildly ambiguous? On its surface, we have Ana declaring that Kate just doesn't get the real Christian, which is fine except for the fact that those of us reading this thing do get the real Christian, and he's completely terrible and whatever Kate thinks about Christian is probably actually an inadequate assessment of his overall terribleness.

But, Ana could also be saying "Don't antagonize Christian because you doing so makes things more dangerous for me." I guess she isn't saying that. But you see what I mean, yes? It feels at times as though EL is doing a fantastic job portraying the ways in which an abusive, emotionally-manipulative man can keep a woman in his orbit, and the constant mental turmoil that a woman can face while trying to justify staying in a terrible relationship. The only problem is that here, it feels as though we're meant to root for continued turmoil. 

This is an expansion of the primary theme of Twilight of course. That's a monster novel in which the reader doesn't worry about whether or not the heroine will escape from the monster. The reader agonizes over which monster the heroine will settle down with. I can't say how well Twilight pulls off this inversion, but EL doesn't manage it at all. The monster remains a monster. 

Once CG has had his way with Ana in the boathouse he sees no reason to stay, and so he and Ana head back to Seattle. Earlier, Ana worried that she was only invited to meet CG's parents because of Kate. After all, Kate would surely tell Ana that Elliot (whom regular readers will recall is CG's brother, which is pretty weird) had had taken her to meet Mama and Papa Grey. Elliot and Kate have not known each other for as long as Christian and Ana, and so Ana would doubtless feel slighted if Kate met Elliot and Christian's parents and Ana didn't. Ana mentions this rather clever (for Ana, at least) observation to CG, and he denies it with one of those moronic speeches about how great Ana is, even though se isn't. "If I hadn't wanted you to meet them, you wouldn't be there." It's fun how this is supposed to be reassuring, but CG is also reiterating the fact that he is the boss of Ana.

Ana's response? Immediate acceptance with no skepticism! "Oh! He wanted me there--and it's a revelation. He doesn't seem uncomfortable answering me as he would if he were hiding the truth." Translation: CG has a great poker face! Good job CG!

We get some empty back and forth in which our lovers rehash the same things they always rehash. Yawn. CG allows as how it wouldn't be completely bonkers for Ana to visit her own mother for a few days. He does ask to accompany Ana, who sensibly disinvites him. Then we get some empty talk from CG: "For you, Anastasia, I will try." Try to be a more regular boyfriend who's not terrifying all the time, is how we're meant to take that sentence, I guess. But Ana is never specific about anything that she wants. Considering that CG is completely specific about everything he wants from Ana, it seems extra ridiculous of Ana to accept "I will try" when "try" is such a soft word, and we don't even know what he plans to try.

To borrow from the The Simpsons again: "I can't promise I'll try, but I'll try to try." OMG THANKS!

Does CG's line work? Of course! 

"And I'll try too. I'll sign your contract." And it's a spur-of-the-moment decision.

He gazes down at me. 

"Sign after Georgia. Think about it. Think about it hard, baby." 

Ugh. Oh right. Ana hasn't signed this dumb contract yet. So here we are, in Chapter 20, and we're still basically being teased by will-they-or-won't-they even though they already have a bunch of times and my question is not "will they" but instead just "why?" Why is this still happening? Why am I still reading this? Why does EL think that she can continue to squeeze drama out of a question that seemed totally resolved after Ana's graduation ceremony several chapters ago? EL is basically doing to this book what I do to the end of a tube of toothpaste. Yes, the tube may seem empty, but if I squeeze harder, and maybe get some pliers, or some kind of vice, maybe I won't have to buy more toothpaste yet. Do I need more toothpaste? Wait what am I talking about? I think I got distracted by how bored I am?

Oh I almost forgot! Look at that lat sentence in the quoted section. Found it? Ok: "it" is CG's wang, right? "Think about my wang. Think about my wang hard, baby." That's what he means right? There's no other way to interpret this, right? No? Great. Moving on. 

And then they go back to CG's place, and it's clear that they're going to have sex again and I don't think I could be less interested. I mean, can you blame me? Because seriously this is the worst. For instance, once again CG insists on making Ana wear his dumb jacket when they get out of the car. You will recall that it is late May, and also you will recall that they are in a goddamned parking garage. No, a parking garage is not usually as warm as the rest of the apartment building, because it's where cars live, not people. But it's still indoors and CG's obsession with putting coats on Ana just feels like this gross reminder that he owns her or whatever. 
Here's how they make out in the elevator up from the parking garage:

Bending down, he clamps his teeth around my lower lip and pulls gently. I melt against him, and my breathing stops as my insides unfurl with longing. I reciprocate, fastening my teeth over his top lip, teasing him, and he groans.

What, really? This mutual lip-biting thing is supposed to be hot? Just seems weird to me, but maybe I lack imagination? Also, Ana stops breathing which is fun because she's been mostly managing her breath-related issues over the course of the last several chapters. Early on she forgot to breathe all the goddamn time. This instance sort of just feels like a "for old time's sake" throwback reference. Oh and her insides are unfurling. "Insides unfurl" sounds more like she's vomiting, which is actually an improvement over the sorts of imagery that Ana typically uses to describe her arousal. 

Here's their "cute" pre-sex conversation. I'll trim it and leave you just the terrible, terrible dialogue, and skip the terrible, terrible other parts:

Do you need a drink or anything?
Good. Let's go to bed.
You're going to settle for plain old vanilla?
Nothing plain or old about vanilla--it's a very intriguing flavor.
Since when?
Since last Saturday. Why? Were you hoping for something more exotic?
Oh no. I've had enough exotic for one day. 
Sure? We cater for all tastes here--at leas thirty-one flavors.
I've noticed.
Come on, Miss Steele, you have a big day tomorrow. Sooner you're in bed, sooner you'll be fucked, and sooner you can sleep.
Mr. Grey, you are a born romantic.
Miss Steele, you have a smart mouth. I may have to subdue in some way. Come. 

I am amused to discover that, as obnoxious as this section is, I've actually improved it quite a bit by cutting out the speaker tags and stray bits of nonsense. It is often true that the best revision is simply excision. For instance, in this case, I lost a couple of bullshit lines about the inner goddess, and I think that this book would go up about a half letter-grade if EL were to come out with a new version that's exactly like this dumb version, only without any references to inner goddess or subconscious. 

But even improved, this is pretty bad, right? That dumb Baskin & Robbins reference is just so shopworn. Embarrassing. And that last line? That's some super villain shit that EL is trying to pass off as sexy banter. 

Ana ruins the mood, though! She says she wants to touch Christian and not just lie with her hands above her head while he puts his penis in her. And he's like, ew! Gross! No! Cooties! And declares that sexy-time is cancelled. 

Ana steps into the bathroom, and has this weird thought: "I stare at myself in the over-large mirror, shocked that I still look the same. After all that I've done today, it's still the same ordinary girl gaping back at me." She's describing mental illness here, right? Some variant of body dismorphic disorder? Oh wait! Maybe it's not that but instead just terrible writing. 

Ana uses CG's toothbrush because that's the kind of mundane shit that she thinks is super hot. Then, she comes up with this brilliant plan: she tells CG that he can spank her, but only if he opens up to her about his troubled, pre-adoption childhood. Great plan! Could there be a better snapshot of an abusive relationship? "It's ok for you to hit me, so long as you make up for it after by expressing emotional intimacy." What a deal!

And of course CG is like, sold! He runs to his sex-toy storage area and returns with "two shiny silver balls linked with a thick black thread." This particular toy has a name, but CG never uses it. I don't know why--at this point basically everyone has heard of neuticles. 

His explanation: "I am going to put these inside you, and then I"m going to spank you, not for punishment, but for your pleasure and mine." CG has a hilarious way of deciding, in advance, what Ana will like or not like, with very little evidence to support his claim. You hated the last spanking but this one will be great!

CG makes Ana take the neuticles in her mouth and I adore this pair of lines that come right before Ana ends up with a mouthful of silver balls:

"Good girl. Open your mouth." 

What is it she's asking here, exactly? Is she just unfamiliar with the mouth concept? It makes me think of the kind of dumb questions that people inflict upon those of us who work retail. I am a professional tour guide. Almost every day, at least one tour guide at my place of work will get this question: "So, tours?" That is not a question! You can't just give a single word a little lilt and believe that you have made a point! You have not made a point! You're wasting everyone's time because now I have little choice but to tell you every goddamn thing about tours and hope that you'll stop me after I get to the part you're actually interested in. 

CG takes the neuticles back and pops them in his mouth, which is great because we get this sentence: 

"Don't hesitate," he admonishes me softly, an undercurrent in his voice, and he pops the balls in his mouth. 

I can't be the only one who enjoys that, right? Particularly since CG gets so hung up on making sure everyone knows how not-gay he is. No, I'm not being particularly mature, but when you read something this bad, you have to find little points of amusement to get through the chapter. 

Oh! Turns out at least one other person enjoys it besides me! Ana! But not for the same reason: "Fuck, this is sexier than the toothbrush." Correct! CG with a mouthful of neuticles is sexier than sharing a toothbrush and that is because that toothbrush thing was never ever sexy. Any of you who've been with me since the beginning will remember that a dozen or so chapters ago, Ana got all hot and bothered by using CG's toothbrush and I can only hope that Ana is developing some sort of toothbrush fetish because at least that would be weird and surprising. 

Ana bends down: "Jeez, can I touch my ankles? I find I can, with ease. The T-shirt slides up my back, exposing my behind. Thank heavens I have retained my panties, but I suspect I won't for long." How clever Ana is! She correctly surmises that she may in fact have sex without panties. This is very unusual, of course, but not without precedent. Some people, particularly those in deep, dark corner of the BDSM community, regularly engage in sex not wearing any underwear at all. Now, I know that that's a pretty harrowing thought. Please--take some time to process it if you need to. But yeah. This is a real thing: naked sex. It sometimes happens, and I'd be doing you no favors if I hid this fact from you. 

Seriously, though: this is such sad, faux kink. Ana's "body braces itself in a heady mix of wild anticipation and arousal" but I only anticipate being super bored. It is funny that her body braces itself, though. Ana doesn't brace herself--Ana's body braces itself. Ana is just like, do whatever, Ana's body, and then her body is like, I guess I'll like, brace myself or something? And Ana is like, that's cool. Whatever. NBD. And we get "heady mix" again and I feel sad because I had to read the phrase "heady mix" again.

But anyway, CG puts the balls into Ana's vagina and I hope he saved his receipt for this sex toy because it's a huge flop. I mean seriously--this is a sex scene! Write something sexy! Here's what Ana thinks about the toy:

"It's a curious feeling. Once they're inside me, I can't really feel them--but then again I know they're there." OMG WHERE CAN I GET A PAIR?

She stands up. "Oh! Now I can feel them . . . sort of." OMG THIS IS . . . SORT OF TURNING ME ON. . . SORT OF.

"How does that feel?" he asks.
"Strange good or strange bad?"
"Strange good," I confess, blushing. 

Strange good! Well, I'm convinced! BRB guys! I gotta run down the street to Babeland and buy some neuticles! (Editor's note: Alden actually does live super close to Babeland. Trivia fact! Also he's never been inside. Weird, right?) I'll go in and be like, "Hey I'm looking for something that you like, put inside yourself, and then basically forget about, which feels kind of good-strange. What can you suggest?"

CG makes Ana go walk to get a glass of water. That's when things get super hot! "It's such a weird feeling and not entirely unpleasant." 

Not. Entirely. Unpleasant.

Look! I don't care what sex-stuff Ana does! Have her do whatever, EL! But how about she at least like it? I would find these sequences a hell of a lot more bearable if I knew that somebody was having a nice time. What the hell am I supposed to do with this? Not entirely unpleasant! I thought this was erotica or whatever! 

Spanking begins, and Ana is ok with it: "It's such a stimulating, erotic feeling, and for some reason, because this is on my terms, I don't mind the pain." It is funny to me that Ana feels as though this situation, which is not entirely unpleasant, is on her terms. Nothing is on her terms. If this weren't exactly what CG wanted, it would not be happening. 

They have sex for a couple paragraphs after the spanking is done and it's fine, I guess, but I'm so annoyed by the fact that EL insists on bringing this sex toy into the scene and then makes sure that Ana yawns through the whole process. Terrible. 

Then Ana asks for CG to fulfill his end of their "deal" and tell her about his childhood. Here's what we get:

"The woman who brought me into this world was a crack whore, Anastasia. Go to sleep."
. . . 
"She died when I was four. I don't really remember her. Carrick has given me some details. I only remember certain things. Please go to sleep."

Fun! We learned absolutely nothing. EL has been teasing us with these hints about CG's early life but once again, there's no payoff. There's never any payoff. The phrase "crack whore" is further evidence that CG has some real issues with women that he ought to be working out with a professional. (Editor: as in therapist. Not a sex professional.) But we already knew that CG is deeply troubled, so that's nothing new. And any story that we might've invented, on our own, that might have explained CG's early trauma would certainly have involved drugs. So this is supposed to be a big, dramatic moment, I think, but it falls totally flat.

And it's the end of the chapter. What a waste.

I am looking forward to a couple of things about Chapter 21, though! 1) Is it going to be yet another chapter that starts with Ana waking up and thinking thoughts??? I bet so! And 2) Is Ana going to buy a plane ticket for Georgia and fly to Georgia in the same day? All signs point to yes! And when that happens, that will literally be the dumbest part of this book so far! And I'm only in this thing for the stupidity at this point. I gave up on the sex a long time ago. 

Countdown:Remaining chapters: 6Remaining pages: 144

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