This is a question for the ladies. When you like a guy, and you think he might like you, does your scalp prickle? Because that’s what happens here. Ana’s “scalp prickles at the idea that maybe, just maybe, he might like me” as she discusses her encounter with Christian with Kate over the phone. If this is true, it’s really gonna throw things off for me, as now I’m worried that, when talking to girls, I might mistake an itchy head for a verbal sign of “kiss me, you fool.”
When Paul comes in after the call and asks Kate if she would like to grab a drink tonight, she politely declines, mentally explaining that “Paul is cute in a wholesome all-American boy-next-door kind of way, but he’s no literary hero, not by any stretch of the imagination.” Can you believe this shit, fellas? That’s what all this fancy book-reading has done to women. It’s not enough for us to be nice, good-looking guys…we have to regularly compete with the likes of Mr. Darcy, Heathcliff (the Wuthering Heights guy, not the orange cartoon cat), Edward Cullen and Ignatius J. Reilly. Well, I’m not so sure about that last one, but still.
Then Ana asks herself if Grey is that sort of guy. “Is Grey? My subconscious asks me, her eyebrow figuratively raised. I slap her.” Now, overlooking the disappointing detail that James does not inform us if Ana’s subconscious has perfect eyebrows, I still find it interesting that she manifests it as another person. Is Ana’s subconscious another new damn character? Also, the fact that Ana slaps her down seems to suggest she’s already a little into the rough stuff. Maybe this won’t be as tough a conquest for Grey as I initially figured.
When Ana – SHOCKER – asks Jose if he will do the photo-shoot with Grey, he whines, “but I do places, Ana, not people.” Which I guess is sort of the exact opposite of Grey, really, if you think about it. See what she did there. James is setting these two characters up as two polar extremes. And here I didn’t think she was very clever.
Since Jose is about thirty sub-levels down into the Friend Zone, he of course gives in and agrees, and a nervous Ana calls Grey to set up the appointment. “I am all gushy and breathy,” she says, “like a child, not a grown woman who can vote and drink legally in the state of Washington.” Wait a second, women got the vote in Washington?? Where the hell have I been?!
After a restless night spent dreaming of smoky gray eyes, long legs, long fingers (again with the fingers!) and “dark, dark unexplored places,” Ana, Kate, Jose and Jose’s friend and assistant Travis make their way to the posh hotel Grey is staying in while in town. Kate instantly takes control, bossing her friends around as they prepare for Grey’s arrival. “Yes, Mistress,” Ana thinks to herself, “She is so domineering.” That’s what those in the literary game call foreshadowing.
Finally, Christian Grey arrives, and James’ flowery prose once again takes over.
“Holy crap! He’s wearing a white shirt, open at the collar, and grey flannel pants that hang from his hips. His unruly hair is still damp from a shower. My mouth goes dry looking at him…he’s so freaking hot.”
And moments later:
“Oh my…he really is, quite…wow.”
Are we wet yet, ladies?
After the photo-shoot, Christian pulls Ana aside and asks her if she would like to join him for coffee later that day. Holy shit, that’s my move! I didn’t think any other guys had picked up on this whole “do you want to get coffee” thing I had going, but there it is, man. I knew it…I’m just like Christian motherfucking Grey. Holla!
Ana is over the moon about this, but Kate, apparently no longer amused by Ana’s crush, warns her that it might be a bad idea. “I think he’s dangerous,” she tells Ana, “especially to someone like you…An innocent like you, Ana.” Jose…man, you don’t even want to know how Jose feels about the whole thing. Well, actually they don’t say. But he does give Ana a disapproving glare, so I think we can figure it out.
No word on Travis’ opinion on the whole thing. I’ll get back to you if it comes up.
As the two make their way to their dinner date, I learn my first lesson from Christian Grey, as he takes Ana’s hand to guide her out of the hotel and then avoids the revolving doors so as not to have to let go of her hand. Pretty smart thinking, dude. But what else would you expect but smooth moves from the guy who learned everything he needs to know from Harvey Fierstein? This is actually sort of a sad moment, too, as we learn this is actually the first time anyone has ever held Ana’s hand. It’s touching, I guess, that Grey is finally doing so. Probably best not to think of what he’ll be doing with that same hand later. I don’t want to ruin the moment.
The Coffee Date
No, not THAT coffee date! I’m talking about the one Ana and Christian go on. Or, as Ana so eloquently puts it.
“I simply can’t believe I’m sitting opposite Christian Grey in a coffee shop in Portland.”
I ask you, is that a well-written, compelling sentence? I haven’t been talking as much as I should about James’ writing style, but c’mon…sometimes I feel like she isn’t even trying.
So these two are at some coffee shop, I dunno, I think maybe in Portland or something, and Ana throws Christian off by ordering tea. “I like my tea black and weak,” she mutters. She doesn’t add “just like my men,” though, which I think would have been pretty good at lightening the mood. I guess she’s too mesmerized watching his long fingers peel back the wrapper on his blueberry muffin to think of any jokes.
The two have rather average, banal small-talk. I suppose this is realistic enough. In fact, it sounds a lot like the conversation’s I’ve had in similar situations. “What do your siblings do? How do you get along with your parents? Have you traveled anywhere fun?” Etc, etc. But, you know, if I wanted to hear this kind of stuff, I could always just take a girl out for coffee for reals. This is Fifty Shades of Grey – let’s step it up a little! I can’t jerk off to a girl telling a guy about how her stepfather really likes European soccer.
Things pick up after coffee, though, and as the chapter comes to a close. After unexpectedly blurting out “do you have a girlfriend” to Grey (“I don’t do the girlfriend thing” is his reply), an embarrassed Ana stumbles into the street and is almost hit by a passing cyclist, but is saved at the last instance by the long fingers of Grey.
“It all happens so fast – one minute I’m falling, the next I’m in his arms and he’s holding me tightly against his chest. I inhale his clean, vital scent. He smells of fresh laundered linen and some expensive body wash. Oh my, it’s intoxicating. I inhale deeply…he’s staring into my eyes, and his anxious burning gaze for a moment or maybe it’s forever…but eventually, my attention is drawn to his beautiful mouth. Oh my. And for the first time in twenty-one years, I want to be kissed. I want to feel his mouth on me.”
End of chapter.
That’s right, fuckers, this chapter had foreshadowing AND an honest-to-goodness cliffhanger. It also had a guy who works for Grey called “Mr Buzz-Cut,” but I forgot to mention him. Didn’t seem important at the time.