Wednesday, April 9, 2014

50 Shades Shadier: Chapter 8 part 2

Ana and Christian go to a hotel so that they can avoid Leila. They have sex there and Christian tells Ana that he loves her. 

I'm trying to improve my writerly discipline by taking a class at Hugo House which is a Seattle writing center. It's possible that I have damaged my skills in some way by reading this terrible book, as evidenced by my classwork. I'm supposed to be writing a novel but mostly I'm just using my story's narrator as a conduit for my complaints about working in customer service. Also I keep thinking up different pointless phone apps that I'm pretty sure don't actually exist and largely ought not to, but I keep including them in the story too. I don't really know what my problem is. I know part of the problem. I go a little off the rails whenever my medical consultant is scheduled for night shifts. Things get pretty weird around Complainist HQ during these times. Really not pretty. Oh except for how I just eat pho all the time. That part is great!

I wrote that paragraph because I figured everyone was super curious about what I might be up to. Do you think it's weird how often I use the word "super"? I do and also I've stayed up too late and have gone a little off the rails. See previous paragraph. 

Wait what were we doing again?  

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. Later, Ana and Christian fight about money, eat breakfast, and then go to a hair salon where the woman who introduced Christian to BDSM works.
  5. Ana is upset by the sight of Christian's ex-lover, Elena, and storms out of the salon. Christian insists that Ana come to his house because his other ex-lover Leila may be armed. Christian picks up Ana bodily when she disagrees with him. Ana and Christian retire to Christian's house and Christian allows Ana to draw on him with lipstick so that she knows which parts of his body he is comfortable having touched and which parts are off limits. 
  6. Ana and Christian have sex and get ready for a fancy charity auction at Christian's parents' house. Then they go to the fancy charity auction, and Ana bids $24,000 on a weekend getaway at Christian's Aspen condo. 
  7. Ana gets auctioned off to Christian for the first dance of the evening, but before the dance, the couple retreat to Christian's childhood room for sex. Christian's ex, Elena, threatens to hurt Ana if she mistreats Christian. After the party, Ana and Christian drive home, where they are informed by Christian's security staff that someone, most likely Leila, has vandalized Ana's car and may have broken into the apartment.
  8. Christian's security goons conclude that Leila is not in the apartment, but soon she sneaks into Ana's room while she sleeps so Christian and Ana leave for a hotel because Leila may be dangerous.

We get to start with some of EL's favorite, signature moves. Remember: our heroes have just fled from the mighty Escala building over to a hotel, five blocks away. (Editor's note: google maps says that the walking speed between the two buildings is eleven minutes. Five blocks! Eleven minutes! Google maps is full of shit on this one, guys.) I love this kind of thing--it's like we're getting EL's greatest hits. It's like when you go see a classic rock act and you just know that they're going to play the hits. You know they will because they know those hits are why you came. Maybe there's a new album but you're never going to listen to it. You need the old stuff.

1. Guy who works with rich people all the time is amazed to encounter rich people. 
CG and Ana arrive at the hotel to find a valet and you just gotta respect this guy because he loves his work and brings a real enthusiasm to it.

“Come.” He climbs out of the car and retrieves our luggage. A valet rushes toward us,
looking surprised—no doubt at our late arrival. Christian tosses him the car keys.
“Name of Taylor,” he says. The valet nods and can’t contain his glee as he leaps into

the R8 and drives off.
Right? Doesn't that just kinda give you a new enthusiasm for the world, seeing this valet putting his all into his work? Seriously tho. I'm sick of how EL insists on reminding us of CG's richness on basically every page. Because really. How happy is this night valet really going to be, right? If that is even a thing, and I'm not convinced it is. I can't imagine that many places having much valet staff around at 3AM but what do I know about rich-people places.

But also? Probably one of the first things you learn to do as a valet is to look super chill no matter what kind of car pulls up. The way that EL imagines working class people being visibly star-struck by encounters with wealthy people is, to me, the most damning evidence that EL hasn't got a clue.

PS: in a pointless bit of subterfuge, CG and Ana are checking in under the name "Taylor" and using Taylor's credit card. Honestly can't remember if I knew that Taylor was a last name or not, but I don't care enough to do any investigation. Maybe his name is Taylor Taylor. (Editor's note: Maybe he's like the Mario Bros, Mario Mario and Luigi Mario. One of my college roommates claims that these are the full names of the Mario Bros because. And it's hard to argue with it, right? When you run into Marky Mark and Donnie, you don't say, "Oh hey it's the Marky Mark bros." This theory is simultaneously totally bonkers and impossible to refute, which makes it the best possible kind of theory. Also it must be right because said college roommate is a prominent musician in the What Cheer? Brigade so I am sure he is correct about this non-musical matter.)

2. Lady sees Christian and then probably has to go masturbate as soon as he leaves.

This one is actually a little restrained for EL's standards, but you'll get the idea. CG goes to the desk to check into their hotel room, and the concierge all but invites herself upstairs. Y'know. So we remember that CG is supposed to be hot or whatever.

As I stand beside him at the reception desk, I feel utterly, utterly ridiculous. Here I am, in Seattle’s most prestigious hotel, dressed in an oversized denim jacket, oversized sweatpants, and an old T-shirt next to this elegant, beautiful, Greek god. No wonder the receptionist is looking from one to the other as if the equation doesn’t add up. Of course, she’s over-awed by Christian. I roll my eyes as she flushes crimson and stutters. Jeez, even
her hands are shaking.
“Do . . . you need a hand . . . with your bags, Mr. Taylor?” she asks, going scarlet again. “No, Mrs. Taylor and I can manage.”
Mrs. Taylor! But I’m not wearing a ring. I put my hands behind my back.
“You’re in the Cascade Suite, Mr. Taylor, eleventh floor. Our bellboy will help with

your bags.”
“We’re fine,” Christian says curtly. “Where are the elevators?”
Miss Flushing Crimson explains, and Christian grasps my hand once more.
Right? Even her hands are shaking! This poor lady sees Christian and, one second later, she is so horny that her hands are shaking. That's pretty horny! Most people have never been that horny in their entire lives. But there ya go. She can't help it! That's how sexy this guy is! Whatever.

I love the way that (Editor's note: he's not using the word 'love' honestly. Sorry. He's a liar.) CG speaks in this weird formal way that no one in the entire universe speaks, and Ana worries about shit that no one in the entire universe worries about. Right? The way that CG drops in "Mrs. Taylor" is super awkward and forced-sounding. And then Ana worries about the fact that she isn't wearing a wedding ring. Who cares? The concierge is literally shaking with horniness! She's not going to stop and say, "Aha! You mutterblushers say you're married, but where's the proof? I'm going to have to see some proof! Because also this is a time-warp hotel and we will not permit unmarried people to share rooms together, although I am willing to make an exception if Mr. Taylor wants to take me upstairs."

Ok but let me change gears! I'm going to share with you literally my favorite part in this book so far:

I glance briefly round the impressive, sumptuous lobby full of overstuffed chairs, deserted save for a dark-haired woman sitting on a cozy sofa, feeding tidbits to her westie. She glances up and smiles at us as we make our way to the elevators. So the hotel allows pets? Odd for a place so grand! 
 You're right! That is super weird! Ooh! But first let me distract myself by figuring out what a westie is.

"Please don't spank me, Mr. Grey."
That's a cute dog! I get accused of not feeling feelings by one of my friends because I don't say dogs are cute. But then last week I pointed out a cute dog and I didn't get any credit. I feel like me pointing out a cute dog didn't fit with the existing narrative about how I don't think dogs are cute, and so it was ignored. Oh well.

But anyways. It's three in the morning! And some lady is feeding a dog! In a hotel! Also she has dark hair so most likely the lady is Leila! Or some different one of CG's exes. Oh man. If that lady and dog end up attacking CG and Ana? I'm going to start being way more interested in this book. Right?

Like, what if the book is, from now on, about these idiots being chased by tiny cute attack dogs?

"It seems the spanker has become the spanked, Mr. Grey."
This is just the kind of thing I have to do in order to get through a whole chapter of this thing. I literally have to look at a certain number of puppies in order to read a whole chapter of this terrible book. It's like, this: read a page, see a puppy. And so on. And that's how I get through to the end. I don't let myself look at more than one puppy after any give page. The puppies are a reward. That's the way the system works! Oh but I can see two puppies if both puppies are in the same page. That's like a bonus puppy and it's ok.

Seriously though. What the hell is that lady about? Whatever.

Ugh this book is so predictable and so terrible.

“Well, right now I’d like to drink this and then, if you’re not too tired, take you to bed
and lose myself in you.” 
“I think that can be arranged, Mr. Taylor.” I smile shyly at him as he shuffles out of his
shoes and peels off his socks. 
“Mrs. Taylor, stop biting your lip,” he whispers. I blush into my glass. The Armagnac is delicious, leaving a burning warmth in its wake as it glides silkily down my throat. When I glance up at Christian, he’s sipping his brandy, watching me, his eyes dark—hungry. 
“You never cease to amaze me, Anastasia. After a day like today—or yesterday, rath- er—you’re not whining or running off into the hills screaming. I am in awe of you. You’re very strong.” 
“You’re a very good reason to stay,” I murmur. “I told you, Christian, I’m not going anywhere, no matter what you’ve done. You know how I feel about you.” 
His mouth twists as if he doubts my words, and his brow creases as if what I’m saying is painful for him to hear. Oh, Christian, what do I have to do to make you realize how I feel? Let him beat you, my subconscious sneers at me. I scowl inwardly at her.
Geez. What if they keep this up? That's the most boring "sexy" role-play I can imagine. "Let's pretend we've got different last names from our regular last names!" But yeah. we have here all the garbage that counts as sexual tension in this book. Basically, we've got 1) Christian saying he wants to have sex. 2) Lip-biting, and admonishment for the same. 3) Ana being told she's great or whatever, even though she's not. 4) More of the pretend mystery about CG's dark deeds that he hasn't told us about. God I hope he reveals himself to be a vampire finally. 5) A gentle allusion to domestic violence, in case all the other stuff didn't kill your buzz already.

Next Ana shocks me pretty thoroughly by bringing up our old friend José! But I guess it's ok because she does so in the context of talking about the photos that he took of her, and CG is ok with said photos. I really expected this to piss off CG. Everything pisses him off, especially the reminder that there are, in fact, other men in the universe. But no! He's cool with it. Doesn't even fly into a blind rage like always! Good jorb guy.

Next, though, we get some super boring sex. Hey you know how usually it's CG doing all the sexing and Ana just lies there like a corpse? Well this is another one of those rare reversals where Ana is the sexer and CG is the corpse. ZOMG SO HAWT. JK it's so boring. We pretty much saw this exact scene the night of Ana's graduation back in the first book.

There are some funny parts though. One thing that amuses me is how Ana keeps complimenting herself. When she pulls CG to one of their suite's bedrooms, she prefaces it with the words "Very bravely" and I literally have no idea what she means. I mean she isn't seducing him! He's already announce that sex is next on the itinerary.

Here's Ana getting undressed and it's like she's stripping off the outfit proven by the universe to be the least sexy, which I find totes adorbz.

I stand before him and slip off his denim jacket and let it drop to the floor, then I shuffle out of his sweatpants. 

How great is that?? Can you imagine a lady removing a less-sexy ensemble than her boyf's jean jacket and sweats? Because I can't. I mean unless she's also wearing some of those mutterblushing shoes with the toes?

Yeah, these. Ick. 

Right? This is just so not sexy. Hey interesting observation! (Editor's note: not that interesting.) There seems to be, at least in Seattle, a super high correlation between "those mutterblushing shoes with the toes" and "limp ponytails" and "cargo shorts." Someone should graph that. 

And then when Ana takes off her shirt she calls herself "beyond courageous" and I'm just like, no. 

Then they have super ordinary sex that gets described in exactly the same way that their sex is always described. I won't go into it, not because I want to spare you, but because I want to spare myself. Sorry! Gotta look out for Number 1, is all. 

The next day, Ana goes through one of her endlessly obnoxious waking-up rituals. She's like an airplane pilot putting a machine through a series of complex checks. Anytime she wakes up she has to remind herself where she is, survey the room, and reflect on whatever happened the previous day.

CG wakes her up and tells her that his favorite OB/GYN will be making a Sunday morning house call. I mean, hotel call? Whatever. It is shocking to me that this gynecologist character is making not one but two appearances in this series. I almost hope EL comes up with some bizarro reason to bring her back for the next book too because why not? Rule of threes!

Anyway, Dr. Greene shows up and makes Ana pee in a cup and makes her scared of being pregnant even though there's no chance of that. It will not be surprising to you that I'm basically not paying any attention to this book anymore, but I don't remember our heroes having unprotected sex while Ana wasn't on the pill. 

Ana flips out about the idea of being pregnant, which is silly because she's not pregnant, and also because CG could definitely pay for an abortion that was more comfortable than most people's vacations, if that was the choice she wanted to make. I'm honestly pretty confused about this whole sequence. Dr. Greene gives Ana some type of birth control shot that I'm not going to think about or investigate, but then after that, Ana has a weird, awkward conversation where she raises the possibility of being pregnant with CG, even though she is definitely not pregnant. And I don't even know why this is happening or what the point is. Guess maybe just to remind us that Ana is a dunce? She is a dunce. That's true. 

Also this whole dumb conversation about how Ana's not pregnant happens in the shower. Here's how that starts: "Firing up the shower, Christian quickly strips before turning to me."

Firing. Up. The. Shower. What is wrong with my life that I'm even reading this book? What is wrong with EL James and her imaginary editor, Janine? How did they let this particular bit of stupidity stay in this book? Groan.

Anyways, CG sees that Ana is feeling all mopey and tries to help kind of:

“Ana, I’m not used to this,” he murmurs. “My natural inclination is to beat it out of you, but I seriously doubt you want that.” 

Then they're soaping each other up or whatever but instead of doing their usual sex, CG tries to expand his comfort zone by asking Ana to wash the lipstick lines off his torso that she drew on him a million chapters ago / yesterday.

This is supposed to be dramatic, I guess? CG coming to terms with his childhood trauma? Letting Ana love him or whatever?

And look. This book raises a lot of issues, both intentionally and unintentionally, and I'm not trying to make light of anyone's traumatic upbringing. What I want to mock, instead, is this single-point method for establishing a character. Well. Two points, really. Point 1: CG is abused as child. Point 2: CG shacks up with his mom's friend Elena. (Editor's note: I feel like Elena was his mom's friend but it seems like too much work to check.) Everything about his character is defined by these two things. That, and he sounds like an ancient British vampire but there's no accounting for that inside the text.

In real life, we develop opinions about people based on things other than their past suffering, because real people are complicated and also not everything that they do is related to their past suffering. CG basically doesn't ever do anything that isn't a response to either his early childhood or his adolescent sexy-times. He's so two-dimensional that I just can't develop any sympathy for him. No matter what we learn, my basic response is "meh" because it just feels like a get-out-of-jail-free card. It's like EL is saying, "But wait! You have to like him because his childhood was so terrible!" But she's wrong. I don't have to like, him, and I don't like him.

Anyway, CG has a bit of meltdown in the shower as he tries to let Ana touch him more than he is accustomed to being touched. It's extraordinarily non-engrossing. EL still is trying to make me feel invested in their relationship but I'm not. Ana has said in this chapter that she's in for good, no matter what, so where's the drama? Where's the conflict that remains unresolved? There isn't one, is the thing. They're just going to tough it out even though they're mostly miserable together.

What I want to know is this: what's going to happen with Ana's boss? What's the deal with Leila? And most of all, what the hell is going on with that lady feeding her dog in the hallway? It's a bit of a stretch to call me "curious" about anything going on, but my feelings in relationship to this book stray closer to "curiosity" in regards to these topics than they do with any other element of this novel.

Good thing we're going to get some answers in Chapter 9!

Just kidding. Chapter 9 is just a "date" chapter. The young lovers go buy a car and generally hang out doing nothing. It's a tremendous waste. Have you ever been curious about internet fanfic? Just read Chapter 9 of this book. It's exactly like every bit of internet fanfic ever. Just a couple of people sitting around somewhere on their day off. Yawn. 

No comments: