Readthroughs and Random Thoughts

Writing about what I'm reading…

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

Chapter Nine begins on the sunny note of Ana waking up in post-coital bliss, with a previously piano-playing Grey sleeping next to her. For a man who doesn’t sleep with his fuckbuddies, he’s already crossed the line. I call horseshit: he sounds more like one of those guys who says he doesn’t cry in movies but will be sobbing his guts out at everything from The Notebook to Happy Gilmore and who just wants to look like a tough impenetrable shield of testosterone but who is kind of not.

What else don’t you do, Mr. Grey? Now that I’m thinking about the stuff you’ve listed– which includes dead people, children, and animals, I’m hardly waiting here with bated breath in anticipation to find out what other limits you’ll cross. More like I’m thinking, “Please, for the love of everything that is good and holy– and, erm, everything that ISN’T, can limits actually be kept, E. L. James?”

Anyway, for some reason, Grey, who doesn’t normally sleep with girls, and who seems to have at least one decently furnished spare bedroom that he could have utilised for sleeping purposes, decides to come back from his late night piano playing to sleep next to Ana.

There is so much I want to raise an eyebrow at, but I won’t, because this is a long chapter, ladies and gentlemen, and we have a lot to get through.

Ana watches him while he sleeps.

His lovely face looks younger, relaxed in sleep. His sculptured, pouty lips are parted slightly, and his shiny, clean hair is a glorious mess.

Okay, enough, E. L. James, with the ADHD on the adjectives. Choose a couple which illustrate your point, preferably don’t make them contradict one another or be insanely similar in meaning, and go from there. I can’t help but think that cutting this shit down would have shortened this book by at least 100 pages. Another thing it does is cut down on repetition if you use words a bit more sparingly, and one of the biggest issues I have with the writing in Shades is the repetition. I think we’ve heard of Grey’s hair being described as a “glorious mess” at least three times now. And we aren’t even a quarter of the way into the book yet.

How could anyone look this good and still be legal?

He’s twenty-seven, Ana: he’s legal. You were the one I had questions about, since your inner narrative sounds like it’s about 14 years old. Also, there are plenty of perfectly hot people who are well over the age of consent. Cases in point: Helen Mirren. Richard Gere (before the gerbil rumour). Hell, with what pop culture is putting out lately, I’m hard pressed to name anyone under 40 who is hot stuff.

I remember his room upstairs… perhaps he’s not legal.

Huh? CAN SOMEONE PLEASE EXPLAIN THIS TO ME? To my knowledge there is nothing in US law which prohibits BDSM activities between consenting adults in Washington. I know some states have legal discrepancies (California has some really out there laws: did you know lawyers can sleep with their clients and it’s only a problem if they’re doing it as payment for their services?) but I haven’t come across BDSM being regarded as criminal activity in the states under normal, consensual circumstances.

It’s tempting to reach out and touch him, but like a small child, he’s so lovely when he’s asleep.

Two things on this: a) small children and sexiness are two concepts I don’t want to see married together, and b) WTF does Ana know about small children, anyway? E. L. James, your parenting experience is showing. People who appreciate sleeping kids the most are the people who’ve dealt with them on end while they’ve been awake (and noisy/grumpy/hyped up/horrible). People who don’t like kids won’t describe nice things using children as a simile. And people who don’t have kids but who love them can’t imagine why anyone would say such things because kids are GREAT when you aren’t seeing them from all angles 24/7.

I don’t have to worry about what I’m saying, what he’s saying, what plans he has, especially his plans for me.

Um, Ana: have a look at what you’re saying here. This doesn’t sound like a happytimes relationship. This sounds like fear. And it makes me sad.

Anyway, Ana needs to go pee, and she gets out of bed, slipping on Grey’s shirt for some reason (who is going to see her naked? You’re in his house, Ana, not his office) and finds that behind Door Number One isn’t his bathroom but an enormous closet. I don’t know why so much attention is devoted to this, but it is.

Ana, I’m starting to feel, is like that friend you have who starts gushing about their new beau, and after awhile you realise they’re not all about the person, but all about the stuff. So much of the narrative has been devoted to pointless description of crap that no one really cares about, but which I believe is meant to be impressive. Size is a huge (no pun intended) factor and yet mysteriously, the only time we haven’t seen any comparative analysis of the size of something is when Ana’s ever-so-briefly mentioned Grey’s dick. So far, hotel decor has been mentioned more than Grey’s dick.

E. L. James uses this moment for Ana to remember Kate and freak out a bit, because… well, I don’t know why. Kate is with Elliot, remember (and might be, wink wink, nudge nudge, busy if you know what I mean, and may not be thinking about Ana), and even if she’s not, it’s not like Kate has no idea what Ana is up to. And even so: she is aware that Ana is a 22 year old woman who is getting into the wonderful world of dating and mating.

Anyway, Ana comes out of the closet (you all KNEW I was going to say that, didn’t you?) and tries Door Number Two, to find the bathroom. Like everything else Christian Grey has, it’s enormous. Ana notices there are two sinks and gets disapproving about it, because apparently you can only have two sinks if you’re involved with someone else. Maybe Grey has OCD and one of those sinks has to be for brushing his teeth and the other has to be for washing his hands after using the toilet? (I actually have met people who’ve had issues which have come close to this.) Maybe he bought the place and it came with two sinks?

Ana looks at herself in the mirror and has a reflective Wonder Years style moment where she realises that she feels different because she’s had sex for the first time ever, starts wondering if she looks different, and then realises that she feels like she’s never done any exercise in her life because she’s a bit sore. Don’t worry, Ana, you’re about to embark upon the Christian Grey approved diet and exercise plan. Hopefully that won’t get explained in microscopic detail, but by this point, I’m not holding out much hope.

You don’t do any exercise in your life. My subconscious has woken. She’s staring at me with pursed lips, tapping her foot.

Oh, here we go again. I thought Ana’s “subconscious” was doing that about the fact that she hadn’t done the deed yet a few chapters ago.

 So you’ve just slept with a man, given him your virginity, a man who doesn’t love you.

Oh god. The book which is apparently all about liberation still talks about virginity in a revoltingly paternalistic fashion. Anyone would think that Ana’s “subconscious” is Tony Abbott. (An Aussie politician who has made far too many creepy comments about women’s virginity– including that of his own daughters– to be taken seriously, IMHO.) Why is sex considered such a huge deal that we talk of it being “given” or “taken”, anyway? It’s having a new experience for the first time. Yeah, it might be eye-opening and life-changing, but so was watching The Rocky Horror Picture Show for the first time ever. Sheesh.

Anyway, Ana does some more looking at herself in the mirror and thinking about this, and this is where his playroom starts getting referred to his “Red Room of Pain.” I’m sure there’s some literary reference there, but frankly, I can’t be fucked finding out what it is, and I’m hardly taking lit recommendations from the person who describes female body parts as “down there” in allegedly erotic sex scenes and who doesn’t know the difference between “inner monologue” and “subconscious.”

Ana decides that “just fucked hair” doesn’t suit her, which makes me wonder WHAT type of hair (Sinead O’Connor hair!!!) does suit her, because it seems that whatever is going on with her hair, it’s horrible.

She heads out in search of her handbag, remembering Kate again, and realises that she has three missed texts from the girl.

And here I go, yet again, waving my little shipper flag, because Kate’s texts don’t sound like those of a friend but of a jealous lover:

RU OK Ana

Where RU Ana

Damn it Ana

No punctuation whatsoever, either. (Kate’s a journallist who can’t even do question marks?)

Lemme ask you this: if you’re out with some dude you’ve just met and are apparently nuts about, are you REALLY going to spend that time worrying about the girl you live with? Methinks Kate’s doing some serious cockblocking there. And remember, from all descriptions, Kate is good at getting her own way and manipulating things.

And curiously, instead of just texting back and getting on with her day, Ana decides to call her.

When she doesn’t answer, I leave her a grovelling message to tell her that I am alive and have not succumbed to Bluebeard– well, not in the sense she would be worried about– or perhaps I have.

Huh? I’m lost here now. Can we stop using coy euphemisms, Ms. James, and just get on with the story? This is meant to be a light read. I am not meant to be scratching my head figuring out what the fuck you just said there. Also, when did Grey become Bluebeard? I don’t think there was a Bluebeard in Tess.

I find two welcome hair ties at the same time in my bag, and quickly tie my hair into pigtails. Yes! The more girly I look perhaps the safer I’ll be from Bluebeard.

Oh dear GAWD. Firstly, Christian has hinted stuff about Ana being attractive because of her sweetness, her youthfulness and her, well, girlishness. Adding a hairstyle traditionally associated with little girls, or women wanting to be “sexy” is possibly the most idiotic thing ever. Secondly, and more worrying: does the idea of turning someone off you seem consistent with the behaviour of someone who has had awesome, consensual, funtimes sex with someone she’s really into?

She then decides she’s going to cook breakfast. With her iPod plugged in. I don’t even…

iPod in pocket, Ana starts dancing around the kitchen and helping herself to the stuff in Christian’s kitchen like you can imagine Robin Williams would if they cast him in a film about a main character with bipolar disorder tryingg to win over a less-than-impress, far-too-uptight girl who needs to learn what fun is. All the while, she’s daunted by his kitchen, because like everything else he has (except his mysteriously absent-from-description penis) it’s huge. And none of the cupboard have handles. And it’s sleek and modern.

Anyway, she decides that she wants pancakes and bacon and starts cooking. Because that’s what you do, right? Having sex with someone at their house means you get to raid their kitchen afterwards, right?

Given that Ana’s a klutz and completely failboat at everything, you’d be expecting some serious calamity to go down, wouldn’t you? Fire alarms being set off, mess made, stuff set on fire, inedible food resulting? Nope. Ana gets to distractedly think about Grey sleeping with her, and about how she got to be the only one he slept with afterwards and how oohy and special that made her feel, and there are no kitchen calamities.

My subconcious scowls at me… Fucking– not lovemaking, she screams at me like a harpy. I ignore her

but not enough to neglect mentioning “her”

 but deep down I know she has a point.

 There is a state of the art range. I think I have the hang of it. I need somewhere to keep the pancakes warm, and I start on the bacon.

Huh? My method is to chuck a tea towel over the cooked pancakes, or to have something warm– or cold– on top of them, rendering their temperature unimportant. I’ve never played around with the range hood, except when I used to smoke and I’d use it to suck up the smoke so I didn’t stink out the house with smoker smell. I haven’t touched cigarettes– or the rangehood– since June last year.

Amy Studt is singing in my ear about misfits. This song used to mean so much to me; that’s because I’m a misfit. I have never fitted in anywhere and now… I have an indecent proposal to consider from King Misfit himself.

*sigh* I’ve never heard of Amy Studt. A quick check on the internet reveals she’s a UK singer who sounds something like Avril Lavigne meeting Liz Phair’s poppy self-titled album phase. I’ve never heard her song before, and judging from the comments on the YouTube video, neither has anyone else until they read Shades. Not sure if I feel glad that E. L. James has done one bit of community service in unintentionally promoting a mediocre artist who’d probably be lost amongst the noise otherwise, or if I’m irritated because this song is so irritating and forgettable and sounds so… produced that it’s another letdown. I remember getting into The Smiths when I saw Reel Around the Fountain mentioned in a rather poignant scene in Bret Easton Ellis’ Rules of Attraction when I was eighteen. Generally when I see music mentioned in books, I will seek it out to add to the experience of reading it, especially if it’s something I’m unfamiliar with.

This was a bitter disappointment.

Also, Ana is a misfit? How? The fact that we don’t know anything about her backstory means there’s no proof of her misfittedness, and lately it’s like being “weird” is the new “interesting,” so I don’t buy it. I think this was meant to make me sympathetic towards Ana, but I’m not. I just want Ana’s inner monologue to STFU and go back to playing housewife.

She returns to her cooking after briefly wondering about why Christian Grey is the way he is. She turns around, and who should be sitting there, watching her, but Christian Grey himself, looking thoroughly amused about the whole thing.

“Good morning, Miss Steele. You’re very energetic this morning,” he says dryly.

Eurgh! Another one of those sentences my inner editor is cringing at. Also, what’s with Grey commenting on Ana’s energy, too?

 “Are you hungry?”

“Very,” he says with an intense look, and I don’t think he’s referring to food.

“Pancakes, bacon and eggs?”

“Sounds great.”

Grey goes in search of placemats, and asks Ana if she wants some music put on so she can continue dancing because it’s entertaining for him to watch.

I purse my lips. Entertaining, eh? My subconscious has doubled over in laughter at me. I turn and continue to whisk the eggs, probably beating them a little harder than necessary.

I’m really getting tired of this whole subconscious malarky. *sighs*

In a moment, he’s beside me. He gently pulls my pigtail.

Nope, not creepy at all. Oh, excuse my sarcasm, this guy is making so many creepy people I’ve encountered, look really harmless in comparison. And here comes the best bit–

“I love these,” he whispers. “They won’t protect you.”

And what was that, ladies and gentlemen? Oh, never mind that, that was just me, shuddering with the kind of ferocity which might suggest that I’m having an epileptic seizure of epic proportions. Also, creepiness multiplier: he’s a mind reader, now? How did he know that the pigtails were for her protection? How did he know that on some level, at least, she viewed him as threatening?

Anyway, Ana make him breakfast, marvelling at his playfulness, and finds that quelle surprise, he’s even got Twinings English Breakfast teabags on hand.

Ana deduces that they’re for her and gets annoyed about it, and there’s some suggestion that she’s implying that he wants her to agree to this contract-relationship-trainwreck-thing, and he’s all cryptic and mysterious without making much sense about anything, and she winces as she sits down to her breakfast leaving him asking just how sore she is.

When she asks why he asked that, he says that he’s wondering about continuing her basic training. This is enough to make her clench up and start getting excited again.

There’s some more talk about how she needs to eat up (if this is meant to be erotic fantasy stuff for women, I wasn’t aware of how many women apparently like being ordered to eat– is this some sort of “fantasy of being freed from the Western obsession with thinness and dieting” thing?) and she keeps thinking about sex while she’s eating and yet again– and god, this is getting fucking old– he asks her to stop biting her lip again.

Ana asks what sort of training he’s thinking about, and since she’s sore and they never actually went there last night, it’s blowjob time. Once again, Ana’s hormones are going haywire within her.

Ana then says she needs to be home by evening because she’s got work the next day. Grey argues with her in a fashion that bothers me since he was all fine and well with her being able to leave “any time [she] wanted to” and now it seems like he’s changes his mind a whole lot. Ana wants to get changed. Grey argues that he’ll just buy her new clothes. Finally he agrees to let her back home for the evening and tells her to eat up. There is more Groundhog Day arguing about how she needs to eat and how she’s not hungry and finally

“What is it with you and food?” I blurt out. His brow knits.

“I told you, I have issues with wasted food. Eat,” he snaps. His eyes are dark, pained.

And admittedly, now I’m wondering what his issues about food are too. Could it be something to do with his past as an orphan? Surely E. L. James hasn’t somehow…? Gawd, I don’t know. More and more this is just moving into Godawful Fanfiction territory, but thems my suspicions. Maybe Grey has issues about wasted food in the same way that one of my cats does. Since Fiamma grew up on the streets, and then lived in a shelter for awhile, food wasn’t readily available. Now she’s living with me– and has done for nearly a year– you’d assume that she’s calmed down and realised that there will always be food available, right? Not really. I now have a cat who is triple the size of the one I adopted and who has the appetite of a goldfish. Fiamma doesn’t like wasted food, either, and will eat anything she sees as remotely available to her. I can only deduce that years of not knowing if that would be her last meal has made her weird about food. And I’m willing to bet that E. L. James has done the same thing with Grey. And… I’m doing that cringey thing where I’m embarrassed for the writer.

Also, if he’s so weird about wasted food, then why the fuck did he order everything off the menu at the hotel for her? Or did he donate that to the homeless afterwards?

Anyway, Ana even finds it weird, though decides that in order to stop him being weird about her food, she simply has to put less on her plate in future. Incoming trigger warning for people with eating disorder issues, I suspect, though I’ll reserve my judgement.

“You cooked, I’ll clear.”

“That’s very democratic.”

“Yes,” he frowns. “Not my usual style.

“Democratic” seems like the wrong word here. Though yeah, I suspect he’d be a Republican since they’re in America, so maybe it works better if you consider it in those terms.

After I’ve done this, we’ll take a bath.”

Oh boy! Thankfully, Kate interrupts the scene by ringing, only to scold Ana for not texting her back. Ana explains that she was “overtaken by events,” Kate asks how she is, and suddenly Ana’s inner monologue is deciding that Kate is fishing for information when she is asking if Ana is okay. Ana doesn’t want to talk to Kate because she’s signed a nondisclosure agreement (which she hasn’t even seen). Kate deduces that Ana’s done the deed and asks how it went, and Ana hangs up on her.

Yet another instance of Kate being described as “tenacious” and Ana ponders what to do since she knows Kate’s going to ask questions and she’s signed that I Can’t Believe We’re Discussing It Like It’s Legal contract.

She then asks Grey what is covered in the contract and he asks why. We get this totally non-creepy (excuse my sarcasm there) exchange:

“Well, I have a few questions, you know, about sex.” I stare down at my fingers. “And I’d like to ask Kate.”

“You can ask me.”

Ummmm… NO. That’s creepy as all fuckery. The girl’s allowed to get information from places. To be honest, I don’t know why Ask Jeeves didn’t occur to her, but perhaps she is so fucking clueless that she’s managed to not figure out the internet in the same way that E. L. James hasn’t (or else this story would be a better representation of BDSM).

At least Ana stands up for herself… sort of, even if she does it in a way that suggests that she really, really shouldn’t be involved with this guy.

“Christian, with all due respect…” My voice fades. I can’t ask you. I’ll get your biased, kinky-as-hell, distorted worldview regarding sex. I want an impartial opinion. “It’s just about the mechanics. I won’t mention the Red Room of Pain.”

He gets pissy about her calling it that. And about wanting to talk to Kate. Can we say control freak, ladies and gentlemen?

“Red Room of Pain? It’s mostly about pleasure, Anastasia.”

Mostly. Furthermore, let’s be fair: she’s completely clueless about this. She knows nothing, besides the very subjective stuff you’ve told her– about BDSM. And you’re making her feel like shit for getting things wrong and being at least somewhat wary and intimidated, dude.

“Besides,” his tone is harsher, “your room mate is making the beast with two backs with my brother. I’d really rather you didn’t.

Hang on: wtf has THAT got to do with anything, Grey? That’s the most piss poor excuse for “You are not allowed to talk to your bestie about sex with me EVER.” You are a douche, Christian Grey. She could be having sex with Barney the Dinosaur and still, her best friend should be able to ask her questions about sex, dude. You’re a useless, bullying, mean, petty, childish, pathetic flaming bag of douche.

He sort of changes the topic and rather than talking about sex in general with her, talks about the previous evening’s incidents, and admits that he’s never had vanilla sex before. Oh yeah? I call horseshit on that, too, douchepony.

Anyway, he then says its bath time, and Ana has a peculiar reaction:

My heart leaps and desire pools way down low… way down there.

Every argument I’ve used before about “down there” as appropriate phrasing in a book about sex aimed at an adult audience still stands, but it’s happened a few times now that I’m beginning to get desensitised. There is no excuse for this shit unless a) we’re talking about someone who gets tingly in the toes when they’re horny, or b) the narrator is a Judy Blume heroine who is coming to terms with her puberty. I could buy it in conversation in the throes of passion, but as a description in this sense? Hell no. Seriously, fuck you, E. L. James. Be a grown up.

Anyway, onto the bath, which is apparently “a white stone, deep egg-shaped affair.” Whenever I think of eggs in interior design, I think about those chairs in A Clockwork Orange, but that’s a side topic. Grey effortlessly fills the bath and adds bath oil.

Now, one discrepancy which bugs me here: ever waited for a big, deep bath tub to fill up? It isn’t instant. Even with the water on full pelt it takes awhile. Instead of using the time for some conversation between them or some fucking thing, we’re meant to ignore the passage of time there. Again, this is a simple case of “my disbelief could have been suspended with simple consideration of what you were writing, E. L. James,” but nope.

Anyway, he gets half naked, and she’s biting her lip. Yet another “You are biting your lip and that is making me want to fuck you” warning from Grey, and Ana gasps.

 “Yeah,” he challenges. “Get the picture?” He glares at me. I nod frantically. I had no idea I could affect him so.

Sure you did, Ana, but you know what else? He’s a grown up. He can, believe it or not, control himself. And right now he’s being creepy.

Anyway, there’s some humiliation thing going on where he stares at her and she’s naked and she doesn’t like it.

 I peek up at him, and his head is cocked to one side.

That has been mentioned a few times. I can only think of that “head tiltingly kinky” trope in TVTropes or that he probably does have an inner ear concern since he’s done this a fair bit, lately, too.

“Anastasia, you’re a very beautiful woman, the whole package. Don’t hang your head like you’re ashamed. You have nothing to be ashamed of, and it’s a real joy to stand here and gaze at you.”

Urrgh. My inner editor is already cutting from that dialogue and making him sound more like a sexy dom and less like an afterschool special and now I’m wondering what an abridged version of this book would look like. I used to be friends with someone who was all snotty about abridged versions of the classics and merely tolerated them because they were capable of bringing books to the poor uneducated masses, but I think this could actually sound far better and maybe a little bit sexy if it were pared down a bit. And by a “bit,” I mean a lot. There is absolutely no justification for this book being five hundred and something pages long.

Anyway, he tells her she can sit down in the bath, and after she does, she asks him to join her. He takes his pants off and does. They sit together in the bath and he sniffs her hair and

tells her she smells good.

Er, dude, you dumped a heap of jasmine scented bath oil in there. That’s prolly what you’re smelling.

A tremor runs through my whole body. I am naked in a bath with Christian Grey. He’s naked.

Well, you’d hope so because if he was doing this with any amount of clothing on, it would just up his freak factor a bit, Ana. (Then again, anyone else seen that yaoi manga called The Man Who Never Takes Off His Clothes or whatever it is? I’ll admit a certain curiousity there, though I assume the idea was to get around archaic censorship and ratings issues in yaoi manga.) Do you even consider how inane your own train of thought is? Seriously, it’s fucking painful. Don’t you ever wish your brain would just shut the fuck up? On another hand, though, I guess this explains her subzero self-esteem: I’d hate myself as much as she seems to if I was as dim as her. Anyone would.

Grey gives her a shoulder-and-neck massage with the jasmine body wash and she’s glad Kate made her shave her arm pits.

 His hands glide across to my breasts and I inhale sharply as his fingers encircle them and start kneading gently, taking no prisoners.

Um, “take no prisoners,” E. L? You do realise what this term of phrase is actually referencing, don’t you, or do you just spew forth words in the hope that stuff sounds good? Somewhere in the Top Ten of writing soft, fluffy, romantic misty-lensed porn rules, there is “Do not use phrases that reference extreme, I-don’t-give-a-fuck-I’m-out-to-win-and-conquer-everything brutality.” Or there should be, because for fuck’s sake, that shit isn’t sexy.  Not here, anyway.

He plays with her breasts some more, and then, for what feels like the billionth time ever, she feels his erection pressing up against her behind.

He then masturbates her with a washcloth. And soap. In the water. And this is where I get so bored with the unspectacular sex scene and unconvinced that my brain goes to, “Ladies and gentlemen, this may just result in a completely unfabulous UTI.” On the downside, I cringe thinking about that, because I wound up with one when I came down with some random infection thing once, and I swear to god, I thought I had fucking kidney stones. UTI = Unbelievably Terrible Infection.

On the upside, if she has a UTI, I guess there won’t be any god-awful sex scenes for awhile. Unless he doesn’t care that she’s in pain, which is kind of the point of him, isn’t it? Shit.

Anyway, at the moment, they’re enjoying themselves, and Christian’s having so much fun that he loses his billionaire vocabulary and goes back to porn star dialogue.

“Feel it, baby,” Christian whispers in my ear, and very gently grazes my earlobe with his teeth. “Feel it for me.” My legs are pinioned by his to the side of the bath, holding me prisoner, giving him easy access to this most private part of myself.

And that was where I lost it, because all I could think when I read “this most private part of myself” was “Doesn’t that sound like a poorly-translated label on something you’d buy in a Daiso Store? Once again, though, through giggles, I have to say this much: For fuck’s sake, woman, learn the names of body parts. This unintentional comedy is gonna get pretty fucking old, very fucking quickly.

Anyway, just as she’s really getting into it, he stops.

“Why are you stopping?” I gasp.

“Because I have other plans for you, Anastasia.”

Nope. Still sounds creepy. Also, the idea of him having plans for her has been mentioned several times by her inner monologue, so it just comes across as creepy when he’s actually saying it now.
Anyway, he gets her to turn around and says that he needs “washing” too. The shock of it all makes her mouth open. The next line makes mine roar with laughter.

“I want you to become well-acquainted, on first name terms, if you will, with my favourite and most cherished part of my body. I’m very attached to this.”

Oh god. Is there anything NOT hilarious about this? Firstly, I’m having flashbacks to when I was a kid and there was this Judy Blume book everyone wanted to get their hands on which featured a sex scene. I can’t even remember the title of the book, but I do remember that it got stolen from the local library by someone who surprisingly wasn’t me (or not so surprisingly; my mother had been a firm advocate of me having respect for books and libraries) and that the boyfriend’s penis was christened “Ralph.” This was the first thing that came to mind when I read this.

Then I got to thinking about men in fiction having attachments to things and naming them, and all I got was Jayne from Firefly with his gun, tenderly explaining “Her name is Vera.”

Then I thought, “OMG, did he just say he’s very attached to it? Way to make a fucking dad joke in the middle of a sex scene.” Of course he’s attached to it, unless… cue King Missile song from the mid-nineties which I think everyone at some stage has learned to play the chords from on guitar.

It’s so big and growing. His erection is above the water line, the water lapping at his hips. I glance up at him and come face-to-face with his wicked grin. He’s enjoying my astounded expression. I realise that I’m staring. I swallow. That was inside me!

 

I realise that I’m just a grotty little perve, but the whole description there just has me thinking of those few bars of the Jaws theme, and now I have this idea that the penis is named “Bruce” and I will be very upset if it isn’t.

Anyway, long story short, she masturbates him. With soap, just like he did to her. Why should only one of them have all the burning fun of a pee pee infection? Seriously, I’m not a doctor, but… you know when you get shampoo and body wash and it has “Not for internal use” on the label? I don’t think the manufacturers are assuming people will try to eat it, which leaves only a couple of other ways people could try to “use” it internally. I’ll leave everyone ponder that one and cross their legs while I continue on with this scene.

 “Like this,” he whispers, and he moves his hand up and down with a form grip around my fingers, and my fingers tighten around him. He closes his eyes again, and his breath hitches in his throat. When he opens them again, his gaze if scorching molten grey.

“That’s right, baby.”

And then she sucks him off. It’s all quite sudden and abrupt, which normally I’d get snarky about, but you know what? The sooner this ends, the happier we’ll all be, so let’s pretend that Ana knows exactly what she’s doing and stuff.

And it seems that even E. L. James is with me on this, because suddenly Ana “I haven’t even masturbated until I discovered your body wash, Mr. Grey” Steele is a converted blow job queen in the space of a few lines. Enough to send him off into murmuring rude words, and enough to make her inner goddess thrilled.

 He reaches up and grabs my pigtails and starts to really move.

“Oh… baby… that feels good,” he murmurs. I suck harder, flicking my tongue across the head of his impressive erection.

Two things: a) this girl seems so naïve about sex that it seems doubtful that she’s even opened an issue of Cosmo, and suddenly she knows what she’s doing, and b) if his erection was that impressive, why is it only being described as such this far into things? Also, c) if it’s so huge, why isn’t Ana thinking “How the fuck can I fit all this in my mouth?” Or is she one of those girls who shoves her fist in her mouth and a party trick and doesn’t need to go to the emergency room afterwards?

Wrapping my teeth behind my lips, I clamp my mouth around him. His breath hisses between his teeth, and he groans.

“Jesus. How far can you go?” he whispers

I’m sure we’ll find out. I just want him to blow his load and get over with it, because honestly… *yawn*

More tongue swirling and then we get this delightful description:

He’s my very own Christian Grey flavoured popsicle.

*blinkblink* Um, wow. That’s all I can say to that. There is too much to say to that that I’m overloaded. But, yeah. Wow.

More tongue twirling and inner goddess dancing (she’s doing the merengue with some salsa moves now) and writhing and

“Anastasia, I’m going to come in your mouth,” his breathy tone is warning. “If you don’t want me to, stop now.” He thrusts his hips again, his eyes are wide, wary and filled with salacious need—need for me. Need for my mouth… oh my.

This is actually the second or third time that Ana’s inner George Takei made his appearance during sex scenes, but this is the funniest one so far hence why I’ve mentioned it here.

Grey grips her hair, Ana mentally tells herself she can do this like she’s doing some kind of intensive marathon or something, and he comes. Ana’s all smirky about it, and Grey is all “You never cease to amaze me” but in all honesty, people will say all kinds of crazy shit on the edge of orgasm, so I’m unconvinced, personally. But Grey asks if she’s done that before, and when Ana says “No,” he awards her an “A” in oral skills and announces that they’re going to bed so he can give her an orgasm.

Quickly, he clambers out of the bath, giving me my first full glimpse of the Adonis, divinely formed, that is Christian Grey.

Oh dear god. That’s possibly the third or fourth time he’s been described as Adonis-like. Find some new words, Ms. James. Or at least some new conventional standards of male beauty.

 My inner goddess has stopped dancing and is staring, too, open-mouthed and drooling slightly.

Maybe that’s not drool coming out of her mouth. Just sayin’.

Anyway, he wraps her up in a towel, there’s some smoochytimes, and then

“Say yes,” he whispers fervently.

I frown, not understanding.

“To what?”

“To our arrangement. To being mine. Please, Ana,” he whispers, pleading, emphasising the last word and my name.

Um, hang on: the last word of that sentence was her name. Also, fervently. Also, funny how he can use her preferred name when he wants something, isn’t it?

Anyway, more smoochiness, and he leads her to his room, He then asks if she trusts him, which is easily the most superfluous question ever in this book, because Ana hasn’t done a single thing to suggest that she doesn’t trust Grey. Seriously, she fell into his office and trusted him from there on in. Hell, even in spite of his increasingly questionable and creeptastic behaviour, she still trusts him. (I’m wondering if the book becomes more interesting and less icky if you read it with the idea that it’s about Stockholm Syndrome and a sociopath rather than just a typical regular romance.)

Anyway, of course Ana trusts him, and rather than thinking, as most sensible people would, “Why is he asking me this now?” she gets an electric, anticipatory thrill wondering what he’s going to do to her. Not with her, to her. Important distinction, IMHO, but your mileage might vary there.

“Good girl,” he breathes, his thumb brushing my lower lip.

He steps away into his closet and comes back with a silver-grey silk woven tie.

Presumably this is the tie that is on the cover of the book and here we get a marriage of themes and Grey and the colour and Ana’s first experience with bondage and blah blah blah. Because, yeppers, we all knew where this was going, right? Wrong? Well, spoilers: he ties her hands together with the tie. Tightly. So tightly and skilfully that Ana wonders about his boy scout credentials, ignoring the fact that there were fifteen women prior to her whom he got to practise this stuff on. Remember, this is the man who’s never ever had vanilla sex before. Ever. (No, I still don’t buy it.)

 What now? My pulse has gone through the roof, my heart beating a frantic rhythm. He runs his fingers down my pigtails.

“You look so young with these,” he murmurs, and moves forward.

You sound so creepy with that, Grey. And seriously, dude, I mean creepy. The fact that it was murmured wasn’t a mere observation, it was appreciation. And while your hard limits exclude children from things, so much of your interest in Ana has been because she’s naïve, fragile and young. And it’s gross. Seriously, dude, you’ve got all the self-awareness and conscience of Humbert Humbert and your creator has about a gazillionth of the talent.

Anyway, he goes from being all breathy and “What shall I do to you?” to sounding like he’s organising a hostage situation. One minute it’s creepy-but-meant-to-be-sexy murmurings, then it’s

“Keep your hands up here, don’t move them, understand?”

His eyes burn into mine, and I’m breathless from their intensity.

Actually, I just mistyped that last word as “insanity,” and I think it was a fitting Freudian slip which I’m surprised I caught. It’s like getting a Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde in bed thing with this guy, and factoring in bondage only makes it even more disturbing. Even Ana realises that he’s being fucking scary.

This is not a man I want to cross… ever.

Oh, great: the moment she trusts him, he does this. A perfectly good start to a relationship, right? I’m just sitting here blinking, thinking  “I realise you want to get to the pr0nz, E. L., but this is kind of not a good way to move things along.” Like, really not a good way to move things along.

“Answer me,” he demands, his voice soft.

“I won’t move my hands.” I’m breathless.

“Good girl,” he murmurs, and deliberately licks his lips slowly.

I swear, when this is made into a movie, they need to include this scene, just so I can include it in my edited trailer which I’ll make showing the true horror of this whole mess. Because that, my friends, sounds like it belongs in a horror movie. Or some really fucked up thriller featuring a serial killer who lacks the style and finesse of, say, your Hannibal Lector style serial killers.

Anyway, he tells her he’s going to kiss her all over, and that includes down there of course, and between the kissing and the telling her to stay still and her extended narrative, we get kissing.

“Hmm. You are so sweet, Miss Steele.” His nose glides along the line between my belly and my pubic hair, biting me gently, teasing me with his tongue.

Godammit, he’s done this stuff already. Groundhog Day sex, this is. Also, the thing about him telling her she’s sweet is really creepy.

Anyway, if you haven’t worked out where this is going, you’re probably too young to be reading the book (or my blog) or you’re Ana, who at first seems genuinely mystified about what’s going to happen next in the latest instalment of Predictable Cunnilingus Theatre.

Also, Grey likes kissing feet.

I will get this out in the open, because, hey, I try to be upfront about stuff, but you know how there are people with foot fetishes? Yeah? I’m not one of them. I never have been, though since skating and becoming intimately acquainted with all the fun stuff roller derby does to your feet, the idea of feet as sexy has just become even more squicky to me. I realise they’re just body parts which have a perfectly valid and awesome use. I realise they can be washed. I realise that they’re an erogenous zone for people, and that people who indulge in foot fetishism aren’t hurting anyone and there’s nothing wrong with it. It’s just Not My Thing. But it crops up vaguely enough in the middle of the sex scenes to throw me a trifle.

Anyway, Ana figures out what’s next in the chain of events.

 And I know what he’s going to do, and part of me wants to push him off because I’m mortified and embarrassed. He’s going to kiss me there! I know it. And part of me is glorying in the anticipation. He turns to my other knee and kisses his way up my thigh, kissing, licking, sucking, and then he’s between my legs, running his nose up and down my sex, very softly, very gently.

Oh god no. You did not just refer to your ladyparts as “my sex.” I know (now that I checked this out with the dictionary) that this is technically okay, but it sounds wrong. It’s only one step up from “down there” which still sounds like something a 1950s nurse would use when telling teenage girls about periods in what passed for sex ed back in those days.

I’m at the point where I am actually thinking that awful, ultraviolet prose would be an improvement upon the shamey, depressing “not-names for body parts” we have now. And I can’t believe I’m saying this, because I’m pretty sure every time I read about love tunnels and beef curtains, a little part of me dies.

Anyway, it begins. Ana gets all blushy blushy and thinks “I can’t watch him do that!” for some reason and then comes this curious action

 He blows gently up the length of my sex.

Um. Yeah. I know people call them “blow jobs” but I don’t think blowing air, erm, to use an E. L. James term, up there is a great idea. But apparently Ana likes this, so hey.

 “I like this.” He gently tugs at my pubic hair. “Perhaps we’ll keep this.”

Um, what the everloving shit? Okay, folks, I think we just crossed over into “Nothing will redeem this book ever” land, too. Ignoring, of course, that everything Grey does, he does gently (which shows lack of creativity on the writer’s part and which also makes Grey come across as kind of unintentionally leery and slimy, IMHO) he’s acting like a grown man who a) has never seen pubic hair before, and b) who seems weirdly fascinated with Ana’s.

Also, this is the second or third time I’ve come seen this “fantasy” before in erotica (and I use that term really loosely here), where some dude is admiring of, and all “don’t get rid of it” about some woman’s pubes. I guess in this era of Brazilians as Norm, it’s to be expected, but surely I’m not the only person to think that we wouldn’t have this weird fantasy thing about pubic hair if we weren’t weird about it to begin with?

Also, people, if you’re sleeping with someone who is horrified by grown adults having pubes, guess what? You’re not the one with the problem.

Anyway, Grey continues the oral-sex-foreplay-taken-literally-blow-job thing, though this time we get mentions of things like her body singing because of his voice. No, E. L. James, I don’t see how someone this creepy can produce orgasms with his voice. Unless he’s got some sort of variant of the brown note going on where he hits some perfect pitch that makes women orgasm. (And if he does, that would actually be interesting to read about because can you imagine what sorts of fun he could have with that?)

He swirls his tongue around and around, again and again, keeping up the torture. I’m losing all sense of self, every atom of  my being concentrating hard on that small, potent powerhouse at the apex of my thighs.

So much I could say to all of this, but you’re probably thinking it already. Also, “apex of my thighs”? If I could never hear that term again in my entire existence, I’d be fine with that. I’d never heard it until this book, by the way.

My legs go rigid and he slips his finger inside me, and I hear his growling groan.

“Growling groan” sounds like the noise a lion would make when its defeated in battle or in severe agony. Now having flashes of Be Prepared again. Fuck, man. Next time the kids want to watch The Lion King, I’d better not be around. I remember when I was a kid and my dad made an awful comment about opening a venison restaurant when we went to see Bambi. (Right after Bambi’s mum died, too. Thanks, Dad.) It’s a family curse that Disney animated features about animals get ruined for or by us, I guess.

More porntalk from Grey

“Oh baby, I love that you’re so wet for me.”

Which sounds ridiculous, but it could have been worse—if he’d said it while they were in the bath, I suppose.

Anyway, in amongst Ana losing her shit, he rips open a condom, and then they’re having sex, and

“Come for me, baby.” His voice is harsh, hard, raw at my ear, and I explode around him as he pounds rapidly into me.

Again, baby. Does anyone remember that late-90s one-hit-wonder from Madison Avenue? No? It was called Don’t Call Me Baby, and it contained lyrics that Ana should have memorised lest she encounter a dude like Grey.

Also, how the fuck does one explode around someone while they are having sex with you? Perhaps I lack imagination, or possess a bit too much of it, and maybe I’m a bit literal, but what the everloving sweet fuckery was that? Which would be a reasonable reaction if you were having sex with someone and they suddenly exploded around you. I mean, for reals: HEY AMERICA, I HAVE FOUND THAT WEAPON OF MASS DESTRUCTION YOU WERE LOOKING FOR. It’s in Seattle. They were going to test it out on hipsters, apparently.

Also, then we get her Pavlovian orgasm-on-command thing, except that thankfully Pavlov wasn’t doing that with dogs (that I’m aware of, anyway).

Orgasm in fanfiction and otherwise usually means one thing, though: the chapter is coming to an end, so here are the closing actions.

Ana is mindblown because of the tie bondage.

 The wonder that he’s introduced me to, it’s beyond anything I could have imagined. And he wants to take it further, so much further, to a place I can’t, in my innocence, even imagine. Oh… what to do?

Don’t worry, Ana, you got the hang of sucking a dude off and orgasming on command pretty damn quickly, I think you’ll nail this shit in no time.

Grey then leans up (presumably while he’s still inside her, even though he’s already orgasmed? Sheesh, I dunno…) and starts waffling on about how great they are together and tells her that he can take her to places that she doesn’t even know exists. Which, of course, makes me wonder if he is a mindreader, since how the fuck does he know what she doesn’t know exists? She might be like that girl in American Pie who looks completely innocent and naïve and then admits to doing things with flutes that even made me go “DAFUQ?” and reminded me of that bandslash fic which was only memorable because someone fucked some other dude with a guitar, and one of the comments was “A Gibson, OMG.” (True story. I don’t even remember what bandom it was. I never did bandom, but let’s face it, when a friend mentions she’s seen a fic about someone using a guitar as a dildo, you’re going to click and read out of morbid curiousity.)

As if things couldn’t get any worse, there’s more creepy: Ana and Grey can hear voices around them outside. Someone talking to a woman who is being referred to as “Mrs. Grey.”

My first thought was, “He’s married? Explain that while making Ana a sympathetic character, E. L. James, and I might actually develop some respect for you and your, um, craft.

But nope: it’s Buzzcut Taylor (and unless Taylor is his surname, it does not work for the guy) and Grey’s mother. Because, yep, men in their late twenties have invasive mothers who rock up whenever they feel like it into their son’s houses, right? A phone call wouldn’t have been more appropriate? (Then again, perhaps this is where Grey learned his attitudes about personal boundaries from, so this might explain a few things and is plot-consistent.)

Better yet, Taylor, being a man of tact and scruples, tells Mommy Dearest that he’s not alone. Instead of her going, “Oh, shit, this is really embarrassing, I am so sorry,” she reacts with shock that her single, 27 year old son who is frightfully rich and devastatingly handsome could be possibly having sex with someone.

I’ll spill it now: I have two sons. They’re only little people at the moment who are more interested in Minecraft and Pokemon than getting it on with anyone right now, and to be honest, I’m perfectly fine with not having to worry about them getting broken hearts and STDs and involvement with people who I may have to consider as part of the family one day, but I realise that unless they fall into that small portion of the population who are asexual, some day, they’re, in all likelihood, going to be hooking up with people. By the time they’re out on their own and independent, what and who they do, and when they’re doing it, is their business and has sweet FA to do with me. If they don’t want me to know what they’re getting up to (as long as they’re not violating anyone else’s rights) it’s their right to not tell me about it. Hell, even when they’re at home, they have a right to privacy to a reasonable level.

So my reaction to this is: WHEN DID THIS TURN INTO EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND?

Also, wow: way to kill the mood. The “baby”s and other weirdness was bad enough, but Mom rocking up? Coffin, meet final nail, people.  And she’s still tied up.

I think this was the chapter ending on a cliffhanger. Will Mommy Dearest wander in and see that her son is into tie!bondage? Will Ana meet her future mother-in-law? What WILL Mom be like, anyway? (I want a Grandma Mazur type mother! Please!) Watch this space…

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8 thoughts on “50 Shades of Grey, E. L. James; Chapter Nine

  1. Two things absolutely amaze me about your posts. Consistency, in that you maintain a high level of humour (not a typo I’m Irish) and snark value through all your posts. Tenacity, in that you have carried on where lesser beings would have slung this shit in the river a long time before this. Small point ‘Brazilians as Norm’ capitalised N? I thought this might have been a Freudian slip into naming of parts but presume in reality it is a typo!
    I am totally hooked on your treatise of ‘shades’!

  2. Love your reviews, as usual (just like I loathe Shades more every passing day), the comments always make me smile and roll my eyes at the same times and, again, I really, really can’t understand how this series is so popular. I’m really baffled about this, I can only blame a really strong marketing campaign and… I don’t know, perhaps a hell of a lot of luck.

    What I wanted to point is that a local weekly paper is doing something really like you’re doing, which is saying a lot considering a) is mostly a left winged, ironic paper and b) even those guys can see better than most ladies getting hot over this xD is in Spanish but well, here’s the link http://www.theclinic.cl/2013/03/08/cincuenta-sombras-de-grey-tercera-parte-la-emprendedora-que-se-hizo-millonaria-sin-saber-escribir/

    I love some phrases from there such as: “Fifty Shades of Grey is as liberal as the Catholic church is progressive” or “If this is BDSM, my grandma is Marilyn Manson”. Shades, being made fun of (aside from making her author a bazillionaire) globally.

    • >>> I really, really can’t understand how this series is so popular. I’m really baffled about this, I can only blame a really strong marketing campaign and… I don’t know, perhaps a hell of a lot of luck.

      I suspect so. Honestly, I feel like this book flies in the face of all that motivational stuff about working hard, aiming to put out good work, and persistence. The truth seems to be is all that you really need is to be in the right place at the right time, to have an idea that dovetails in with what’s fashionable at the time, and to have damn good promotion. But when I think about that too much, it depresses me.

      OMG, though: that newspaper write-up is HILARIOUS. I’m losing a little in translation, unfortunately (I can’t speak Spanish 😦 ) but I’m getting the general gist and it’s awesome. (“My little cousin who can’t write writes better than this” *snorts*) I wish they were doing something like that over here! So far I’m aware of a few bloggers doing it, too. Though I’m surprised with the popularity of the book, there aren’t more of us doing it. 🙂

      • mannafrancis on said:

        Honestly, I feel like this book flies in the face of all that motivational stuff about working hard, aiming to put out good work, and persistence

        I think that’s one of those stories that they tell people, like the one about how suffering on earth will be rewarded in Heaven. It’s designed to stop the peasants rising up in revolt against the people with all the land.

  3. The very worst thing about these re-read posts is that they’re so entertaining that I can’t stop reading them. If this keeps up, I’ll have “read” the entire damn book via your posts before I even realize it.

    • Aw, thanks.

      And… trust me: I LEAVE A LOT OF STUFF OUT. Seriously, I’ve kept out a whole heap of arduous description. And other stuff. 🙂 At least you won’t ever be seen reading the book in public and getting people looking at you knowingly. 😛

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