The second Franco is gone, Grey asks Ana if she's still mad at him. She says "No shit" and he smiles like the jack-ass he is. "Oh, look at the cute widdle woman be emotional! She thinks she's people!" and proceeded to keep aiming for sex. Ana says no again, and he tells her to "spit it out" because that's a reasonable way to ask someone to tell you what's wrong. He's still grinning/trying not to laugh at her, and since I'm getting tired of running through the same "GREY IS AN ABUSIVE COCK" "AUGH BOUNDARIES!" schtick, I'm going to point out how common it is for women to be told they're cute when they're angry.
Seriously, show of hand my lady readers, how many of you have been told it's cute when you're upset. Not screaming or blind rage, but upset. Still keeping your head on your shoulders, and some ass thinks that's "cute". It feeds into the dehumanization of women. Women aren't real people with thoughts and feelings, they're just silly little creatures who need to be protected and isn't it just precious when they get upset? I feel this is exactly what is going through Grey's head here. He isn't prepared to take Ana's upset seriously, he's expecting to have to stroke her hair, say some soothing things, and then he'll get to stick it in her.
"What’s bothering me? Well, there’s your gross invasion of my privacy, the fact that you took me to some place where your ex-mistress works and you used to take all your lovers to have their bits waxed, you manhandled me in the street like I was six years old—and to cap it all, you let your Mrs. Robinson touch you!” My voice has risen to a crescendo.
He raises his eyebrows, and his good humor vanishes.
“That’s quite a list. But just to clarify once more—she’s not my Mrs. Robinson.”
I think she means she's your Mrs. Robinson in that she was an older woman who seduced you when you were younger- you know, where the nick-name came from? Not, you know, your girlfriend? Okay, maybe I'm giving Ana way too much credit here. Ana repeats that SHE CAN TOUCH HIM (she touched him on the forearm) and I'm torn on this. The way she touched him was totally non sexual, and one that I'm fairly certain we've seen Ana touch Grey herself, but we all know Ana's tantrums around not being able to touch Grey.
I however am going to consider the whole "BUT I WANNA TOUCH" thing in a new way. It isn't that Ana and Grey don't touch. They hold hands, he puts an arm around her, they fuck like rabbits... It is REALLY hard not to touch someone when they're inside you. The thing is that Grey always is initiating it. It is one of the many ways in which he holds power and she doesn't. So, if we look at touching as a metaphor for equality in the relationship, as to just idle lust, her anger becomes both less obnoxious, and more reasonable. Now, this still isn't a perfect parallel, because things don't always need to be perfectly equal in all aspects of a relationship, and Grey is supposed to have Major Issues with being touched, which makes it shitty that Ana is latching onto that, but Grey holds all the power in the relationship. I think Ana just latched onto this one thing because of the power differential. It makes more sense than she's just so horny and can't resist his sexy man meat, doesn't it? So, Ana being upset that he let Mrs. R touch him even now, in front of her, when she still isn't allowed, is suddenly reasonable.
Ana, naturally, sticks to the touching thing, not giving up on this whole rant. I am annoyed that she's singling in on this one aspect as to the hauling her over his shoulder bit. Grey's response to Ana is this:
He runs both hands through his hair and closes his eyes briefly, as if he’s seeking divine guidance of some kind. He swallows.
I get that compromise and discussion are supposed to be new and confusing things to Grey, but if your response to "I am still mad about all these things and feel I still have a point" is THAT, well, that should be pissing you off more. Grey is supposed to be a successful, powerful man. You do not get to build an empire from nothing when you are incapable of giving people what they want. You need to know how to schmooze. You need to know how to be liked enough to get a chance. When Grey's response to someone (from his point of view) being stubborn is apparent and obvious exasperation... I'm unsure how I'm supposed to believe he managed all of these work place accomplishments when he was starting out when he's this stunted as a person.
“You and I don’t have any rules. I have never had a relationship without rules, and I never know where you’re going to touch me. It makes me nervous. Your touch completely—” He stops, searching for the words. “It just means more . . . so much more”
More? His answer’s completely unexpected, throwing me, and there’s that little word with the big meaning hanging between us again.
When they first started dating, Ana's big thing was she wanted "more" than to be his sub- which is why she isn't his sub now. I get the author intent is meant to be Grey trying to express he loves her and this is all hard and confusing and new territory, but the word choice feels... deliberate, to me. They haven't even touched on anything besides Mrs. R/touching, but he sees she won't be easily pacified this time. Relationships are a lot of work, but I feel he's trying to skip over the work here (sitting down, addressing that he has been engaging in some very bad behavior, and considering how to act in the future) he's trying to emotionally soften her up so she'll forgive him. It's very manipulative, and, once again, a Hallmark of an emotionally abusive person.
So we get to the rest of Ana's list, or at least, the stalking bits.
“So, the rest of your list. Invading your privacy.” His mouth twists as he contemplates this. “Because I know your bank account number?”
“Yes, that’s outrageous.”
“I do background checks on all my submissives. I’ll show you.” He turns and heads for his study.
I dutifully follow him, dazed. From a locked filing cabinet, he pulls a manila folder. Typed on the tab: Anastasia Rose Steele.
Holy fucking shit. I glare at him.
He has a copy of my birth certificate, for heaven’s sake, my hard limits, the NDA, the contract—Jeez—my social security number, resume, employment records.
Grey will go on to tell us that anyone could have gotten this information if they wanted to, he doesn't misuse it, and a man in his position needed to be careful about his kinks. In that framing, this is only slightly less terrifying, but I can understand him wanting to make sure he isn't about to ask an undercover reporter to bend over while he bleaches her asshole. The thing is... He does misuse it. Ana wasn't his submissive when he did this background check. He stopped by her place of work to buy bondage gear* long before the photo shoot for Kate, and he knew where that was because of the background check. This means, that at the point in time he had done the background check, he had met her once. There are also things on that list he shouldn't have easily been able to get (like her social security number) at all, but hey, he has abs so hard you could grate cheese on them, so who cares? Ana calls him out for putting the money in her account, and she's still upset about it.
Ana has her backbone this scene, it seems.
“Anastasia, do you have any idea how much money I make?”
I flush, of course not. “Why should I? I don’t need to know the bottom line of your bank account, Christian.”
His eyes soften. “I know. That’s one of the things I love about you.”
I gaze at him, shocked. Love about me?
“Anastasia, I earn roughly one hundred thousand dollars an hour.”
CHRISTIAN GREY WHAT THE HELL DO YOU EVEN DO?! HOW DO YOU JOB?!
Does this mean, per hour he hangs around, or actual per hour he works? If we go with every hour he works, that means he makes $800 000 dollars a day. If he is a workaholic (which the text likes to pretend he is even though we never see him working weekends or something like it) I think we can safely assume this means he makes $240 000 000 a year. Which is only about a hundred million less than Oprah. So what I'm saying is that Oprah would still make the better boyfriend than Christian Grey.
Now, this is an awkward bit of world building. I mean, we can assume that he's donating a metric ass ton to charity, and investing and start-ups (and man, he is SO addicted to kick-starter, you don't even know, guys) but even keeping that in mind, I don't think his life style matches what he makes. I mean, he has the whole "tons of cars, huge penthouse condo, goes flying for fun" thing, but how much does his condo cost? Let's say 10 million. That means he owned it within two weeks. He should not only own his own helicopter, he should own his own airline. THAT would fit the level of wealth we're being told this character has, what we see? What we see is a random amount picked by the author that sounded rich enough that money would never, ever be a concern for him and Ana. I mean, I get the fantasy there. He's so loaded that even if all his business ventures go belly up, he still has enough assets to be alright. The very real fear that comes from not being sure will never ever be felt by Ana because of Grey. That might be the most powerful part of the fantasy that Grey is supposed to be.
I gaze at him. He really has no idea. Extraordinary.
“If you were me, how would you feel about all this . . . largesse coming your way?” I ask.
He stares at me blankly, and there it is, his problem in a nutshell—empathy or the lack thereof. The silence stretches between us.
Finally, he shrugs. “I don’t know,” he says, and he looks genuinely bemused.
My heart swells. This is it, the crux of his Fifty Shades, surely. He can’t put himself in my shoes. Well, now I know.
I like Ana here. She is aware of his rich-white-dude privilege. Her boyfriend has just gone and done something that made him seem... alien.
Her response is bafflement and... a nearly academic assessment of the situation. Okay, he is not an empathetic person, how can I explain this? She tries, too, but Grey is too busy being amused, and too caught up his own wants to care that he makes Ana uncomfortable, something she says explicitly, and repeatedly. She tries again here, and sees she's getting nowhere, so Ana decides to table it for later. I have mixed feelings on this. Knowing when you're getting nowhere and need to stop and take a break before you get pissed off is healthy. However we keep seeing Grey just slip out of fights and discussions with being impossible so Ana just gives up. It's a lose/lose. So they start talking lunch.
“Good. Otherwise there’s food in the fridge.”
“Mrs. Jones is off on the weekends? So you eat cold cuts most weekends?”
He sighs. “My submissives cook, Anastasia.”
Why is this here? BECAUSE FUCK YOU GREY THAT'S WHY! Why am I being sold a fantasy of a man incapable of making fucking eggs? I get some people don't/can't cook. I've met people who couldn't boil water (I'm not even kidding. My college room mates were both like this. I had to explain that you usually don't want to cook on HIGH, though you do when you're boiling water.) but you know what? They knew how to chop a vegetable, they knew how to make a few basic things because THAT IS PART OF BEING AN ADULT! My Mother always said if my siblings and I left the house not knowing how to cook, do laundry, or sew a button than she had failed. I've dated guys who were bad cooks, (thankfully The Boy is a good student) but never who just... didn't cook. It's a sign that they're immature. However that isn't even what pisses me off, it is that Grey sees this as being beneath him. He has his submissives cook, and a housekeeper who cooks, because it's woman's work!
Want to know the really funny thing about the whole "a woman's place is in the kitchen"? Walk into a professional kitchen and tell me how many women you see. We're a definite and obvious minority. Women are waitresses, and pastry bakers (bread is mostly men), not cooks**. That's the men's domain. Grey however doesn't know this, so he just bumps along and lets the woman do their work. I wonder if he would expect the chef** at a restaurant to be a woman?
So we cut ahead to Ana deciding what to cook, turning on the iPod, and starting to cook. We are told everything in excruciating detail, and as someone who, you know, cooks for a living, I can't help but feel she's bad at it. She's excited to find frozen peas so she can make an omelet. Eggs. Her big "I'm not gonna cook like a submissive!" move is to make eggs? No side salad? No toast? And it is a four ingredient meal. Eggs, ham, cold potatoes (already in the fridge) and peas (frozen, so nothing needs to be done to them). She has to whisk a few eggs, and chop two things. By the time Grey wanders back in to try and touch her cooter, that shit should be coming out of the pan, not being set daintily on the cutting board. I promise I am less judgmental when people feed me. I'm usually just happy I didn't have to cook, but the text keeps treating Ana like a super duper awesome cook, and, well, I expect it to deliver if I have to hear about her cracking each egg. It does not.
So as Ana busies herself with whisking the eggs (siiigh) she contemplates Grey's newest character revelations.
No empathy, I muse. Is this unique to Christian? Maybe all men are like this, baffled by women. I just don’t know. Perhaps it’s not such a revelation.
THIS IS NOT A MAN THING! YOU HAVE MALE FRIENDS! YOU'VE HAD LIKE 12 DADS! YOU SHOULD HAVE KNOWN, INTERACTED, AND BEFRIENDED ENOUGH MEN IN YOUR LIFE TO NOT SEE THEM AS A MONOLITHIC MASS ANA! Grey is just a dick! So, Grey then wanders in to try and touch her vixen. I'm sorry did you think I was kidding about that?
Desire uncurls in my belly. No. I shrug out of his embrace.
“I’m still mad at you.”
He frowns. “How long are you going to keep this up?” he asks, dragging a hand through his hair.
I shrug. “At least until I’ve eaten.”
So does this reek of "Women are the gatekeepers of sex and withhold it when they're angry" to anyone else? Yes? Okay just making sure.
They then go on about specific songs (Ana had put on "Crazy in love" and he is now putting "I put a spell on you")
Oh, the Nina Simone version? I suppose I should just be glad EL James is keeping her hands off of something I love. Seriously it sounds like he's trying to break his voice. It's awesome. Still, it keeps to the theme of Grey being creepy and possessive. And that he is a warlock. Seriously, the book isn't even trying to hide it anymore.
Oh my . . . his look has changed, the levity gone, his eyes darker, intense.
I watch him, enthralled as slowly, like the predator he is, he stalks me in time to the slow sultry beat of the music. He’s barefoot, wearing just an untucked white shirt, jeans, and a smoldering look.
Nina sings, “you’re mine” as Christian reaches me, his intention clear.
“Christian, please,” I whisper, the whisk redundant in my hand.
“Don’t do this.”
He’s standing in front of me, gazing down at me.
“Are you sure?” he breathes and reaching over, he takes the whisk from my hand and places it back in the bowl with the eggs. My heart is in my mouth. I don’t want this—I do want this—badly.
So this is a nice creepy passage. The imagery of Grey stalking Ana like some sort of predatory animal while she feebly holds her whisk, asking him not to even though she's conflicted on what she wants... Tell me this isn't black magic glamor.
He’s so frustrating. He’s so hot and desirable. I tear my gaze away from his spellbinding look.
So Grey explains that fighting is a new thing to him (seriously? Was there no one ever in his past he fought with?) and the only way he can know they're totally okay is if they fuck. Ana, still feeble and weak, but apparently developing a resistance to his black magic, tells him no, no, it's cool, I'm still enthralled.
“I’m not going to touch you until you say yes,” he says softly. “But right now, after a really shitty morning, I want to bury myself in you and just forget everything but us.”
Oh my . . . Us. A magical combination, a small potent pronoun that clinches the deal.
I HAVE HAD A BAD DAY BECAUSE OF YOU SO YOU SHOULD PUT YOUR FEELINGS ASIDE AND FUCK ME NOW OKAY?
“I’m going to touch your face,” I breathe, and see his surprise reflected briefly in his eyes before his acceptance registers.
Alright, so I suspect this won't be funny except to people who actually know me, but I have the habit of touching people's faces. Not a tender, sweet caress, but planting my hand over their face (like, over eyes/nose, not cheek) and then running my hand down. Or sometimes just leaving it there. This isn't even just a drunk thing, this is just one of the "Erika is feeling bratty" aka "all the time" things. So when I read this I am struck with the image of Ana nearly smacking him in the face as she touches it.
Now, silliness aside, this shit is so not okay. Grey has within that last hour gone over how touching is a hard limit. Ana's response is "FACE PETS!" even if we consider this is an attempt to level out the power differential, it is still a dick move. I mean, he stopped tying her up and spanking her with a hockey stick.
The sexy-times are interrupted (BOO!) by Taylor wandering in. It's super awkward, and Ana is mad at herself for having sexy time wants and needs because really only whores have those! We then get a super awkward lunch between the two of them ("Oh your Mom must be proud!" "I AM NOW AWKWARD AND ANGRY GO PICK A DRESS ALSO I HIRED SECURITY TRALALALALA") and Ana wanders off to Google multiple personality disorders. Ana, you know he's in therapy, just- leave it at that unless you think it's dangerous. Please?
Grey catches her mid-research, there's some "cute" banter and he hands her lipstick, saying that she's to draw on him to outline the no-go areas. I'm not sure where the lipstick came from, as he points out it isn't for her unless she wants to wear it. Did an ex leave it? Is it his house keepers? Did he buy a tube of harlot red lipstick for this purpose?
“You want me to draw on you, with lipstick?”
“It washes off. Eventually.”
This means I could touch him freely. A small smile of wonder plays on my lips, and I smirk at him.
About fucking time.
“You seem—enthusiastic for this,” he comments wryly.
“I’m always eager for information, Mr. Grey, and it means you’ll relax, because I’ll know where the boundaries lie.”
He shakes his head, as if he can’t quite believe that he’s about to let me draw all over his body.
I'm kind of hoping he just draws around his neck, wrists, and ankles, and says everything within these lines is no go. I'm also really hoping Ana takes the opportunity to draw a dick on him.
I'm not far off, Grey looks awkward and pained the whole time she draws where he instructs her to, and she describes the end result as him wearing a skin-colored vest with scarlet trim. That is a deeply unpleasant mental image. So, his chest/back are covered in pock-mark burns, and those are the no-go areas. I'm not sure why he couldn't just say that, but hey, this is supposed to be sexy. I think?
He tenses and stares, seemingly impassive, into my eyes, but beneath his careful blank look, I see his restraint.
The trust he’s giving me is heady but tempered by the fact that I can I count his pain. Seven small, round white scars dot his chest, and it’s deep, dark purgatory to see this hideous, evil desecration of his beautiful body. Who would do this to a child?
And Ana is now just pleased as a pig in shit that she can touch him freely since she knows the where to touch/where not to touch! I still think this was far more complicated than need be, but at this point I'm just glad we can get past the whole touching thing already.
“Those are the boundaries,” he says quietly, his eyes dark and pupils dilated . . . from fear? From lust? I want to hurl myself at him, but I restrain myself and gaze at him in wonder.
“I can live with those. Right now I want to launch myself at you,” I whisper.
And then she does just that. Tragically, the sex is waiting for us in the next chapter. I know, I know, I was really hoping for a hilarious sex scene to break all this up, but EL James doesn't like us that much you guys.
So, tune in next Tuesday for... what ever I run next Tuesday, and next Thursday for chapter 6! As always, comments make me want to work on this project more so you should leave lots telling me and my poor liver how awesome we are. Also for those of you who just can't get enough of me, I'm now on Twitter @SnappyErika!
*WHICH IS A TERRIBLE IDEA! YOU DO NOT USE DUCT TAPE, NORMAL ROPE, AND ZIP TIES IN BONDAGE BECAUSE IT IS DANGEROUS! There are better, safer alternatives, which as someone into the "scene" Grey should be very educated about. It isn't like Grey needs to save the money by being cheap on his sex supplies.
**Cook is the random schlep who works in a kitchen. Chef is the one running the kitchen. They are the boss. Sous-Chef is second in command (think assistant manager) while we're at kitchen terminology. They are all very different things. Cooks are not chefs. [/end food wizard rant]