Yes, it’s time. Let’s read some more of Grey: Fifty Shades of Grey as Told by Christian. Alright… Deep breath… Let’s go.
One of my fave things about Fifty Shades is E.L. James’ awkward attempts to set it in the U.S. despite having very little practical knowledge of her settings. Her characters consistently talk like Brits, in a way that’s glaring to any North American reader, and it’s hilarious. (Example: in this chapter, Ana says, “I’ve never left mainland USA.” Okay then.) James’ geographic ineptitude also shows up in her descriptions of locations. Chapter 3 starts out with Christian going on a jog in Portland, and he’s careful to explain that he jogs “down Southwest Salmon Street toward the Willamette River.” It reads a bit like a tourist brochure.
After his scenic jog along the Willamette, Christian returns to his hotel to get ready for his photoshoot with Ana et al. for Kate’s newspaper article.
Breakfast has been delivered and I’m famished. It’s not a feeling I tolerate – ever.
I vaguely remember from the first book (of which I admittedly only read half) that Christian has issues with food, presumably dating back to his time as the submissive of an abusive older woman. I’m intrigued to read more about this in Grey.
My hair is wet from my shower, but I don’t give a shit. One glance at the louche fucker in the mirror and I exit to follow Taylor to the elevator.
Uh. Couple things. A) I had to look up the word “louche.” Can’t say I’ve ever heard that one before. It means “disreputable or sordid in a rakish or appealing way,” which, yeah, that’s totally Christian. And B) WHAT A DOUCHE. (Which rhymes with louche, incidentally.) He thinks soooo highly of himself. It’s annoying as a character quality, but it also doesn’t ring true. Wouldn’t someone in his psychological position be more insecure than this? I’m no psychology expert, but… somehow I doubt E.L. James is one, either.
As the photoshoot begins, Grey gets introduced to Ana’s photographer friend José, and this interaction devolves into another one of Christian’s masculinity competitions for Ana’s affections. (At Drunk Feminist Films, we shouted “Broformance!” and took a drink every time this happened. We got hammered.)
Christian observes that Ana’s friend Kate is more active, engaged, and bossy than Ana, which apparently indicates that Ana is “a natural submissive.” Right, ’cause how someone acts at a weird publicity event with a bunch of strangers is a clear sign of how they like to have sex. Brilliant logic, Christian.
He asks her on a coffee date, and they hold hands on the way to the café. One of the most jarring things about the Fifty Shades movie, for me, was how quickly the characters ramped up to intimate physical contact – me and a gaggle of sex bloggers yelled at the screen when Christian started stroking Ana’s face on their first date, for example. I had forgotten that this weird forwardness happens in the books as well.
Ana tells him she wants tea with the bag on the side (?! what is the point of this?) and then Christian orders it for her, calling it “bag-out tea,” which made me laugh really hard and I’m not entirely sure why. He also orders her a muffin even though she explicitly tells him she doesn’t want anything to eat. More of Christian’s food issues here, plus one of the first instances of Christian directly ignoring one of Ana’s requests, which will be a recurring theme in this book.
I watch her dunk the teabag in the teapot. It’s an elaborate and messy spectacle. She fishes it out almost immediately and places the used teabag on her saucer. My mouth is twitching with my amusement. As she tells me she likes her tea weak and black, for a moment I think she’s describing what she likes in a man.
…What? …This whole passage is so fucking weird. I can’t even. What?!?
They chat over their coffee and tea for a bit, and Christian continues to refer to their budding relationship as a “deal” in his internal monologue, like this is a merger and not a date. Cool, yeah, your cold and businesslike approach to romance is really charming and not at all off-putting.
Their conversation is supposed to feel like flirty banter, I think, but E.L. James is the worst, so it reads like two British robots playing 20 Questions.
And it’s with great pleasure and a smirk that I remind her that she’s interviewed me already. “I can recollect some quite probing questions.” Yes. You asked me if I was gay.
I swear they have referenced that particular “misstep” at least four times so far. As if asking someone if he’s gay is the most horrible, embarrassing thing in the world. I am unsure what decade Christian thinks he’s living in.
“Do you always wear jeans?” I ask. “Mostly,” she says, and it’s two strikes against her: incurable romantic who only wears jeans… I like my women in skirts. I like them accessible.
KEEP YOUR JEANS ON, ANA.
Her body is pressed against mine, and the feel of her breasts and her heat through my shirt is arousing. She has a fresh, wholesome fragrance that reminds me of my grandfather’s apple orchard.
Is this supposed to be sexy?!
This is, by the way, the incongruous face-touching incident that I mentioned earlier. Ana almost walks out in front of a speeding cyclist, because she’s Such A Klutz!, and Christian saves her life or whatever, so now their bodies are touching. Yawn.
He almost kisses her, but then decides against it because Ana “wants hearts and flowers and [he doesn’t] do that shit.” He tells her to steer clear of him because he’s not a good match for her, and then immediately afterward, he says, “Breathe, Anastasia, breathe.” How arrogant is this fucker that he thinks his rejection caused her to stop breathing and start panicking?!
She disappears into the building, leaving in her wake a trace of regret, the memory of her beautiful blue eyes, and the scent of an apple orchard in the fall.
And so ends chapter 3, leaving in its wake a trace of louche douche, the memory of awkward face-touching, and the scent of bag-out tea.
Want to keep reading? Here’s the next instalment.