This post comes from a place of deep, heartfelt joy. Yes, that’s right – yesterday I finished reading Fifty Shades of Grey and it can’t hurt me anymore! It’s over! I am FREE!
You, however, have got another five terrible chapters to read. Sorry about that.
Chapter twenty-two opens with Ana once again drinking her head off, this time in a first class airport lounge, just like the one you won’t find at Sea-Tac.
I am manicured, massaged, and I’ve had two glasses of champagne. The First Class lounge has many redeeming features. With each sip of Moet, I feel slightly more inclined to forgive Christian and his intervention.
If anyone needs an intervention at this point, it’s Ana. I can’t remember the last time she didn’t have a glass in her hand.
Anyway, let’s crack on with what’s really important – e-mailing Christian Grey. It’s not that I’m particularly excited to hear what goes on in Ana’s empty little head when she’s away from Christian (ChristianGreyChristianGreyChristianGrey) so she may as well be e-mailing him, but it doesn’t stop me from wanting to die every time she does.
Oh look, it’s a jokey e-mail about stalking. Stalking is funny and cute, in case you hadn’t got that memo yet.
What really alarms me is that you knew which flight I was on. Your stalking knows no bounds.
Then she tells him she’s had a massage, which makes Christian jealous and demand to know who was massaging her back. Because he’s jealous and possessive because he loves her, you see. Not because he’s a raging, insecure asshole who treats women as objects. God, I’m depressed.
Aha! Pay back time. Our flight has been called, so I shall e-mail him from the plane. It will be safer.
Safer for who, Ana? I don’t think you’re supposed to do that on planes.
Ana attempts to make him freak out by telling him that she was attended by a male masseuse, but leaves off her suspicion that he was probably gay. Then she randomly thinks that the masseuse was too tan for Seattle, mumbles to herself about Christian Grey being like shooting fish in a barrel and exchanges a few odd words with her ‘subconscious’. It’s a mess in there. I’m almost sorry they’re not e-mailing.
“Miss Steele, you’ll need to stow your laptop for take off,” the over-made-up flight attendant says politely.
And thank you for reminding me how much I wasn’t missing Ana’s charming habit of disparaging every woman she ever meets in some catty, off-hand way.
The cabin has filled up, except for the seat beside me which is still unoccupied. Oh no…a disturbing thought crosses my mind. Perhaps the seat is Christian’s. Oh shit…no…he wouldn’t do that, would he?
Of course not. That would be the behaviour of the kind of foaming-at-the-mouth nutjob who kidnaps young women from bars, tracks their phones and deliberately gets them drunk in order to take sexual advantage of them.
The moment the plane is in motion, Ana takes a sneaky look at her BlackBerry.
Dear Miss Steele
I know what you’re trying to do – and trust me – you’ve succeeded. Next time you’ll be in the cargo hold, bound and gagged in a crate.
Well, that’s fucked up.
Holy crap. That’s the problem with Christian’s humour – I can never be sure if he’s joking or if he’s seriously angry.
Ana, the problem with Christian’s humour is that these things are only funny if there is no possibility of them ever happening. And as we have previously discussed, your boyfriend is a foaming-at-the-mouth nutjob who kidnaps young women from bars, tracks their phones and deliberately gets them drunk in order to take sexual advantage of them.
So yes. He probably would do that.
Surreptitiously, so that the flight attendant can’t see, I type a reply under the blanket.
Aren’t they the cutest couple that ever did couple and copulate? He wants to tie young women up and put them in crates and she doesn’t care if she causes a fucking plane crash so long as she doesn’t have to stop e-mailing her boyfriend?
She asks her to forgive him and he e-mails back, introducing me to a truly novel experience – actually agreeing with Christian Grey about something.
How can you be e-mailing? Are you risking the life of everyone on board, including yourself, by using your BlackBerry.
Yup. You know, I’m always saying what a winner she picked when she first dropped her drawers for him, but sometimes it goes both ways.
I put my BlackBerry away, sit back while the plane taxis to the runway, and pull out my battered copy of Tess – some light reading for the journey.
It’s like she’s coming up with whole new ways to be hateful and pretentious. My personal pet theory is that Ana, being quite fascinatingly stupid, thinks all books are Tess of the D’Urbervilles, since it’s the only book title she remembers long enough to namedrop. So she thinks she’s reading Tess of the D’Urbervilles but in fact is reading a Star Wars novel, or one of those waterproof, sponge-filled books made to entertain toddlers in the bath.
This of course means that Ana’s mental version of Tess of the D’Urbervilles is a hot, West Country mess, in which the milkmaids are briefly dumbfounded by the revelation that Spot has a big red ball, before Chewbacca bursts into the cowshed and scares the living shit out of them.
Once we’re airborne, I tip my seat back, and soon I’m drifting off to sleep.
In other words, she read Tess long enough for people to notice that she was reading it, and then promptly offlined because there’s no point sustaining mental processes that don’t have to do with e-mailing Christian Grey.
As soon as her feet touch the ground for an hour long lay-over, she’s off again. She e-mails him to say she likes first class but she doesn’t like him spending money on her, as it makes her feel like he’s paying her for sex. She tells him the masseuse was gay, but tells Christian that he overreacts.
You can’t write things like that to me – bound and gagged in a crate – (Were you serious or was it a joke?) That scares me…you scare me…I am completely caught up in your spell, considering a lifestyle with you that I didn’t even know existed until last Saturday week and then you write something like that and I want to run screaming into the hills.
Now we’re getting somewhere. Finally.
I won’t, of course, because I’d miss you. Really miss you.
Oh dear. One step forward, two steps back.
…I’m also scared you’ll hurt me – physically and emotionally. After three months you could say goodbye, and where will that leave me if you do?
Better off? I love that the author keeps making other characters talk about how ‘brave’ Ana is when she doesn’t even have the guts to admit to herself that her first relationship will probably end in tears of some sort. Just like most people’s.
You were right when you said I didn’t have a submissive bone in my body…and I agree with you now. Having said that, I want to be with you, and if that’s what I have to do, I would like to try, but I think I’ll suck at it and end up black and blue – and I don’t relish that idea at all.
I know a lot of people have defended this book by saying ‘It’s a fantasy’, which is all very well. But this is the heart of the fantasy – settling for someone who doesn’t meet your sexual and emotional desires because you’re shit-scared of turning into a crazy old cat lady? I have to say it, people – fantasy is really not your strong suit, is it?
Ana then complains that he ‘dazzles’ her when they’re together, just in case you’d forgotten that you were reading Twilight fanfiction, and then catches another plane. She sleeps through the flight and wakes up in Savannah, then feels a ‘modicum of excitement’ at the thought of seeing her mother, but then quickly starts thinking about Christian again. He hasn’t e-mailed her back.
…there’s nothing in response. It’s five in the morning in Seattle; hopefully he’s still asleep and not playing mournful laments on his piano.
Of course he isn’t. What’s the point of passive-aggressive piano playing if there’s nobody there to hear you? And enough with the mournful laments, you dingbat. That must be the third or fourth time she’s dropped that tautology on us.
Having arrived at her destination, Ana meets her mother and current stepfather Bob, and together they head back to Ana’s mother’s house.
I always forget how unbearably hot it is in Savannah. Leaving the cool air-conditioned confines of the arrival terminal, we step into the Georgia heat like we’re wearing it. Whoa! It saps everything. I have to struggle out of Mom and Bob’s embrace so I can remove my hoodie. I am so glad I packed shorts. I miss the dry heat of Vegas sometimes, where I lived with Mom and Bob when I was seventeen, but this wet heat, even at 8:30 in the morning, takes some getting used to. By the time I’m in the back of Bob’s wonderfully air-conditioned Tahoe SUV, I feel limp, and my hair has started a frizzy protest at the heat.
Since I just had to suffer that paragraph, I felt you should too. After all, I promised to give you the full Fifty Shades experience without you having to read the book for yourself. Now, you may at this point be experiencing boredom so intense that your eyes roll back in your head and small trickles of blood leak from your ears, but don’t panic – this is perfectly normal. It’s all part of the package tour.
Ana thinks briefly about Jose and wonders if she should invite Christian to his photography show, which is yet another way in which she is a shitty friend. Yes, Ana – you should absolutely invite the guy who hates him to Jose’s big night. Then she wonders if Christian will still want to see her after ‘that e-mail’.
I no longer have any idea what e-mail she’s talking about, since I’ve been drowning in boredom and fucking e-mails ever since he gave her the bloody computer. They must be the only twentysomethings in the world who don’t text.
Having arrived in Florida Georgia, Ana goes to the beach with her mother, where they talk about men.
“So Ana…tell me about this man who has you in such a spin.”
Spin! How can she tell? What to say? I can’t talk about Christian in any great detail because of the NDA…
Gonna stop you there already, Ana. While you were Googling contracts and the legality of such, why didn’t it occur to you to also look up Non-Disclosure Agreements? The NDA you signed without even reading isn’t enforceable, you hopeless, steaming nitwit.
It’s so funny coming back to these books after writing a parody, it really is. Sometimes I’ll be there thinking ‘Did I just make Hanna Squeal seem unrealistically stupid in that last bit?’ and then I’ll crack open Fifty Shades of Grey and it’s like -‘Nope. Not even close.’
“His name’s Christian. He’s beyond handsome. He’s wealthy…too wealthy. He’s very complicated and mercurial.”
Yes – I feel inordinately pleased with my concise, accurate summary.
Look at her, throwing her big words around like a big girl. You missed out ‘psychopath’, Ana. That’s a jolly big word too, isn’t it?
Ana’s mother apparently shares her idiot daughter’s penchant for chucking dictionary words at a problem.
“Complicated and mercurial are the two pieces of information I want to concentrate on, Ana.”
“Oh Mom, his mood swings make me dizzy. He’s had a grim upbringing, so he’s very closed, difficult to gauge.”
Actually he’s pretty easy to figure out if you have a list of Red Flag behaviours and a copy of the Hare Checklist, but Ana hasn’t. You notice that the first thing she does is make excuses for him, since every time she’s spoken to her mother since meeting him she’s been in tears.
“Do you like him?”
“I more than like him.”
“Really?” She gapes at me.
“Men aren’t really complicated, Ana, honey. They are very simple, literal creatures…”
That’s all of you, by the way. All three point five billion men on earth. Simple, literal creatures. I’m beginning to see where Ana got her brains.
“…they usually mean what they say. And we spend hours trying to analyse what they’ve said – when really it’s obvious. If I were you, I’d take him literally. That might help.”
That might see you bound and gagged in a crate and being peed on on whatever depraved thing he’s got into his strange little head that particular week, but yeah. Is this supposed to be terrible advice?
I gape at her. This sounds like good advice.
Oh dear. It’s not.
I gaze at my mom. She is on her fourth marriage. Maybe she does know something about men after all.
Sometimes the comedy just writes itself, doesn’t it?
We hear briefly about Ana’s biological father, who was a moody Marine who was killed in a training accident. So he threw the wrong part of the grenade away, I’m guessing, if he was anything like the genetic mess he made when he produced the idiot sperm that made Ana. That or he failed to remember that human beings can’t breathe underwater.
Anyway, the moment Ana’s alone again she starts e-mailing again. Oh yippee fucking joy. There’s a long e-mail from Christian in her inbox.
I am annoyed that as soon as you put some distance between us, you communicate openly and honestly with me. Why can’t you do that when we’re together?
Oh, I don’t know, genius. Maybe it’s because when you’re not intimidating her with your temper you’re beguiling her with your sad baby-carrot dick or pouring alcohol down her throat so that she’ll do as she’s told? I know Ana’s stupid, but he’s not much of a rocket scientist either, is he?
He goes on to say that she should tell her mother that he’s her boyfriend (hello again, Red Flag behaviours) and that she should stop feeling like a whore when he spends money on her.
I work exceptionally hard, so I can spend my money as I see fit. I could buy you your heart’s desire, Anastasia, and I want to.
Just so long as her heart’s desire isn’t to be treated like an autonomous person with thoughts, feelings and convictions of her own. Because he can’t buy that and he has no intention of attempting to understand anything he can’t buy.
For such a bright, witty, beautiful young woman you have some real self-esteem issues…
Gosh, I wonder where she got those from.
I apologise for frightening you…
An apology! Mark that one on your calendars.
…I find the thought of instilling fear in you abhorrent.
Well, good. So you should. Does this mean you’re going to stop doing it?
However, the fact is – the thought of you bound and gagged turns me on (this is not a joke – it’s true)…
Right. That’ll be a ‘no’ then.
What I think you fail to realise is that in Dom/sub relationships it is the sub that has all the power. That’s you. I’ll repeat this – you are the one with all the power.
While this is perfectly true of real Dom/sub relationships with full consent and carefully agreed safewords, it bears no relation to the ill-researched mess presented in the pages of this crappy book.
I can’t touch you if you say no. That’s why we have an agreement – what you will and won’t do. If we try things and you don’t like them, we can revise the agreement…
…after you’re done making sure she didn’t call the cops.
My reason vanishes when we’re together – that’s the depth of my feeling for you. I understand your trepidation. I did try to stay away from you…
You did not, you big fat hairy liar. You stalked and kidnapped her at the immediate urgings of your monstrous Id.
I understand that this is a huge leap of faith for you. I have to earn your trust, but by the same token, you have to communicate with me when I am failing to do this. You seem so strong and self-contained, and then I read what you’ve written here, and I see another side to you.
I’ll bet you do. A side you’ll actually have to work to manipulate.
So yes, tell me what you want in terms of more. I will endeavour to keep an open mind, and I shall try and give you the space you need and stay away from you while you are in Georgia.
…which is why I will never stop e-mailing you, ever.
Ana is ecstatic at this.
He doesn’t want to lose me. He’s said that twice! He wants to make this work, too. Oh Christian, so do I! He’s going to try to stay away! Does this mean he might fail to stay away? Suddenly, I want to see him…
How’s that ‘space’ thing working out for you kids?
…We’ve been apart less than twenty-four hours, and knowing that I can’t see him for four days, I realise how much I miss him. How much I love him.
And boom goes the dumbass dynamite.
Anyway, it’s time for Ana to take a nap and once again, wakey-wakey, section breaky.
“Ana, honey.” The voice is soft and warm, full of love and sweet memories of times gone by.
A gentle hand brushes my face. My mom wakes me…
This is just to show you that Ana’s familial relationships suffer from the same show/tell disparity that affects everything else in this book. Whenever her family members appear she immediately feels the need to tell the reader just how much she loves them and what a warm, special and loving relationship they’ve always enjoyed. Unfortunately, since she rarely ever thinks about her relatives if she’s preoccupied with other thoughts (ChristianGreyChristianGreyChristianGrey) this means she comes across as protesting just a little too much, adding yet another facet of awful to her already shallow and unpleasant character.
Ana wakes up, thinks about Christian and wants to talk about Christian but still thinks that the non-disclosure agreement is legally binding. At this point she is actually sitting in front of a laptop, but rather than stuffing ‘legality of non-disclosure agreements’ into the magic Google box, she e-mails Christian instead.
She starts the e-mail with “Sir, you are quite the loquacious writer,” and flaps on about his twitchy palm, which has nothing on the fucking twitch I’ve developed in my lower left eyelid every time she starts e-mailing him in that smug, facetious tone that never fails to make me feel like I could vomit at such length and intensity that it would take a week for the whites of my eyes to return to normal.
As you can probably tell, this book is starting to irritate me.
I press send, and immediately the image of that evil witch Mrs. Robinson comes into my mind. I just can’t picture it. Christian being beaten by someone as old as my mother, it’s just so wrong.
You know what’s just so wrong? A woman with a degree in English splicing commas all over the place with reckless abandon. I’m sorry – I’m so sick of this crap that I’ve gone all Ana and started focusing on pointless details rather than recognising the unholy mess that is the bigger picture. Of course it’s wrong. He was fifteen at the time.
Again I wonder what damage she’s wrought. My mouth sets in a hard grim line. I need a doll to stick pins in, maybe that way I can vent some of the anger I feel at this stranger.
My notes at this point read ‘you fucking idiot’. I have nothing to add.
There’s a further several pages of e-mail filler in which they start to get sexy, which basically means we get the whole twatty nonsense of e-mail addresses, subject lines and signatures written out in full so that he can send her one word e-mails (“Slowly…”) detailing the way he’d like to unzip her dress.
JUST TEXT EACH OTHER PICTURES OF YOUR GENITALS LIKE NORMAL HORNY PEOPLE. FOR FUCK’S SAKE.
God, is it any wonder these books are such bloated horrors?
The next couple of pages go quickly because Christian isn’t in them, and then she hurries back to e-mail him and I wonder if the Romans were right about it not hurting so badly if you do it quickly in a warm bath.
From: Christian Grey
Okay, you got me. Finally one of their ‘witty’ subject lines actually made me laugh, although probably not for the reason the author intended.
Anyway, nothing of interest transpires during this e-mail exchange, although you’ll be happy to know they both write like absolute cunts.
Her: I would never be unwittingly obtuse, Mr. Grey.
Him: I thought I had a more concupiscent effect on you. That has been my experience, and most pleasurable it has been too.
He tells her he’s off to have dinner with an old friend, prompting Ana to freak out.
Which old friend? I didn’t think Christian had any old friends…
He doesn’t have any new friends either. (That will never stop being amusing to me.)
…except…her. I frown at the screen. Why does he still have to see her? Searing, green, bilious jealousy courses through me unexpectedly.
In Ana-land it’s not so much fucked up that he’s having dinner with the woman who raped him when he was fifteen, but that he might still have feelings for the woman who raped him when he was fifteen. Because Ana is just that gross.
She thinks about Mrs. Robinson some more, works herself into a tizzy and then goes and stuffs ‘Christian Grey’ into Google. It’s a good thing that – like sexting – autocompletes don’t exist in the world of this novel, because if they did I’m sure his would be a thing of twisted beauty.
Christian Grey kidnapping allegations
Christian Grey third woman’s body found
Christian Grey dancing goodbye horses
Would you fuck me? I’d fuck me. I’d fuck me hard.
Having Googled her beloved, Ana looks at some pictures of him online.
…then picture after glorious picture of the most photogenic man I know, intimately. Intimately? Do I know Christian intimately?
No. You’ve been banging him for less than a fortnight. How shallow do you have to be to even ask that question?
I gaze at him, such a beautiful face, a beautiful face that could be staring at Mrs. Damned Robinson right now.
Sometimes, although Ana and Christian’s ridiculous relationship makes absolutely no sense to anyone who understands how normal relationships are supposed to work, you get these odd flashes of how – purely by accident – they are strangely perfect for one another. They’re both absolute fucking lunatics.
From: Anastasia Steele
Subject: Suitable Dinner Companions
Date: May 31 2011 23:58 EST
To: Christian Grey
I hope you and your friend had a very pleasant dinner.
PS Was it Mrs. Robinson?
See what I mean? Completely mental.
Ana then goes to sleep for a section break, but not before thinking that she wishes she weren’t two and a half thousand miles apart from Christian, because she misses him. Even though she never actually stops e-mailing him long enough to miss him.
In the next section Ana’s mother ‘has decreed we should spend the evening in a bar’. I’m sure she had to drag her oft-sloshed offspring kicking and screaming all the way. Actually Mom provides an insight into not only where Ana got her brains, but also her cast-iron, Teflon lined liver.
I am on my second Cosmopolitan. My mother is on her third. She is offering more insights into the fragile male ego. It’s very disconcerting.
“You see, Ana, men think that anything that comes out of a woman’s mouth is a problem to be solved. Not some vague idea that we’d like to kick around and talk about for a while and then forget. Men prefer action.”
Third Cosmopolitan and fourth husband, by the way. It’s all adding up here, isn’t it?
I have not heard from Christian all day. No e-mails, nothing. I am tempted to call him to see if he’s okay. My worst fear is that he’s been in a car accident; my second worst fear is that Mrs. Robinson has got her evil claws into him again. I know it’s irrational, but where she’s concerned I seem to have lost all sense of perspective.
What sense of perspective? Ana, you have no sense of perspective. Your entire reaction to the revelation that he was sexually abused as a child is basically ‘does he like the woman who molested him more than he likes me?’
He was having dinner with her. My scalp prickles as adrenaline and fury lance through my body, all my worst fears realised. How could he? I am away for two days, and he runs off to that evil bitch.
See what I mean? The girl ain’t right. If her house burned down in the middle of the night she’d be standing there in the street wondering if the blonde lady next-door was judging her for wearing pink bunny pyjamas.
Anyway, after some further back and forth bullshit via BlackBerry, Ana orders up another cocktail and then gets this in her in-box.
This is not something I wish to discuss via e-mail. How many Cosmopolitans are you going to drink?
THE CALLS WERE COMING FROM INSIDE THE BAR.