What’s the Big Deal?: Fifty Shades of Grey Live-Blogging Edition, Chapter 22
Five more chapters and the nightmare ends!
Let’s do this, people!
by E. L. James
The Writer’s Coffee Shop Publishing House, $9.99 Nook book, ISBN-10 1612130291
When last we saw Ana, she was winging (and whinging) her way to Georgia to see her mother, and Christian had already ruined her flight by upgrading her to first class, the big butthead. Will Ana’s mom knock some sense into her? Will Christian turn out to be flying the plane for the express purpose of initiating Ana into the Mile High Club? Let’s find out!
Chapter 22: The Cyber-Zip
Due to the free manicure, massage, and booze in the lounge, Ana is not as mad about the first-class upgrade. I thought Ana hated anything that had to do with comfort and good grooming. I specifically remember her panicking because Kate wanted to give her a makeover. Even with these cardboard cutouts, E. L. James can’t keep her character traits straight.
Ana wants to find out if the magic of the Internet truly works on airplanes, so…email exchange time.
The short version:
A: You’re a total stalker who needs to see his shrink. Also, thanks for the upgrade! I got a massage!
C: I am seeing my shrink. Who was massaging you? (Because obvs she’s cheating on him with some random airport dude.)
Oops, boarding time! She decides to leave him hanging, since emailing from the plane will be safer. Emailing in airport lounges is so dangerous! Did you know 30,000 people die every year from emailing in an airport lounge? However, using electronic devices while you are on an airplane is completely safe, and that is why they make you turn them off until you’re at cruising altitude.
Ana gets on the plane, grabs more booze, and talks to her stepdad for three seconds on the phone. He’s in “good form,” and we’ll have to take Ana’s word for that because the only quote we get from him is “You, too, Annie. Say hi to your mom. Good night.”
More emails, whee….
A: A very pleasant man named Jean-Paul massaged me and it’s your fault for upgrading me. I’m going to take a nap now.
Ana gloats to herself about how upset this will make Christian and how he’ll be completely unable to do a thing about it. Bitch, please. He’ll probably fly up alongside your plane in Charlie-Tango and hold up chiding signs for you to read through the window. Also, Ana really was massaged by some guy named Jean-Paul, but she thinks he was gay because he had a tan and bleached hair. All French men with tans and bleached hair are gay, right?
The “over-made-up flight attendant” tells Ana to put away her laptop so the plane won’t crash, then hands her a pillow and blanket, which for some reason makes her show her teeth. Ana notices the seat beside her is empty and panics. Is Christian coming, too? Tsk. So paranoid. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Christian would never OH YES HE TOTALLY WOULD.
But he doesn’t. The plane goes taxiing down the runway Christian-free, though possibly not free of Christians. Ana’s relieved that Christian didn’t show up, but oh, actually, she’s disappointed because now she won’t see him for four days. He offered to go with her. She said no. I have zero sympathy.
Completely blowing off the flight attendant’s instruction to turn off her phone for the safety of herself and a bunch of strangers, Ana hides her BlackBerry under a blanket and keeps checking her email. What… Who does that? I mean, is the plane actually going to crash just because you check your email or get a text? Probably not, but why would anyone be so assholish as to take the risk, not just for herself but for an entire planeload of passengers and crew who have no choice in the matter?
Oh, that’s right…because Ana’s obsessed with herself and doesn’t understand that other people are real.
Sure enough, Christian has sent an instrument-threatening email. Actually, it’s an Ana-threatening email:
C: You’re just trying to manipulate me into being jealous, so I’m super-jealous even though I know you’re just head-tripping me. No more first class. “Next time you’ll be in the cargo hold, bound and gagged in a crate.”
Really? BDSM really extends to tying someone up and crating them in a cargo hold? He had better be joking. Sadly, Ana’s not sure whether or not he is serious, either. Hey, we’ve all been there, right? That moment when your significant other threatens to lock you in a box and leave you in an unsafe environment, and you just hope they’re joking? And you’re pretty sure they aren’t? Ha ha, relationships are crazy.
Not content to sit through the flight without trying as hard as she can to interfere with the navigation instruments, Ana replies.
A: I don’t know if you’re joking. Also, I don’t want to be stuffed in a crate. Please forgive me (for my innocent jibe that even you said was transparently crafted to make you jealous.)
C: Stop emailing and risking the life of yourself and others, dummy.
Now that she’s done trying to crash the plane, Ana is ready for some “light reading”: Tess of the freaking D’Urbervilles, again. I understand enjoying the classics. I don’t understand why Ana reads the same two or three over and over and over and over… The canon of British literature is much broader than she seems to think, even discounting more modern authors.
She falls asleep, which happens to most people when they read Thomas Hardy. When she wakes, the plane is descending into Atlanta, and the flight attendant is handing her orange juice because that’s what everyone gives Ana after she’s been drinking alcohol. She’s disappointed to see that there are no emails from Christian, but after all, it’s almost 3 in the morning in Seattle, and he probably doesn’t want to crash the plane, unlike Ana and myself.
Another first class lounge. Another “stream-of-consciousness e-mail.”
A: I hate you spending money because I feel like a prostitute, but thanks for upgrading me so I could feel like a first-class prostitute. Also, the masseuse was gay (as indicated by tan and hairstyle) and I’m sorry I made you mad (on purpose with my petulant, see-through behavior.) But don’t tell me you’re going to put me in a crate, because then I’m scared, but I’m obsessed with you, but you scare me, but I’m probably going to be your sex slave, but you scare me and I want to run away, but I miss you, but you scare me, and I have feelings, and feelings scare me, and BDSM is hot, but it scares me. Also what if you dump me in 3 months? But I guess anyone could dump me in 3 months (anyone with sense would dump her in 3 minutes.) On the other hand, I’m not submissive and you’ll just beat me black and blue, but “you dazzle me.” So basically I can’t make decisions, so I decided to flee the state. Yay love!
Connecting flight, more sleep, more orange juice, vague recollection of ginormous email.
Ana’s mom picks her up in Savannah, and Ana promptly bursts into tears. After that cheery hello, they go outside, where it’s (surprise!) hot and humid. Ana whines because she misses Las Vegas, where she lived with her mom and Bob when she was 17.
Waaaaaait wait wait wait. She lived in Vegas and she knows nothing about sex whatsoever? Is that possible? Was she not allowed to watch television or leave the house?
Ana texts Christian and then wonders if it would be smart to invite him to Jose’s gallery show. That depends; do you want Jose’s blood to wind up all over his photographs? If so, sure, invite your unreasonably jealous not-boyfriend.
They go straight to the beach, where Ana’s mom wants to hear more about Christian. Ana’s summary: hot, super rich, “complicated and mercurial” (a.k.a. Mom, he’s psycho.)
Her mom advises her to take Christian literally because men are simple creatures. Okay, then, he literally wants to tie, gag, and crate her in a cargo hold. Fantastic. But no, all Ana thinks about are the times he’s said she’s bewitched him, or that he’ll miss her when she’s away, the usual selective memory stuff.
Ana looks at her mom and thinks, “She is on her fourth marriage. Maybe she does know something about men after all.” Fourth marriage? Yeah, she knows something about men: how to have crappy relationships with them. Just who I’d listen to!
Ana’s mom continues, telling Ana that men are all moody, including her father (must be where Ana gets it), and then that they’re going to dinner at the golf club. Wow. Nice, long girl talk there, ladies. I really feel the bonding.
After lunch, Ana checks her email, and of course Christian has replied to her.
C: So you have to fly to Georgia before you can be honest with me? And I can spend what I want. You told your father I’m your boyfriend (that was her stepfather, actually.) If I’m your Dom, you don’t get to argue about what I spend. Tell your mom, too. (Tell her mom that Christian is her Dom and can spend money on her if he wants to? I’m sure that’ll make a splash. Bad editing.) I don’t know what to say about you feeling like a whore except I don’t care because I want to buy you stuff. I wouldn’t really put you in a crate, and I know you don’t want to be gagged, so we’ll discuss it first (because you have no say over what happens to you.) You’re the one with all the power (even though I push you into things you don’t want to do) so you get to say what happens to you (unless I disagree.) My feelings for you are real and true and primarily based on your willingness to be spanked even though you know almost nothing about sex, which I find brave and not naive or weak-willed. I don’t understand why you’re worried about me dumping you. Would you like a one-year contract instead?
Oh my God. Christian. How can you not understand her? Signing a contract? Selecting a date and time for the relationship to end? That’s a business arrangement, with sex. Business arrangement + sex = prostitution! How is that confusing?! Just…stop talking. Just stop.
But he just keeps going!
C: I want to earn your trust (by trying to control every aspect of your life) but I have to take my cues from you, so you need to be honest with me (so I can ignore all your thoughts and emotions in favor of my own selfish desires.) You’re a fairly awful sub, but you’re actually great at it in the playroom “where you let me exercise proper control over you…I’d never beat you black and blue.” Anyway, keep on giving me a metric ton of shit outside the playroom because that’s fun, and I’ll try to learn how to have a normal, healthy relationship (while dominating you in private and being browbeaten by you in public.) I’ll try to give you space while you’re at your mom’s, so “enjoy yourself. But not too much.”
Not too much? Wtf does that even mean? Does he think she’s going to go to drunken whore parties with her mother? Are drunken whore parties a thing? I don’t know. We’ll say they are, and that Christian thinks Ana and her mom are going to attend a few.
Ana swoons over the email, naturally, thinking it’s like an essay “back at school.” Here’s my collage of inferences about the English department that gave Ana her degree: they only assign their students 5 novels over the entire course of the degree plan, they haven’t discovered the Internet and don’t require research, and instead of lit crit, their essays consist of sloppy angst.
Mid-swoon, she wonders if he’ll fail to give her space, and she hopes so, because she misses him and loves him so much. Love? Is love fear? Is love being unable to honestly express your emotions to the person you allegedly love? Does love make you feel like a whore? Do you fly to the other end of a continent to escape love? She doesn’t love him, she’s trapped in a drama typhoon with him.
Taking the spotlight off Christian’s flaws for a moment, how exactly is Ana showing Christian her love? Okay, so she puts out, but that’s primarily for her own pleasure. The rest of the time, it’s, “Oh, I don’t love you for your money! I will accept these extravagant gifts, but I’ll be an ungrateful wretch so you know I don’t really want you just for the material gain. In fact, any time you show me affection, I’m going to bitch at you. Don’t ignore me, though, because then I’ll weep and sulk and be unpleasant. I hate your jealousy and want you to trust me, so I’m going to do my best to make you jealous. But don’t worry, at least I’m going to sign your contract. Except I haven’t yet. But I will. But I need to think about it. But I’m going to Georgia. Love you!”
She’s a bad sub, a bad girlfriend, a bad prostitute, a bad friend… whatever you want to call her, she sucks at everything but messing with his mind, and the only book she ever reads is Tess of the D’Urbervilles. She’s boring, and she sucks. It’s a good thing she’s fictional or she would never have gotten a job.
Ana apparently passes out hugging her laptop, because that’s what she’s doing when her mom wakes her. Aw, how sweet. She loves Christian so much she’s holding one of the objects he tried to use to buy her love while she sleeps, just like a cold, plastic, multi-thousand dollar teddy bear.
Ana’s mom is impressed with the laptop Christian “loaned” Ana and wants to know if he has emailed her. Ana’s mom knows more about email than Ana did at the beginning of the story; are you guys getting that, too? Ana freaks out because she doesn’t want to tell her mom about the contract or, well, anything that involves letting her mother know what’s going on in her life, so she gives a brief, lame answer, and her mom leaves her to dress for dinner at the golf club. Instead, Ana decides to write emails.
A: Your letter was long. I’m going to eat at a golf club and I’m rolling my eyes (about the fact that my stepdad is taking us out for what he thinks is a nice evening, because I’m an ungrateful bitch to everyone) but you’re not here to spank me. Love your email, ttyl.
C: “I am distracted by the title of this email.” (I thought he was referring to her email, subject line: Verbose. Then I realized he meant “this” as in his email, which is subject lined: Your Behind. He’s just full of poetry.) I miss you and your behind, and work is so totally boring.
A: Quit emailing me so I can get dressed. And no one spanks you.
Send message, briefly gripe internally about Hester the Molester.
C: No one “castigates” me except my mom, my shrink, and you.
He means verbally, right? Tell me he means verbally.
A: Who me never. I have to go. Still.
C: Can I zip your dress?
Oh, geez. He better not be outside the door. Upon reading his words, Ana gasps at their explicit sexiness. Nothing screams NC-17 like putting someone’s clothes on, unless it’s Ana’s next email, entitled “NC-17.”
A: “I would rather you unzipped it.”
C: “SO WOULD I.”
Oh, dear, shouty capitals! Thankfully, she’s not cowed this time. In fact, according to her next subject line, she is “Panting.” In his next one, he’s “Groaning,” then she’s “Moaning,” and I’m bemoaning reading this book. Basically she tells him to slowly unzip her dress, they cyber-whine about wishing they were together, and Ana finally leaves to go to dinner.
Worst cyber-sex ever.
Later, Ana takes a shower and ruminates on her mother’s experiences in the marriage arena, and then there are more emails.
Seriously? You flew to Georgia so you could go to the beach and then email your boyfriend the rest of the trip? Go catch up with your mother!
C: You left me hanging!
C: You left after the unzip. How was dinner?
Oh my STARS, I do not need to hear every boring snippet of dialogue about work, food, and the rest of their boring little lives!
A: Filling! I ate for once!
C: I wanted to unzip your dress. Oh, way to eat.
A: I just can’t eat around you! (Which is why I’ve never eaten before seeing you, either!)
C: I thought I had a “concupiscent effect on you.”
A: Are you using a thesaurus (because you’re too dumb to know that word)?
C: Yes. Gtg, dinner with old friend.
Oh, NOES! He must be meeting Hester the Molester! How does Ana know that? Why, because he said “old friend,” and she is his only “old friend!” Okay, so we’re worried that he’s seeing his ex, but not that he has no friends? Ana furiously rants (internally, as usual) about that horrible pedophile while simultaneously wondering what she’s like, what she looks like, and if Christian likes her better than Ana. She immediately starts Googling images of Christian and is surprised to find a photo of herself with him: “Holy cow! I’m on Google!”
*insert my mad laughter here* We are ALL on Google! You are supposed to look yourself up on Google periodically to make sure there’s nothing weird about you on the Internet! Ugh. Ana, just because you don’t believe in the Internet does not mean it does not believe in you.
Well, everyone’s on Google except Hester the Molester, as Ana can’t find her picture. Burning with curiosity, she sends Christian a casual, innocent email:
A: I hope dinner was good. P.S. (See, P.S.! Afterthought! Casual!) Was it Mrs. Robinson (a.k.a. the evil pedophile I tried unsuccessfully to cyber-stalk because I’m scared she’s prettier than me)?
Sleeping, waking, shopping. Ana and her mom hit a bar the following evening (probably warming up for a drunken whore party) to talk about the basics of men. Ana’s mom is worried because Ana’s obviously clueless and upset but won’t talk to her about it.
Ana is worried because she hasn’t heard from Christian all day! Hester the Molester is now Sheila Man-Steala’! Oh, wait, email.
C: Yup, dinner with Hester Molester. Miss you!
A: RARGH HOW DARE YOU? Who’s she molesting now that you’ve aged out?
Mom comes back and asks what’s wrong, but Ana blows her off and orders another Cosmo.
C: Watch it. How many Cosmos are you going to drink?
Ana’s final thought of the chapter: “Holy fuck, he’s here.”
I will see you next chapter, where I’m sure I will have a lot of stalker-ranting to share with you all! ‘Til next time!