Tuesday, June 3, 2014

50 Shades Shadier: Chapter 15

Ana's boss gets super creepy. 

Eight chapters left in this book, and then I'm going to take a break from this shit. If it's insane to keep doing the same thing and expect different results, what do you call it when you keep doing the same thing, knowing that it's going to keep being terrible? Masochism?

Whatever. I hate this book and I hate it all the more now that I can't help but wonder what a man like Christian Grey would be like if he didn't have quite so much money, if he couldn't afford quite the lavish lifestyle that's so central to his ability to arrange for women to come and get beaten by him at his convenience. Would he be writing manifestos and posting videos of himself on youtube? Running over people in his Audi? Because let's be real: his wealth keeps CG from looking like an obvious sociopath. It's not fair, but it's true: if your sex dungeon is actually your mom's garage, somehow that looks worse than a dedicated sex dungeon in your billionaire bachelor pad. "Well, he spent so much money on this! He must be safe!" Right? I mean that doesn't actually make any sense but it's also kind of what's happening here, right? It's like the line between "crazy" and "eccentric."

Anyway. I mean we've made it this far. Might as well continue!

Just before I left New Orleans a dear friend and I went to Creole Creamery and took the Tchoupitoulas Challenge. That is, we each tried to eat the entire contents of a bucket filled with eight scoops of ice cream, eight toppings, and something like a half-can of whipped cream. The interior of the place celebrates those ice cream gladiators who've successfully eaten that much ice cream with photos and a plaque. Makes it seem like they really want you to eat all that ice cream! "Please! Gorge yourself on $25 worth of ice cream! Gorge yourself and be immortal!"

But in practice, when you say you're going to do it, the people assembling your ice cream bucket just see you as a future puker they're going to have to deal with, and they hate you the most. They do everything they can to dissuade you from this fool's errand. My friend did it. He ate the entire thing! And thus is a better human being than I am. (Editor's note: He is a superior human being, but not for any reasons related to ice cream.) I failed. I failed so hard and fast that it honestly shocked me. The main problem is this: Creole Creamery makes wonderful ice cream! But when you mix it all together like that, it just tastes like sugary garbage and your body says, "What the fuck are you doing to me?" And then tries to go into a coma so as to keep your brain from making any more mistakes. I'm confident that I could eat two pints--one quart!--of ice cream right now and I'm not even hungry. But you mix it all up like that and it's just goddamn impossible and I had the good sense to quit well before I hit the halfway point because I knew that the people who built my ice cream bucket were right.

I'm well past the halfway point here. I'm staring into this melting bucket of eight-different, poorly-chosen flavors, my body rebelling against my brain, and yet I carry on. Because who knows why.

Wait where were we?

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 go to a hotel because Leila may be dangerous. Ana has another of her famous Sunday morning home appointments with her gynecologist. 
  9. Ana and Christian buy a car and ride on a boat. 
  10. Ana and Christian eat dinner and play pool.
  11. Ana returns to work and Christian follows every little thing she does from afar.
  12. Ana returns to her apartment to meet Kate's brother Ethan, but instead finds Leila, who holds a gun.
  13. Christian disarms Leila and Ana has drinks with Ethan. 
  14. Nothing happens in Chapter 14. 

Anyway. Ana wakes up in the middle of the night and drinks orange juice in the kitchen because who cares why. And then Christian has a scawwy dweam because he is a man-baby. Ana shakes him awake which I'm sure is exactly what you're supposed to do when someone is having a nightmare, right? It's like one step away from old-timey movies where people are always slapping each other in the face and saying, "SNAP OUT OF IT!"

And then CG is awake and sucking his thumb (Editor's note: metaphorically.) and immediately tries to arrange a trip for two to the bone zone. Ana is interested at first, kinda, but then is like, "Oh yeah! You're the guy who wants to whip me with whips because I look like your mom!" and that is not super great for her libido for some reason.

CG can't imagine why! Even though Ana tells CG to "stop" by using the word "stop" CG decides he knows what she'd really like because you know how ladies are! They never really know if they want to have sex or not! Their poor little brains are overloaded by trying to remember how many different pairs of shoes they have. Am I right, fellas?

Ha! That was a trap, fellas! I was not right at all, and I'm ashamed at you for following along with my little jest. Haven't we learned anything? 

What am I even doing here? Oh. Right. So Ana says "stop" and CG says, "Oh, Ana, don't overthink this." Translation: "Don't think about the fact that I want to inflict pain on you as a surrogate for the pain that I cannot inflict upon my poor dead mother."

A few paragraphs later, CG says "You can still say no," even though he's kind of made it seem like she can't, in fact, say no. Whatever. Nothing new here! Just a regular-ol' Fiddy Shades semi-consensual sex scene, only this time Ana is allowed to tough CG's chest, and she didn't used to be allowed to do that so that's something, maybe. Wait, no. I ran the numbers again and that's not something. That's not anything.

They have sex--with Ana on top!--and here's one of the sexy thoughts that Ana has during their sexy sex:
Jeez . . . argh! 
EL does nothing to suggest that this is speech. So I guess Ana thinks, silently in her brain, "Jeez . . . argh!" She thinks "argh." I don't really have anything to say about that. Although I will say that that is probably what Charlie Brown says when he has sex. I mean later on! When he's a consenting adult! Don't be gross. Ugh. You guys are being really gross this week and I kind of don't appreciate it.

Aaugh is just argh in a different dialect. 

Then we get more of Ana asking CG about his childhood and it's just the same shit over and over. Ana asks to talk to CG's therapist and I can't imagine that that is reasonable at all but CG is never a good judge of what's reasonable and what's not so he's totes fine with the idea. Also he repeats his marriage proposal:

“You are so precious to me, Ana. I was serious about marrying you. We can get to know each other then. I can look after you. You can look after me. We can have kids if you want. I will lay my world at your feet, Anastasia. I want you, body and soul, forever. Please think about it.” 
Hehe. "We can get to know each other then." That's the cool thing about marriage. It really gives you an opportunity to like, get to know somebody. That's why I'm always like, hey. Don't judge somebody until you've walked a mile in his shoes and also married him after only knowing him for three weeks even though he derives pleasure from inflicting pain on you which you don't actually enjoy yourself. That's one of the things that I'm known for saying all the time. Hang out with me for like, an hour, and I'll probably say that thing at least once probably.

Then I guess they sleep again or whatever. One time I read this interesting article that suggested that we used to be inclined to wake up for a little bit in the middle of the night and would maybe all be happier if we slept in a couple of distinct four-hour chunks and I guess that's a thing that EL thinks because these people pretty much can't go an entire night without waking each other up to have the same annoying conversation again that they had right before they went to bed. But then Ana wakes up again and OMG SHE'S LATE FOR WORK OH NOES.

Gimme a minute while I try to give a shit about this development.

Never mind just going to keep spooning up this garbage. I mean, what else is there to do? I can't think of anything.

CG says that Ana should just call in sick.

“No, Christian, I can’t. I am not a megalomaniac CEO with a beautiful smile who can come and go as he pleases.” 
“I like to come as I please.” He smirks and cranks his glorious smile up another notch so it’s in full HD IMAX
Ugh. The main reason I pasted this in is because of that weird HD IMAX bit because what the hell? I think that EL got tired of calling shit "Technicolor" which is good because it was dumb to call shit "Technicolor" since actually seeing shit in real life remains the best way of seeing shit. But this is one of those cases where EL realized she was doing something dumb, but then decided to replace the dumb thing with something even dumber. Also I checked wikipedia because Christian told me one time to always start there and I learned that HD IMAX isn't really a thing but IMAX HD was a short-lived version of IMAX that still used film prints. VERY INTERESTING. Jk. Also I want to know what the deal is with the small caps. What do you call that? I don't know but I hate it. It just feels weird and wrong, like EL just does whatever the IMAX lobby demands. One of my writer-friends likes telling everyone that "dumpster" should be capitalized because it's trademark of dumpster co. or whatever and you know what? I will never ever do that ever because language is a living, evolving thing and I, for one, don't feel like enforcing petty trademark claims is really my job. ICYGAS.

Oh also, "I like to come as I please" is a funny joke from Christian. Do you get it? See, what he's doing is he's kind of like, playing on a "double meaning" of the verb "to come." In this case, he's sort of alluding to its less formal definition, which is a synonym for the verb "to ejaculate." Get it? So it's kind of like he's saying, "I like to ejaculate wherever I want, because I am a man, and the world is just one big collection of things that were doubtless put here for me to ejaculate on, sort of like when you walk your dog and it likes to pee on different things." Funny joke!


EL repeats that dumb small-caps thing again later on when Taylor drives her to work and she suggests that his speedy-driving is reminiscent of NASCAR.

So Ana goes to work and her boss is a real asshole to her and basically the only thing we're waiting on in this book is for Jack Hyde to do something super creepy. Isn't that pathetic? Nothing is going to happen with the protagonists except for the same shit over and over. So the only "plot" expectations left to the poor reader focus on these pointless side-characters that are even less vibrant than our useless protagonists.

Jack yells at Ana for being late but I have no idea when she's supposed to start. It seems like she quits at 5, which seems plausible, but it also seems like she's always starting before nine which is crazy. Also? One of the first things that Jack has her do is type a letter he wrote longhand. What the shit?

I think I quit on this show when I found out that Kristen Schaal was only in this one episode.
Ana and CG exchange some pointless emails.

José calls Ana because he wants to arrange delivery of his photographs of Ana to their buyer, CG. I guess that means we're going to see him again, so that's something. Ooh, hold on. Yup. Double checked my figures and once again, it turns out I was wrong and that isn't anything. That's just more pointless nonsense, and perhaps a dumb excuse for CG to get angry again because he is dangerously jealous.

Ana types the letter for Jack and shows him a printout of it then retypes it because she made mistakes and I can't even handle this anymore. This book is set in 2011 and I know that that was a long time ago but I'm old enough that I can kinda still remember what the workplace was like in 2011, and take my word for it: by that point we had made some significant advances. We still didn't have SnapChat, so life was barely worth living, but we did have some digital technology, like the ability to "share" documents without necessarily having to print them.

Ana makes the corrections, and then:

“Better,” he mumbles reluctantly as he signs the letter. “Photocopy it, file the original, and mail out to all authors. Understand?” 
This mutterblushing book! Why not have her, I don't know. Write pictograms on some goddamn papyrus?

Oh and then Ethan stops by to get the keys to Ana's apartment and I can't keep track of these keys but it seems a lot like this just happened a few chapters ago and I can't figure out why it's happening again. This book frequently makes me worry that I'm accidentally re-reading some bits a second time because the same exact things just keep happening again and again.

Jack demands that Ana go fetch him lunch again, and then Ana checks her emails again and then she learns that CG fears for her safety again because she's once again gone like, what, two hours without sending him an email again. So she calls him and they talk on the phone again and CG tells Ana once more to be careful around her boss because Jack's a creep which Ana already knows because Ana is not a smart person but she knows what a creep is.

Ana goes to Starbucks on her lunch break and listens to a song on repeat because who knows why. Then she does that thing again where she thinks all of the same thoughts that she always thinks over and over.

And it strikes me like a thunderbolt—that’s what he needs from me, what he’s entitled to—unconditional love. He never received it from the crack whore—it’s what he needs.
Whoa . . . What have I done?
Can I love him unconditionally? Can I accept him for who he is regardless of his revelations last night? 
 Whoa slow down. Hey so Ana has adopted CG's pet name for his mom--"the crack whore"--and that's pretty gross. And then we get this unconditional love shit that Ana thinks that CG is entitled to.




I mean you could make the case for Baby Christian. Maybe that guy was entitled to unconditional love, sure. Babies, sure, why not. Toddlers? Sure. I'll give you toddlers too. But Christian Grey is a grown-ass man, and is not entitled to anything beyond, say, basic human rights. Beyond that, mutterblusher has got to actually earn shit. I hope Ana decides that she can't love him unconditionally, because that's basically the only way that a person could love him at this point considering how deeply unlovable he is.

Oh geez. This book. Next Ana is rushing back to work, after having made herself late just by sitting and thinking her dumb thoughts while listening to some song on repeat for probably twenty-ish times. Jack is once again pissy, and once again gives her a nonsense request:

“I’d like my itinerary for New York printed out and photocopied ten times. And get the brochures packaged up. And get me some coffee!” he snarls and stalks into his office. 
Why? C'mon Ana. Ask him why he needs that shit photocopied ten times. What the hell is wrong with this guy? Goddammit. Hit CTRL-P your own damn self and then when it asks you if you only want 1 copy, say no, gimme 11 copies if you need 11 mutterblushing copies. How is this someone else's job? And not to be too Seattle about all this, but c'mon. Keep that shit on your phone like a regular person and stop waisting so much paper.

Look at the way EL has buried the speaker tag at the end like that. A silly speaker tag like "he snarls" only feels appropriate after something very short. The rhythm feels much better, I think, if it's done something like this:

"I'll be keeping you busy," he snarls. “I’d like my itinerary for New York printed out and photocopied ten times. And get the brochures packaged up. And get me some coffee!” He slams his office door behind him.

This is only a subtle improvement, and we're getting into pretty subjective territory here, I'll admit. But if you're going to use a silly word like "snarls" you definitely want to get it in early so that it colors all the dialogue that comes after. It's also confusing to say "he snarls and stalks into his office" because the timeline is unclear. Is he snarling while he's stalking? Or does he snarl and then stalk? I mean, it doesn't matter. It literally could not matter less. But also, clear writing is never a bad idea. Just saying.

Then CG's sister Mia calls Ana to tell her that CG's birthday is coming up and they should get together to plan his party for him because they are, after all, the women in his life, and so they have no purpose other than to serve his greatness. Jack gets pissy at Ana for nonsense reasons but never gets mad at her for reasonable reasons. Like check this--Ana receives a constant stream of phone calls and visitors during every work day. If Jack were to mention that, he would have a legit grievance. He could be like, "Hey maybe schedule that shit for when you're not working." Whatever. Now I get to look forward to a chapter about CG's birthday party, which will be exactly like the other two times that we've been to his parents house. Some blandly-lavish rich people shit, plus the two of them escaping somewhere to have sex. Not the boat house or CG's childhood bedroom because they've already done it there. I dunno. Maybe in the butler's pantry? I don't know what that is but I heard the phrase a few days ago and it sounds like the kind of phrase that EL would use so maybe that's where they'll do it. Whatever.

Ana and CG exchange several emails next and if you want to know what's in them, read this awful, awful book yourself because I didn't read these emails and thus cannot summarize them for you because I'm so, so sick of their pointless emails. (Editor's note: please. I implore you--don't read this awful, awful book yourself.)

I flush reading his response and shake my head. E-mail banter is all well and good, but we really need to talk. 
Well, that's a lie! It is neither well nor good. It is all poorly and bad. Also they've been communicating in one form or another literally all day. Don't really know what Ana thinks that they have to talk about. Probably just the same exact conversation that they always have about their relationship always. Yawn.

Ana waits around to hand Jack the stuff that he couldn't figure out how to print by himself and then remembers that she hasn't eaten all day. So I guess we're back on that thing--the thing where Ana is maybe anorexic and we get to think about that in addition to all the other things about this book that makes no sense.

Then Jack shows up and is at his most creepiest.

His lips twitch into a grotesque smile, and his eyes gleam a deep, dark cobalt. “At last, I have you on your own,” he says, and he slowly licks his lower lip.
“Now . . . are you going to be a good girl and listen very carefully to what I say?” 

Well. The good news is that we aren't going to have to put up with this Jack shit for any longer because it's already boiling over. EL is this weird mix of plot "movement" that's totally glacial and ruthless efficiency. There were a couple chapters in which Ana told us that Jack made her feel creepy yet we never actually saw him do anything creepy. Then he started being creepy for a couple chapters. Then he was chill for a little while. And now, as this chapter ends, it looks like Ana is very much at risk of sexual assault. I'm glad that EL kinda cuts to the chase on this one, though. From the moment that Ana said she thought Jack was creepy, we knew we were headed for this moment, so the sooner we get it over with, the better.

That way, we can move on to the shit that we're really interested in, like preparations for CG's birthday party! Or whether or not Ana will marry CG! Jk of course she'll marry him. But what kind of tents will they have at the wedding?? And what famous luminaries will be guests at said wedding? OMG I CAN HARDLY WAIT.

Jk I could wait literally forever. FTB. I don't need to explain all my acronyms. Srsly, ftb.

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