Friday, February 7, 2014

Fifty Shades Shadier: Chapter 4 part 2

Ana and Christian fight about money, eat breakfast, and then go to a hair salon where the woman who introduced him to BDSM works.

This weekend I'm attending a seminar about how to write a proposal for a non-fiction book and I'm feeling increasingly silly about it. The instructor asked for a one-sentence explanation of the book everybody wants to write and I haven't done it yet because this is the book I want to write. I already wrote it, really. It's long as hell! The current draft of my readers' guide for 50 Shades is like 120,000 words! That's not as long as the actual book, but it's book-length. Maybe I could've intrigued some publisher if I'd done this a couple years ago but really I think it's just too late, right? And I'm taking a day off from work for this! Whatever. Maybe it'll teach me how to write some different book. I can write my memoir. That's what you all want to read, right? Kinda? Great.

Two posts this week. It only seems fair to publish the end of Chapter 4 now because there really isn't much of it left. Mainly just CG and Ana having awkward conversations, followed by one little bit at the end dropped in to set up the next chapter. Yawn. Oh well! Here you go anyway!

Our story thus far:

Ana is a naive college student who dated a billionaire for a couple weeks but broke things off with him because he spanked her too hard.
  1. Ana starts her new job at a publishing company and agrees to let Christian give her a ride to José’s art show. It turns out they both miss each other or whatever.
  2. Ana and Christian eat steaks at a restaurant. They rekindle their “romance” and Christian says that they won’t have to have rules anymore and he won’t punish Ana. They drive back to Seattle and Christian gives Ana back the expensive gifts that she'd returned to him when they broke up, along with a new iPad.
  3. Ana goes to work. She is confronted by one of Christian's ex lovers on her way out for drinks with her coworkers. Christian picks up Ana from the bar, and then they venture to a grocery store so that they can cook dinner at Ana's house. But then they get too horny to cook so they have sex.
  4. Ana and Christian eat dinner and then have ice cream sex and then in the middle of the night Ana has a dream about Christian's ex lover Leila, which worries Christian. 
You'll remember, gentle reader, that EL saved us some bother earlier in the chapter by merely implying that Ana and Christian embarked on yet another act of sexual congress after Ana's 5AM nightmare. EL did not make us actually read about this action. Nice of her! Weird, though, that she immediately turns around and does the same thing again a few paragraphs later. They wake up again, later that morning, and astute readers will know that "waking up" is sort of like EL's equivalent of throwing to a commercial. Whenever she's stuck she just puts people to bed, then wakes them up, and then has them do more or less the exact same shit again.

This time, Ana wakes up, then wakes up CG, and then they have sex again. That's like their fourth round in twelve hours! Good job them, I guess. Whatever. This time, once again, the action is implied, rather than made explicit, which is good. Because probably even the readers who enjoy the sex parts are like, ok, ok, we get it. Move this along, plz.

I will only comment on one sentence during this bland sequence: "He looks so young, so relaxed in sleep, so utterly beautiful." No pedo! It's weird how she keeps commenting on his youth, though, right? Either Ana is convincing herself that CG is so youthful that she ought not worry about how inexperienced she is compared to him in every possible way, or else EL just keeps forgetting that she's supposed to be writing from the perspective of somebody who's 22. 

Next: an uninteresting conversation about CG's gym regime, after which Ana agrees to work out sometime with CG's personal trainer. CG is overjoyed. Yawn.

Next, money! Here are Ana's Saturday plans: "I'd like to get my hair cut, and um... I need to bank a check and buy a car." She needs to "bank" a check? Does anyone say that ever? No? Good. Also I'll be impressed if the check she deposits on Saturday will be instantly available in her checking account. Also I might lose my mind if she buys a new car as easily as she bought her cross-country plane ticket in the previous book.

CG wants to give Ana back the Audi that he bought her a few weeks earlier. He already gave her a big check that he claims she is due when her VW Beetle sold, even though that car was probably only worth a nickel. Ana tries to return CG's check to "pay" for the Audi, which is more than a little weird to me because it means that Ana is trying to make things "fair" by, in effect, trading a sputtering old VW Beetle for a shiny new Audi. That's a fair trade, right? I mean since they're both German? That's how that works, right? No matter what happens to the check, it's still going to feel like CG is buying Ana, and it's gross. 

CG refuses his money back so Ana tears up the check and then CG gets calls his assistant or whoever and makes the assistant deposit 24 grand in Ana's bank account. We already talked about this, right? About how CG is pretending that his manservant Taylor sold Ana's shitty car for 24k? And now CG's pissed at her for not taking his money, and Ana's pissed at him, and we're back to that point where we remember how super-miserable these people are when they are anywhere together other than bone-town. 

"There's no way my car was worth twenty-four thousand dollars."

"I would agree with you, but it's about knowing your market, whether you're buying or selling. Some lunatic out there wanted that death trap and was willing to pay that amount of money. Apparently, it's a classic. Ask Taylor if you don't believe me."

I like that tag at the end: "Ask Taylor if you don't believe me." If you don't believe me, ask my most trusted employee. Taylor probably just junked the car, right? He couldn't legally sell it but he could've maybe shoved it into a lake. This is Seattle! We got lotsa lakes. Wouldn't be the first Beetle to end up in one of them. 

It's ok though guys! They're totally going to make up like every other time, without facing the underlying conflict in their relationship!

"Why, why do you defy me?" he mumbles between his heated kisses.

My blood sings in my veins. Will he always have this effect on me? And I on him?

"Because I can." I'm breathless. I feel rather than see his smile against my neck, and he presses his forehead to mine.

"Lord, I want to take you now, but I'm out of condoms. I can never get enough of you. You're a maddening, maddening woman."

"And you make me mad," I whisper. "In every way."

So that's fun, right? Very cute! J/k not cute. Ugh so glad they're out of condoms though! I don't think I can bear even another implied sex scene. But really, this is just a classic round of "telling" instead of "showing." Both of these characters remain basically unbearable, but somehow, we're supposed to get excited about their romance or whatever just because of, you know, "this effect." I remain unaffected!

Up next: breakfast. The breakfast scene is only a few lines long and it's pointless. Ana pays, so that's something. At least she's self-aware enough to note that it's not much of a sacrifice on her part considering she's just paying with CG's money anyway, so CG can relax since he's really paying. Ana is only "paying" in the sense that she has to put up with CG which, really, is the greater sacrifice. 

Reminder: later in the evening Ana and CG are going to go to some type of rich-guy party at CG's parents' house. Yay.

"Remember, it's black tie."

Oh Jeez. "Where is it?"

"At my parents' house. They have a marquee. You know, the works."

"What's the charity?"

Christian rubs his hands down his thighs, looking uncomfortable.

"It's a drug rehab program for parents with young kids called Coping Together."

"Sounds like a good cause," I say softly.

"Come, let's go." He stands, effectively halting that topic of conversation and holds out his hand. As I take it, he tightens his fingers around mine.

This bit isn't really worth highlighting but I'm going to anyway, partially just because I'm running out of chapter and don't really have much more stuff to talk about. And I want you to get your money's worth, gentle reader.

But I just want to take a moment to point out the way that Ana is always dancing around, trying to prevent CG from flipping his shit. Basically, I'm just sad that Ana is doing all this work to shield CG from points of conversation that might trigger unpleasant memories from his own past. And yet CG himself has kidnapped Ana. He's an unrepentant stalker. The conclusion of the first book was a pretty rough spanking episode. 

So I wonder how many people started reading this book and gave up because CG's stalker-tendencies hit too close to home and made the experience unbearable. (Editor's note: like, literally unbearable. Like, hating it even more than we're hating it.) But in the actual book, the character who gets protected is the character who's doing all the unbearable stuff! Let's be sure to protect the most dangerous guy from having to feel bad!

I want to say that this is "ironic" but it's basically exactly what happens in real life. "Let's not talk too much about this complaint of sexual misconduct because we don't want to harm the dude accused of sexual misconduct." Ugh. Now I just feel bad. Stop making me feel bad, book!

Oh and also? Marquee? I'm not the only one confused by this, right? We are all surprised that EL calls a fancy tent a marquee, right? I hope? 

Next they head over to a salon so Ana can get her hair cut. Yawn. The place is called "Esclava" which I guess is not a real place. I feel like EL just kind of took "Escala" since that's a real place and added and extra letter. Whatever. 

It's called Esclava. The interior is all white and leather. At the stark white reception desk sits a young blond woman in a crisp white uniform. She glances up as we enter.

"Good morning, Mr. Grey," she says brightly, color rising in her cheeks as she bats her eyelashes at him. It's the Grey effect, but she knows him! How?

"Hello Greta."

And he knows her. What is this?

Couple "highlights" here for me. Look at that first paragraph. WE GET IT. EVERYTHING IS WHITE. Goddamn. But "crisp white uniform"? What's that about? That's weird, right? Lemme know if you've ever been to a salon where people wore uniforms. Maybe one on a military base? 

I quite like Ana's confusion about the fact that somebody recognizes CG. He's kind of a famous semi-celebrity rich-guy. So why is it so weird that somebody knows who he is? Also EL's description of this hair place is only that it's super white. There really hasn't been anything to suggest that this couldn't be the place where CG gets his own hair cut. Not that weird to be known by name at the place that you get your hair cut. 

"Is this the usual, sir?" she asks politely. She's wearing very pink lipstick.

"No," he says quickly, with a nervous glance at me.

The usual? What does that mean?

I'm so disappointed in EL as a writer. This is potentially a fun moment, because the good writer could work with Ana's jealousy and let us read between the lines a little. As in, the "usual" ought to mean some complicated sex thing. And CG's "No," and glance could mean, "Not today! Don't talk about that complicated sex thing in front of my special lady!" 

Instead, all we get is, "What does that mean?" EL sets up all these opportunities for herself and then never does anything with them. And once again, the reader is making connections that Ana isn't, which makes Ana just seem like a real idiot.

Holy fuck! It's Rule no 6, the damned beauty salon. All the waxing nonsense... shit!

This is where he brought all his subs? Maybe Leila, too? What the hell am I supposed to make of this?

Rule 6 was about waxing, I guess? I dunno. That was some "last book" stuff but also I feel like they decided there weren't any rules? Wait. There aren't rules. Just a bunch of things that Ana has to do? And they're on a numbered list? Of rules? But there are no rules? I don't know what's going on anymore but maybe Ana is about to get her "down there" waxed. Whatever.

CG owns this place, of course. His business is silly. I mean, I understand you want to keep your situation diversified, but this is beyond diverse. He's somehow a billionaire who owns nothing but small businesses in Seattle, none of which have anything to do with each other. 

"Anyway - whatever you want, you can have it here, on the house. All sorts of massage; Swedish, shiatsu, hot stones, reflexology, seaweed baths, facials, all that stuff that women like - everything. It's done here." He waves his long-fingered hand dismissively.

You know! All that girlie shit. Seaweed baths and that shit. Ugh. Eyes rolling. Also I'm sick of hearing about his "long-fingered" hands as though that's sexy. Also I couldn't find a good enough photo of Jack the Pumpkin King to prove my "long fingers aren't sexy" thesis and I'm sad about that. Also what the hell is going on with the punctuation? I won't even try to make sense of it.

So Ana is going to get her haircut. OMG SO INTERESTING. Oh but then another sexy lady shows up from the back of the salon and ZOMG it's Mrs. Robinson! The lady who did all the kinky stuff to CG when he was in high school! 

Aren't you so excited about the next chapter? And learning more about Mrs. Robinson? The rival for Christian's affections? And sitting around while Ana gets her haircut? Ugh.

This was a pretty long chapter considering that it didn't do anything except for set up a future confrontation between Ana and Mrs. Robinson that I'm not interested at all. Oh noes! What if CG likes Mrs. Robinson better than Ana? Uh, good. Then Ana can move on and not be miserable all the time. That'd be great!

This plotting is glacial! I mean, we've got some things going--CG's ex lover / stalker, Ana's creepy boss, the coming confrontation between Ana and CG's first lover / current bestie--but they're taking awfully long to develop. And really, these are sort of topics that I know EL wants me to worry about, but I'm not worried about them. CG's ex lover didn't seem that dangerous, but maybe she is. I dunno. Just seemed like she needed help, really. And Ana's boss is giving her creepy vibes, but he really hasn't done anything to her yet and is way less creepy than her boyf. And Ana's only worry about "Mrs. Robinson" is that CG likes Mrs. Robinson more, which is totes fine with me. 

Only eighteen chapters to go! Ick.

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