The nay-saying has begun. Not even four chapters in, and already a few of my friends are questioning this endeavor, openly wondering why I would waste my time with such a project. Well, I bet E.L. James had to deal with this same sort of negative thinking herself. She probably had a bunch of friends tell her it’s a stupid idea to a write long, erotic fan-fiction based on characters from one of the worst vampire books of all time, and even though those friends are sort of right, they’re still missing the point – that a “stupid idea” and a “worthwhile use of your time” are not always exclusive ideas, especially in America. And seconds after I wrote that I did some quick research and discovered that James is, in fact, from London, but I’m sure whatever point I was making when I started this whole rant still stands, regardless.
Oh, now I remember! I was saying that, like James, I’m gonna see this thing through to the end, despite the nay-sayers. I mean, hell, I haven’t even got to the dirty parts yet. How could I look anyone in the eye if I gave up now?
Anyway, back to the book. When we last left our duo, Christian had just saved Ana from near-decapitation at the hands of a speeding cyclist. Well, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but give me a break, I’m trying to spruce this up a little, however I can. As Christian holds Ana in his arms, she silently pleads for him to kiss her.
Now, look, I’m a dude, so I’m not as into the mushy stuff as most female readers of this book will be. But, still, I have a heart and everything, and even I can appreciate a good kissing scene if the emotion behind it feels real. Take The Princess Bride, for instance…
Granted, given my druthers I’d rather watch the scene with Wallace Shawn talking about poison, but still, that’s some moving shit. Even little Freddie Savage thinks so. But we don’t get anything like that here. Instead, both the readers and Ana are given a case of literary blue balls (blue boobs, in Ana’s case?), as Christian seems to sense what Ana wants but instead releases her from his grasp, telling her, “Anastasia, you should steer clear of me. I’m not the man for you.”
The rest of the scene plays out with Christian clearly wanting to say something to Ana, but constantly stopping himself and making awkward small talk instead, while in her head Ana tries to figure him out/berates herself for ever thinking he might actually like her. It’s here that, for the first time so far, I am sadly reminded I’m reading glorified Twilight fan fiction. It’s that bullshit all over again, with Bella trying to “get” Edward, while he just pushes her further away and almost vomits when he smells her blood or whatever. I mean, maybe the blood thing isn’t exactly the same in this book, but the lame, poorly written teenage girl anguish is pretty spot fucking on.
All I can hope for now is that this book might end with Christian’s family tearing some guy to pieces. Give me something to look forward. Although, I swear, if there’s a goddamn baseball scene…
Back to the story – Ana doesn’t take this rejection very well, eventually fleeing to a parking garage where she collapses into a crying huddle. They say a broken clock is right twice a day. Here’s a new one – even E.L. James can sometimes accidentally write a good sentence. She does so here, as Ana muses “I am crying over the loss of something I never had.” Not the deepest statement I’ve ever heard or anything, but at least one that I can relate to, more often than I’d care to admit. “Mourning something that never was,” she continues, “my dashed hopes, dashed dreams, and my soured expectations.” Preach on, sister. I’ve often followed rejection with the same sort of inner questioning, so I’m on her side here.
Then she tries to convince herself that maybe Christian turned her down because he’s celibate. I’ve never really thought that about any of the girls who have turned me down, but I like it. I’m stealing that one. Bunch of celibate prudes.
A week goes by, and Kate and Ana finish their final exams and plan for a night of drunken debauchery. Any points James might have earned with that unexpectedly heartfelt pining earlier are pretty much completely flushed away as she returns to her “16-year-old girl’s diary” writing style.
“It’s probably the first time all week that I’ve smiled. It’s Friday, and we shall be celebrating tonight, really celebrating. I might even get drunk! I’ve never been drunk before.”
Before they can head to the bar, however, Ana receives a package from Christian, who she has been trying very hard to forget about. Inside are three near-mint, first edition volumes of Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’urbervilles. This is the sort of thing that pisses me off about characters like Christian and Edward and all the rest. They’re making it way too tough on us real guys. I mean, seriously ladies, give us a fucking break. I hope you know your standards don’t need to be this high. I’ve always thought it’s a pretty sweet gesture when you get a girl a little gift that proves you’ve been really listening in your talks with her, something she mentioned she really likes before, you know? But first edition Thomas Hardy novels? C’mon, man!
Still, whatever I lack in the ability to buy you $14,000 gifts, I hopefully make up for in the fact that I am not a stalker. You see, after Ana gets amazingly and comically drunk at the bar (written in the style of someone who has never really been around drunk people, but has seen a lot of them on TV), she drunk-dials Christian and demands to know the meaning of the gift. Christian can tell she is drunk, and seems either concerned or annoyed. Or both. Who the hell knows. But he asks her where she is and she refuses to tell him before hanging up. That doesn’t stop him from calling her back and simply stating “I’m coming to get you.”
If I had written Fifty Shades of Grey, that’s the point where it probably would have turned into a thriller, with a psychopathic Christian stalking a drunk Ana through the nighttime streets of Portland. But what happens instead is Jose takes Ana outside to get her some air, and then suddenly gets all handsy and tries to force a kiss on an uninterested Ana. Hey, no way, Jose! She’s having a hard time fighting him off, but who should suddenly arrive to the rescue?
Motherfuckin’ Batman, that’s who!
I know! It’s a really weird twist, and one I didn’t see coming at all, but I gotta admit it definitely perked things up a little. I can see now why this book is so popular.
Nah, I’m just messing around. Of course it’s Christian Grey, bondage-enthusiast and staunch anti-rape advocate. He scares off Jose, and then performs that ultimate “I’m into you” task, holding Ana’s hair back while she pukes all over the sidewalk. When she asks him how he found her, he calmly responds “I tracked your cell phone, Anastasia.”
And, you know, she’s pretty cool with it.
“Is it legal? Stalker, my subconscious whispers at me through the cloud of tequilla that’s still floating in my brain, but somehow, because it’s him, I don’t mind.”
Ahh, yes, again…thank you, Twilight! You know, I wasn’t quite yet ready to declare Ana as terrible a female role model as Bella Swan, but…well, alright, I’ll give her a little bit more time. But you’re on thin ice right now, Anastasia. I just want you to know that.
Christian demands Ana let him drive her home, first allowing her to return to the bar to tell Kate where she’s going. But Kate don’t care, because she’s too busy basically humping Christian’s brother Elliot on the dance floor. And in case you think it’s weird that I never mentioned Elliot before and wonder if I’m doing a bad job summarizing this thing, let me assure you that this is the first time Elliot shows up. Part of me hopes he never comes back. It would be sort of funny if he doesn’t really exist at all, but was just a figment of drunk Ana’s imagination.
Then they start to walk out of the bar and suddenly Ana gets dizzy and falls on her face and knocks herself unconscious, but not before hearing Christian cry out, “Fuck!”
You said it, pal.