When we last left Ana, she was pissed about Christian’s latest surprise gift – an upgrade to a first class ticket for her trip to Georgia. Though I made fun of Ana for being so upset over such a gift, that was just the part of me that has suffered cramped knees and trying to avoid a stranger falling asleep on my shoulder during flights. The more rational side of me was actually proud of Ana – perhaps her anger was a sign that she had reached a tipping point, that she was ready to tell Christian where he can stick these gifts, that she is no whore that will just happily accept whatever he offers in return for her complete sexual compliance and devotion. So let’s check in with this newly liberated Ana, shall we?
I am manicured, massaged, and I’ve had two glasses of champagne. The First Class lounge has many redeeming features. With each sip of Moet, I feel slightly more inclined to forgive Christian and his intervention.
Alright, well, that didn’t pan out. I guess I’m not surprised. There hasn’t been one instance yet where what I’ve wanted to happen has actually happened. I’m beginning to realize that Fifty Shades of Grey is not so much a book as it is an instrument of the devil himself, put here on this earth to shatter my soul and leave me a shell of a man. For instance, you’d think a chapter where Ana visits her mother would be the first where perhaps we might get a real sense of what Ana is like as a person, as opposed to just how she is defined by her obsession with Christian. But, nope…Ana still spends the majority of the chapter talking about, e-mailing, or just thinking about Christian. Quality time with her mother is an afterthought, a mere backdrop to more (more!!) discussions about whether or not her relationship with Christian is a healthy one.
Ana does exhibit one slight sign of a rebellious streak early in the chapter, when she spends some of her time in the First Class lounge getting a massage from a handsome masseuse and e-mails Christian to tell him about it, knowing he’ll be jealous. I suppose it’s a lot easier for her to be brave when she is about to fly halfway across the country, away from Christian and his various whipping tools.
Oh, he’s going to flip out – and I shall be airborne and out of reach. Serves him right. If I’d been in the ordinary departure lounge then Jean-Paul wouldn’t have gotten his hands on me.
Still, although this scene could have been used to show off Ana’s awakening sexuality spreading beyond simply being Christian’s slave, that notion is undercut by a shockingly judgmental statement from Ana, regarding Jean-Paul the masseuse:
He was a very nice young man, in a blond, perma-tanned way – honestly, who has a tan in Seattle? It’s just so wrong. I think he was gay…
If James is a much of a Twilight fan as I think she is (and the very existence of this book seems to confirm that she is), I’m guessing that comment was included just to negate any possibility in the reader’s mind that Ana might have been attracted to Jean-Paul. We already have our potential love-triangle complication in José – to insinuate that Ana might be into anyone else would throw off the delicate balance James has
copied…err, I mean created. That she has created.
Anyway, Ana’s e-mail does provoke the expected response, as Christian quickly messages her back:
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.
Ana reads this, instantly freaks out about Christian’s anger (the very anger she was trying to provoke!! Ugh!), and tries to deflect it by sharing her suspicions regarding Jean-Paul’s sexuality with Christian. That’s dumb enough, but what I really want to point out here is that she is having this e-mail exchange with Christian while the plane is taxiing for take-off! Doesn’t she know that’s a no-no?!
Even Christian admonishes her for this, reminding her that she is breaking one of their agreed upon rules by “risking the life of everyone on board, including yourself, by using your BlackBerry on board.” It took me a moment to realize the rule he was talking about had to do with keeping herself healthy and safe – for a moment I was wondering if I had missed the section of their Dom/Sub contract that covered proper airline procedures. Still, even though Ana doesn’t e-mail him back, she does continue checking her phone for new messages during the flight, finally giving up when a lack of response helps her realize “it’s nearly three in the morning in Seattle, and he probably wants to discourage me from screwing up the avionics system or whatever prevents planes from flying if mobile phones are switched on.” Whoa, watch it with the technical mumbo-jumbo there, Ana! Not all of us readers are smart enough to understand the complexities of avionics systems or “whatever prevents planes from flying in mobile phones are switched on.”
Thankfully, Ana’s recklessness does not doom her and her fellow passengers to a fiery crash, and she is eventually reunited with her mother and Bob, “sipping a Diet Coke, on a sun bed facing the Atlantic Ocean.” Sounds relaxing, to be sure, but things get awkward when her mom asks Ana about the guy she is seeing. Ana doesn’t really know how to answer, especially since she “can’t talk about Christian in any great detail because of the NDA.” Let me just clarify that – she is not allowed to talk about her boyfriend – to her mother – because of a contract he made her sign forbidding that she discuss him. Now I’m not a girl that is head-over-heels in love with a sexually adventurous multi-millionaire, but still, I’ve got to think that one would be pretty high up there on the “signs this isn’t a healthy relationship list.” You know, probably just below “he talks about gagging me and sticking me in a crate during cross-country flights.”
Eventually, Ana settles on telling her mother that Christian is “beyond handsome” and wealthy, but also very complicated and mercurial. I don’t get Ana – this is a girl who only weeks ago didn’t have her own computer or seem to even understand the Internet exists, and yet sometimes she tosses words like “mercurial” around in everyday conversation. She’s one of the smartest dumb characters in literary history, and I don’t mean that as a compliment.
Ana’s mom is clearly concerned about her daughter’s complicated relationship, and offers her some advice:
“Men aren’t really very complicated, Ana, honey. They are very simple, literal creatures. They usually mean what they say. And we spend hours trying to analyze what they’ve said – when really it’s obvious. If I were you, I’d take him literally. That might help.”
Hmmm, pretty good advice. And you know it’s meaningful, because as Ana says about her mom, “she is on her fourth marriage. Maybe she does know something about men after all.” Uhh, yeah, that’s one way of looking at it.
Ana does try to take her mother’s advice to heart, but in true Ana style she only thinks about the nice things Christian has said, like “you’ve bewitched me” and “you’ve completely beguiled me,” completely ignoring all the times he has also talked about how much he would like to hurt her. Cherry-picking those pleasant examples, Ana of course decides that Christian must really love her, an assertion that is only strengthened later in the chapter when he sends her a loooong e-mail in which he he tries to calm her fears about feeling like a whore (“I could buy you your heart’s desire, Anastasia, and I want to. Call it redistribution of wealth, if you will.”), and assures her he was just joking about that whole cargo hold thing – well, sort of:
“Do you really think I’d let you travel in the hold? I offered you my private jet, for heaven’s sake. Yes it was a joke, a poor one obviously. However, the fact is – the thought of you bound and gagged turns me on (this is not a joke – it’s true). I can lose the crate – crates do nothing for me.”
Awww, that’s…sweet, I guess? Ana certainly thinks so…
Holy crap. He’s written an essay like we’re back in school – and most of it’s good. My heart is in my mouth as I reread his epistle, and I huddle on the spare bed practically hugging my Mac.
We’ve been apart less than twenty-four hours, and knowing that I can’t see him for four days, I realize how much I miss him. How much I love him.
Still, something is bothering Ana. In one of his messages, Christian mentioned that he was having dinner with an old friend. Try as she might, Ana can’t think of any old friends Christian might have, except for “Mrs. Robinson,” the older woman who originally molested him and set him on the path to the bondage-lover he is today.
Keep in mind Ana has only known Christian for a matter of weeks at this point, and they’ve barely had any real “getting to know you” type conversations, but still, she’s convinced that this is the only friend he could be talking about, and she doesn’t like it. So in a fit of jealous rage, she does the only rational thing one could do in a situation like this – she decides to try to find a picture of “Mrs. Robinson.” Firing up her “mean machine” (as she has taken to calling her Mac), she does an image search on Christian – apparently for the first time – hoping to find a picture of the two of them together. And yet, except for a picture of her and Christian taken when he spoke at her graduation, Ana is unable to locate any pictures of Christian with women. Which at first I thought was sort of odd, since usually it’s true that you can find anything on the Internet. And I do mean anything…
But then I remembered the time I spent countless hours fruitlessly trying to find pictures of director Robert Rodriguez without either a hat or a bandanna covering his head, and suddenly I was a lot more sympathetic.
As it turns out, Ana is right to be paranoid – while out at a bar with her mom, she finally works up the nerve to e-mail Christian and ask him if “Mrs. Robinson” was who he was having dinner with. Christian nonchalantly responds in the affirmative, assuring Ana she’s just an old friend.
He was having dinner with her . My scalp prickles, adrenaline and fury lance through my body, all worst fears realized. How could he? I am away for two days, and he runs off to that evil bitch.
The chapter comes to a close on an extra-creepy, extra-stalker-y note, as a now furious Ana – who, might I remind you, is in a bar in Georgia with her mother – continues to message Christian about the Mrs. Robinson situation, only to receive this response:
This is not something I wish to discuss via e-mail. How many Cosmopolitans are you going to drink?
“Holy fuck,” Ana exclaims, “he’s here.”
* * * * * *
Unfortunately, what this chapter had in annoyance and creepiness, it lacked in “oh my’s,” as Ana didn’t utter the phrase once. I hope this doesn’t mean James is slipping at this late point in the game.