Friday, November 13, 2015

50 Shad3s: Chapter 11

Ana and Christian kinda start having sex but more end up not because they're still in the middle of  a fight.

Good news, everyone! I bought every James Bond movie on itunes the other night so expect me to finally get back to that, about a year after I started it. Timely! Right? Yes v.

I'm sorry about the increasingly erratic publishing schedule. But hey. Better than nothing, right? Right? Kinda? A little bit, at least, huh? Sure. I'm just kind of determined to finish this, beyond any sense of logic. I should've quit a long time ago, but here I am!

It looks like this chapter is going to contain a few more nonsense revelations about CG's mysterious spooooooky past! So that's super exciting and all. Right? Yes. Also: there's some sex in this chapter. And a lot of just super boring food stuff and a lot of Ana being unable to follow the plot. Good times!

But wait. Where were we?

Ana Steele is married to billionaire / kink-enthusiast / child-abuse survivor Christian Grey. He is domineering and they are usually upset with each other except for when they're having sex. 


  1. Ana takes her top off on a beach while reminiscing about the wedding and Christian gets mad.
  2. They ride a jet-ski back to their honeymoon yacht and riding jet-skis cheers up Christian a bit. Then they have sex. 
  3. Ana discovers that Christian gave her a bunch of hickies and she is angry. But then she gets over it and they look at art together and CG learns that there was a fire in his server room. 
  4. Ana buys a camera.
  5. Ana and Christian return to Seattle. After visiting Christian's parents, they become embroiled in a medium-speed chase on the interstate. After eluding their pursuers, they have sex in a parking lot. 
  6. Ana figures out that Jack Hyde was the arsonist.
  7. Christian bullies Ana until she agrees to go by "Ana Grey" in her professional life. 
  8. Ana is extremely jealous of the architect hired to remodel the new home she will share with Christian. Ana cuts Christian's hair.
  9. Ana discovers that Christian keeps an unlicensed gun in his office. While Christian is away on business, Ana has a few drinks with Kate. When Ana returns home, Jack Hyde has been apprehended during an apparent home invasion. 
  10. Christian spends a whole chapter pouting because Ana went out with Kate without telling him. 

Remember: the previous chapter ended with Ana returning home and seeing CG in his sex pants. Ana's inner monologue: "Why’s he dressed like this? What does it mean?"

Let me answer your queries in order, Ana: 1. He's dressed like this because this is a sex chapter. 2. It means that this is a sex chapter. 

C'mon, Ana! Put it together sometimes! Are you truly incapable of noting patterns? Huh he's wearing those pants he always wears when we have complicated sex. You know--those pants that he never wears out of the house, that he only wears in and around the sex room. Wonder what that could be about.

Oh hey. Let's break for a moment so that I can share some thoughts on Christian's sex pants. If this goes well, we'll make it into a regular feature of our time here together. I'll call it "Christian's Sex Pants Corner" or something.

1. Where did these pants come from?

Serious question. Either he wore them out himself, or he bought "distressed" jeans just for sex. Which is weirder? I'm not sure. They're both weird! Thing is, this does not seem like a dude who's going around in jeans, ever, particularly not jeans with holes in them. So the rest of us might wear jeans until they're full of holes and then be like, "Well! Guess these are my weekend chore jeans now! I'll wear these while I'm cleaning my garage or whatever it is that people with weekends off do in their weekend chore jeans!" [Editor's note: Alden's days off are not the standard weekend ones, and he hasn't worn jeans since maybe 2000. This was once kind of an accident but now it's probably some weird bit of nonsense pride--a strange fact about himself that nobody has ever noticed and no one ever will because who cares.]

Right? But in this scenario, CG is like, "Whoa these jeans are all ripped. Guess I'll wear them for sex! My life is so easy that I consider sex to be one of my chores."

Don't you love this weird double standard?

Lady: "I'm really going to give my man a nice surprise tonight! He's going to love this lingerie that I spent $300 on!"

Man: "I'm really going to give my lady a nice surprise tonight! She's going to love these jeans that I spent $70 on six years ago and wore until the crotch blew out and my boss at Dunkin Donuts made me go home and change into less obscene pants!"

Me? I'm pretty confident that CG didn't wear out these jeans in the usual way: by wearing them in life a long time. But it is possible that they wore out from all the sex he has in them. Isn't that gross? Yes. That is gross. 

So either he wore them out doing sex (unlikely!) or they are distressed jeans that he bought for sex. More likely! This is like some Abercrombie & Fitch bullshit. 

2. But what about Elena?

She made him wear the jeans, right? I bet she did! The fact that his sex life is so tied up with these dumm jeans pretty strongly implies that his ex demanded this of him and eventually he was all, "Well that seems cool. Guess I'll do it forever!" Right? Because to me, the jeans seem out of character. I don't see him deciding on them himself, without her help. Weird that Ana doesn't put this together. But then, she's not at all that smart and never puts together patterns or clues. Ignorance is bliss!

3. CG doesn't do his own laundry.

Just think about that for a sec. 

Housekeeping: "Sir? These jeans. . . they've got a number of holes. Can I throw them out and order you a new pair? I never see you wear them anyway. So maybe I should just throw them out and not replace them as they aren't really your style."

CG: "Um. No. Um. I um. I need that pair. They're special."

HK: "Well let me get you another pair anyway. You only have the one pair in your entire closet. Surely you'd like another that isn't so worn."

CG: "No, no. Um. Not necessary. I'll um. I'll just be taking those back from you."

HK: [Silently reaches an understanding about the jeans.] "Very good sir." [Makes mental note to wash hands more often / never mention the jeans again / update resumé.]

Have we exhausted this? I think so, yes. In summary: Elena made CG wear distressed jeans from Abercrombie & Fitch and now he insists on wearing them whenever he has sex and also that's gross.

Ok cool! Back to our story.

“I understand you have issues, Mrs. Grey,” he says silkily, and he pulls something from the back pocket of his jeans. I can’t tear my gaze from his, but hear him unfold a piece of paper. He holds it up, and glancing briefly in its direction, I recognize my e-mail. 

Ha! Oh geez. We haven't done this in a little while. The ol' routine where we pretend that a person would ever print out a copy of an email. I mean, ok--my boss does this sometimes. He's like seventy. He'll just like, print the whole screen and you wont' even be able to tell exactly what he meant to print because the sheet of paper will be such a mishmash. So sure--if Christian is seventy, then yeah, I guess him printing out emails would totally make sense and not even be that weird. Sure. But c'mon.

So basically what happened was that CG bullied Ana into agreeing to not go out anywhere with Kate, but since she was completely coerced into this agreement, as soon as CG went off on his way and wasn't there to bully anymore, the bullying wore off and Ana no longer felt like she ought to stay home like CG wanted. Pretty simple! She should put this all back on CG where it belongs but instead, she's got this embarrassing defense:

“Christian, I changed my mind,” I explain slowly, patiently as if he’s a child. “I’m a woman. We’re renowned for it. That’s what we do.” 
He blinks at me as if he doesn’t comprehend this. 
Groan. Ah this ol' chestnut! Good one, EL! Only sexism can fight sexism. Or something.

And now, we manage to flip things around and pretend like what we really should be worried about is CG's journey toward understanding how to be loved or whatever. Groan.

“I don’t know how to deal with this anger. I don’t think I want to hurt you,” he says, his eyes wide and wary. “This morning, I wanted to punish you, badly and—” He stops, lost for words I think, or too afraid to say them. 
“You were worried you’d hurt me?” I finish his sentence for him, not believing that he’d hurt me for a minute, but relieved, too. A small vicious part of me feared it was because he didn’t want me anymore. 
“I didn’t trust myself,” he says quietly. 
“Christian, I know you’d never hurt me. Not physically, anyway.” I clasp his head between my hands.  
“Do you?” he asks, and there’s skepticism in his voice.
“Yes. I knew what you said was an empty, idle threat. I know you’re not going to beat the shit out of me.” 
“I wanted to.” 
“No you didn’t. You just thought you did.” 
“I don’t know if that’s true,” he murmurs.
Basically Ana maintains that CG went through this whole transformation after he spanked her at the end of the first book. Does anyone else see it? This idea that CG has changed in any kind of meaningful way? Cause I don't! CG sure doesn't either! Cool.

To bore everyone with an overused bit of literary advice: show don't tell. Ana is telling CG (and us!) that he's changed. But EL hasn't shown us that he's changed, so we don't buy it. At least, I don't!

Anyway, here's what Jack Hyde had on his computer that was so dangerous, according to CG:

It was random stuff: news reports on me from when I was at Harvard—my rowing, my career. Reports on Carrick—following his career, following my mom’s career—and to some extent, Elliot and Mia. 
Did CG have a career while he was rowing at Harvard? No, right? Whatever. This just feels like EL is punting. You know what I mean? Like she doesn't really have a plan yet for Hyde and is just sort of throwing stuff out there. The way a writer will sometimes leave a little note for herself--figure this out later!--so that she can continue on without getting bogged down in a particular problem. Only she forgot to go back and fix it for realsies.

It does kind of make sense tho. Sounds to me like Hyde was a blackmailer. He tried to coerce Ana into doing sex stuff for him, and he was in the process of trying to figure out pressure points for CG. So sure. That kinda fits. Doesn't fit with like, the arson, and the helicopter explosion, and all that. But whatever. I'm used to this not making sense I guess.

Anyway. Ana only eats like, every third day because she is a snake. She swallows a rabbit or whatever and then slowly digests it over the course of hours and hours and hours while sunning herself on a rock, so of course, when CG bothers her about whether or not she's eaten, the answer is "no."

And then we start this endless section where they're flirting in the kitchen or whatever. Oh geez. CG is gonna put food in Ana's mouth. Maybe I'm not very interesting or sexy or whatever? But I literally cannot imagine this being fun. For anyone involved. "Wow it's like regular eating only slower and I can't see!" / "This is fun! It's like of like kissing only instead of my mouth and hers, it's her mouth, and this food, which doesn't feel like anything to me because it's not part of my body or whatever!"

I open one eye and see him take a plum-colored silk scarf out of the back pocket of his jeans. It matches my dress. Holy cow. I look quizzically at him. When did he get that? 
Oh ftb. Holy cow! A scarf! Where did he buy a scarf? Probably some mutterflushing magic supply store. Like where people buy metal rings and doves and scarves. That's my guess. Holy shit! This super rich guy somehow acquired a thing! How is this possible?? Probably with money? No too obvious. Must be something tricksier. 

[Editor's note: my computer accepted "tricksier" as a cromulent word which is caf. Still hasn't learned "cromulent" tho which is waf.]

“Can you see?” he asks. 
“No,” I mutter, figuratively rolling my eyes. He chuckles softly. 
What do you think that is like? Ana figuratively rolling her eyes? Imagine that I am figuratively giving this book the finger.

But wait. It gets worse:

“I can tell when you’re rolling your eyes, . . . and you know how that makes me feel.” 
So. Was she doing it figuratively or literally? Does CG have some kind of advanced perception where he sees the figurative and the literal as one, on the same plane or reality? Cool.

The next page is just Ana hearing kitchen noises while she's blindfolded. Super sexy sounds like the toaster. The microwave. You know. The sort of sounds that really tend to drive a person into an erotic frenzy. Also EL does that thing again where she's trying to convince us that CG has this super fancy sound system in his house and yet whenever he turns it on, it's hissing with white noise. Is it all on cassette tape? Is that what the fuck is happening here? CG has the most expensive-ever cassette tape system? Sure. Probably. Probably. Probably one of these baller B&O decks:

Why did I do this? I don't know.

Anyway next CG is pouring wine into Ana's mouth. Because this series is so deeply repetitive, everything that CG does reminds the reader, and Ana, of something that happened in a previous book. In this case, it reminds Ana of the time that CG barged into her apartment and tied her up and had sex with her in a way that, had she cared to, she could've turned into criminal charges.

Hmm . . . have times changed? Not much. Except now I recognize the wine, Christian’s favorite—a Sancerre. 
What I like about this is that earlier, Ana was asserting that things were different. But now she's like, yeah. Same ol same ol.

CG overheats whatever he's heating in the microwave and yells about burning his finger and then puts his finger in Ana's mouth.

“What are you thinking?” Christian murmurs, stopping my thoughts in their tracks as he pulls his finger out of my mouth. 
“How mercurial you are.” 
He stills beside me. “Fifty Shades, baby,” he says eventually and plants a tender kiss at the corner of my mouth.
“My Fifty Shades,” I whisper. Grabbing his T-shirt, I pull him back to me. 
Oh ftb. Ftb. The worst possible part of anything is when characters in the thing say the name of the thing. Right? Especially when the name of the thing doesn't make any mutterflushing sense anyway. , and they keep trying to make it a thing even though it's never going to be a thing.

Anyway CG is feeding Ana food and it's just regular food. Regular food that was in the fridge of their shared home so not really a lot of shockers here.

This is weird tho:

This time it’s pita bread and hummus. I realize Mrs. Jones—or maybe even Christian—has been shopping at the delicatessen I discovered about five weeks ago only two blocks from Escala.  
Yeah? So in a blind taste test, Ana can tell exactly where a given hummus originated? And the details about the deli are just weird, right? I think they're weird at least. Whatever. The main thing to note is that I bet you didn't think eating hummus blindfolded could be deeply, deeply erotic but I got some news for you, gentle readers: this hummus part is basically as sexy to me as any other part of this book so hey that's something I guess.

Also they eat some "stuffed vine leaves" which is further evidence that this book is a very American book for very American Americans.

Anyway next they go to the sex room. For sex, probably. I know I should be used to this stuff by now but I'm not . It still just bores me. EL's only trick for writing about sex is to draw shit out as long as possible and I'm pretty much over it. I feel like this super drawn-out shit has got to be only interesting for some small subset of people who are into this kind of thing. Or maybe I'm an outlier and everybody is into it. That's fine. But I don't like it. It just drags drags drags drags.

Part of the draggy part is how the characters talk about everything that they're doing. CG: "I’m going to drive you wild." Me: "Hey show don't tell bro. Show don't tell."

And Ana is always kind of interjecting on her own narration with these little italicized parts which always take me out of the scene. It feels like Ana is not only the teller of the story, but somehow a reader, like us, at the same time. And it's weird.

He pulls me against him, then his mouth is on mine, and he’s kissing me like his life depends on it. 
. . .
“I’m going to drive you wild,” he whispers. His hands grasp my hips, and he moves down, removing my panties as his hands glide down my legs. Drive me wild . . . wow. 
It's a bit like having somebody reading over your shoulder, saying, "Oh you're getting to the good part!" And it's embarrassing because now someone knows that you're reading this awful book.

But even more, it begs the question: is Ana being driven wild? I'm certainly not. And maybe at some point she'll say that she is but I dunno.

Ana is blindfolded, you'll remember.

After a moment, maybe two, I hear him pad quietly to the museum chest and open one of the drawers. The butt drawer? I have no idea. 

Ok so nothing about anything that CG has said or done would suggest that he'd scheduled them some butt time this evening. There are multiple drawers, so this kind of seems like Ana hopes that he's going for the butt drawer. So go ahead and admit it, Ana! Ana finally desiring something would be great! Or at least a nice change! I'm so so sick of her passivity.

ALSO: how funny is the phrase "butt drawer"? Because "drawers" is a funny old time way of talking about your underpants because it's like, literally the least sexy phrasing possible. Even underoos is better. Compare the phrase "lady in nothing but her drawers!" to the phrase "lady in nothing but underoos!" And obvs the second one is hotter because who knows? Maybe they're like, Wonder Woman underoos and now we're getting somewhere.

Anyway what I'm saying is that I hope that "butt drawer" catches on as a phrase and it's what we call underwear from now on.

Anyway CG is, it turns out, driving Ana wild by teasing her with a vibrator and then she gets driven so wild that she says their safe word and that's the end of that.

It's a pretty gross scene really. Mainly because of parts like this:

“Frustrating, yes?” he murmurs against my throat. “Just like you. Promising one thing and then . . .” His voice trails off. 

See, it's dumb because in all situations, CG has total control. Now more literally than usual since she's restrained, as I might not've mentioned because I'm just trying to get us all through this in one piece. So no, not just like Ana. Ana's desire to feel some independence in her life has nothing at all to do with CG frustrating Ana by keeping her so close to an orgasm for so long.

I think it annoys me because I kinda feel like EL is committed to this false equivalency. That somehow, these characters are really "right" for each other when it feels much more accurate to say that CG is right for nobody but that Ana feels bullied into putting up with him.

Anyway. They have a little more arguing and Ana makes a bit of a concession but basically sticks up for herself so that's ok I suppose.

Ok but here's where shit gets turbo-stupid:

EL ends the chapter by letting CG dump out a ton of plot and basically telegraphs a completely bonkers ending. Here are the data points:

  1. Hyde brought down the helicopter, which we all knew.
  2. Hyde is from Detroit, because EL is making use of a shitty stereotype about Detroit being particularly criminal or whatever. Which is basically just based in racism. I'm not calling EL a racist for making Hyde hail from Detroit. I'm just saying she's kinda lazy. 
  3. Hyde was planning to kidnap Ana in order to punish CG.
  4. And here's the BIG ONE: 
  5. CG was born in Detroit. 

“I don’t understand why,” I murmur. “It doesn’t make sense to me.” 
“I know. The police are digging further, and so is Welch. But we think Detroit is the connection.”

ERGO: Jack Hyde is older than we thought and also he murdered Christian's mom.

I mean, that's bonkers. That's the most bonkers plot-twist I can think of. And I hate this whole thing with Hyde because it has nothing to do with anything. This shitty thriller-plot dropped into this novel. Fits so, so poorly. And this is how it's to resolve? CG is going to vanquish the demons of his childhood in Detroit by shooting the dude who beat his mother in Detroit, because that dude ended up working as an editor at a publishing house in Seattle that CG ends up buying because his girlfriend works there?

Oh hell. Oh hell. I'm so annoyed at this that I'm probably going to have to scan and figure out if this is really what happens.

Can't decide if I should tell you or not.

But hey. There you go! Chapter 11 is over.

No comments: