Tuesday, October 15, 2013

50 Shades of the Complainist: Chapter 23

Christian meets Ana's mom and then Ana and Christian have sex in Christian's hotel room.

There will be blood.

(Editor's note, Monday, 7:47PDT: Alden is once again, behind schedule. We told him to take the week off, but he called us "mutterblushers" and threw a bottle at us. So, despite our suggestion, and the advice of his doctors, Alden decided to power through and complete this essay in a single evening, fueled only by a cocktail of cocktails and his own rage. The decreasing quality that you will doubtless detect as you approach the end of this essay is due to the author's inebriation and the lateness of the hour. Enjoy!)

Right! Starting this off completely sober (Editor's note: Well, basically sober. One beer, so far.) but with no idea at all what actually happens in this chapter. It used to be that I'd read through the chapter, then go through it a second time while taking notes. This is probably why my earlier summaries were more coherent. But let's be real: I've got senior-itis. I'm about to graduate from this dumb book and I've already been accepted at my backup college, so we're working kind of fast and loose here. Whatever. I'm still probably putting in more effort than the author of the original source material. 

One note from last week:
I made a whole thing out of this particular sentence: "And my period has started, so I must remember to take my pill in the morning." I received a consultation from The Complainist's house medical expert (a real doctor!) who noted that those starting a birth-control regimen are sometimes advised to start said regimen when their period starts. The reason for this is simple: that way, you know you weren't pregnant when you started your prescription. 

My version, to be fair, was funnier. But this does get at a deeper issue. Ana mentions taking a pill in Chapter 22. She was prescribed her pill in Chapter 18. That feels like forever ago! But, in fact, it was basically one weekend! Chapters 18-20 all take place during a single obnoxious day. Chapter 21 is the day after that. And Chapter 22 is the day after Chapter 21. So to me, it felt like Ana had been on the pill for ages but now that I look at it more carefully, she was only written a prescription a couple days ago and omigod this book is so slow. It's almost unbelievable how little is happening in this thing. 

And now, for a bunch more nothing!

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-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 detailed than, say, a prenuptial agreement, 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. 
  21. Ana has an interview for an internship with a publishing company and then she goes to the airport.
  22. Ana goes to Georgia to visit her mom but mostly just sends emails to Christian. Then Christian appears unexpectedly right at the bar where Ana is having a drink with her mom. 
You'll recall that last week, when we left, Ana seemed appropriately terrified by CG's decision to zip out to Georgia to stalk her. And, again, remember that they've only been apart something like 36 hours. Some completely insignificant length of time. It seems that a human body can go far longer without water than Ana and CG can go without being miserable together in the same place. Sending grumpy emails to each other just isn't enough! Not nearly enough!

The opening lines of Chapter 23 do nothing to change the tone of terror struck at the end of the previous chapter. Here you go!

I glance nervously around the bar but cannot see him.
"Ana, what is it? You look like you've seen a ghost."
"It's Christian, he's here."
"What? Really?" She glances around the bar, too.
I have neglected to mention Christian's stalker tendencies to my mom. 

(Editor's note, Monday, 9:04PDT: Alden took a break to eat dinner, drink another beer, and watch two episodes of Parks & Rec. Including one with Louis CK! Great stuff! We should think up ways to make this blog more like that show. Moving on.)

I do like the idea of Ana wondering how she's going to break the news about her boyfriend being a stalker. "Ugh! My mom is sooooo old fashioned! She's like, from a different era, you know? She can't help it. But still, it sucks, right? Just because my boyfriend happens to be a stalker, right?" More important, though, the mood is unchanged from the previous chapter. Ana is so unhappy that CG has come out to join her that she looks like she's seen a ghost. I wish Ana's mom hadn't said that. I wish she'd said, "You look like you've seen a vampire." Right? Wink! Because Twilight? Get it? 

Also, I wish that Ana hadn't used that comma splice. "It's Christian. He's here." That would convey just a little more menace. Also, it would've suggested that EL had a grasp of the basic functions of the English language. Oh well!

CG makes his way over to their table. Here's a little part I like, from right after Ana greets CG:

"Hi," he replies, and leaning down, he kisses my cheek, taking me by surprise.

What's the surprise here, exactly? I mean, sure, it's a terrifying surprise that CG showed up the way he did. And it's super creepy that, upon arriving, he didn't just call Ana and say, "Oh, hey! I'm so crazy about you that I just had to fly out here!" Instead he shames Ana for having a drink like he's Jason Bourne spying from the next building over. (Editor's note: this will totally make sense if you watched all the Jason Bourne movies. Otherwise don't worry about it.) 

But the part where CG leans toward Ana, and then at the end of that lean, kisses her on the cheek? That seems not that surprising to me. 

Moving on: Ana introduces her mom, Carla, to CG.

CG calls Ana's mom "Mrs. Adams" which Ana acknowledges is weird since Ana never told CG her mom's name. Also, I'm pretty sure we never knew that Ana's mom was named Carla either, and now that I do know, I plan to forget. Oh, but if they cast Rhea Perlman as Ana's mom in the movie, I'm instantly on board. I'm saying this right now: if Carla plays Carla, I will watch the movie. I'll even pay for my own ticket! I don't care! That's just the type of weird stunt casting that would get me out to the theater. Take note, Hollywood! I'm a key demographic! 

(Editor's note, Monday, 9:30PDT: Alden switched over to tequila and grapefruit soda, and then moved from his couch to his desk. What we're saying is this: shit just got real.)

Carla loses it when she sees CG because he's so good-looking or whatever. "Oh, complete dumbfounded speechlessness is genetic--I had no idea." Thing is, Ana and her mom aren't the only people who turn into cartoon characters when they encounter someone attractive. That's pretty much the reaction of everyone in this book. It wasn't even funny the first time, but it keeps happening again and again. 

Ana softens almost immediately, already letting nervousness about what CG will think overcome her much-deserved anger. "I don't know if I want to shout at him or throw myself into his arms. . ." Running away is still a choice, right? I think it is! Or, at least, it ought to be. 

At least CG has a good explanation for why he's talking Ana:

"Well, yesterday you said you wished I was here." He pauses, trying to gauge my reaction. "We aim to please, Miss Steele." His voice is quiet with no trace of humor. 

Crap--is he mad? Maybe the Mrs. Robinson comments? Or the fact that I am on my third, soon to be fourth, Cosmo? My mother is glancing anxiously at the two of us. 

Let's talk about a few of the problems with this section, shall we? Most obvious is Christian. We've all said "wish you were here!" to someone while on vacation or whatever. And what we really meant was, "I'm thinking about you and look forward to seeing you again." Because real people who live in human society or whatever know that showing up unscheduled like CG does would be terrifying. They interpret the sentiment, and don't make the insane choice of saying, "Oh, she wishes I were there? Maybe I should go there! That wouldn't be terrifying!" 

I also like that Ana wonders if CG is mad. Christian is literally always mad. Ana: please stop wondering if Christian is mad, since he is always, always, always mad. That's just his thing. He's just this angry rich guy. He's basically the Batman of sex. (Do you like that one? I know we've talked about Batman a lot here, but it's obvious, right? Christian Bale should be Christian Grey. He's perfect for the part, right?  Imagine everything CG says in that weird Batman growl that Bale does, and the book will make more sense. Not a lot more sense. More sense though.) 

EL breaks point of view here, which she does basically all the time. "He pauses, trying to gauge my reaction." It sounds pretty much like Ana is reading CG's mind here, right? Right. But she doesn't have telepathic powers. So don't tell us what CG is doing inside his brain, since Ana can't know that. Give us visual details that suggest the conclusion Ana reaches. "He gives me a weak smile." Try that, EL! A weak smile! A sort of, "we're cool, right?" smile! Have him do that! 

Writers! Never, ever, write in pauses like this because it's ridiculous. So you want to create some space within a block of speech. Fine! Put in some little silent action. Like a weak smile! The important thing is not that CG pause. Who cares about that. What you're trying to do is stretch out the moment and allow the separate thoughts to stand on their own. If this were happening on stage, sure. Pause! But don't make a reader read about a pause. I see pauses all the time! Life is mainly pauses! There are much better ways of placings emphasis than merely saying that someone waits around for a sec. (Editor's note: We're sorry. He just really hates pauses.)

I don't remember what Ana said last chapter about Mrs. Robinson because it didn't matter. I only remember the parts of this book that matter to future events, so I remember basically nothing at all. Mrs. Robinson, though, is the older woman who introduced CG to kinky sex, and they are still pals, and Ana doesn't like this fact, which seems weird to CG but will seem totally reasonable to everyone else. 

I am sympathetic to Ana's concern that CG is going to make an issue of his drinking as I, like her, am on my third drink and contemplating a fourth. And this isn't some kind of fake Hemingway bullshit. Ana and I are just trying to get through this evening, you know? Life is hard. It's super hard to get along without drinking when your boyf is literally stalking you cross-country, or when you're a person who's reading a book about all this stuff. 

(Editor's note, Monday, 10:02PDT: Alden is three drinks in. He is nearing the bottom of the second page of the chapter. His rate of production and his drinks rate are going to get him into serious trouble if he maintains this pace.)

CG orders a gin and tonic. At least his first choice is Hendricks, which is quite literally the best drink that there is for a person to drink. See what this book makes me do? "Well, he is a dangerous stalker, but at least he has decent taste in gin!" Of course, his second choice is Bombay Sapphire which is basically the same thing as Bombay but in a different bottle. Let's be real! You're just paying for that dumb blue bottle! 

CG tries to make it sound like he's being super normal. And says he was going to visit Ana the next day, but they just happened to wind up in the same spot. He compliments Ana's "brand-new green silk camisole" and I am also pleased that Ana finally has an article of clothing she's willing to wear in public that isn't just borrowed from Kate. 

Ana's reaction to this extremely mild bit of friendliness from CG? "I flush, speechless at his compliment." Groan. CG can hardly shut up about how great he thinks Ana looks! He says this nonsense all the time! And Ana is all, "OMG this never happens!" Whatever. Then he holds her hands for a sec and Ana is totally ready to get weird with him, right there in front of her mom, if necessary. 

Carla insists that CG join them for dinner the next night and then peaces out to the bathroom, where she just was like, three pages ago. The book doesn't really say that this is related to how hot-and-bothered Carla got when CG showed up and she perceived his dreaminess, but I'll say it: Carla's second trip to the bathroom is probably related to CG's dreaminess. This is at least more interesting than the truth, which is that EL just wanted to get Carla out of the way for a minute so Ana and CG could talk in private and couldn't think of any excuse other than another trip to the bathroom. Whatever.

CG is extremely adept at taking the pressure off himself and putting it on Ana. Instead of having a conversation about how inappropriate it is that CG has flown to Georgia, they talk about how Ana is jealous of Mrs. Robinson. CG would make a good politician! Respond to accusations with unrelated counter-accusations. Change the conversation! 

CG bounces as soon as Carla returns, and then Carla basically demands that Ana go up to his room and fuck him. It's weird. That's not a thing that moms should be doing. That's all I'm saying. It's cool if moms are chill or whatever, but moms shouldn't say, "right now I think the key to your happiness is upstairs in room 612. If you need to come home later, the key is under the yucca plant on the front porch. If you stay--well. . . you're a big girl now. Just be safe." Gross, mom! Gross.

Carla keeps insisting that Ana needs to talk to Christian, but I've been reading this book. I know what's going on better than Carla does, and I have no idea what it is that they need to talk about. 

"Ana, there's something going on between you two. I've been trying to fathom it since you arrived here. But the only way you are going to sort the problem, whatever it is, is to talk it through with him. You can do all the thinking you like--but until you actually talk, you're not going to get anywhere." 

"You should really talk it through," is a good piece of advice if you're the sort of person who likes giving advice but doesn't care about whether or not any of the advice is actually good. It's terrible advice because there's nothing more to talk about. Christian has made himself perfectly clear. He's not going to change. It's on you, Ana! Time to get spanked or get a new boyfriend! Please, though. Get a new boyfriend. Feel free to bring up spanking with your new boyfriend, if you're into it! Chances are, he'll (Editor's note, Monday, 10:39PM: tequila and grapefruit soda.) indulge in a little spanking and not be nearly as much of a dick about it as Christian. 

Ana accepts her mom's terrible advice and heads up to CG's room. This book is "plotted" exactly like a sine wave. All it ever does is switch back and forth from "the lovers are apart" to "the lovers are together." You sort of think of a plot as the force pushing us toward some sort of resolution. That's not what a sine wave does, though! It just hums along forever without variation. And that's why, as soon as Ana and CG are apart, they have to get back together again. Yawn.

CG is having one of those awful "business talks" that he has sometimes. For those of you who might not have read along since the beginning, please note that we ave no idea what business CG is supposed to be in. The business-business, I guess? Whatever. I'll spare you this bit of business nonsense because I'm sick of typing. Not because it isn't hilarious. It is kind of hilarious. Also he hints that he may have some interest in doing some of his business-business, whatever it is, in Georgia. I doubt that this means anything, but I guess it might, so now I've passed it along to you and now you know all the dumb stuff I know. Great. 

I'm going to move along a little faster now because they're pretty obviously going to have sex soon and I want to hurry up and get to that so I can skip it too because it'll probably be awful. I do want to point you to Ana's pointless description of the hotel room, because it makes no sense:

He's in a suite, like the one at the Heathman. The furnishings here are ultramodern, very now. All muted dark purples and golds with bronze starbursts on the walls. 

Hey so if anybody ever says that things are "very now" they're morons who don't know anything about anything. That checks out, since Ana is, in fact, a moron who doesn't know anything about anything. But come on. Ultramodern? Ana makes this place sound goddamned Rococo. Bronze starbursts? This is like some Versailles shit. The last sentence is totally at war with the middle sentence, right? If you say that something looks "ultramodern," people are going to imagine an Apple store, right? Someplace white kind of cold and unadorned. And then the next sentences comes along and we've got bronze starbursts and I'm imagining maybe the inside of a palace. Only not a real palace. More like the set for a community theater production of Shakespeare. 

Anyway, they talk more about Mrs. Robinson, but just as it's obvious to us that they're going to bone, it's obvious to them pretty soon too. Characters in this novel are usually a couple pages behind the reader, which is one of the many reasons it's frustrating to read. Ana is always saying Holy shit! about some shit that everybody else figured out a long time ago. Anyway, they're going to have sex pretty soon. You've been warned. 

Here's CG in seductor mode: "He takes a step toward me wearing his sexy predatory look." Ick. I mean, there's a way that this idea makes sense, right? So imagine, say, a lion. Lions are sexy, right? Right. I don't have to remind you that lions are sexy. We all know that. So a lion can be sexy and is also, quite literally, a predator. So that's the idea that EL probably wants to put in our brain, but when she says, instead, just "sexy predatory," it doesn't take much mental subtraction to turn that into "sex predator" and now the sentence is, "He takes a step toward me wearing his sexual predator look." Fun!

Hey you know how autocorrect is super annoying? For instance, on my phone if I type "ash" and then "Wednesday" it turns it into "Ash Wednesday" because it knows that Ash Wednesday is a thing. My phone is a jerk though, because it doesn't know that Mardi Gras is a thing and seriously, what the hell is wrong with you, phone? How the hell do you know about Ash Wednesday but not Mardi Gras? I mention this only because my computer thinks that "seductor" is not a word even though it obviously is. It understands "seductress" but not seductor. Really makes you think, right? Guys! I found sexism on my computer! Call someone!

Let's get back to what really matters, though, right guys? That's right! Ana's menstruation! Let's discuss it!

"I want you," he breathes. 
I moan and reach up and grasp his arms.
"Are you bleeding?" He continues to kiss me.
Holy fuck. Does nothing slip by him?
"Yes," I whisper, embarrassed.
"Do you have cramps?"
"No." I flush. Jeez . . . 
He stops and looks down at me.
"Did you take your pill?"
"Yes." How mortifying is this?
"Let's go have a bath."

Pretty sure this chapter is literally making my head hurt. It's a weird kind of headache. It feels almost like my hair hurts. But only in one spot. Oh, and there's this other spot right behind my right eyeball that's getting bad too. That's how bad this book is.

I'm going to quote Junot Díaz because he's wonderful, but I'm going to jump from what he says into a little bit of a different direction. He's talking about writers, specifically about men writing about women and white people writing about people of color, and the way that male writers will gravitate toward cliché and write these stories in which women characters are all caricatures. That's probably as much background as you need for this little cutting: 

"And I think the first step is to admit that you, because of your privilege, have a very distorted sense of women’s subjectivity. And without an enormous amount of assistance, you’re not even going to get a D. I think with male writers the most that you can hope for is a D with an occasional C thrown in. Where the average women writer, when she writes men, she gets a B right off the bat, because they spent their whole life being taught that men have a subjectivity."

(Editor's note: we've only seen this posted on Tumblr, but have no reason to doubt that it was indeed said by Díaz and also it's too late for real research.)

It's easy to write about men doing stuff because our entire experience of life is filtered through stories about men doing stuff. So it seems intuitive that basically everybody who writes should be able to write about men doing stuff. Men ought to be of no particular advantage when it comes to writing male characters, because basically everything in our culture is produced from a sort of default-man perspective. We might hope, though, that women who write would be able to write from the perspective of default-man, and write about women using tools other than pure caricature, since a woman writer has her own history of going around and doing stuff as proof that women can go around and do stuff. 

But not EL James! It's possible that on the scale Díaz is using, EL would get a B writing about men. Sure. But EL is as sexist a writer as you're likely to find. She gives Ana absolutely no subjectivity. Ana is never her own person.

Look at this scene! Christian understands the deepest workings of Ana's body better than Ana does. How gross is that!? CG has only known Ana a couple weeks. It's not like he is in a longterm relationship with her and notices when she runs to the drugstore to buy tampons. He barely knows her at all! And yet he somehow knows that she's started her period. And he brings it up in the weirdest way! "Are you bleeding?" Ick. Yeah so let's talk about subjectivity! Ana is not merely sort of bouncing around from event to event based on CG's whims rather than following her own desires. She doesn't even have mastery over her own body. Christian knows best. As always. And it's gross. Giving EL James a "D" for her portrayal of Ana seems generous. 

Also this is just more vampire shit, right? CG knows that Ana is menstruating because he's a vampire and that's the kind of thing that vampires always know, right? Kind of the only explanation that makes sense. 

They move into the bathroom to have sex and I hate it. Every sentence just further establishes this theme: Christian understands Ana better than Ana understands Ana. To generalize: It takes a man to really understand a woman. Problem is, we got all these blurred lines these days, you know? (Editor's note: Alden is trying to make a "Blurred Lines" joke but it's getting late and he's kind of losing it a little.)

Seriously though: let me just quote the stuff that CG says to Ana pre-sex. While he's undressing her or whatever. Ana never says anything in these moments. The "kinky" part of their relationship is really just the logical extension of Ana's general objectification.

"Put your hair up."
"Take your sandals off."
"Life your arms."
"I'm going to have you in the bathroom, Anastasia."
"Step out of your jeans."
"Look at you. You are so beautiful."
"See how you feel." 
"Feel how soft your skin is."
"Feel how full your breasts are."

(Editor's note, Monday, 11:54PDT: tequila and grapefruit soda.)

So CG is not just adopting a dominant role here. He's literally introducing Ana to her own body, because he understands it, and she doesn't. This is my least favorite sex scene of the book so far! 

I moan between parted lips and arch my back so my breasts fill my palms. He squeezes my nipples between my thumbs, pulling gently so that they elongate further. I watch in fascination at the wanton creature writhing in front of me. Oh, this feels so good. I groan and close my eyes, no longer wanting to see that libidinous woman in the mirror falling apart under her own hands . . . his hands . . . feeling my skin as he would, experiencing how arousing it is--just his touch and his calm, soft commands.

Ana is literally processing her own sexuality through the perspective of another person. Just as it is only Christian who fully understands Ana's body, Ana can only experience her own sexuality if she effectively leaves her body. We're so locked into Christian's subjectivity that Ana can only appreciate herself as something to be possessed. That's gross, right? I'm not being weird here, right? That's pretty gross, right? 

Oh, but next? CG asks Ana about her period and when it started or whatever. And then, without like, you know, maybe having a little chit-chat, a little check-in, CG removes Ana's tampon, throws it in the toilet, and they have unprotected sex. 

Yes, you read all that correctly! Ok, earlier I know I was like, "Wait, is there anything for them to talk about?" Since the talk all the damn time. This book is just them talking and talking and emailing and then having bathroom sex every third chapter or so. So the issue isn't that they're not talking enough. The issue is that whenever they really ought to exchange a couple sentences, they don't! CG just goes for it. After they're done having sex, they discuss their comfort levels re: period sex. Turns out they're both fine with it! Good mutterblushing thing since CG certainly proceeded as though they were both fine with it! No mention of the fact that this is their first unprotected sex, either. That goes totally undiscussed. 

I am on the record as asserting that all people who own sex dungeons ought to use condoms all the time no matter what. Because you can catch some weird stuff in sex dungeons. But Christian doesn't even ask if unprotected sex is cool! Just goes for it. 

Then they chill in the bathtub, and once again, CG finds a way to make Ana feel bad. Ana noticed CG's cigarette-burn scars fifteen chapters ago or so and, as is always the case in this book, we knew they were cigarette-burn scars but Ana only puts it together here and CG gets mad at Ana for looking at him with his shirt off or whatever. And then they keep talking about Mrs. Robinson. 

The other problem with Ana and Christian's conversations is that they never actually talk about the thing that they're talking about. Everything is coded. Lucky the code is easy to crack! Whenever Ana complains about Mrs. Robinson, what she means is that she wishes Christian would be more "normal" and when CG defends Mrs. Robinson, what he means is that he likes being the way he is. And of course they never get anywhere because this is the only conflict in the book and we're no closer to its resolution now than we were twenty chapters ago when it was first introduced. Yawn. 

CG argues that Mrs. Robinson helped him, and I don't care at all but I will share this bit with you because why not: "She distracted me from the destructive path I found myself following. It's very hard to grow up in a perfect family when you're not perfect." Interesting! Tell me more! Just kidding! Not interested. 

Then they talk more about their "arrangement." And whether or not Ana will sign on as CG's submissive. Looks a little like we're leaning "no" for the first time! That's fun! Even though Ana submits to CG utterly every moment that they spend together, she's still not down with being his "official" submissive or whatever. Fine with me! Any excuse to get out of this chapter is just grand. This is not to say that they're going to part ways. Just that it's actually seeming unlikely that Ana will sign CG's contract, even if it still seems likely that they'll stay together one way or another. Really starting to speed through things here. I have been at this a while, you understand. (Editor's note, Tuesday, 12:38AM PDT: just telling you the time again. In case you wondered.)

We get some more of EL's unbearable pop psychology next:

"Why do you need to control me?"
"Because it satisfies a need in me that wasn't met in my formative years." 

Well, there you have it! Christian was abused as a child, therefore BDSM. I hear that's maybe not quite how it works? Whatever.

Then they have sex again in the bathtub.

And then everyone is happy and it's the end of the chapter.

Once again, it feels like they've sort of worked out their issues. They had sex. Everyone had a nice time. CG says he wants to do "something" the next day so I guess we have "something" to look forward to. And Ana invites herself to the sex dungeon, so I guess we'll see the sex dungeon one more time. 

But there's no plot propelling us. No reason to read on. Not even sure I could continue reading if I had to do so sober for some reason. Although I am glad that I've reached the end, both because this book is so terrible and also because I fear another drink would put me past some sort of line. 

So little left of this mess, but still, it's a sine wave. I assume that when they wake up in the next chapter, they'll go off on their own for a little bit, but then we'll see Christian's "something" and then they'll be happy for a minute but then they'll fight and then they'll have sex again and then everyone will be happy once more. Pretty sure I just accurately described Chapter 24 without even reading it. No reason for you to read it either!

Like Ana and Christian, I'm on a cycle too. Somewhere in the middle of these essays I'll hit some jokes that I enjoy and start to feel good. Then I'll get to the end and I'll really want some grand sense of accomplishment and purpose, but instead I just yawn and say, "Oh, huh. Guess I did another one of these. Guess I wrote another five thousand words about Fifty Shades of Grey. That's something, I guess."

But is it something? It might not be. 

It might not be.

The final countdown!

Chapters remaining: 3
Pages remaining: 72

So close. So very close. Stick around. Tell your friends. Or tell your enemies who think this book is good, because maybe that will make them mad? Possible! Suck it, enemies! 

(Editor's note, Tuesday 1:17AM PDT: Suck it, enemies!) 

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