I’m back and we’re going to try to make it through the second half of the chapter today. Prayers and alcohol are always welcome.
Ana has just had a shower — thrilling stuff — and is now in the kitchen about to have breakfast. Since this next scene involves food, you know it’s going to go really well and not come off as abusive and shitty:
“Would you like something to eat?” asks Mrs. Jones.
“No thank you,” Ana says.
Oh no you don’t.
“Of course you’ll have something to eat,” I growl at both of them. “She likes pancakes, bacon, and eggs, Mrs. Jones.”
What I love here is that she asked for those breakfast items ONE TIME but he’s now taken it to mean that she wishes to be locked into this menu choice forever and ever. This from the guy who would probably throw a fit if one of his tragic office minions sprinkled some cinnamon on his latte without getting the go-ahead first.
I also like that he’s growling at both of them as though part of the blame rests with Mrs. Jones for daring to think that Ana should have some say into the things that go into her body.
We’re off to a cracking start.
“Yes, Mr. Grey. What would you like, sir?” she replies, without batting an eyelid.
“Omelet, please, and some fruit. Sit,” I tell Ana, pointing to one of the barstools. She does, and I take a seat beside her while Mrs. Jones makes our breakfast.
By “omelet” does he literally just mean some folded eggs, or is Mrs. Jones now in the awkward position of trying to guess what toppings he’d like? Woe betide her if she adds fucking mushrooms when he wanted chives, etc.
This next concern is a little harder to word, so try to stay with me. There’s a small part of me that finds it… curious that he always has, say, fruit and whole wheat toast while forcing Ana to have the Lumberjack’s Grand Slam Supreme. I mean, even if Ana isn’t anorexic — and there’s heavy evidence that she could be — why is he acting super granola health conscious about his own food choices while insisting that she have this massive Americana meal? I don’t have an answer for this, but it does seem like another layer of manipulation and control — and shame. Mostly shame.
“Have you bought your air ticket?” I ask.
Obviously “air ticket” is not what any American would call a plane ticket, but do the English even call it an air ticket or is this another case where EL James is just failing to understand all human speech?
“No, I’ll buy it when I get home, over the Internet.”
Oh, wow. Is she going to do that on a Computer plugged into a Wall Outlet and everything?
“Do you have the money?”
“Yes,” she says, as if I’m five years old, and she tosses her hair over her shoulder, flattening her lips, peeved, I think.
Not even Meryl Streep could convey that much with one syllable and a hair toss.
I arch an eyebrow in censure. I could always spank you again, sweetheart.
“Yes, I do, thank you,” she says, quickly, in a more subdued tone.
It’s weird how much better the original book — with all of its typos and Inner Goddesses — actually is. Which is not to say that it’s good — obviously it isn’t. But the way that he delights in slowly grinding her down under heel is much more terrifying when EL James has him admit that that is absolutely what he’s doing.
There was some thin veil of pretense in the original that maybe she really was just misunderstanding how BDSM worked, or that she was so awkward and meek that anyone telling her what to do would come off as aggressive. But from his perspective, it’s interesting that she seems much more confident and composed, and yet at any moment where she displays sparks of independence or willfulness, he makes sure to beat it out of her to turn her into the kind of meek, sad, downtrodden woman that really gets him all hot.
And even if this is all kink-accurate, which it may well be, there is still no finalized contract and she’s going on this trip specifically to decide if this is something she wants to engage in. So this controlling, “yes sir” behavior shouldn’t be happening yet.
Anyway, Christian moneydicks Ana by offering to let her take his private jet, just in case she forgot he was rich in the last 5 seconds, and she refuses. This blows his mind because women are all money-grubbing whores:
Surely most women would jump at the opportunity of taking a private jet, but it seems material wealth really doesn’t impress this girl–or she doesn’t like to feel indebted to me. I’m not sure which. Either way, she’s a stubborn creature.
So the two options are either “money-grubbing whore” or “stubborn bitch.” Good to know. But in either case I think we can all agree that Christian is never at fault for his own actions and that this book definitely isn’t the epitome of rape culture.
Christian also asks Ana if she’ll tell him which companies she’s interviewing with, but she won’t — because she’s so humble or something. They have a hilarious joking exchange about how he could totally stalk her if he wanted to, though:
“I’m a man of means, Miss Steele.”
“I’m fully aware of that, Mr. Grey. Are you going to track my phone?”
Trust her to remember that.
Yeah — I can’t believe she won’t let that go! All you did was illegally track her phone so that you could take her back to her hotel room, strip her naked, and then make her feel like it was all her fault.
Also, believe it or not, that happened literally 9 days ago. If she didn’t remember something that happened 9 days ago, I’d be a little worried.
“Actually, I’ll be quite busy this afternoon, so I’ll have to get someone else to do it,” I answer, smirking.
“If you can spare someone to do that, you’re obviously overstaffed.”
Oh, she’s sassy today.
“I’ll send an e-mail to the head of human resources and have her look into our head count.”
This is what I like: our banter. It’s refreshing and fun, and unlike anything I’ve known before.
Mrs. Jones serves us breakfast, and I’m pleased to see Ana relishing her food.
Mrs. Jones leaves, presumably because she doesn’t trust herself not to laugh at these two boring assholes for much longer, and Ana reminds Christian that he never did tell her why he doesn’t like to be touched:
Not this again!
“I’ve told you more than I’ve ever told anybody.” My voice is low to conceal my frustration. Why does she persist with these questions? She eats another couple of mouthfuls of her pancakes.
YAY! Good work, Ana! Eating like a big girl all by herself.
Either way, I still think it’s incredibly fucked up to try to exchange sex for traumatic childhood information, so they both suck in this moment and we should move on.
Christian asks Ana if she’ll think about their arrangement while she’s away (even though it’s painfully obvious that she’s leaving specifically so that she CAN think about it, but fine).
“Will you miss me?”
She turns to face me, as surprised as I am by the question.
You asked it, though.
“Yes,” she says after a moment, her expression open and honest. I was expecting a smart remark, yet I get the truth. And strangely, I find her admission comforting.
Why does this always have to be handled so ham-fistedly? He knows why he finds it comforting. This emotional constipation thing isn’t the least bit convincing and it’s a very cheap and very lazy attempt to remind the reader that he can’t be responsible for anything he does because he really and truly doesn’t understand feelings. The main reason I refuse to buy this is because a manipulator has to be able to understand feelings in order to manipulate them. And nobody knows how to neg and coerce quite like Christian.
They finish up the world’s longest breakfast and she runs to get dressed, but Dad wants to make sure she remembers everything she needs for her big trip all by herself:
She returns a few moments later with her purse.
“Don’t forget to take your BlackBerry, your Mac, and your chargers to Georgia.”
Also, don’t forget your bottle of Evian, your Brookstone neck pillow, your Dr. Scholls inserts, and your lululemon yoga pants.
“Yes, Sir,” she says obediently.
Later we can take a drive in my Audi and get some Ben&Jerry’s ice cream and think about brand marketing — as a treat.
Christian drives Ana to kindergarten and then hops on the phone with Welch — the guy who did an illegal background check on Ana and then tracked her phone. So you know this is going to be good:
“Welch. Anastasia Steele is buying an airline ticket today, leaving Seattle tonight for Savannah. I’d like to know which flight she’s on.”
She’s buying a plane ticket the SAME DAY as her flight? This has now become the most unrealistic detail in the whole book and I challenge you to find me something less plausible.
“Does she have an airline preference?”
“I’m afraid I don’t know.”
Well, she’s a recently-graduated, recently-unemployed college student, so the correct answer would be “whichever is the cheapest” if this book had been written on Earth where humans live. But since it wasn’t and isn’t, I’m sure EL James is going to have her fly the Hogwarts Express and then complain about seat size on her direct flight to Middle Earth.
For the curious, if you wanted to book a flight from Seattle to Savannah today (August 11, as I’m writing this) for the same day, it would cost roughly $1300 and take about 9 hours. Or you could go direct for $1600.
On a part-time hardware store salary. At a moment’s notice.
“I’ll see what I can do.”
I hang up. My cunning plan is falling into place.
“Mr Grey!” Andrea is startled at my appearance several hours early. I want to tell her that I do fucking work here, but I decide to behave.
I need to establish a power ranking of the scenes that I hate the most, but even before I do so I can guarantee that any and all interactions with his female assistants are right near the top.
“I thought I’d surprise you.”
Your assistant can’t do her fucking job if she never has any idea where you are or what you want. You’re the WORST employer. The WORST.
“Coffee?” she chirps.
That’s a huge part of why these scenes make me so angry — she chirps? Any moment where a woman speaks in these books, the text basically informs us that she’s taking up space reserved for men. They chatter or chirp or prattle or gab. They never say anything relevant or important or interesting. This is gross. Even if you want to defend his moldy cheese sadness, this is just unbridled misogyny that has nothing to do with his childhood and everything to do with him being an asshole who punishes women not for sexual gratification but because he feels that they are naturally inferior to men.
“With or without milk?”
“With. Steamed milk.”
Ohhhhh fuck he got her good!
He hates women SO much and it’s fun!
Hahahaha. I’m going to lose my mind writing these. Hahahahahahaha.
Christian gets his work assistant to check in with the personal shopper who’s busy assembling Ana’s Submissive Capsule Collection at Neiman Marcus Barneys Nordstroms Wherever, and then has her book an appointment with his psychiatrist.
But Christian fucking hates it when anyone knows about his personal life.
Then he gets an e-mail from Elena who’s pretty hip with the kids you guys:
Christian, what gives?
Your mother told me you took a young woman to dinner yesterday.
I’m intrigued. It’s so not your style.
You’ve found a new submissive?
Yes, she actually signs her e-mails with the word “ex,” rather than the letter X. To remind him that she’s his ex? Who would do that? Anyway, you do have to enjoy the fact that his former rapist is pumping his mother for information — but it’s fine because if you have a problem with it, then you just hate sex and you’re a big prude.
Christian ignores the e-mail, Andrea announces that Welch is on the line, and then Olivia comes in with his coffee:
Olivia places the latte on my desk and exits flustered. I do my best to ignore her.
Wait, wait — he orders a latte as “coffee with steamed milk”? WHO WOULD DO THAT? This man is a psychopath. “Coffee with steamed milk” is not asking for a fucking latte. If you want a fucking latte, ask for a fucking latte. “Coffee with milk” means drip coffee with milk. EL James, you set this book in a city that is famous for coffee. Figure it the fuck out.
Anyway, Welch tells Christian that Ana has still not bought her plane ticket yet, which frankly is insane because she’s leaving tonight, but nothing ever makes sense so whatever.
Just before lunch, Andrea puts Caroline Acton through. “Mr. Grey, how lovely to hear from you. What can I do for you?”
“Hello, Ms. Acton. I’d like the usual.”
“The capsule wardrobe? Do you have a color palette in mind?”
“Blues and greens. Silver maybe, for a formal event.” The Chamber of Commerce dinner springs to mind. “Gem colors, I think.”
That’s not a palette, you nutcase. You just described several random colors that don’t go together.
“Yeah, I’d like the capsule collection in a consolidated list of colors which includes most colors — you know, cool tones, warm tones, and then silver for the hell of it.”
“Nice,” Ms. Acton responds with her usual enthusiasm.
She hates you, is mocking you.
“And satin and silk underwear and nightwear. Something glamorous.”
You mean glamorous — like the kind of underwear that comes in satin and silk? Or does Hanes now have an upscale collection?
“Yes, sir. Do you have a budget in mind?”
Okay. So… if this is the same list of shit he buys every time, then surely the budget remains roughly the same, yes? Otherwise, wouldn’t he have a rough budget that he usually allocates for this sort of thing? I mean, I know that EL James is really just trying to remind us that he’s RICH and has MONEY which he SPENDS on THINGS, but it would be nice if anything ever made sense.
“No budget. Go all-out. I want everything high-end.”
Thank God he specified that — she was seconds away from ordering everything off the Old Navy website.
“When would you like delivery?”
You know, when Ana gets back. After she’s decided whether or not she wants to go through with this. Because he really values her decision and isn’t taking her consent as a given.
He hangs up with Caroline, gets back on the phone with Welch who confirms that Ana has booked her flights. Then Christian gets to work — just kidding, he continues to stalk his girlfriend and does absolutely nothing related to his job:
“Andrea, Anastasia Steele is traveling on these flights. Upgrade her to first class, check her in, and pay for her to enter the first-class lounge. And buy the seat beside her on all flights, there and back. Use my personal credit card.”
That’s right: eco warrior Christian Grey just ensured that a total of at least 4 — but as many as 8 — seats across 4 commercial flights are now going to be wasted in the off chance that a man might have sat next to his girlfriend for a couple of hours. You guys, he totally cares about hunger and the environment. It’s not just a bullshit plot point to drum up cheap sympathy which is discarded whenever EL James decides it’s more fun for him to wave his moneydick around.
Andrea’s puzzled look tells me she thinks I’ve taken leave of my senses, but she recovers quickly and accepts my hand-scribbled note.
“Will do, Mr. Grey.” She’s trying her best to keep it professional, but I catch her smiling.
This is none of her business.
I’ve reached a level where I can only respond to these moments with mute disbelief or hysterical laughter.
Anyway, Christian has a boring day which is sad for him because at some point he was expected to do real work, which he hates even though he’s meant to possess the kind of work ethic that made it possible for him to amass a billion-dollar company in 6 years.
His “endless” day of meetings doesn’t last long, though, and soon he and Ana are e-mailing back-and-forth while Ana’s waiting in the airport. At one point in a very long, very boring e-mail exchange, Ana says he’s been “weirding” her out, and Christian — a 27 year old — responds like your unfunny uncle on Facebook who shares racist memes and pictures of his ride-on mower:
“Weirding is not a verb and should not be used by anyone who wants to go into publishing.
Please, tell me more about how she’s with him for his personality.
Christian eventually e-mails Elena back to tell her that actually he wasn’t having dinner with anyone important. Elena knows he’s lying and insists that they go for dinner. Which is a great way to bridge the narrative gap from the original book! I was going CRAZY wondering how he booked dinner with Elena in the original version. Now I know! Thrilling.
I sit down to read Fred’s draft proposal for Eamon Kavanagh, then move on to Marco’s summary of the publishing houses in Seattle.
This early in the book he’d already decided to buy the first company she worked for. Fuck this dude forever.
Anyway, Ana confirms that she had a great time in the first class lounge and teases Christian by saying she’s had a massage from a handsome young man (but don’t worry — he’s totally GAY! But Christian doesn’t know that, which is FUN! Because other people’s sexuality should be treated like a game!)
Is she trying to make me jealous? Does she have any idea how mad I can get? She’s been gone for a few hours, and she’s deliberately making me angry. Why does she do this to me?
Because, sadly, she keeps failing to understand that you really are a homicidal asshole who feels that a woman’s body doesn’t belong to her. Which is why Christian shoots off this hilarious response that isn’t super depressing and horrible:
Dear Miss Steele,
I know what you’re trying to do–and trust me, you’ve succeeded. Next time you’ll be in the cargo hold, bound and gagged in a crate. Believe me when I say that attending to you in that state will give me so much more pleasure than merely upgrading your ticket.
I look forward to your return.
I feel so profoundly sad. We’re almost done with this chapter — I promise.
You see–I have no idea if you’re joking–and if you’re not, then I think I’ll stay in Georgia. Crates are a hard limit for me. Sorry I made you mad. Tell me you forgive me.
This is so fucking depressing. I’m sorry — tomorrow’s entry will probably be better, but good Christ this is a dark one.
Of course I’m joking…sort of. At least she knows I’m mad. Her plane should be taking off. How is she e-mailing?
He then — of course — tells her to stop e-mailing because she’s risking the life of her fellow passengers. Which is bullshit. Almost as bullshit as this final portion:
I’m hoping that once she’s had a chance to reflect in Georgia, she’ll make the right decision. Won’t she?
The right decision? Fuck you.
Anxiety blooms in my chest. I take another slug of my drink and sit down at my piano to play.
Thanks for sticking this one out, guys.