Okay…here goes nothing… It slips down my throat, all seawater, salt, the sharp tang of citrus, and fleshiness…ooh, I lick my lips, and he’s watching me intently, his eyes hooded.
So, yeah, Ana tries oysters for the very first time in this chapter.
Chapter Thirteen is an important milestone in my Fifty Shades adventure. There are twenty-six total chapters in this book, and although math has never been my strong suit, I’ve crunched some numbers and I’m pretty sure this means I’m roughly about halfway through this damn thing. It’s a real cup half-full/half-empty kind of moment, as there is no doubt relief over being half done, but also dread knowing I still have a whole other half to get through.
At this point, though, it’s probably a good time to stop and take a moment to assess how this project is going. There were many reasons I started this blog – one of them was the desire to try and figure out why this series has become so insanely popular. On that account, I am still at a complete loss. Yeah, we’re all having fun here (you probably more than I), but I think if my reviews have shown anything, it’s that this is truly a dreadful book. And it’s not that I expected a masterpiece from something that started as Twilight fan fiction, of course, but holy shit – Stephenie Meyer looks like Cormac McCarthy compared to this drivel. I highly doubt most of its readers are picking it up for ironic value, so I am still left wondering why this particular book has managed to captivate so many, when then are certainly many other, better erotica books out there. If it’s really just the Twilight connection, well, that’s a whole other sad issue that I’d rather not dwell on.
But whatever, let’s not forget that actually reviewing the quality of the book was only part of my overall mission statement. As stated in the “About” section of this site, my intention was also to use this book as a peek into the female’s psyche – a chance to explore why this story speaks so strongly to them, and in turn perhaps better understand what women are looking for in a potential male suitor. Here, I think I can report higher success. I have shared my concerns over some of Christian Grey’s actions, to be sure, but at the same time I feel I owe him thanks. For I see in him the potential alpha male hidden deep within me. I look to his teachings as a means to overcome my own problems with the female of the species. And, yes, I think I’m getting somewhere:
Here’s a picture of me prior to reading Fifty Shades of Grey:
Now here’s a picture snapped of me shortly after finishing Chapter Thirteen:
And here’s my estimated projection of what I will look like once I finish the book:
Yes, it’s probably only a matter of time before I’m not only getting dates aplenty, but also getting them to sign elaborately worded contracts that put them at my beck and call, forced to fulfill all of my kinkiest sexual desires whenever I want them to, while at the same time denying them such normal concessions as the ability to hold my hand or even look me in the eyes. As a modern, forward-thinking feminist man, let me just say…I can’t wait!
Speaking of those contracts, Chapter Thirteen is the anticipated dinner meeting between Ana and Christian, to fully discuss the specifics of their potential arrangement. But first, Ana call hers mom to check on Bob (her mom’s older husband), who has twisted a ligament in his foot, meaning the two won’t be able to come to Ana’s graduation. Ana also calls Ray, her mom’s second husband, and the man she considers her real father, just to make sure he’s still planning to make it (he is).
I’d tell you more about these conversations, but really, there’s nothing to say. This is a pattern I’m noticing with these books – E.L. James sticks in these other characters and scenes in an attempt to expand the narrative beyond Christian and Ana, but it’s clear her heart isn’t in anything except those two. As such, all this side stuff always feels rushed and ultimately pointless (like the introduction of Christian’s mother, or Ana’s reconciliation with José). There’s another scene like that in this chapter, too, with Ana’s coworker Paul once again asking her out on a date, and once again getting rebuffed by her. All of these things are always relegated to just one or two quick paragraphs, so that James can get right back to spending page after page detailing Christian and Ana’s e-mail exchanges, or describing how Christian’s pants hang off his hips. When you can tell the author doesn’t really care about any of these other characters or events, then of course you’re not going to, either. It will be interesting to see how many of these elements actually pay off in any way later on, and if so, how hard it will be to give a damn.
Oh, and hey, there is one those e-mail exchanges in this chapter – the day before their dinner date, Ana and Christian message each other, grumpily informing the other of the dictionary definitions of words like “submissive” and “compromise” in order to argue their side of the debate. Ugh, both of them just seem so petty and unlikable here. I never thought I’d say this, but can we just get back to the fucking?
So anyway, Ana, clad in a nice dress given her by Kate, heads to Christian’s hotel for the meeting. She refuses his offer to come pick her up, instead choosing to drive her crappy old VW bug (nicknamed “Wanda) over there. Needless to say, Christian is not happy about this – are you surprised?? Still, he seems genuinely excited to see her, and in a dress for once, no less! Gee, he must feel just like Freddie Prinze Jr. did when he first saw Rachel Leigh Cook out of those nerdy glasses and overalls in She’s All That! I mean, not that I ever saw that or anything…
Ana is no mood for awkward small talk tonight – as the two have a drink at the bar, she instantly dives into business, telling Christian she knows the contract is legally unenforceable. He confirms this, admitting she would be able to walk away at any time if she wanted. He explains that it is simply a way for the two of them to have an understanding of what is expected. “Relationships like this are built on honesty and trust,” he says, though he curiously leaves out anything about anal beads or whips and chains. Aren’t those an important foundation, too?
They continue their discussion in a private dining room Christian has reserved for the evening. Continuing another theme, Christian continuously pesters Ana to eat her food, even though she is not particularly hungry. “Honesty, trust, and eating your fucking food, for Christ’s sake!” I guess that’s what he really should have said. He doesn’t, though. Oh well.
Still, she does at least try (and actually enjoys) those oysters. This allows Christian to make a little joke:
“All you do is tip and swallow. I think you can manage that.” He gazes at me, and I know what he’s referring to. I blush scarlet.
Wait, I don’t get it.
Now, let’s get into it – Christian admits that, in the past, he did accidentally hurt one of his former submissives, by tying one of the ropes too tight while suspending her from the ceiling. Oops. Anyway, that’s all Ana needs to hear to know that rope play will probably be one of her hard limits. And, man, that’s too bad, cause all I can think about is how Christian just bought all that new rope when he came to Ana’s hardware store back in Chapter Two. What a waste!
Christian does make some other compromises:
“Now term. One month instead of three is no time at all, especially if you want a weekend away from me each month. I don’t think I’ll be able to stay away from you for that length of time. I can barely manage it now,” he pauses.
He can’t stay away from me? What?
“How about, one day over one weekend per month you get to yourself – but I get a midweek night that week?”
“And please, let’s try it for three months. If it’s not for you, then you can walk away anytime.”
See, teamwork and compromise! That’s what it’s all about. Not since the Allies of WWII has teamwork accomplished so much! I wonder if FDR was always bugging Churchill to finish his food. Actually, I’ve seen Churchill – I’m guessing it wasn’t an issue.
Speaking of the food thing, Christian is just as baffled as I am at Ana’s immovable stance on the required diet.
“Can I modify to say that you will eat at least three meals a day?”
“No.” I am so not backing down on this. No one is going to dictate to me what I eat. How I fuck, yes, but eat…no, no way.
What the hell? Look, Ana, I know I’ve only known you for about twelve chapters now, and so you can take my advice with a grain of salt. But, still, let me just say – so far, you’ve seen this guy eat nothing but the finest, healthiest meals, and he just got down telling you how he hurt a woman while tying her to the ceiling!! Maybe – just maybe – you should trust his culinary instincts more than his sexual ones. Heck, you never even seem that hungry, anyway! So what’s the deal?
There’s a kind of odd moment here where Ana asks Christian why she’s not allowed to look him in the eye, and he simply responds “That’s a Dom/sub thing. You’ll get used to it.” Then, only paragraphs later, Ana is mentally making a list of the concessions she has gained, and she lists “I can look him in the eye.” What? He never agreed to that! Seriously, I reread the page a few times just to make sure I wasn’t missing something. Again, maybe I’m overreacting, but there are times when you have to wonder if the editor of this book was really giving full attention. It’s either that, or – as I’ve said before – Ana is just really fucking stupid.
As the conversation winds down and Christian can tell Ana is still hesitant about the whole thing, he tries to seduce her into screwing him right then and there.
You want dessert?” he snorts.
“You could be dessert,” he murmurs suggestively.
“I’m not sure I’m sweet enough.”
“Anastastia, you’re deliciously sweet. I know.”
Ana tells Christian her theory about him using sex as a weapon, and he simply agrees, admitting that he is so used to getting what he wants that he thinks nothing of it. Then, in a pretty funny moment, he uses amazing powers of perception to tell Ana that he knows – even if she won’t admit it – that she wants him just as badly as he wants her.
“Your body gives you away. You’re pressing your thighs together, you’re flushed, and your breathing has changed.”
OK, this is too much.
“How do you know about my thighs?” My voice is low, disbelieving. They’re under the table, for heaven’s sake.
“I felt the tablecloth move, and it’s a calculated guess based on years of experience. I’m right, aren’t I?”
Damn – if this whole manufacturing mogul and sexual deviant thing doesn’t work out for him, Christian might just have a future as a consulting detective over in London. The only thing that might hinder him, really, is his documented love of ties.
Ana amazingly fights off her desires, though, and tells Christian she wants to leave. She says she needs more time to think about everything they have discussed, though in her head she realizes she is now leaning towards saying no, and is having a hard time dealing with the fact that this might be the last time she will see Christian. I guess she’s once again forgetting that she is going to see him at graduation, but she’s pretty distraught at the moment, so I’ll let it slide. Christian agrees to let her go, but let’s her know that he is still very hopeful she will agree to his terms.
“You know, when you fell into my office to interview me, you were all ‘yes, sir,’ ‘no, sir’. I thought you were a natural born submissive. But quite frankly, Anastastia, I’m not sure you have a submissive bone in your delectable body.’ He moves slowly toward me as he speaks, his voice tense.
“You may be right,” I breathe.
“I want the chance to explore the possibility that you do,” he murmurs, staring down at me.
Ana returns home (first agreeing to possibly seeing Christian next Sunday, after her and Kate’s move), and weeps into her pillow as she falls asleep, dismayed that – as much as she likes Christian – she just can’t see herself actually agreeing to a “relationship” like this. But, hey, we’re only halfway through the first book in a trilogy here, so something tells me she’ll have a change of heart. Not about the food, though. Seriously, man, don’t fuckin’ come between Ana and her food.
So that’s it for Chapter Thirteen, but before I go, I want to do one more thing. You might have already noticed in some of the sections I’ve transcribed that there is one particular phrase that E.L. James tends to…well, let’s just say “overuse,” to put it politely. I’m speaking, of course of “oh my.” It is Ana’s go to expression for both amazement at Christian’s good looks and sexual satisfaction. And it so so prevalent (sometimes used twice in a matter of just a few paragraphs), that I have decided to start keeping track of it. This of course meant I had to go back and quickly re-read the book up until this point – and yes, I am looking for sympathy. In the first twelve chapters of Fifty Shades, the phrase “oh my” was uttered 35 times. Add two more from Chapter Thirteen, and that brings our grand total to…
The Official George Takei “Oh My” Counter® : 37!
Any wagers on what number we’ll hit by the end of this thing?