Readthroughs and Random Thoughts

Writing about what I'm reading…

50 Shades of Grey, E. L. James; Chapter Six

Chapter Six is where, oh my, stuff starts to happen. Normally I’d snark about being this far into a book and only NOW seeing some action, but you know what? It held my attention for most of my train ride into work this evening, and that’s the first time it’s done that, so I’m not going to jinx it with nastiness.

 

Besides, there’s plenty of other stuff to snark about.

 

Grey drives Ana home. In addition to his other dislikeable qualities, he’s an SUV driver as well. (I know: wtf? Dude is a bazillionaire and this is the best he can do, wheelswise?) I could understand him having one if he had kids whom he took camping every few weeks (oh god, he doesn’t have kids, does he? Please don’t tell me it procreated) or if he’s doing animal rescue… or he needs space to lug his DIY home improvement stuff around in or something, but for a single dude in the city, clearly he’s just being a wanker showing off about his status symbol. And compensating for something, most likely, because he’s too young for a midlife-crisis-mobile.

Anyway, within the confines of his big, hard extension of himself/monument to his manhood and virility, they don’t talk about what happened in the elevator. This isn’t comfortable no-need-for-words not-talking, this is just them being children and not dealing with their issues. It was Ana’s first kiss. Consent was just as much a non-issue as it was when Jose tried that schtick.

Being mature and rational and not-at-all delusional, Ana decides to

 

[…]assign it mythical, Arthurian legend, Lost City of Atlantis status. It never happened, it never existed. Perhaps I imagined it all.

 

Who needs Grey fucking with your head when you’re gaslighting yourself?

 

No. I touch my lips, swollen from his kiss. It definitely happened. I am a changed woman. I want this man desperately and he wanted me.

 

Wow. What’s she going to do when they actually screw? Explode?

I glance at him. Christian is his usual polite, slightly distant self.

 

Whoa. Back the fuck up there: polite? There are lots of words we could use to describe Christian Grey, many of which aren’t polite, but the ones that are well, don’t include “polite.”

Unless I have a crappy grasp of the English language and my thesaurus and dictionary functions are broken: Grey talking down to, commanding, bossing around, and scolding Ana for acting like a typical (albeit, ditzy) twenty-something– not to mention being really fucking creepy in between his Batman-sized emo moments– I wouldn’t call any of that polite. Maybe he looks polite compared to a guy who repeatedly asks you out whilst ignoring your flat-out rejection and the friend who plied you with margaritas and then tried to date-rape you, but “not hideous” doesn’t equal polite.

There is music playing in the car while Ana thinks.

The car interior is filled with the sweetest, most magical music of two women singing.

Hey, that’s just reminded me: New Tegan and Sara album out. Please let them be listening to Tegan and Sara.

“What are we listening to?”

“It’s ‘The Flower Duet’ by Delibes, from the opera Lakme. Do you like it?”

Oh. Sadface. It’s not Tegan and Sara.

He likes opera because he’s cultured and intelligent and stuffy and rich and that’s not at all a stereotype of billionaires. The song in question is one I didn’t recognise until I looked for it on YouTube. I remember it from a TV commercial when I was a kid… and now that I’m writing this, I’m trying to remember what it was for. (Furniture? Luxury cars? Funeral home?) But it’s one of those songs that everyone’s heard at least once somewhere. This thing is like the Pachelbel’s Canon of opera.

[F]or a fleeting moment, he seems his age: young, carefree, and heart-stoppingly beautiful. Is this the key to him? Music?

This is the part where, I swear to a god I don’t actually believe in, if E. L. James brings an otherwise awesome band down by ‘Do the music for the movie of this book,’ I will turn fucking murderous.

Something I’ve wanted to elaborate on before reading this chapter was the whole situation with Muse and Twilight, but I guess this has cropped up now because of the music mention, so I’ll say it now: please, for the love of all that is good and holy, don’t let E. L. James corrupt and co-opt a good fucking band to prop up this drek. And please, musos, don’t jump on this bandwagon. We will laugh at you, not with you.

Leave the soundtrack to an experimental Justin Bieber or Little Mix or have Nicki Minaj do it and take the piss without most people realising. Or something.

Ahem.

 

Ana asks if he likes classical music.

“My taste is eclectic, Anastasia, everything from Thomas Tallis to the Kings of Leon*. It depends on my mood. You?”

Cue Sex on Fire reference somewhere.

E. L. James demonstrates that she knows Thomas Tallis– Tudor, church choral music (nicely broody for times in a Darker-than-Grey funk, I guess) and then Grey presses a button and Sex on Fire starts playing.

Wow. I’m fucking psychic, aren’t I?

 

Also, how good is his technology? I wish I had a car stereo which could magically do that for me at the touch of a button. Or is this one just like all his other employees and scared shitless of Grey’s supreme ultra alpha maleness?

The song is interrupted by Grey getting some phone calls and basically being “cold and controlling” (now that sounds more accurate than “polite”), and Ana being surprised that his job is just about getting “nagging phone calls” all day. I don’t know what she thinks a CEO does: nakedly frolics in swimming pools full of money all day? Buy a few senators and try to get labor laws changed and the minimum wage lowered? It isn’t really much of a stretch that people contact him with the expectation that he keep things in line, make decisions, and give his approval on things.

 

Anyway, who should ring next but Elliot? First thing he asks is if big bro got laid. Total fucking class right there, especially when you consider that Ana was passed out when Grey took her back to the hotel. (And who asks their siblings these things off the bat anyway? I’m fairly openminded and willing to give pretty much anything at least a passing thought, but I don’t want to think about anyone I’m related to “getting laid.” Ew. And even if my sister and I were close enough to have a civil conversation, I sure as fuck wouldn’t be asking her that. She mightn’t have the same scruples, but that’s one of the reasons I don’t talk to her any more.)

“Hello, Elliot– I’m on speakerphone and I’m not alone in the car.” Christian sighs.

“Who’s with you?”

Christian rolls his eyes. “Anastasia Steele.”

“Hi, Ana!”

Ana!

“Hello, Elliot.”

What did I miss? Why was Ana’s wantonly red-hula-skirt-wearing subconscious getting excited about him calling her Ana?

 

“Heard a lot about you,” Elliot murmurs huskily. Christian frowns.

 

Oh god, don’t tell me he’s going to be another one? I swear, there are so many creepers in this book, I could be playing fucking MineCraft.

 “I’m dropping Anastasia off now.” Christian emphasises my full name. “Shall I pick you up?”

“Sure.”

“See you shortly.” Christian hangs up, and the music is back.

“Why do you insist on calling me Anastasia?”

“Because it’s your name.”

“I prefer Ana.”

“Do you now?”

Hang the fuck ON. We have now arrived at double-standard city, folks. Remember Grey’s broody “No one calls me Christian without express permission” thing a few chapters back? How come he gets to ignore Ana’s preference about this? The girl prefers a shortened version of her name. Not for you to decide, buddy. Also not for you to get snippy and controlling about, and if you’re not going to be considerate to that preference of hers, what the fuck else are you going to purposely ignore her preference on? How would YOU like it if she ignored YOUR requests on this?

(Sorry, but I have a REAL THING about the people-using-your-full-name-when-you-prefer-an-abbreviation thing. My parents insisted on it and cracked the shits when I was going by an abbreviation. [And it’s not like the abbreviation is sleazy or anything, either.] My sister refers to me with quotation marks around my name. It just shows a fucking huge level of disrespect towards someone, about something so fucking simple and spelled-out. And if Grey can’t respect something as basic as this about Ana, what else isn’t he going to respect?)

Finally he talks about the elevator incident. Stating, reassuringly, that it won’t happen again. Unless it’s premeditated. And yes, I realise this is meant to sound non-creepy (or undo the fact that she didn’t consent or something) but it doesn’t have that effect. Christian Grey crossed the creepy event horizon long ago, and there’s no coming back. Even if he keeps his mouth shut and doesn’t move, he’s amassed enough creepiness to still be disturbing, kind of like a ventriloquist’s dummy.

 

He pulls up to Ana’s place and then it occurs to her that she never gave him her address, and then it occurs to her, in a rare moment of believable continuity, that since he stalked her and found an address to send fourteen thousand dollars books to, he knows where she lives all right.

He opens her car door which is meant to be gentlemanly, but which is probably more due to the fact that he’s enabled a from-the-inside childlock mechanism and it can’t be opened from the inside and he doesn’t want to draw attention to the fact.

 

As they head in, Ana’s off in la-la land thinking about what she’d like to do to him and how she wanted to run her fingers through his “decadent, untidy hair” (how these two words ended up in the same sentence together is nearly as big a mystery as to the popularity of this series) and how she didn’t actually get to touch him even though he’s got her restrained and is pulling her hair and making her kiss him.

Kate and Elliot are chilling in the apartment and apparently

[T]he fourteen thousand dollar books have disappeared. Thank heavens. I have plans for them.

 

God knows what that means. Is she going to sell them for drug money? I’m going to burn them by black candles at midnight and do some sort of controlling love bind spell? Maybe she’s going to slice them up and make a “cute storage project” ala Lauren Conrad. *shudders* (Hey, I’ve got an idea! Maybe Lauren Conrad could play Ana in the movie! She would be perfect… and she wouldn’t need to do much acting, which is perfect for her, um, abilities. Or lack thereof.)

Anyway, from books, we go to Kate, who has

[…] the most un-Kate-like ridiculous grin on her face, and she looks mussed up in a sexy kind of way.

At least you can appreciate her sexiness, I guess.

Kate eyes Christian suspiciously, which is what anyone who even has half an idea about the guy would do (especially if he seems to have a thing for blondes and you are one), and says hello to Ana. Christian is annoyingly formal.

And by that, I mean: you know when people want to talk down to you but they don’t want to look rude, so they do it in a pompous, snotty sort of way? Like how when you’re in school and you have to call teachers Mister and Miss So-and-so, and they go with the first names, only when you’re in deep shit, suddenly it’s “What do you think you were doing, Miss Smith?” Christian Grey is a specialist in that crap, and he refers to Kate as “Miss Kavanagh.” Even Elliot corrects him, and Christian rewards Kate with a more informal hello and Elliot with a glare.

Elliot says hello to Ana, and Grey says quite abruptly that they’d better go. Mildly, though not at ALL pissy, right? Grey isn’t just aggressive-aggressive, he’s passive-aggressive, too.

 

Also, their interaction and their differences are far too similar to the Gavin brothers in the Ace Attorney series. The younger one is friendly and likeable and a bit of a flirt, and the older one is this creepy, controlling, though professionally established type who is all about the cultured stuffs. It might as well be canon that the older one is a sadist and into kinky sex, too. (Actually, not that I think about it, Kristoph Gavin is another person who could wipe the floor with Grey and it would be hilarious and awesome.) Fandom most frequently seems to pair them up with one another, and meeting Elliot, that was my first thought: “I wonder if there’s Greycest out there?”

(Doesn’t look like there is, and I shouldn’t have gotten distracted. This was actually the first chapter of this book where I didn’t feel like I had undiagnosed ADD.)

 

Anyway, Kate and Elliot are all kissy and smoochy as they’re saying goodbye, and Ana stands there thinking, “Why can’t you kiss me like that?” about Grey. Because Elliot, it seems, is a normal(-ish, though I thought that about Jose, too, didn’t I?) human being.

 

Elliot then gives us the classic memorable line, which gets repeated by Grey to Ana, we have all come to know and love thanks to this book:

“Laters, baby.”

 

Blink.

Blinkblinkblink. Um. What was that? This is meant to pass for romance? I was wondering if E. L. James was the result of a generation that has grown up on internet porn and Twilight and cynicism about romance, and this is the result, but actually she’s, er, fifty. “Laters, baby,” is like the Nelson-from-The Simpsons romantic farewell of “Smell ya later.” Only shortened.

This has a strange effect on Kate.

Kate just melts. I’ve never seen her melt before—the words “romantic” and “compliant” come to mind. Compliant Kate. Boy, Elliot must be good.

 

Maybe it’s not Kate who’s come back, but a robot replica of her which is perfectly happy and compliant and well-behaved and fucks like a machine because it is one. Maybe that’s why Christian needs to go home and pick up Ana at eight: because he’s got to clean up what was left of the real Kate. Maybe Stephanie Meyer isn’t just the only person who inspired this book but Ira Levin deserves a mention, too.

Also, I hate to call it, but compliance doesn’t often come from someone’s partner being “good,” especially if that person is independent and a bit of an alpha to begin with. It can and frequently does come from fear. It might be fear of something as explicitly dangerous as someone cracking your skull open or as benign and abstract as losing your job and facing a disciplinary hearing from your boss’ boss, but fear can be used to bring about compliance fairly simply. And since Elliot is Christian’s brother, I’m now wondering if this creeper stuff runs in the family ala Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Elliot must be good? I’ll reserve my judgement until I get more evidence.

Meanwhile, Christian finds it amusing, and

He tucks a stray strand of my hair that has worked its way free of my ponytail behind my ear. My breath hitches at the contact and I lean my head into his fingers.

Ew. I’ll be honest: a pet hate of mine, total nails-on-blackboard stuff for me—is people unexpectedly touching me or fiddling with me. I’m sure that gesture was meant to be romantic or just further evidence that Grey is a control freak who has to micromanage every aspect of Ana’s appearance, but, well, yuck.

 

His eyes soften, and he runs his thumb across my lower lip.

 

This isn’t to say anything of how awkward it must be for Kate and Elliot, who are, I believe, in the room and witnessing this little display. Who really wants to see their big brother do this stuff? Actually, who really wants to see anyone doing this sort of thing? Brief kisses, hugs, hand-holding, meh. Stroking one another’s lips and gazing at one another like one party is about to say “Take me now!”? Well, as Ana’s inner monologue chided Kate for happily kissing Elliot: get a room.

Grey murmurs, “Laters, baby,” because apparently this is what normal, balanced, less-creepy-than-him men say to the girls they want to jump in bed with, and promises to pick Ana up at eight.

 

When they’re gone, Kate asks the big question. Which isn’t “OMG, are you okay?” which would have been mine had my best friend disappeared, drunk, at a club with a creep.

“So did you?”

Nearly as bad as Elliot asking if Christian got laid.

“No,” I snap back irritably, hoping that it will halt the questions. We head back into the apartment. “You obviously did though.” I can’t contain my envy.

No fucking shit, Ana. And you’re a crappy friend. I could understand a bit of jealousy and irritation if you’d been wanting Elliot—or KATE—(we are sailing—we are SAAAAAAILLLLIIIIIING!) but for fuck’s sake, your bestest bud goes out, has herself a fun time, looks happier than you’ve seen her before, and scores a cute, seemingly nice bloke, and all you can think of is that it sucks that she had sex and you didn’t.

Kate always manages to ensnare men. She is irresistible, beautiful, sexy, funny, forward… all the things that I’m not.

 

Firstly: no more adjectives. PLEASE. Secondly, Kate clearly is resistible, or else Grey would be wanting her and not you, Ana. Thirdly, Kate has said one funny thing in the entire book. One funny comment maketh not a comedian. Fourthly: did anyone else notice the absence of the word “intelligent” in that pot pourri of description? Either Ana doesn’t think Kate is very bright, or Ana thinks she’s smart, OR Ana has failed to notice either Kate’s intelligence and her own lack of it and not considered it as part of the reason that guys find Kate attractive. Sorry, but intelligence often goes hand-in-hand with “sexy” and “funny.” I felt that was a distinction worth pointing out. I wish Ana would at least dislike herself for being a fucking moron, rather than for being white and thin and having big blue eyes and a heap of other things which conform perfectly to the western standard of beauty. (Next, I’ll bet, she’ll be complaining that she’s tall. And that when she eats, she never puts on weight… except in her stupid, clumsy, DD boobs, because what man will ever love a skinny girl with big boobs?)

“I’m seeing him again this evening.” She claps her hands and jumps up and down like a small child.

Repeat after me, E. L. James: Children, not sexy. We’re not doing Lolita here, and that book was actually creepy as all hell in case you haven’t read it.

She cannot contain her excitement and happiness, and I can’t help but feel happy for her.

Oh, that’s big of you, Ana.

 A happy Kate… this is going to be interesting.

She’s probably unhappy because she’s been living with you for four years, Ana, and you’re whiny, childish and raging the world’s biggest pity party. Eventually that shit’s gonna cramp one’s style and drag them down.

 

Anyway, Ana explains that Grey is taking her to Seattle, and Kate suggests that maybe tonight there’ll be a bit of the old in-out after asking if Ana likes him enough.

 

She raises her eyebrows.

“Wow. Ana Steele, finally falling for a man, and it’s Christian Grey—hot, sexy billionaire.”

“Oh yeah—it’s all about the money.” I smirk, and we both fall into a fit of giggles.

 

I’m raising my eyebrows, because this sort of conversation comes across as… well, I don’t know many girls who are terribly surprised at their heterosexual buddies falling for men, and Kate has expressed shock or surprise at this a few times now.

Grey would make a really good beard for several reasons, and he’d totally have the legal manpower to scare off anyone suggesting that his girlfriend’s strictly vagetarian, too.

Just sayin’.

 

Kate asks about the new outfit, too, and about whether they kissed and decides that Ana needs a makeover. Before she goes to work, for some reason. Ana worries that such a makeover will be a whole heap of adjectives, and that she has to go to work in an hour, but apparently Kate can work within that time frame.

Thankfully we avoid another long, superfluous, boring, dull, asinine and description-packed (see what I did there?) recount of a day’s work at the hardware store, though we get to hear about this makeover.

 Under Kate’s tireless and frankly intrusive instruction, my legs and underarms are shaved to perfection, my eyebrows plucked, and I am buffed all over. It has been a most unpleasant experience. But she assures me that this is what men expect these days.

 

Oh gawd. Oh no. Firstly, ignoring the eyebrows: you can shave and scrub in the shower. Five to ten minutes generally does the trick. You also don’t need someone to do it with or for you. But if Kate prefers to, well…

 

Secondly, WTF, Kate? WHO CARES WHAT MEN EXPECT? There are reports of young men expecting that you don’t need lube or foreplay for first-time sexual encounters because they’ve received their sex ed from internet porn. There are men who expect that women’s bodies look like airbrushed models in I-can’t-believe-it’s-not-porn mags and that anyone bigger than that is fat. There are men who expect women to do farts that smell like roses and to be naturally good at cooking. Men have some pretty warped-arse ideas about women and what their bodies should look like. At 27, Christian Grey should be old enough, and smart enough, to realise that women, like men, have hair and imperfect eyebrows and that’s acceptable. And if he is so horrified by imperfect eyebrows or body hair, then he’s a giant ball of douchebutter.

Also, seriously: shaving some stuff and exfoliating isn’t such an ordeal. I thought Kate was bringing out the Brazillian wax and the home sphincter bleaching kit. (I think a small part of me died when I learned that the latter actually does exist and is more popular than you’d think, particularly amongst younger women hellbent on providing men “what they expect.”)

 

What else will he expect? I have to convince Kate that this is what I want to do.

Um, why?

Anyway, Ana gets thinking about the Jose issue. I’d have thought that getting your friend drunk (or at least encouraging her to continue drinking when she already is,) with the intention of sexually assaulting her is a bit of a dealbreaker on the friendship front. Apparently I am horribly misguided because Jose has been ringing Ana nonstop, and Kate has been answering the phone and lying about her not being around. Apparently no one in the book knows how to say “Go away you fucking wannabe rapist and if you come near my friend again, your testicles will be dangling from the grill of my truck.”

Ana’s decided to “let him stew” because she’s “still angry with him.” Let’s play the minimising game, kids.

 

Ana wonders about the Christian Grey paperwork, clearly demonstrating that she hasn’t read very much about sex stuff and she hasn’t been a participant in a large-enough fandom, because honestly, there will always be at least one total power exchange fanfic where there’s the issue of a contract being drawn up and signed. (There are surprisingly few in the Phoenix Wright fandom, actually. Given that it’s a series about lawyers, one of whom is a few statements away from being a dominatrix, you’d expect a bit more of the contract stuff. Then again, from all the law students I’ve known: everyone HATES contract law. Even lawyers seem to hate contract law. It’s like the Accounting end of lawyering apparently, so maybe it’s not that weird that a fandom full of law students avoid writing about it in fic.)

In addition to her cluelessness about the paperwork, she’s excited because, like a teenager in a coming of age movie

Tonight’s the night! After all this time, am I ready for this?

 

No, Ana, I’d argue, you are not. But apparently only you know when the right time to have sex is. That requires some introspection, which is something beyond constant self-flagellation. But hey, you crazy kids are gonna do what you do anyway, just make sure you know where the closest sexual health clinic is.

 My inner goddess glares at me, tapping her foot impatiently. She’s been ready for this for years, and she’s ready for anything with Christian Grey, but I still don’t understand what he sees in me… mousey Ana Steele—it makes no sense.

 

OMG, a wild inner goddess has appeared. I was wondering when she was going to turn up since I’ve heard so much about her. And the allusions to Ana’s virginity have me thinking of Columbia and Magenta in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, watching Janet singing T-t-t-touch Me, singing about how she and Brad had only ever kissed before, and the subsequent  “But she hasn’t?” and the knowledgeable nod of the head.

 

Also, could it be that—as I’ve said before, Christian Grey is captivated by how little self-worth Ana has? He can abuse the crap out of her without having to worry about coming up against her self-esteem. Seriously, it’s like a conman finding a lonely elderly pensioner who is scared for their future and who knows nothing about investments. And it’s just as nasty, and just as romantic, too.

 

He picks her up from work with Taylor in tow, and they exchange the typical “How was your day?” stuff you always do on awkward first dates with people you don’t know very well. Ana wonders where the helicopter is. They go into a building, up another elevator (my inner Miles Edgeworth is feeling faint and waiting for a breakdown) and they’re all smirky about what happened last time they were in one of those travelling fuckboxes.

 

Thankfully it’s only a short trip, and they get to the helicopter. Ana wonders is this is misuse of company property.

Um. It’s his company. He’s allowed to do what he likes. He’s also a billionaire, so I’m pretty sure he’s not that upset about the cost. And if he’s shrewd, he’ll probably claim it on his tax anyway as a business-related expense if he’s got a savvy accountant.

Anyway, there’s an old dude waiting at a small office near the chopper who gets to see Christian being polite (clearly he’s distinguishable from everyone else in this story, so he’ll be a major plot point, I suspect) and he says they’re good to go. And they get in.

Now, I’ve never been in a helicopter before, so I can’t vouch for the accuracy of this stuff. I do know that this, though, made me roll my eyes:

“Sit—don’t touch anything” he orders as he climbs in behind me.

You know, because that’s TOTALLY what someone who is a) scared of you/hellbent on winning your approval and getting to do the horizontal sausage hide with you, and b) inexperienced in the fine womanly art of helicopter piloting is going to do, right? And anyway, if he’s asking her to sit, he’s asking her to touch at least some surface with her arse.

I sit down in my allotted seat, and he crouches beside me to strap me into the harness. It’s a four-point harness with all the straps connecting to one central buckle. He tightens both of the upper straps, so I can hardly move. He’s so close and intent on what he’s doing. If I could only lean forward, my nose would be in his hair. He smells clean, fresh, heavenly, but I’m fastened securely in my seat and effectively immobile.

 

I have a horrid feeling that this was meant to be erotic. In that subtle kind of suggestive way full of innuendo. Let’s just say that it already sounded like part of a description from a BDSM sex scene.

He glances up and smiles, like he’s enjoying his usual private joke, his eyes heated.

 

At five-hundred feet, you can scream, but no one will hear you.

“You’re secure, no escaping,” he whispers.

 

The idea of willingly trying to escape a helicopter, particularly one in motion—never occurred to me until Grey said that. Is he going to do something to make her want to escape, mid-flight?

He tells her to breathe again. I think I was right and this is some domly thing. He grabs her chin and chastely kisses her. And tells her he likes this harness, like it’s a favourite piece of BDSM furniture.

He sits down, and they prepare for flight. Oh yeah, he’s a pilot, too.

 

To demonstrate this, we get a lot of official-sounding technical helicopter talk from him, a lot of awed gazing both out the window and at him from Ana. There is mundane, meaningless conversation. He checks to see if she’s impressed. Insecurities to the max, hey? In amongst all that there’s some more nothing conversation and she remembers Jose and how he’s going to leave him stew a bit longer.

Thankfully, the trip comes to an end, but Ana starts freaking out about how she’s going to be and what she’s going to do to put him off. Just be yourself Ana… Oh, wait: that actually sucks. A lot. If you can’t be yourself, be Batman. Oh, wait: that’s him.

Oh, I don’t fucking know, Ana, just close your eyes and think of Kate. He probably won’t even realise, since giving a shit about other people and how to treat them really isn’t his strong suit anyway.

I wish I’d listened to Kate and borrowed one of her dresses, but I like my black jeans, and I’m wearing a soft mint-green shirt and Kate’s black jacket. I look smart enough.

 

Again with the clothing descriptions. And unless he’s got the same level of interest in ladieswear as Taylor does, he’s not going to be worried about what you’re wearing, Ana: the thing you’re thinking you’re going to be doing conventionally involves the discarding of clothing.

Ana continues psyching herself up, terrified that she’s not going to be good enough for Grey, and admiring him. And no shit, that’s pretty much all she does. Until this:

“You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do. You know that, don’t you?” His tone is so earnest, desperate even, his eyes impassioned. He takes me by surprise.

“I’d never do anything I didn’t want to do, Christian.” And as I say the words, I don’t quite feel their conviction, because at this moment in time, I’d probably do anything for this man seated beside me. But this does the trick. He’s mollified.

 

Let’s see: only recently Ana was getting shaved and plucked and exfoliated despite not wanting to. Before that, she was eating when she wasn’t hungry because she’d been told to. The entire Christian Grey mess started when she interviewed him: something Ana didn’t want to do, too. I’m guessing Christian knows you’re lying, but he’s going to pretend he doesn’t because down the track, he might argue that this looks like informed consent.

 

They depart the helicopter (yay, no overly-detailed description!) and go inside (where there is overly-detailled description of his interior decoration: the place sounds like an old-world art gallery with mirrors, and it’s huge, of course, and there is description of the assorted furniture but that gets boring, so let’s just say there’s lots of it and there’s a grand piano. There is also art, but none of that is described, so god only knows if there are Picassos or Caravaggio prints or Mapplethorpe photos or that weird New Yorky random modern stuff lining the walls: it’s art and apparently art is all a big generic term for everything).

 

He asks if Ana wants a drink and apparently she mistakes that for humour since she was drunk the previous night. I’ve known alcoholics—and non-alcoholics—who’ll drink the following evening after an epic binge drink the previous night. Hell, I used to be one of the latter. Just because you got trashed LAST night doesn’t mean you can’t behave yourself and stick to a sensible limit the following night, right?

They have French wine. Ana is still freaking out about being pathetic and about wanting to jump Grey’s bones, and presumably she looks ill and pale because Grey asks her if she wants something to eat. Not with the food again. Please.

 

There is some really pointless one-word-sentence dialogue about random things which starts making me want to find something else to read, and talk of Tess and Hardy and the books. There are references to Tess of the D’Urbervilles which I don’t understand because I haven’t read it and its inclusion in here is hardly what I’d call a great advertisement. If anything, I’m getting The Twilight Effect on Tess.

 

What’s that? Let’s just say that for awhile, anything that got associated with Twilight kind of got the cold shoulder from me. I went off vampires for awhile, even, and to be honest, I’m still recovering from that. I also became incredibly suss on two of my favourite UK bands ever thanks to Stephanie Meyer’s gushing and the movies’ soundtracks: I harboured a hell of a lot of cynicism towards The Editors (who never really got back in my good books after that last album) and Muse (we’re good now; long story short and I’ll elaborate later, but Muse has become my “The Administration” music even in spite of Twilight, so I have to forgive them) because of this. Let’s just say I’m not in ANY rush to read Tess after this.

 

“It seemed appropriate. I could hold you to some impossibly high ideal like Angel Clare or debase you completely like Alec D’Urberville,” he murmurs, and his eyes flash, dark and dangerous.

“If there are only two choices, I’ll take the debasement.” I whisper, gazing at him. My subconscious is staring at me in awe.

 

Wait: subconsciouses don’t do that. They’re “beneath” conscious, you don’t know what they’re doing. Maybe your inner goddess or someone is staring at you in awe, but that’s not the subconscious.

He gasps.

“Anastasia, stop biting your lip, please. It’s very distracting. You don’t know what you’re saying.”

“That’s why I’m here.”

 

Oh gawd, the lip-biting. I’m glad that was never one of my points of interest because it’s been Gerbil Effected now.

Also, an English Lit major should really know what debase actually means. She wants to be shamed, humiliated and degraded? Really?

 Apparently that gets him excited enough to bring out a bit of paper from the next room.

“This is a nondisclosure agreement.” He shrugs and has the grace to look a little embarrassed. “My lawyer insists on it.” He hands it to me. I’m completely bemused. “If you’re going for option two, debasement, you’ll need to sign this.”

“And if I don’t want to sign anything?”

“Then it’s Angel Clare high ideals, well, for most of the book anyway.”

Most of the book? What book? This one? Did Grey just break the Fourth Wall there?

So his lawyer knows all about this, too. To be honest, I’m now curious about the statement and what he thinks he can get away with. One of the first cases I remember in uni was about a bunch of masochistic dudes who were doing all kinds of painful stuff at parties and how their consent wasn’t actually considered enough to make it legal.

Ana asks what the statement is that she’s expected to sign to.

“It means you cannot disclose anything about us. Anything to anyone.”

 

You hear that, Ana? You get to be his dirty little secret. He gets all the power, you can’t, theoretically, even tell your mother that you’re dating the guy. Not having seen the statement and not knowing if “anything” and “anyone” are defined, I believe those terms are fairly fucking clear.

 

As well as just being horrible (anyone else been someone’s dirty little secret? Unless you have the same need for secrecy, it’s about as fun as watching eight hours straight of televangelism. And just as great for your self-esteem) it’s also SCARY. One of the few decent things I remember Ana doing was wanting to tell Kate that she was leaving the club because it was safe and friends look out for one another and stuff.

Let’s say you’ve met someone a couple of times and they’ve raised a few red flags in your mind: are you truly, honestly, seriously going to sign a bit of paper saying that you won’t say a single word about your interactions with them? (On another hand, though, if that person were to engage in criminal activity—including assault—I believe that the contract wouldn’t be worth the paper it was written on. Then again, this is America, and America’s got some rather… interesting judges and some rather nauseating rulings on women’s rights, especially when it comes to cases involving intimate partner abuse.)

I stare at him in disbelief. Holy shit. It’s bad, really bad, and now I’m very curious to know.

 

This is where you just want a Troy McClure moment of “I fuck fish” to happen, isn’t it? Every now and then someone’s kinks are just so far out there that you can’t help but wonder and then go “Oh, wow.” And you feel better for knowing that whatever you’re into, it’s never ever going to top that.

“Okay, I’ll sign.”

He hands me a pen. “Aren’t you even going to read it?”

“No.”

He frowns.

“Anastasia, you should always read anything you sign,” he admonishes me.

 

This is what a generation of kids raised on End User License Agreements does to people. Just check the box and off ya go because you want to get the latest version of iTunes, dammit, and it’s going to take long enough to download and then open without having to read forty pages of crap beforehand, right?

Fine when we’re talking software. Not fine when we’re talking people’s lives. My inner law student is asking why can’t  he go all domineering and make her read the fucking thing since he’s already made her do other stuff… Oh, wait: she doesn’t have to do anything she doesn’t want to. Including reading legal documents which might actually give her some idea about her safety around this guy.

Part of me is going, “You fucking creep,” another part of me is going, “Wow, that was actually a nicely played little headfuck.”

 

 

Ana tells him that reading it doesn’t matter because she won’t tell anyone anything anyway, Grey likes this, Ana signs anyway, Katy Perry’s Hot and Cold suddenly starts playing in my head, and she takes a sip of her wine and puts her copy of the contract in her bag.

 “Does this mean you’re going to make love to me tonight, Christian?”

 

Cool, she called him Christian. Not cool, she’s totally fucking painfully clueless. This reminds me of every crime show ever about the runaway teenager who goes to Hollywood and who believes the nice man who says she’s beautiful and that he’ll make her a movie star… and he sorta does.

“No Anastasia, it doesn’t. Firstly… I don’t make love. I fuck. Hard. Second, there’s a lot more paperwork to do. And third, you don’t yet know what you’re in for. You still could run for the hills.

YES. Do it while you still can.

Come, I want to show you my playroom.”

“You want to play on your Xbox?” I ask. He laughs loudly.

 

No, he wants to play with your Xbox, Ana. *snort* I’m so mature, aren’t I?

 

“No Anastasia, no Xbox, no PlayStation. Come.”

 

Ah! He’s a Nintendo fanboy! Commence with the puerile jokes from me about Wii. (Actually, Nintendo’s ethos and marketing—and users—tend to come across as far more women-friendly and diverse and non-creepy than the XBoxLive dickweeds and the Sony fanboys who were creaming themselves when Duke Nukem Forever came out. I shan’t insult Nintendo by implying someone as creepy as Grey is a fanboy. Sorry, Nintendo.)

 

Grey leads her along and through more corridors and stuff and advises her, as they stop at a door, that there’s a pilot on standby to take her home should she want to go and that if she wants to, it’s fine.

She tells him to open the door, and in what is supposed to be a edge-of-your-seat moment, she steps in.

 

And it feels like I’ve time-travelled back to the sixteenth century and the Spanish Inquisition. Holy fuck.

 

Holy fuck indeed. For one thing, proven unreliable narrator. For another, Ana’s very into inquisitions, it seems. (To the point that I’m giggling now after remembering the mentions in the Administration series about interrogator junkies.) Ana just keeps making this Freudian slip all the time. Maybe she uses the word carelessly, like how “rape” has become pop culture jargon for a lot of people to a point where it bears no resemblance to the actual thing it’s describing. I dunno.

 

All I know is that the chapter could have used an editor, and I could use a drink after all this.

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5 thoughts on “50 Shades of Grey, E. L. James; Chapter Six

  1. I’m gonna say this many times, but I *love* your detailed, enthralling, absorbing, mind-blowing reviews. Both The Administration’s and Shades. And Ana is so freaking idiotic she makes me remember why I read so little M/F thanks to that kind of heroin (and douchebag hero)

    • Aw, thanks. And the length… god: they just *GET LONG*. I didn’t actually intend to spend that much time on them, but I sort of have to explain what’s going on and with that comes the commentary… hehe. Lucky I’m a fast typist, I guess.

      >> Ana is so freaking idiotic she makes me remember why I read so little M/F

      HAHA! I first read that and thought by M/F you meant “mind fuck.” And was thinking, “Uh? Wha–? Ahh.” I’ll be honest: it was coming across Anas (and Greys) in lesser extremes in romance that had an awful lot to do with putting me off the genre as a whole. The gender power issues kind of skeeze me out a LOT, and I guess in samesex stuff, that’s an aspect completely zilched. (Unless you see certain yaoi or fanfic which seems to love the trope of “make one of the guys into every female stereotype ever,” but I’m not a fan of that stuff either.)

      I’m glad you’re enjoying them: I’m having fun doing ’em, and am loving that there’s discussion around The Administration happening. 😀

      • mannafrancis on said:

        I’m really not a big romance reader, but for het romance I can 100% recommend ‘Lord of Scoundrels’ by Loretta Chase. (Well, maybe 95% recommend.) But the heroine, Jessica Trent, is just awesome. While I was reading it, I kept running into situations that made me tense up in expectations of her doing something disappointing, and then every time she would just get EVEN MORE awesome. She made me clap like a seal with glee.

  2. Thanks Manna! I honestly want to read this now because I get the impression you *get* what is disappointing. 🙂

    And I refuse to judge an entire genre by Shades. (I’ll admit, I don’t mind Janet Evanovich, but she’s about as close to “stuff generally considered as writing for women” [who aren’t fujoshi] as I’ve gotten and seriously read and enjoyed.)

    Added to my “look around for this, and buy it and read it” list: thankyou!

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