Hey you guys, remember that one time when I was all "I'm going to read a horrible book for you so that you won't have to read it yourself"? I will not be doing that again. This book is making me question our collective worth as a species.
Chapter 14 opens with Ana waking up with a start from a wet dream about Christian Grey. She is shocked by this and says: "I didn't know I could dream sex." Holy hell, Ana. Welcome to what EVERYONE ELSE has been doing since puberty. When she imagines whether real life will be like what she dreamed, her inner goddess becomes a cheerleader and starts jumping around with pom poms. I want to say you can't make this stuff up, but obviously you can because E.L. James did.
Today is graduation day for Ana and Kate, or as I like to call it, the day earning a college degree became a fucking joke. I know I haven't mentioned how perfect Kate is in a while (though Ana certainly fucking has) because I'd gotten tired of it, but I feel like I ought to tell you that she's valedictorian because of course she is. Ana's dad arrives and the two of them head for the graduation ceremony. I probably should have mentioned this earlier, but again, so many other things sucked worse that I skipped it: Christian Grey is the commencement speaker at Ana's graduation. This is something I was annoyed to notice in the first chapter, when he says "until we meet again" as Ana's leaving his office and she thinks "When will I ever see him again?" after they JUST DISCUSSED the fact that he was giving the commencement address when she walks. Ana sits in a sea of hundreds of other people who are wearing the exact same outfit as she is, but since this story in no way resembles real life, when Christian walks out onto the stage he notices her immediately. Ana notices that he's wearing a tie. The tie. Another small part of my heart dies. I will be a soulless husk by the time I've finished reading this book.
As the head of the school begins his speech, Christian stops looking at her and she has a full blown panic attack. Why won't he look at her? Has she made him wait too long for an answer? Did he change his mind about her? HOLY SHIT YOU GUYS, SHE'S OBVIOUSLY RUINED EVERYTHING. It can't possibly have anything to do with, oh, I don't know, HE'S ABOUT TO GIVE A COMMENCEMENT ADDRESS. Surely that's an easy thing to do without mentally preparing for it - simple as taking a shit! HE SHOULD BE LOOKING RIGHT AT HER THE ENTIRE TIME SO SHE CAN TELL US HOW UNCOMFORTABLE IT MAKES HER. Jesus Christ, this character could not possibly be any more self-absorbed.
Kate's speech is next and her theme is "What Next After College?" - the most brilliant and original topic ever covered in a valedictory speech. That Kate is AMAZEBALLS, y'all. Whatever will she think of next? Afterwards, the chancellor rises to introduce Christian. Ana thinks: "Holy shit...Christian's going to give a speech." HENCE THE TERM "COMMENCEMENT SPEAKER", ANA. It's what a commencement speaker does: GIVE A SPEECH. Ana also claims that the chancellor talks about Christian's extraordinary accomplishments, and then lists CEO of his own company, self-made man, and exactly nothing else. Wow, I am BLOWN AWAY by that impressively long list of superhero level brilliant accomplishments. You should jump up and yell "HE CAN ALSO FLY A HELICOPTER! AT NIGHT!" Christian begins to speak and every woman in the entire pacific northwest is enraptured (her word, not mine). He thanks the university for the opportunity to address the graduates and gives an awe inspiring speech about their bright future and following their dreams and how the world is their oyster. Just kidding - he gives a speech about how people around the globe are starving and how the university (with funding from his charity) is trying to develop sustainable methods of farming. Which is very nice and all, but a commencement speech is meant to address and inspire the graduates, not trumpet your own charitable endeavors. But of course if he'd done that, we wouldn't have found out this: "I have known what it's like to be profoundly hungry." WHAT THE FUCK YOU GUYS? DID YOU EVEN SEE THAT COMING? THIS IS EXPLOSIVE NEWS. Ana is, as always, thrown for a fucking loop because no matter how many times she foreshadows something by wondering about it, she's always surprised by the glaringly obvious.
After the degrees are conferred, Kate comes to find Ana to tell her that Christian would like to speak to her. Ana heads back stage and as soon as Christian sees her he grabs her by the arm, propels her into an empty locker room, locks the door behind them, and begins to interrogate her about why she hasn't answered any of his multiple texts and e-mails that he's been frantically sending since last night. Nevermind that she's been busy all day, you know, GRADUATING and probably spending time with her family, who I have been made to understand usually come around for things like watching you graduate (I didn't actually bother to go to mine, but I've heard this is how it works), she SHOULD HAVE been checking her e-mail every three minutes in case he sent her something. By the way, he's not locking her in rooms with him and interrogating her on her whereabouts for the last 12 hours because he's an obsessed fucking psycho, he was merely worried about her because she'd driven home in her death trap of a car (the one that got her to his hotel that is only five miles away from her home perfectly fine). She takes exception to this because it's not a death trap: "Jose regularly services it for me." OH SHIT Y'ALL. JOSE FIXES HER CAR. FOR THIS TRANSGRESSION HE MUST DIE. She tells him she needs to get back to her stepdad, who she thinks is helpless and wandering around aimlessly for some reason.
She goes and finds her dad, and the next thing you know, someone has scooped her up off the ground and is twirling her around. It is Ethan, Kate's older brother, who presumably is affectionate with Ana because he thinks of her as a little sister as well, given that the author doesn't take pains to point out any creepy vibe about him like she does with every other man Ana knows. The three of them chat a bit, and the next thing you know, Kate is standing there, and Christian is standing right next to her. Now, throughout the whole book Kate has gone back and forth between not liking or trusting Christian Grey, and inexplicably encouraging Ana to pursue him. I have no idea what game Kate is playing here, but after she greets Ana's dad, she takes it upon herself to introduce him to Christian like this: "Have you met Ana's boyfriend? Christian Grey." I don't know who the fuck would do something like that, especially knowing that Ana hasn't told her family she's seeing anyone at all. It's just a dick move. She also introduces Christian and her brother. Christian stares Ethan right the fuck down because he was touching Ana when he first walked over AND FOR THIS HE MUST ALSO DIE. Ana's father, Ray, is understandably wary of the multi-billionaire media magnate and his inexplicable interest in Ray's naive, clueless, airhead of a daughter. He asks how they met and Christian explains that it was when she interviewed him for the school paper. Ray is skeptical. "Didn't know you worked on the student newspaper, Ana." EXACTLY. RIGHT ON, RAY. Nail this stalker motherfucker to the wall! But no. Christian is too smart for that. He distracts Ray from this abomination of a relationship by changing the subject to fly fishing. Seriously. After that, everything is all good. Christian is a fisherman! Obviously his intentions are pure! He's a fine upstanding young man! This relationship is CLEARLY all on the up and up. Nothing to see here, folks. Move along.
You guys know who else is a fisherman? My dad. You know who would never in a million years fall for bullshit as transparent as that? MY DAD. Also, probably your dad. Also, probably any dad on the fucking planet that didn't have his head shoved up his own ass.
In the meantime, Kate is explaining to Ana that she did what she just did because she "wanted to help" with Christian's "commitment issues". I'm fucking baffled. WHAT commitment issues? HE IS CONSTANTLY FUCKING STALKING HER. Kate maintains that she's just done Ana a favor. She'd have actually been right about that if Ray had punched him in the face and told him to stay the fuck away from her as he should have. Ana gives up on her and goes back to the table where she'd left Ray and his new BFF Christian. When Ray excuses himself to use the bathroom, Christian takes the opportunity to pounce on her and badger her for an answer about whether she will sign the contract. She finally tells him she wants more than that, a real relationship, he more or less tells her that isn't going to happen...and then immediately after that she agrees to be his sub anyway. To me, this entire conversation reads like this:
"You should do what I want."
"But what about what I want?"
"You? You can go fuck yourself."
"In that case, sure, I'll do whatever you want."
What the Christ.
When Ana gets home later, she finally gets around to looking at all the missed e-mails and text messages from Christian. He offers to talk more about the soft limits in the contract. She responds and tells him she can come over tonight. He instantly writes back to tell her he's coming to her instead. When he shows up at the beginning of the next chapter, he's wearing a leather jacket which makes him appear EVEN HOTTER, and is carrying a bottle of champagne. They immediately get into an argument about whether or not she's going to keep the $14,000 books. She thinks they're too expensive to accept, he thinks she's overthinking it and orders her not to. Think that is. "How can I not think?" she asks herself and is answered by her subconscious: "You can pretend to be a car, like his other possessions." What. The Fuck. Does that even mean. I don't even...
Christian opens the bottle of champagne thusly: "He picks up the champagne, takes off the the foil top and cage, twists the bottle rather than the cork, and opens it with a small pop and a practiced flourish that doesn't spill a drop." This is how EVERYONE opens a bottle of champagne. Not only has everyone seen this done before, but it does absolutely nothing to advance the plot of this story at all. She could have summed this up with "Christian opens the champagne." There! Done and done. You have got to stop it with this shit, James.
Christian sets about chit chatting about mostly random crap. He is doing this to buy time - he is trying to get her drunk off the champagne before they talk about the soft limits so that she won't give it any real thought when they go through them. He is going to freely admit this to her later on and pretend this is somehow for her own good. It isn't, it's simply more manipulation on his part that shouldn't really be going on in any sort of relationship, but particularly not a D/s one. One of the things they chat about is what she's going to do now that she's graduated. She has interviews with several publishing houses for internships, because that's what she wants to do - "something" in publishing. I write in my notes: "Step 1 - DO NOT PUBLISH THIS BOOK." Once she's downed most of the bottle of champagne on her own, they discuss the soft limits - anal, sex toys, bondage, punishment, safewords, pain. He keeps laughing at her because she's never heard of any of these things. Not only is this a jerkstore thing to do, but (and I really can't say this enough) this whole conversation should be proof to him that she is not in any way able to give consent because she has NO IDEA WHAT SHE IS CONSENTING TO. No dice. What he does do is tell her that he'd be willing to "try" something more. Which probably won't work. But he'll try. Even though it won't work. Like, maybe, say, one night a week. So, once a week he will grudgingly attempt to be her boyfriend. YAAAAYYYY ALL HER DREAMS ARE COMING TRUE! OH BUT WAIT..."I have one condition...You graciously accept my graduation present to you." Ohmygodohmygodohmygod, have you guys guessed what it is yet? I'll give you a hint: it's outside in the driveway. He's bought her...A NEW CAR! (you just read that in a game show announcer voice, right?) It's an Audi. I was so close, you guys. I should have known, he's got about nine other Audis. She says she can't accept it except as a loan, which pisses him off, so he takes her in her room and fucks her. It's awful and doesn't need to be recounted except for this part when she's undressing him: "...sliding my fingers under the waistband, feeling the hair in his oh-so-happy trail." OH NO YOU DIDN'T. OH NO YOU DID NOT.
Chapter 17 is the part where he admits to deliberately getting her drunk before discussing the contract and in the same breath, the very same breath, goes on to lecture HER about the need for complete honesty. He also makes a joke about kidnapping her, causing me to write in letters large enough to fill half a sheet of paper "YOU ALREADY DID KIDNAP HER." How the fuck are grown women swooning over this douche canoe? She rolls her eyes at this joke. Now, earlier she'd rolled her eyes at him about food and he'd threatened her that if she did it again he'd take her over his knee. So he insists she needs to be spanked for this. She's CLEARLY fucking terrified, and points out, rightfully I might add, that she hasn't signed the contract, to which he responds "I told you what I'd do" as if this were how life actually works. Once again, I find myself translating what she's written as an attempt to be romantic with what she's actually saying, which is not:
"I'm going to do something you don't like or want against your will."
"But it's against my will. You just said that."
"Not important. I already said I was going to do it, so that's what's happening."
THIS IS NOT OK, THIS IS SO NOT OK, WHY WHY WHY IS THIS HAPPENING OVER AND OVER AGAIN? WHY ARE SO MANY WOMEN READING THIS BOOK AND NOT NOTICING THAT THERE'S ANYTHING WRONG WITH THIS?
Right, so, spanking that she doesn't want, followed by more fucking because in all fairness to the book, that's generally what happens after a spanking, followed by Christian goes home, followed by Ana fucking falls apart, one of the few reactions she's had to anything that made sense. She calls her mom crying, who tells her DTMFA (this is Dan Savage speak for "dump the motherfucker already"), then Kate comes home and finds her crying and tells her DTMFA, then she has another stupid
She begins to hear some yelling from outside. Kate is screaming at someone to get the fuck out of their house. Christian comes busting through the door and finds Ana sobbing, followed by Kate still threatening to throw the asshole out of the house. Christian is not a fan of being yelled at. "Christian raises his eyebrows at her, no doubt surprised by her flattering epithet and her feral antagonism." Oh, come ON. Again with the "look at all the big words I found in my thesaurus" bullshit? FLORID DOES NOT EQUAL CLEVER. CUT IT OUT.
Obviously Ana doesn't want him to go, so after more stupid dialogue, he climbs in bed with her to spend the night, since he never ever ever ever ever does anything like that, but this is the third time now, and of course, despite everything that's gone on today - the holding her captive in a locker room, the insanely jealous reactions to every other man she's ever so much as passed on the street, the deliberately impairing her judgement before discussing something important so he will get his way, the buying her a car after she'd specifically asked him not to, the spanking that she had never consented to and didn't want - after all that, he's there, and it's all forgiven, all of it, because he's spending the night sleeping next to her in a bed.
Please, please let me wake up and find out that this was all a terrible nightmare. I can already see the blog post, "You guys would not BELIEVE this insane dream I had last night about this terrible rapey book that half the women in the world thought was so sexy and brilliant. I mean, can you imagine? Man, dreams are so fucked up sometimes. At least there wasn't a clown for once."