I’m just gonna say it – this Anastasia girl seems really fucking stupid.
I don’t like to make snap judgments like that about people, but let’s look at the evidence. When she first met Christian Grey in the last chapter she learned that the point of the interview was to appear in her student newspaper, because he was going to be conferring the degrees at the upcoming graduation ceremony. She even inwardly mused about the fact that “someone not much older than me…is going to present me with my degree.” And yet at the end of their time together, Grey says, “until we meet again, Miss Steele,” and she thinks to herself, “…it sounds like a challenge, or a threat, I’m not sure which. I frown. When will we ever meet again?” Now, Chapter Two starts with her driving home and mentally scolding herself for her awkward behavior around Grey. “Forget it, Ana,” she thinks, “put it behind you. I never have to see him again.” Bitch, it wasn’t an hour ago that we established you WILL be seeing him again! I don’t know, maybe she’s just not sure that she’s gonna graduate or something. That sure wouldn’t surprise me.
So Ana returns home to her “small community of duplex apartments in Vancouver, Washington, close to the Vancouver campus of WSU. Vancouver Vancouver Vancouver.” Actually, I added those last three “Vancouver’s” myself. Sorry about that. A pretty-spry and not-really-ill-at-all-as-far-as-I-can-tell Kate instantly starts grilling her on how the interview went, and for what feels like the thousandth time already in this damn book Ana talks about how Grey is young, so very young (27, if you’re wondering), but seems like “he’s old before his time.” He’s like Dakota Fanning that way. Again, those are my words, not hers.
Next we have an extremely short and, as far I can tell, completely irrelevant scene where Ana goes to her job at Clayton’s, the largest independent hardware store in the Portland area. She’s worked there for four years, “although, ironically, I’m crap at any DIY.” Oh, don’t worry, Ana, I’m sure Christian Grey will soon be teaching you all about how to “do it yourself.” MUAHAHAHAHA….wait, I guess that didn’t need a sinister laugh.
When she returns hom, Kate continues to grill her on Grey, trying to get her to admit she thought he was attractive. At one point, Kate “arches a perfect eyebrow” at Ana, and I couldn’t help but wonder if that sentence means this Kate has like the sexiest eyebrows anyone has ever seen, or if she can nail a mean People’s Eyebrow.
Let me share with you one of my favorite passages from this chapter:
“It was embarrassing. The whole thing was embarrassing. I’m glad I’ll never have to lay eyes on him again.”
“Oh, Ana, it can’t have been that bad. I think she sounds quite taken with you.”
Taken with me? Now Kate’s being ridiculous.
“Would you like a sandwich?”
This is actually the end of the scene, so you can see how James is a really suspenseful author. Not only can we not be relatively sure who offered the sandwich to whom, but as the scene ends you’re not quite sure if the sandwich is ever actually delivered. Judging by something she says in the next section I’m guessing they did eat sandwiches, but I’ll never really know for sure. I like that sort of ambiguity. Keeps things interesting.
Later on, we meet who I assume will be another main character, Ana and Kate’s fellow student and good friend Jose, an aspiring photographer who just learned that some of his work is going to be displayed at The Portland Place Gallery and wants both of the girls to come. Not in the same way Christian wants Ana to come, mind you. Then again, maybe I’m wrong. “Jose and I are good friends,” Ana explains, “but I know deep down inside, he’d like to be more. He’s cute and funny, but he’s just not for me. He’s more like the brother I never had.” Oh, so Jose is the Duckie of this story. Dude, been there, done that…constantly. Alright, Jose, you just became my new favorite character. Duckie’s gotta stick together, pal.
Of course, Jose is also described as being “all shoulders and muscles,” having “burning dark eyes” and in general being “pretty hot.” You know what, I changed my mind. Screw you, Jose.
Shit gets real now. During a particularly busy day at Clayton’s, Ana looks up from a task only to suddenly find herself once again face-to-face with Christian Grey.
“Holy crap. What the hell is he doing here looking all tousled hair and outdoorsy in his cream chunky-knit sweater, jeans, and walking boots?”
When Grey explains he was just in the area and needed to pick up a few things, Ana thinks “his voice is warm and husky like dark melted chocolate fudge caramel…or something.” I’m glad she backed out of that one, that was a pretty silly analogy.
She also says “my heart is pounding a frantic tattoo,” which is pretty funny but not good enough to replace “the elevator whisks me with terminal velocity to the twentieth floor” as the book’s best sentence. But hey, it’s only the second chapter. Plenty of time.
When Ana starts showing Christian to the goods he needs (oh, cable ties, masking tape and rope…I bet I know where all those are going), she silently muses how lucky she is she wore her best jeans today. Yeah, I suppose that worked out for her, given the circumstances, but I still have to wonder, is it ever really a good idea to wear your best jeans to a shift at a hardware store? Maybe if you’re not planning on having to do any physical tasks, but I want to give Ana more credit than that.
For the second time, Ana also says something about his “long-fingered” hands. Are long fingers some sort of attractive quality that I wasn’t aware of. If so, how would Ana possibly compose herself in the presence of Johnny Depp in Dark Shadows?
So then there’s an uncomfortable moment where Grey’s maybe-sorta-flirting with Ana is interrupted by her friend and co-worker Paul, another guy who she knows has a thing for her. Damn, we’re getting into some real Mary Sue-ing here, not just with the “rich, powerful, awesomely off-the-scale attractive control freak Grey,” but also with Ana, the shy, awkward girl who still has every guy fawning over her. Granted, this second one isn’t that hard to swallow* since, if you’re a cute girl, you already know chances are good that all of your guy friends have a crush on you even though they might not admit it. But when the author keeps going out of her way to remind you of how insanely desirable both of these characters are, it kind of puts you at a distance from them. Or at least it does me. Maybe I’m just bitter.
The chapter ends with Grey agreeing to a photo-shoot for Kate’s article – he then exits, leaving Ana “a quivering mass of raging female hormones.” I doubt I’ve ever had that effect on a girl, and certainly not when I simply went hardware shopping. This guy is good. Anyway, Ana is obviously excited about the prospect of a photo-shoot, but also muses that they will have to find a photographer.
HEY! A photographer?? Well, wait a minute, I got an idea! Why not…..no, you know what? I don’t want to get ahead of the story. That’s too presumptuous of me.
* Hard to Swallow sounds like the name of a book E.L. James might write someday.