Fifty Shades of Grey: Chapters Eighteen and Nineteen – Afternoons and Coffee Spoons

You get a two-fer of crap today, since chapter eighteen is mostly one horrible, drawn out sex scene and I have absolutely no intention of recapping it.

Dr. Greene is tall, blonde and immaculate, dressed in a royal blue suit. I’m reminded of the women who work in Christian’s office. She’s like an identikit model – another Stepford blonde.

You can always rely on Ana to disparage a blonde, even when the blonde in question has a medical degree. It’s another one of those tiresome carry-overs from Twilight, a world where all blondes are shallow and dumb and all brunettes are bookish. I wonder if it would blow some people’s minds if you explained that the colour of your hair has absolutely nothing to do with your intellect? And what about us fake blondes? How does it work out with us? Do we drop IQ points the second we reach for the peroxide bottle?

Anyway, yes. Sorry. Back to the book. As we all know, Dr. Greene has come to examine Ana ‘down there’ and give her contraceptive pills so that Christian doesn’t have to trouble his exquisitely beautiful head with the basic business of rolling a small latex sheath over his penis every time they fuck. Following Ana’s consultation with Dr. Greene, they return to the living room and once again I am reminded why E.L. James may possibly the worst writer since Ayn Rand’s cancerous, nicotine-stained lungs heaved their last gasp of Medicare-subsided oxygen.

Christian is reading, seated on his couch. A breathtaking aria is playing on the music system, swirling round him, cocooning him, filling the room with a sweet, soulful song…

“Are you done?” he asks as if he’s genuinely interested.

He points the remote at a sleek white box beneath the fireplace that houses his iPod, and the exquisite melody fades but continues in the background. Standing, he strolls towards us.

“Yes, Mr. Grey. Look after her; she’s a beautiful, bright young woman.” 

I have no idea how Dr. Greene got that from peering up Ana’s vagina. If you were ever unsure that Ana was a weapons’ grade Mary Sue, there’s your proof. Yes, I know most romance novel heroines have better vaginas than everyone else – capable of healing deep seated emotional issues and coaxing even the sluttiest heroes onto the smooth path of monogamy – but Ana’s here is shining with such a pure and holy light that she can move even a gynecologist to panegyrics.

After the doctor leaves Ana tells Christian that she’s been told to abstain from all sexual activity for the next four weeks, which is rather a better joke than her last laugh riot. Unfortunately her audience hasn’t changed; he still has no sense of humour.

They drool over each other a bit and then we get another one of those moments that drive me absolutely fucking nuts.

“What’s the music?”

“Villa Lobos, an aria from Bachianas Brasilieras. Good, isn’t it?”

“Yes,” I murmur, in total agreement.

So that whole thing about the exquisite, breathtaking soulful song that was swirling and cocooning and doing all kind of things that music doesn’t generally do unless you’re synaesthetic or tripping balls? It’s ‘good’, apparently.

I hate the way music is used in these books. It’s not only described in altogether unnecessary and flabby-prosed detail (‘mournful lament’, anyone?), but is usually co-opted as a prop to demonstrate the characters’ level of cultural sophistication. There’s something grating about the way that artist and song titles are dropped in this book, perhaps because it’s yet another way we’re forced to be privy to every pointless detail of their shatteringly vacuous lives.

Now we have to hear in detail what they’re having for lunch (chicken caesar salad) and what they’re having to drink (Chablis) and there’s about two pages of meaningless mooing in which they admire each other, she describes the food (‘delicious’) and the wine (‘crisp, clean and fruity’). Then there’s some Mr. Greying and Miss Steeleing and some quirking, smirking, smouldering and hitching of breath that can only mean he’s going to start inserting things into her pretty soon.

“Are you going to hit me?”

Ah, romance.

“Yes, but it wouldn’t be to hurt you. I don’t want to punish you right now. If you’d caught me yesterday evening, well, that would have been a different story.”

Holy cow. He wants to hurt me…how do I deal with this?

You leave. And you call the police.

“Don’t let anyone try and convince you otherwise, Anastasia. One of the reasons people like me do this is because we either like to give or receive pain. It’s very simple. You don’t, so I spent a great deal of time yesterday thinking about that.”

This is also works as a simple explanation of why you’d need to be a sociopath to push someone like Ana into a BDSM relationship.

I should run, but I can’t. I’m drawn to him on some deep, elemental level that I can’t begin to understand.

Your ‘elemental level’ is not that deep, Ana. The average one is only about four to five inches deep. And at the age of twenty-one you should really make more of an effort to understand it. Crotch cancers are no joke.

There follows an endless, boring sex-scene that I’m just too jaded to recap. They go into the Red Room of Pain, he ties her up and lightly works her over with a riding crop, he sniffs her panties, she bites her lip, he stick the handle of the crop up her sniz and licks it, she bites her lip some more and he’s wearing some faded old jeans that she thinks are totally ‘hot’ and then he fucks her and she has two regulation voice-activated orgasms like every single other time they’ve fucked before.

And he’s creepy. As usual.

“Well done, baby,” he murmurs. “Did that hurt?”

“No,” I breathe. I can barely keep my eyes open. Why am I so tired?

That’ll be the wine. And the roofies.

I am utterly spent and fighting an overwhelming desire to sleep. I’m leaning against his chest, my eyes are closed, and he’s wrapped around me – arms and legs – and I feel…safe, and oh so comfortable. Will he let me sleep, perchance to dream?

He’s so literary. He makes her think of Shakespeare, you see. Personally I lean more towards T.S. Eliot – you know that if she was etherised on his table he’d be going to town. Not to mention the tedious arguments of insidious intent. Eesh.

Christian tells her he’s not done yet, because this sex-scene has only lasted for a gazillion pages already.

Who would have thought it would be so exhausting? My limbs are deliciously heavy, sated. My inner goddess has a ‘do not disturb’ sign on the outside of her room.

Christian is moving about in the periphery of my vision.

“Boring you, am I, Miss Steele?”

Just hang a fucking lampshade on that, why don’t you James? Oh my God, this goes on forever. He’s like ‘stand up’, ‘kneel there’, ‘put your right hand there’ and it’s like someone typed up the lyrics to the Hokey Pokey eighty thousand times before going stark staring mad and attempting to axe-murder their family.

He ties her up with cable ties and I think we’re supposed to be squealing in astonishment along with Ana at this. Yes, it only took her sixteen chapters, but she finally cottoned on to why he was buying murder supplies cable ties at Claytons.

Bright, remember. She’s bright.

Then they fuck again for a million pages and afterwards he makes her giggle, prompting them to talk like assholes.

“I’m not a great giggler,” I mumble sleepily.

“Oh, but when it happens Miss Steele, ‘tis a wonder and joy to behold.”

“Very flowery, Mr. Grey,” I mutter, trying to keep my eyes open.

Which bargain bucket Renn Faire did you morons escape from? Somewhere a historically inaccurate reconstruction of a Medieval village is missing both of its idiots.

Ana is once again terribly, terribly tired for a Sunday afternoon. Maybe he slipped a coffee-spoon of something interesting into her salad dressing.

I am exhausted. I don’t ever remember being this tired.

He’s probably upped the dose, Ana. I expect you’re developing a tolerance by now.

Chapter Nineteen

You’ll never guess how chapter nineteen begins. Go on, have a guess.

Soft lips brush across my temple, leaving sweet tender kisses in their wake, and part of me wants to turn and respond, but mostly I want to stay asleep.

If you guessed that the phone rang and Christian took a call from a vicious Congolese mercenary leader and realised he was in deep, deep shit because the world was about to find out about his unsavoury practise of arming child soldiers in unstable African republics, then thank you for playing.

Unfortunately, you’re wrong. Chapter nineteen starts with Ana waking up. Again.

He hauls her out of bed and tells her to get ready to go meet his parents, causing Ana to faff, fret and generally fuss herself in the way that only Ana can.

Holy cow, I am meeting his folks! He’s just worked me over with a riding crop and tied me up using a cable tie which I sold him, for heaven’s sake – and I’m going to meet his parents.

You know, you could always not tell them about the riding crop and the cable tie. In fact, they may find it offputting if you do tell them. They’re probably just expecting you to say things like ‘Hello’ and ‘Thank you for inviting me.’

Ana blithers further for a while when she realises that Christian has absconded with her panties and that she’s going to have to ask for them back. Then she decides she won’t and resolves to meet his parents ‘sans culottes’, which I assume means she’s going to arrive at the house wielding a pikestaff and demanding the immediate abolition of the monarchy.

I remove the braid and hastily brush out my hair, then glance down at the drink he’s left. It’s pale pink. What’s this?

I don’t know. Drink it and see. What’s the worst that could happen? You might get really small or something and have to run a pointless circular race with a bunch of extinct birds and a mouse, and there’s like a white rabbit with a pocket watch and he’s running late and there’s a caterpillar with a bong…

…and, yeah. These books are very boring. I entertain myself as best I can. I mean, it’s probably his usual cocktail of cheap Turkish amphetamines and GHB, but whatever.

Cranberry and sparkling water. Hmm…it tastes delicious and quenches my thirst.

See what I mean? This line of irrelevant detail was brought to you by Ocean Spray.

Christian is standing by the panoramic window, wearing the grey flannel pants that I love, the ones that hang in that unbelievably sexy way off his hips…

What is this with the hippy pants thing? Where else are his pants going to hang from? Is Ana from the 1950s, back when a man wasn’t properly dressed unless his waistband was somewhere up around his nipples?

Frank Sinatra sings softly over the surround-sound speakers.

Oh, she is, apparently. There you go then.

“Frank. I never figured you for a Sinatra fan.”

He raises his eyebrows at me, his look speculative.

“Eclectic taste, Miss Steele,” he murmurs, and he paces towards me like a panther until he’s standing in front of me, his gaze so intense it takes my breath away.

I’d be more impressed with his eclecticism if he copped to liking Lady Gaga. Then again, maybe that’s too meta – this book’s enough rah-rah ro-ma-ma as it is. Instead poor old Francis Albert gets subjected to a bucket of ghastly smuggery as Christian invites Ana to fill out another couple of pages by dancing with him.

Boy, he can dance. We cover the floor, from the window to the kitchen and back again, whirling and turning in time to the music. And he makes it so effortless for me to follow.

I’m assuming they’re doing some kind of ballroom dancing here, which is not something you can just magically do because the author watched Beauty and The Beast last night or something. Especially if you’re allegedly so clumsy you can’t even walk from one room to another without falling on your face.

Then they go to meet his parents and she’s in a state of total spasmic excitement and horror because she is walking out of the apartment with no panties. This book is apparently a raunchy plunge into the darkest depths of depravity, by the way. Personally I’ve read hotter stuff that was written back when the sans culottes were still in knee breeches (Fanny Hill), but here we are. No panties. Shocking, I’m sure you’ll agree.

She asks Christian where he learned to dance and he tells her Mrs. Robinson taught him.

Oh, my worst suspicions confirmed. She has taught him well, and the thought depresses me – there’s nothing I can teach him. I have no special skills.

I don’t know – your continued refusal to acknowledge or understand reality is kind of special. She then goes on to think moodily about Mrs. Robinson and how she taught Christian bondage and stuff.

She taught him all that, too, or ruined him, depending on one’s point of view.

Actually I think from a legal point of view there’s no depends about it – she statutory raped him. As ever Ana comes so close to pinpointing why this is fucked up and then doesn’t, because she’s jealous. Of the woman who raped him.

Everyone in this book is an asshole.

We’re crossing one of the bridges surrounded by inky darkness. The sombre night reflects my introspective mood, closing in, suffocating.

I just threw that in there for shits and grins, because here’s the opening of the next section.

It is just before eight when the Audi draws into the driveway of a colonial style mansion.

It’s the end of May, by the way. So we’re now into the final few weeks before the longest day of the year. Luckily the sun sets earlier than usual in order not only to reflect Ana’s mood but so that the lights of Seattle might twinkle brightly behind Ana and Christian as she miraculously learns to ballroom dance without having had a single lesson.

I know it seems like I’m being picky, but really – if you can’t be bothered to look up these little things (and it’s no effort at all these days) then you really shouldn’t bother trying to write books.

Anyway, come in and meet the Cullens. Gresme has already made an insipid appearance in chapter ten, so needs no further introduction. Carlisle Cullen is now named Carrick Grey. Yes, really. This poor prick can’t catch a break in any incarnation, can he?

Alice Cullen is now Mia Grey, but don’t worry – she’s still as annoying as she was in Twilight. Perhaps even more so, actually. She promptly throws her arms around Ana and more or less declares her intention to be besties forever because she had one of her magic eight-ball visions to that effect.

“He’s never bought a girl home before,” says Mia, dark eyes bright with excitement.

I glimpse Christian rolling his eyes, and I raise an eyebrow at him. He narrows his eyes at me.

“Mia, calm down,” Grace admonishes softly.

Having established that Mia hasn’t left an excited little puddle on any of the rugs, Gresme leads them into a room where Kate and Elliot are waiting. Then people touch Ana and she gets confused.

What is this, Hug Ana Week?

No, Ana. They’re greeting you. You hopeless, asocial freak.

Someone offers them a drink and Christian and Ana say yes in unison, prompting Mia to clap her hands like she’s trying to believe in fairies and excitedly exclaim that it must be the truest of true love because she had a magic eight-ball vision they’re ‘even saying the same things’. Actually they were just saying yes at the same time because they were being offered booze, and we all know Ana and Christian are steaming dipsomaniacs who would put Lucille Bluth to shame, but yeah – have fun with that, Mia.

Because Ana hasn’t berated herself in some dismal and self-invented way this chapter, she promptly thinks she’s only been invited because Kate’s been invited.

Elliot probably freely and happily asked Kate to meet his parents. Christian was trapped – knowing that I would have found out via Kate. I frown at the thought. He’s been forced into the invitation. The realization is bleak and depressing.

Oh wait, don’t be like that, Ana. He brought you here because he knew you’d enliven the dinner with your vibrant personality, your ready laughter and your witty conv…oh wait.

Elliot is apparently piggybacking on the Kavanaghs’ family vacation in Barbados, because nobody in this book thinks it’s weird to take someone you’ve been humping for a whole week to go on holiday with you. Or to introduce you to their parents. Ana says she’s thinking about going to Georgia for a few days and Christian immediately goes all Sleeping With The Enemy.

Christian gapes at me, blinking a couple of times, his expression unreadable.

Wait, what? If someone’s blinking at you with their mouth wide open, it’s not exactly hard to read their expression. They’re either surprised or impersonating a goldfish.

Oh shit, I haven’t mentioned this to him.

“Georgia?” he murmurs.

“My mother lives there, and I haven’t seen her for a while.”

“When were you thinking of going?” His voice is low.

“Tomorrow, late evening.”

…Holy crap…he’s angry.

He hisses and pisses and generally pouts a bit more, then dinner is served.

The dining room reminds me of our private dinner at the Heathman.

Ah, yes – where he threatened to rape you. Memories.

A crystal chandelier hangs over the dark wood table and there’s a massive, ornately carved mirror on the wall. The table is laid and covered with a crisp white linen tablecloth, a bowl of pale pink peonies as the centerpiece. It’s stunning.

The words ‘stunning’, ‘breathtaking’, ‘exquisite’ and ‘panoramic’ are rapidly edging up my personal shitlist of words I never want to fucking hear again. Along with ‘impassive’, ‘murmur’, ‘gape’, ‘crap’ and ‘holy’.

Ana whispers to him not to be mad at her, but he’s ‘palm-twitchingly mad’ because he’s a big fucking giant baby who cries like a little bitch with a skinned knee every time things don’t go exactly as he wants them to. Wait – no, beg pardon – he’s a control freak. And that’s somehow sexy. I don’t know any more.

Anyway, there’s a waitress – Gretchen – who serves them dinner and Ana thinks she’s a whore because she’s blonde, wearing mascara and looking at Christian. Because that’s totally what you should be worried about right now, Ana – the waitress trying to steal your boyfriend. Not the fact that your boyfriend is a goddamn fucking nutjob who starts hissing like a motherfucking pressure cooker every time you display anything approaching autonomy or any inclination to do anything that doesn’t cater directly to his every stupid, squalid, banal sexual whim.

Wow, this book is getting to me.

As we finish our starters, Gretchen appears, and not for the first time, I just wish I felt able to put my hands on Christian just to let her know – he may be fifty shades of fucked-up, but he’s mine.

I hate them both so much. You have no idea. In a way it’s kind of special that they found one another, because you wouldn’t wish either of them on decent people, would you?

The Greys blab on about Paris, because Mia was there.

“Christian, you should take Ana to Paris,” Mia states firmly.

“I think Anastasia would prefer London,” Christian says softly.

Oh…he remembered.

What? That you think Tess of the D’Urbervilles lives there?

Then Christian attempts to finger Ana, at the dining table, in front of his parents. She manages to distract him by pretending to choke on her drink, and the dinner continues in fine, boring style.

…Mia regales us with her exploits in Paris, lapsing at one point into fluent French. We all stare at her, and she stares back puzzled, until Christian tells her in equally fluent French what she’s done, whereupon she bursts into a fit of giggles. She has a very infectious laugh and soon we’re all in stitches.

Yeah.

I guess you had to be there.

After dinner Christian tries to poke his fingers up Ana’s vagina and is once again rebuffed, so that he offers to ‘give her the tour of the grounds’ and hauls her out to the backyard. And that’s not a euphemism for anal, by the way. It bears repeating for all the people who keep typing ‘when do they do anal in Fifty Shades of Grey’ – they don’t. There is no anal sex in Fifty Shades of Grey.

…Christian walks…up some steps, and onto a vast lawn that leads down to the bay…oh my – it’s beautiful. Seattle twinkles on the horizon and the cool, bright May moon etches a sparkling silver path across the water toward a jetty where two boats are moored. Beside the jetty stands a boathouse. It is so picturesque, so peaceful.

And so obviously where he’s been dumping the bodies.

She complains about not being able to walk on wet grass in heels and he manhandles her, throwing her over his shoulder and slapping her on the butt. And not in a playful way, in case you were wondering.

He’s mad about something – could be Jose, Georgia, no panties, biting my lip. Jeez, he’s so easy to rile.

Well, yes – that’s true, Ana. Maybe that’s because he’s a fucking lunatic?

“Where are we going?” I breathe.

“Boathouse,” he snaps.

… “Why?” I sound breathless, bouncing on this shoulder.

That’s another typo, by the way. Just in case you were under the impression this bit had been edited properly.

“I need to be alone with you.”

“What for?”

“Because I’m going to spank and then fuck you.”

Ana’s response to this is to think ‘Holy fuck’ in italics and then the chapter ends, which seems rather abrupt. Still, at least nobody fell asleep or passed out – I suppose we can be grateful for that small mercy.

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