Tuesday, October 1, 2013

50 Shades of the Complainist: Chapter 21

Ana has an interview for an internship with a publishing company and then she goes to the airport.

This chapter is heroically dull. 

Ugh even I didn't think the notes on that last chapter were very entertaining, and nobody likes my jokes more than I do. So if I didn't thoroughly enjoy myself, the rest of you had little hope. At least we'll get to learn this week whether or not Ana will manage to buy a ticket to Georgia on the same day that she flies. Oh! And maybe we'll come to learn why she lives in Seattle and her mom lives in Georgia. See? This could be better! We could really get somewhere this week! I'm feeling optimistic!

Wait! I just remembered that 50 Shades wine is a thing and now I'm sad again. One great thing about writing these essays is that now my friends have made me a sort of clearing house for all 50 Shades news and non-news. This is fun for me keep it up not even being sarcastic! Or maybe I am and can't tell the difference anymore because reading this book has alienated me from genuine human emotions!

Either way, you want to know about EL's wine, right? Great! Figured you would! Allow the LA Times to catch you up to speed. I'll wait!

Back? Great! I think it only appropriate that this terrible wine designed to cash in on the fame of a terrible book gets a terrible article. First, the headline: "'Fifty Shades of Grey' wines now available -- handcuffs not included." Heehee. It's funny because Christian is always using handcuffs on Ana! (Editor's note: so far, Ana has not once worn handcuffs.)

But wait! There's more! 

"If you'll actually admit to reading any of the 'Fifty Shades of Grey' novels, and don't pretend you've never heard of them, you know wine plays a large part in the book. For one thing, the characters are always drinking it."

Wine plays a pretty trivial role in this book. Or, maybe I just drink so much trying to get through this that I no longer can tell what's a normal amount of wine to drink? This is possible. The only particular wine thing I can think of is that one part where Christian spits wine into Ana's mouth and now I kind of think that anyone who drinks this stuff should have to have it spat into their mouth. 

Oh but I'll write a thorough review if you send me a bottle. Also now I'm amusing myself by imagining someone ordering it at a restaurant. "Now I don't see it on the wine list here, but, um, might you have a bottle of 2009 Fifty Shades of Grey Red Satin?" he murmured dryly. 

That "2009" part was not a typo. The red is advertised as having been vinted in 2009, two years before Ana and Christian met. What foresight! The website for the wine almost makes it sound like they want me to think that EL had something to do with this other than cashing a check. "I’ve always had a penchant for good wine, so combining two of my passions to blend Red Satin and White Silk was a natural extension of the Fifty Shades trilogy." 

You see? This is totally natural! In fact it's weird that it took this long for this bad idea to finally happen. But seriously--by advertising this stuff as a 2009, they're at least showing some decency. I would've assumed that this wine was some undrinkable garbage found in an abandoned tank somewhere (what my winemaking father would refer to as "otter water" which is a hilarious thing to call bad wine!) but by letting me know that this was made in 2009, I now know that this wine is some undrinkable garbage found in an abandoned tank somewhere. 

(Editor's note: EL, if you send us a bottle, we'll put up a post with the title "Just Kidding!" and the body of the post will just be, "This book is great! This blog is elaborate satire!" What I'm saying, EL, is that writing this blog is driving us steadily toward insanity / alcoholism, and so we're constantly desperate for drinks so hook us up!)

Well. That's enough procrastination! On to Chapter 21! 

Our story thus far:

  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-dialsChristian 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-discussedpaperwork, 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. Ana and Christian drive back to Ana's house. 
  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 demands for cosmetic adjustments. 
  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.
  20. Ana and Christian have boathouse sex and then go home for mild spanking and bed sex and then we are unsurprised when we learn that Christian's mom did drugs when he was a toddler. 
It took me an embarrassing amount of time to realize that I could go ahead and put links to each chapter in my little summary in case you want to read any that you've missed. Because I know you've missed some! This whole project is basically dependent on how widely Facebook decides to post any given post. Honestly though I don't understand why Facebook doesn't put everything I post in everyone's newsfeed. I'm like Michelangelo of Facebook and this stuff is my Sistine Chapel. 

Moving on:

This is another "Ana wakes up at the beginning of the chapter" chapter, so the first page is just Ana waking up. I have never been in a coma, but I expect that Ana's morning routine is kind of like what it feels like to wake up from a coma. She has to do a whole process. Remind herself where she is. Take stock of her environment. Recount the previous night's events. Feel a bunch of feeling related to her terrible relationship. And then, only then, might she get out of bed.

I'll only make one note about this waking-up sequence. Ana talks about being isolated way up high in CG's apartment and it sounds more like she's in Cloud City than Seattle. Whatever. She contemplates the revelation that CG's birth mother was a drug addict and thinks, ". . . I understand why he lives here, isolated, surrounded by beautiful, precious works of art--so far removed from where he started. . . "

And then, the next paragraph: "Ironically, I feel the same way up here in his lofty tower." And then she loses me. It's ironic that two people in the same spot might be inspired by the setting to think similar thoughts? No, that's the opposite of ironic. Ana is doing that thing that lots of people do where she really wants to say "Interestingly" but instead says "Ironically" even though actually, it's not only not ironic but not even interesting either. Oh well. 

She muses some more, and then thinks, "This is what I need to clarify between us to see if we are still at opposite ends on the seesaw or if we are inching close together." Ugh. Now I'm getting so angry. Does EL not even understand how a mutterblushing seesaw works? Embarrassing. Let's sit on the same side of the seesaw! It'll be more romantic! Yeah and also you're supposed to sit far apart on a seesaw! That's how you do it! Groan.

Ana wakes up alone so she goes looking for CG runs into another one of CG's employees who is "cleaning in the kitchen area." I quote this even though it's probably only funny to me, really--I used to work at a preschool, and my classroom had an area we all called "the kitchen area" because that's where all the food toys were. And it made sense to say "kitchen area" and not kitchen, because even though all the kids were four-year-olds and still occasionally bit each other, they were smart enough to know the difference between a "kitchen" and a "kitchen area." So to me, it sounds like CG's housekeeper, Mrs. Jones (Editor's note: Imaginative!) is not actually cleaning a kitchen but is instead playing with plastic pots and pans. 

Mrs. Jones offers Ana breakfast. Here's how Ana reacts, because she's unable to make obvious deductions based on context clues: "Her [Mrs. Jones's] tone is warm but businesslike, and I'm stunned. Who is this attractive blonde in Christian's kitchen?" Who indeed? Probably a home invader! Probably going to steal all your stuff as soon as she finishes cooking you a tasty breakfast. I see no other possibilities!

There's something gross about the phrasing "this attractive blonde" just as it's always gross when women are referred to exclusively by the color of their hair. Ana's reaction to Mrs. Jones is at once patronizing and jealous, because I feel like Ana's assumed answer to "Who is this attractive blonde in Christian's kitchen?" is "Probably somebody else he chains up in his sex dungeon, probably!" Am I reading too much into this? No? Glad you don't think so either.

I like this exchange:

"I'm afraid you have me at a disadvantage." My voice is quiet, unable to hide the anxiety in my voice.
"Oh, I'm terribly sorry--I'm Mrs. Jones, Mr. Grey's housekeeper."

Look at this garbage: "My voice is quiet, unable to hide the anxiety in my voice." My voice is unable to hide the anxiety in my voice. My rolling eyes are unable to hide how much my eyes are rolling. EL must've literally forgotten what was going on with this sentence between its beginning and its end. Yeah, it's a twelve-word sentence, so I forgive her.

I assume that the pointless italics on "oh" are code for, "Oh shit I feel like a huge idiot for somehow thinking that maybe my boyfriend brings in his other girlfriend to clean his kitchen." Because Ana should feel like a huge idiot. 

Ana still thinks maybe Mrs. Jones was one of CG's "ex-subs" which would be fun as a plot device and also could feel like a semi-clever nod to Dracula but we're on page 369 and there's just no way that EL is going to add in a fun plot device at this point, so I am confident that this is a time-wasting red herring. This phrasing is great though:

Are they all ex-subs? I refuse to entertain that hideous idea. 

Um. No, you're entertaining that idea. That's what you're doing--precisely that thing you're refusing to do. Whatever. The thing you're refusing to entertain is me, the one reading this book. 

Ana finds CG in his study. Don't know why we had to have that scene with Mrs. Jones, but I'm sure it wasn't just a waste of time--it'll pay of later on probably! Just kidding. Nothing ever pays off ever. 

CG is on the phone and we hear his half of the conversation. He sounds exactly like someone making up a fake conversation in an attempt to sound super important. I'm going to make you read all of it because it's the worst. 

"Unless that company's P&L improves, I'm not interested, Ros. We're not carrying deadweight . . . I don't need any more lame excuses . . . Have Marco call me, it's shit or bust time . . . Yes, tell Barney that the prototype looks good, though I'm not sure about the interface . . . No, it's just missing something . . . I want to meet him this afternoon to discuss . . . In fact, him and his team, we can brainstorm . . . Okay. Transfer me back to Andrea. . . " 
. . . 
"Clear my schedule this morning, but get Bill to call me. I'll be in at two. I need to talk to Marco this afternoon, that will need at least half an hour . . . Schedule Barney and his team in after Marco or maybe tomorrow, and find some time for me to see Claude every day this week . . . Tell him to wait . . . Oh . . . No, I don't want publicity for Darfur . . . Tell Sam to deal with it . . . "

ZOMG CG sure is important! He hast to talk to Ros, Marco, Barney, Andrea, and Claude! But not Sam. Hell with Sam. Andrea can deal with Sam. Ugh. You know how Sam is. 

That's so many people! So many people that EL can't even come up with real names for all of them! She had to use the fake name "Ros" for someone because how else could she keep all these people straight? OH! And did you notice that CG doesn't want publicity for Darfur? What a hero! Someone give him all the prizes!

Awarded to Christian Grey for talking about Darfur that one time!

You know that old saying, though: when a billionaire says he doesn't want publicity for Darfur, he definitely wants publicity for Darfur. Definitely. 

Right after that they have sex again. Yawn. 

This is the least interesting sex they've had so far, and that's really saying something. What's most obnoxious to me is that they just did it five pages ago. Also this scene lasts about a page, and this is what it's like when Ana has an orgasm:

I cry out a wordless, passionate plea as I touch the sun and burn, falling around him, falling back, back to a breathless, bright summit on Earth. He slams into me and stops abruptly as he reaches his climax, pulling at my writs and sinking gracefully and wordlessly onto me.

What the hell? This is like a terrible poem by a dramatic high school kid imagining what sex might be like and it's the worst and I hate it.

At least the sex in the previous chapter was meant to sort of "prove" EL's grand thesis about Christian: "Yeah he's shitty but see, he's also sweet sometimes!" You see, we had the rough boathouse sex, and then the "nice" spanking and the friendlier sex and I think EL was trying to suggest something about the duality of man, sir. There's no plot, so nothing ever advances the plot. But the sex in Chapter 20 sort of worked as a snapshot of their whole shitty relationship. 

The sex here in CG's office is just a waste of my time and I hate it and this book is probably just going to make me decide sex is boring and gross. I'm not saying that these sex scenes need to mean anything or whatever. But if they don't mean anything, can't they at least be interesting on occasion? This one is super boilerplate. CG doesn't take off any clothes at all. Just undoes his fly, puts on a condom, and bumps uglies with Ana there on top of his desk. And then they're done. Yawn. Mix it up a little or something! Do something different. Or, hey--do anything at all. This is just a book about a couple of people being grumpy in different spots and having sex on occasion. 

Ana retreats to the shower where she rehashes the exact same thoughts about CG that she always thinks about CG. Fun! Then Mrs. Jones cooks breakfast and CG bullies Ana into eating more than she wants and bullies Mrs. Jones into cooking an unreasonable amount. "She likes pancakes, bacon, and eggs, Mrs. Jones." And for himself: "Omelet, please, and some fruit." Hey you know what would make sense? Why don't you both have a goddamn omelet and fruit? I mean you're already bossing everyone around, CG, so why not at least spare Mrs. Jones, right? 

Wait wait wait! We're back to my absolute favorite thing! Ana's trip that she's taking to Georgia, which she's planning for sometime later that day

"Have you bought your air ticket?"
"No, I'll buy it when I get home--over the Internet." 

I love it! Christian says "air ticket" which nobody says ever in this entire country because there are only three kinds of tickets in America: plane, movie, and parking. In context it's pretty clear which one he's talking about. And then Ana! I like imagining that she says this line with a sort of condescending sneer. "No, dumbass. I'm not trying to fly until tonight! So why would I already have a plane ticket? I'm probably not going to take off until like, eight hours from now, probably. Who the fuck buys a plane ticket more than eight hours in advance?"

Oh, and she's buying her ticket "over the Internet." Putting aside the curious choice of preposition, there isn't any other way to buy a ticket, right? What, do you go to the ticket store? The airplane box office? Of course she's going to buy it online!

CG offers Ana his corporate jet, which actually makes more sense than Ana buying a ticket the day of her flight. I mean, it would be pretty crazy for Ana to hop onto CG's corporate jet to go visit her mom. And it would just seem implausible, you know? Her jetting around like that? Seems so outlandish, unless we're comparing it to Ana's plan to buy a plane ticket after she's done with her afternoon interviews. 

But Ana says no, she'll take a regular flight like a regular person. And then she asks why she can't touch him when they do sex and CG refuses to answer. And then some pleasantries about how they'll miss each other while Ana is in Georgia, and then a section break before we rejoin Ana waiting for an interview to start for one of the internships she's pursuing.

This brings us to about the halfway point of this chapter and it's the most goddamned pointless half-chapter of anything I've ever read ever. Absolutely no part of it mattered in the slightest. I kind of want to take a copy of this book and just cross parts out and tear out pointless pages. You've heard of the Jefferson Bible? Kind of like that, but for 50 Shades. The worst thing of all about this book is the repetition. It's just the same thing, chapter after chapter. The same, stagnant conflict. Never any sense that anything is going anywhere. And at this point we're pretty much so close to the end that there's no space left for anything to happen, so I can only assume that each of these final chapters are just going to be the same sex-and-moping again. I hope you appreciate what I'm putting myself through for you.

I wish that EL would employ this basic device much more frequently. Section breaks are a great way to skip over pointless stuff. EL has a serious problem deciding on which details are useful in setting the scene and which are time-wasters. As a result, there's always a very high signal to noise ratio, and it kind of makes my eyes glaze over. (Editor's note: vodka, Lillet, soda, lime.)

For instance, one of the first things we learn about the lobby of Seattle Independent Publishing is that it has "two dark green chesterfield couches made of leather." Chesterfield is specifically British, right? Nobody in America has any idea what the hell a chesterfield is, right? Whatever. But why tell us about these couches? They have nothing to do with anything. But of course, when you're not writing about anything, and nothing matters, you can't stop and say, "Hey which details will advance my plot or themes or tell me something about my characters?" There is no plot and there aren't any themes in the literary sense and Ana remains an empty vessel, so EL is pretty much stuck. It's fun to imagine her staring at her computer screen, thinking, "Ugh I guess something has to happen between now and when Ana and Christian fuck again. So um. I dunno. Couches?" Also I'm imagining that she's assembling all this from the stuff she sees at her house, and just noticed her own green couches.

On page 378 we get the second person of color to appear in our novel! Good job, EL James! Let's hand out some more medals!

It's the White Guy with a Beard Medal for Diversity!

The receptionist is a young African-American woman with large silver earrings and long straightened hair. She has a bohemian look about her, the sort of woman I could be friendly with. 

Oh, grand! I kind of feel like this is a couple degrees worse than, "I'm not racist! I've got tons of black friends!" Here's Ana's version: "I'm not racist! I occasionally notice black people I wouldn't mind being friends with under the right circumstances!" 

Let's be real though: why does Ana see this woman as the sort she could be friendly with? Because Ana sees the receptionist as less than fully human, and is therefore not a competitor for Christian's affection. Am I being unfair? I honestly don't think I am. Granted, EL is trying to mark a contrast between the offices of Seattle Independent Publishing and Grey Enterprises Business Holdings Limited Incorporated INC Esq. LLC LOL, because if you'll remember, CG surrounds himself with white ladies. So this place is like, totally different! But c'mon. Ana initial reaction to every woman who enters her field of vision is jealousy. And this time she's not jealous? Coincidence? 

I hate this next paragraph for resolving my favorite dilemma of this whole book: 

My flight is booked, my mother is in seventh heaven that I am visiting, I am packed, and Kate has agreed to drive me to the airport. 

I'm not going to lie to you: this whole day-of tickets thing has provided me with more entertainment than any other element of this book so far, and I'm sad to see it wrapped up with no explanation. I no longer have anything to look forward to.

It's taking forever to get into this damn interview. We have a page or so of Ana chilling in the lobby, and then a half page of Ana thinking the same thoughts about CG that she always thinks. He's nice sometimes! And not nice most of the time! Complicated!

Eventually, somebody shows up to take Ana to her interview. I bet you're super interested in learning about how she looks! Well, here you go!

A woman with long, black, pre-Raphaelite hair standing by the reception desk distracts me from my introspection. She has the same, bohemian, floaty look as the receptionist. She could be in her late thirties, maybe in her forties. It's so difficult to tell with older women.

Mostly I just included this bit because it's pretty funny how Ana calls this lady an older woman because she can't tell if she's in her thirties or forties. "Floaty" is not particularly flattering, but I guess this lady is ok because she's so old? No reason to be jealous of her! CG wouldn't have anything to do with a wrinkled old husk of a woman in her late thirties, maybe in her forties. Lucky.

I hope Ana is keeping her fashion game tight for this high stakes interview!

She gives me a polite smile, her cool hazel eyes assessing me. I am wearing one of Kate's dresses, a black pinafore over a white blouse, and my black pumps. Very interview, I think. My hair is restrained in a tight bun, and for once the tendrils are behaving themselves.

There is everything wrong with this paragraph. Kate: you gotta cut Ana off on this whole dress thing. She's a grownup. She should own some clothes if she wants to wear clothes. Also, Ana owns no dresses but owns black pumps? Why? To wear with what? Also tendrils are a problem for Ana but somehow Kate's tendrils are brought up every time Ana is feeling jealous of Kate's looks. So now I don't know how to feel about tendrils! Also shut up about this lady's eye color, since chances are she's a super minor character we may never see after this chapter. Quit loading me down with pointless information, EL!

This old lady, the one in her late thirties, maybe forties, is Elizabeth Moran, SIP's human resources person. Yawn. Ana thinks Elizabeth "looks very casual to be the head of HR." HR people always look casual. Also I think Ana is really saying, "Isn't that like, a man's job? Human resources? Right?" I don't really know if this is what Ana is thinking. I don't care. I'm just throwing it in because I do feel like Ana hates all women so I'm always looking for further proof to support my "Ana hates all women" thesis. 

Then we meet Jack Hyde, acquisitions editor, with whom Ana is actually supposed to speak. That's the important job, so it's ok that SIP let's a lady be in charge of HR, right Ana? Jack is the most Seattle-looking guy in the whole book: "At the head of the maple conference table sits a young man with red hair tied in a ponytail. Small silver hooped earrings glint in both his ears." Right, Seattleites? It's like we're having our own life shown to us in an erotic mirror!

The actual interview is a real snooze. Ana is unsettled by it, which is foreshadowing. Those of you who've read ahead may know already that Jack Hyde is our villain! Well. Christian Grey is the real villain. But the books think that Jack Hyde is the villain, so a good time to introduce the villain is page 379, right? Just kidding! That's a terrible time to introduce the villain. And this book is terrible. This is a strange chapter because you read it, and you're like, "Oh, shit, is something going to happen?" I mean, look at the end of the interview:

I feel unsettled as I make my way to my car, though I'm not sure why. I think the interview went well, but it's so hard to say. Interviews seem such artificial situations; everyone on their best behavior trying desperately to hide behind a profession façade. Did my face fit? I shall have to wait and see.

Of course whenever anyone says, "That seems weird, but it's probably nothing," something crazy is going to go down. But why now? Why hint at the introduction of a subplot so late into the book? The pacing of this thing is embarrassing. 

Ana returns back to her fancy apartment and talks to Kate. Kate uses some of the muscles in her neck, which makes Ana think of CG, because I don't know why. "She cocks her head to one side--gah! Why is everyone reminding me of my favorite Fifty Shades?" What the hell is going on with this sentence? Oh, her favorite Fifty Shades? Unbearable. 

Soon, they're talking about CG. This book only has two kinds of scenes. There are the sex scenes, of course, and then there are the "I'm feeling so conflicted" scenes. The "I'm feeling so conflicted" scenes are all identical, but the conflict is debated by different parties. Usually, Ana is just feeling conflicted while she wakes up or whatever, so it's just a lot of Ana by herself thinking, "Oh noes! I don't know what to do! I know what I should do but don't want to because sex!" Sometimes, she brings in either subconscious or inner goddess as foils for this inanity. And sometimes she trades subconscious for Kate and inner goddess for CG and the conflict is expressed through repetitive debate. 

No matter what the form, it's unbearable, because it really is just the same shit over and over. I will save you this particular debate with Kate except for one little part at the end. First speaker is Kate.

"You two need to sit down and talk to each other."
"We haven't been doing much talking lately." I blush. Other stuff. Nonverbal communication and that's okay. Well, much more than okay.

She grins. "That'll be the sexing! If that's going well, then that's half the battle, Ana." 

1) They talk all the mutterblushing time! Ana and CG talk goddamn constantly! It's just that they say exactly the same dumb stuff over and over so maybe that's why Ana thinks they haven't been talking. 
2) That is some real wisdom from Kate, right? I mean, since most people in relationships devote about half their time to sex, it stands to reason that if Ana is enjoying sex with CG, things between them can't be that bad, now can they? Of course not. 
3) Mostly I just pasted this in because Kate says "sexing" the way I use it all the time, which is great because using it this way is hilariously dumb, mostly because it's incorrect. As you all know, "sexing" means to determine the sex of something which can be pretty important in agriculture, since a lot of baby animals are hard to tell apart, and farmers need to know which ones are the ones with cooties, so that they can inoculate with anti-cootie vaccines. Sorry to go off topic like this but I grew up on a farm and this stuff is actually pretty important. But back to sexing: it is wonderful that Kate says "sexing" and now she's basically my best friend because I'm kind of getting like, shitty-book Stockholm syndrome, and I'm starting to identify with my captors. Well, with some of my captors. Because really, everyone is the absolute worst except for Kate, who is also the worst, but she's the least bad of all the worst.

Kate goes to buy dinner because why not? Ana is taking a red-eye, I guess, though I will be amazed if this is acknowledged by the text. A late evening flight from Seattle means an early morning arrival in Georgia if we are playing by the regular rules of time and space, but these are not rules that have bothered EL much in the past and if there's one thing I've noticed about EL, it's that once she invents some new stupidity, she sticks with it! 

Ana, meanwhile, decides to try to figure out if Christian has feelings for her, which is completely inane, because of course he does. Lots of feelings. Terrifying, dangerous, stalkery feelings. "I realize that while I'm away, I will have to run through all our conversations again and see if I can pick out telltale signs." 

Holy shit that's depressing! Thing is, not everyone wants to go through all these boring conversations again, but that's Ana's big plan for her vacation. Grand.

Ana decides to send CG an email using her computer, for which she has a dumb nickname. She uses that dumb nickname. I'm not going to because I hate her dumb nickname, and also, you can think of this as a clever-ish move on my part to encourage you to read other chapter summaries if you haven't. If you do know Ana's stupid nickname for her computer, which she uses every time she thinks about her computer, please feel smug for being a complainist-insider. 

Their email exchange is yet another time waster. Ana asks if Mrs. Jones is someone CG has ever spanked. He says no. Yawn. 

Kate drives Ana to the airport, which I'm against, because of the excellent transit options available between downtown Seattle and the airport. Please, if you're doing some kind of weird, 50 Shades reenactment tour of Seattle, go ahead and take the train, ok? The train is great! You don't have to make Kate be your chauffeur. 

EL gives us Ana's life pre-flight using her typical style: dense with details that seem pointless and also completely false. 

"Ticket, please?" The bored young man behind the desk holds up his hand without looking at me. 
Mirroring his boredom, I hand over my ticket and my driver's license as ID. I am hoping for a window seat if at all possible.
"Okay, Miss Steele. You've been upgraded to first class."

"Ma'am, if you'd like to go through to the first class lounge and wait for your flight there . . . " He seems to have woken up and is beaming at me like I'm Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny rolled into one.

Oh, man. There's just so much "wrong" crammed into one little section! EL seems to have confused air travel and train travel, since a train is a place where one might, in fact, hear the phrase, "Ticket, please." This is taking place in 2011, you'll recall. Either Ana has a boarding pass, with a seat assignment, or she has nothing at all but her ID. You know that. 

But here's the more important thing: it's so gross the way this imaginary ticket agent acts star-struck because some mutterblusher has a seat in first class. Groan. I'm going to talk about something that all my comrades who work in any kind of customer-service capacity, or in any customer-service adjacent capacity (your service industry types, your retail types) will already know, and which most others will likely assume: dealing with rich people is the worst. Rich people, if you're reading this, and you aren't: if you go around places acting all rich, you probably get good service, and that's not because we like you. It's because we're terrified that you'll be a jerk and ruin our day. 

Look, people come in and drop a lot of money on chocolate at one of the places I work. But you know who I like to see when I'm working the register? The six-year-old holding a chocolate bar and a wadded up bill from mom or dad. Because that kid is not going to complain about nothing. That kid is interested in a simple money-for-chocolate transaction, and wants nothing more than to peace out as quick as possible so as to get that chocolate unwrapped. Conversely, when someone shows up with a big armload of stuff, in any kind of retail environment, that's like a big warning sign. Somebody spending a bunch of money is somebody who may very well be outrageously difficult. 

Also! Most people flying first class are just business jerks who aren't paying for their own flight anyway. And since this flight was upgraded? Wasn't originally first class? That usually means regular-person who saved up her frequent-flier miles and is using them for an upgrade because they're about to expire. 

I'm spending way too long on this. But it's infuriating! "A first class passenger? Holy shit I only see several hundred of these every goddamn work day in my capacity as ticket agent! I hope you'll grant me the honor of an autograph!"

Obvs CG paid for the upgrade. Whatever. Flying is super unpleasant! This is the first rich-guy move he's pulled so far where I'm like, yeah! Do it! That will actually make Ana's experience nicer! This is a trivial expense to you but Ana will probably appreciate it!

She doesn't, of course. And that's the end of our chapter. Ana gets on a plane.

So what happened in this chapter? Ana had an interview for an internship which is basically a topic for the next book and not something that's even really going to be addressed before we finish this one. And then she went to the airport. I don't know how anyone can get passed this book's sluggish, fanfic pacing. When I read a book, I just have this thing where I expect some stuff to happen. This is not a concern of fanfic readers, though, and I just cannot understand that mindset. Oh well! Guess I'm missing out!

Not going to be an issue for long, though, because we're almost done!

The final countdown:
Chapters remaining: The Final Five!
Pages remaining: 126

Coincidentally, if you cut out all the time wasting, I'm pretty sure this book would be exactly 126 pages in total. FYI!

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