John Tells Liz What Happened In “50 Shades of Grey” (Part 2)
When last we met, our friend, writer and filmmaker John Ross, was telling me what happened in the best-selling erotic not-technically-“Twilight”-fan-fiction-except-basically-still-“Twilight”-fan-fiction novel “50 Shades of Grey,” leaving us with this breathless cliffhanger:
Ana wakes up the next morning to find herself in Grey’s hotel suite in Portland where they did the photo shoot. Don’t worry, they didn’t do anything. As he explains over breakfast, he won’t touch her unless he has her “written consent to do so.” What does he mean by that?! Refrain. He assures her that all will be revealed later that night, at which point, I guess, he will finally touch her. But in the elevator, he can’t seem to contain himself and—pinning her arms above her with one hand and grabbing her hair with the other—proceeds to try to fit her whole head in his mouth. Afterwards, he promises to never do that again until the paperwork is signed. What paperwork?! What is this mysterious man’s mysterious secret?!
Now, we go further down the rabbit hole, as things intensify for not-Bella-and-Edward’s relationship, as does John Ross’s use of “Ghost Recon: Future Soldier” as a coping mechanism…
I wish I could say that a lot of what you’re about to read was made up by me or embellished for comic effect. Such is the sadness of the Fifty Shades of Grey experience: reading it, knowing it is not a joke. Until the ending, that is, when another writer seems to suddenly take over, but we’ll get to that.
That night, Christian picks Ana up and flies her via helicopter to his penthouse apartment complex. After Ana signs a non-disclosure agreement (kinky!), she’s all ready for him to make love to her. But Christian needs to explain something to her first: he never makes love, he fucks…hard. Record scratch! Big reveal: Christian Grey is a dominant, and the only relationships he’s ever had were with women who agreed to be his submissives. This is the only kind of relationship he’s ever had, ever will have, and ever wants to have. And if Ana signs a contract, she can be his submissive too!
He shows her the contract by which she would agree to serve and obey him in all things, maintain a proper diet, exercise regularly, never make eye contact without his permission, etc. (Hilariously, one of her biggest points of contention is that she doesn’t want to have to exercise.) Failure to comply will result in immediate punishment! And what does she get out of all this, she asks? Him, of course!
Ana is naturally overwhelmed by all this, then she counters with a big reveal of her own: she’s still a virgin (she’s never even masturbated). Another record scratch! This is just unacceptable to Christian, who decides he must de-flower her immediately via plain old “vanilla” sex (E.L. James’ term, not mine). Ana happily agrees and together they walk up to—
–the bedrooms. Now, Liz, to save time with these sex scenes, I should first tell you what is the same in all of them. First of all, Christian won’t shut up. He’s constantly saying things like “Oh, Ana, do you have any idea what I’m going to do to you?” or “Do you know how badly I want you, Anastasia Steele?” or “I’m going to fuck you now, Ms. Steele.” And Ana, when she’s not saying “Oh…” or “Please…” is usually talking to herself in italics, saying things like Holy crap! or Oh my! or He’s so freaking hot! Whenever she has an orgasm, her body “splinters into a million pieces” or something like that and he always comes immediately after, crying out her name. I’m not making any of this up. Also, he won’t let her touch him — only he can touch her.
In their first go-around, he makes her have her first orgasm just by playing with her breasts. When he “rips through her virginity” she reacts by saying, “Aargh.” But then she has two more orgasms as they do it missionary and doggie style for ten pages. The next morning, they go down on each other in the bath tub, then they do it again on the bed. This time, he bounds her wrists together above her head with a necktie (yes, the one from the book cover). That’s ten more pages right there.
They go out to a diner where Christian at last reveals why he can only have dom/sub relationships and why Ana is never allowed to touch him. And no, it’s not because he saw that old Star Trek episode, “The Gamesters of Triskelion.”
See, Christian’s birth mother was a crack whore. At age five, he was adopted by his current family. Then when he was fifteen, he entered into a dom/sub relationship in which he was a submissive for a much, much older woman—a family friend who he still sees from time to time (here on out referred to by Anastasia as “Mrs. Robinson”). This relationship lasted for six years and Ana obviously blames her for everything. You remember how Bella has a grudge against the vampire who bit Edward all those years ago? Who made it so she can’t touch Edward without him turning into a foaming animal? Yes, it’s Stephenie Meyer in Love once again. I’m just going to stop with the Twilight comparisons now, Liz. I think you get it.
But, Christian admits, he did kind of enjoy the “vanilla” sex that they had. (This is the point in the book where he won’t stop saying, “What are you doing to me, Ana Steele?!”) Great, thanks a lot, Christian. You just couldn’t keep your mouth shut, could you? Now she thinks she’s Captain Kirk from “The Gamesters of Triskelion” and she’s going to teach this alien what human beings mean by “love”, thereby curing all his childhood trauma! I guess no serious mental disorder is too daunting when the guy has long fingers. Which reminds me, Liz, I’ve got a great idea for a new romance novel. It’s called Ryan Gosling Likes You But He’s Addicted to Bath Salts.
And this is where things really start going downhill, as if that were even possible. At least the build-up during the first section gave the book some semblance of structure. But now we are entering a formless, seemingly never-ending purgatory that had me longing for the vampires, werewolves, and abstinence-only subtext of Twilight. This is where Ana and Christian turn into one of the most insufferable couples you could possibly imagine.
The driving premise from here on out is that he wants her to sign the sex slave contract so that they can have a relationship on his terms, but she doesn’t want to sign it — she wants to make love. They both gradually wear each other down — she tries some BDSM stuff and he tries to be more “vanilla” — but it’s clear this is going nowhere.
He also continues to buy her a lot of stuff. He buys her a computer and a Blackberry so they can communicate via email. He buys her a new car to make it easier to drive to his place. When he finds out that she’s applying for internships, he suggests that she apply to his company. It’s eerily like a sexual predator grooming a victim. But she doesn’t want to accept all these gifts because it would make her feel like a ho (however, the contract that would make her a sex slave — she’s mulling it over), so they agree that the items are “on loan, indefinitely.” These sorts of negotiations and endless discussions about the terms of the contract and their relationship are excruciating. I’d get more entertainment out of watching those Imperial Senate debates in the Star Wars prequels.
And by the way, Ana being 22 years old and having never masturbated — I’m fine with that, whatever. But when he gets her the computer, we discover something else… she’s never had an email address. That’s right, she’s a college senior applying to internships at publishing companies — in the 2010’s — and she has never, ever had an email address.
That is how I look every time I realize this book is not a joke. Someone really wrote this — unironically, on purpose. Hell, I bet even Nell has an email address by now!
I gotta get out of here. Gotta get to the ending… That’s it, I’m going to bullet points.
So in the midst of all these endless discussions about the contract and negotiations about the terms of their relationship, this stuff happens (don’t worry, I won’t skip any sex scenes):
- While mulling over the contract, as a joke, Ana sends Christian an email that says, “Nice knowing you.” He is not amused, and arrives at her apartment within minutes. (God, I hate this individual.) He is turned on by her defiance. No one has ever defied him like she does (psshh). He ties her to the bed with the neck tie, blindfolds her with his t-shirt, and they have sex. Show her who’s boss, Christian!
- Ana graduates from college and Christian is the keynote speaker at the ceremony. During his speech, they make eye-contact. Refrain. Christian also starts introducing himself around as Ana’s boyfriend. Refrain.
- Ana decides that before she signs the contract, she wants to try out some stuff first just to get an idea. So Christian punishes her (for rolling her eyes) by putting her over his lap and spanking her 18 times. Afterwards, he massages her buttocks with soothing lotion as a reward. Ana kind of likes it, but she cries because the fact that she liked it has her feeling very confused…
- They try out some more BDSM stuff in his playroom (aka “the Red Room of Pain”). He makes her sit in the corner with her head down, wearing nothing but her panties while he goes in the other room and…plays solitaire, I don’t know. When he comes back, he starts giving her orders like the colossal prick that he is. He takes her panties off and sniffs them before putting them in his pocket (haha!). He makes her have an orgasm just by touching her with the end of a riding crop. Then they have sex with her arms tied — tied from the ceiling, tied to a wooden cross thing, and tied with a plastic tie that he bought at her hardware store.
- Christian and Ana go to Christian’s family’s mansion for dinner. Katherine is there too as she is dating Christian’s brother, Elliot (they hooked up at that bar). At dinner, Christian starts fuming when he discovers that Ana booked a trip to Georgia to visit her mother without telling him. Ana is upset because she thinks Christian only invited her because he knew that Elliot was bringing Katherine. These people… I just… I can’t…
- In his family’s boathouse, Christian tells Ana he is going to have quick, rough sex with her and pull out just short of making her come—punishment for not telling him about the trip to Georgia. Hey, is this one of the hot sex tips we’re supposed to try out to spice things up in the bedroom?!
- Later, at his penthouse, they get it on some more. This time Christian puts two silver pleasure balls in her vagina and makes her go get him some water so she can feel the sensation. Then he spanks her some more for pleasure and they have sex. Wow, someone should make this into a movie!
- Ana flies to Georgia to visit her mother. While she’s there, she finds out that Christian went out to dinner with “Mrs. Robinson” and sends him an angry email. Later that night, while she’s having drinks with her mom, Christian suddenly shows up. What’s he doing there?! Refrain. God…
- In his hotel bathroom, they get it on yet again. But this time, Ana is on her period, so Christian starts by reaching down and pulling out her tampon all by himself. Whoa, Christian, don’t get too romantic there, buddy!
- After they go gliding (wheeee!), he tells her that a “situation” has come up and he has to go back to Seattle right away. What’s this?! A plot development?!
At this point, all I care about is this “situation.” I was so desperate for something to happen, I couldn’t wait to find out what it was. Don’t let me down, third act!
Ana goes to Christian’s apartment to tell him about her new internship and to see if he wants to go to Jose Rodriguez’s photography show. But he seems preoccupied. Finally, she asks him if everything is alright with the “situation.” I am on the edge of my seat. A big reveal is about to happen here — something that could alter the course of their lives forever! Someone’s dead, an accident, a parking ticket– anything!
But then he just tells her it’s nothing and they start having sex again…
Let’s just get this over with. They do it in the bathtub and in his office, I think. Then it’s back to the playroom where he makes her kneel in the corner again. Then he ties her arms and legs to this big comfy bed in the center of the room. He puts earbuds in her ears and covers her eyes and ears so that all she can hear is this music:
If you’re a guy and you think you’d like to have sex to this music, I recommend you kick your own ass.
Anyway, while she’s listening to the music, he lightly whips her with this soft suede flogger thing. This apparently makes her skin more sensitive for when he finally gets on top of her and does his thing. And that’s it for the sex.
Now we can finally get back to the “situation!” But as it turns out, the situation is never addressed again, at least in this book. They just start having another endless conversation about “Mrs. Robinson” and what she did to him that made him this way.
Finally, here’s the point where it felt to me as if the book were handed over to some other writer who, as a joke, decided to take the story to its logical conclusion.
Ana tells Christian flat out: she hates punishment as much as he hates being touched. This makes him feel more sad and dark and brooding than ever before. He needs something. So Ana, for some reason, tells him that just this once, she’ll let him show her how bad it can hurt. “Punish me,” she says, “I want to know how bad it can get.”
Christian is a little kid on Christmas morning all of a sudden. He takes her back up to the playroom and bends her over a bench. He then proceeds to whip her hard on the ass with a leather belt, forcing her to cry out the number on each lashing. After six lashes, she has tears streaming down her face. He tries to help her up, but she slaps his hand away. “This is what you really like? Me, like this?!” she says, “Well, you are one fucked-up son of a bitch!”
The next thing you know, she’s outta there. But not before giving back the car keys, the blackberry—everything that he gave her. Even better, she makes him write her a check for the value of her old car that he traded in when he got her the new one. Then she runs home to her apartment, curls up on her bed and cries. THE END.
Now I know this will be short-lived. They will obviously get back together right at the start of the next book, as the Insufferable Couple always does. But if you imagine that the ending of this book is the ending of the whole story, it’s a good ending. As much as I pick on Anastasia for being Nell incarnate, I liked that at the end she was finally able to stop thinking about his long fingers long enough to get the hell out of there. She even says, “My voice is clear and calm, devoid of emotion… extraordinary.” So you feel like she gained something from all this. That’s a story, I guess. And as for Scottie McMullet the douchebag, he should just go gliding some more.
Gotta go. I have to destroy an arms cache housed in a remote Arctic base on the Kola Peninsula. Laters!
Posted on December 6, 2012, in Books, Other People Telling Liz Stuff and tagged 50 Shades of Grey, E.L. James, hot hot sex, john tells liz, man I can't stop bringing up Twilight, sexy make-out time, terra nova. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.