It's originally meant to illustrate "how can I ever live up to this sexy, sexy book?" I have to assume he'd opened it to a section that wasn't forty pages of grouchy emails.
Content warnings for this chapter: Do I have to say emotional abuse? You know there's emotional abuse. Jealousy. Stalking, SO MUCH STALKING. Homophobia. Physical abuse. Kidnapping. Slut-shaming. Child molestation. Excessive drinking. And other sexy romantic things.
Also, this chapter (and hence this entry) is loooong. FYI.
...I'm pretty sure it's going to work.
I am manicured, massaged, and I’ve had two glasses of champagne. The First Class lounge has many redeeming features. [...] I open up my MacBook, hoping to test the theory that it works anywhere on the planet.
(Yeah, yeah, what she means is probably "it has a 3G modem that works on many networks," but since the lounge almost certainly has wifi, it's kind of pointless right now.)
From: Anastasia Steele
Subject: Over-Extravagant Gestures
Date: May 30 2011 21:53
To: Christian Grey
Dear Mr. Grey
What really alarms me is how you knew which flight I was on. Your stalking knows no bounds. Let’s hope that Dr. Flynn is back from vacation. I have had a manicure, a back massage, and two glasses of champagne – a very nice start to my vacation. Thank you.
AnaI'm only doing this once because it would be incredibly ponderous to repeat it every time, but this is what every email in the book looks like. For dozens of pages. LITERATURE.
Anyway, Ana's right, it is very alarming. Airlines don't give out "X is on Y flight" information, specifically because of how common stalking is. But of course Buster SharkPants is Just That Powerful, and there's nothing sexier than a rich guy throwing his weight around until people let him get away with breaking important security rules.
As for Dr. Flynn (Saw ClampSpline's therapist), even in the unlikely event he's competent and not just being paid to say "you're wonderful, change nothing" over and over, he's only going to help with things his patient describes as problems. Since I'm sure Axe BodySpray will characterize things as "I try so hard but my relationship is troubled" instead of "I stalk my girlfriend when I can't beat her," there's not much Dr. Flynn can do.
[email from Übel BöseKopf:] Who was massaging your back? [...]
Aha! Pay back time. Our flight has been called so I shall email him from the plane. It will be safer. I almost hug myself with mischievous glee.This super powerful and confident dominant has turned into my mother circa 1999, yelling "were there boys at this party?!?" And Ana's characterization is running right off the rails. She's terrified of the guy, but once again she's all "tee hee I'm so naughty" about baiting him. I don't get this. Maybe it's an attempt to take back some power, to make her tormentor ridiculous? Or does she want to set him off because it's better than not knowing what the next blow-up will be about?
I suppose the in-universe explanation is that she wants to set him off because she loves his punishments, but that would sell better if she wasn't always crying about how much she hates his punishments.
Dear Sir, A very pleasant young man massaged my back. Yes. Very pleasant indeed. I wouldn’t have encountered Jean-Paul in the ordinary departure lounge – so thank you again for that treat. [...][email ends][...] Oh, he’s going to flip out – and I shall be airborne and out of reach. Serves him right. If I’d been in the ordinary departure lounge then Jean-Paul wouldn’t have gotten his hands on me. He was a very nice young man, in a blonde, perma-tanned way – honestly, who has a tan in Seattle? It’s just so wrong. I think he was gay – but I’ll just keep that detail to myself.Okay, "serves him right," so she... wants to make him angry as revenge for buying her an unwanted first-class upgrade, even though she knows he'll take it out on her later, she feels it's worth it to upset him. This sounds like the most superfantastical relationship ever.
I'm sure she knew Jean-Paul was gay because of the way he kept calling her "girrrllfriend" and flipping his wrist at her, because I've seen Chick Tracts with less lazily offensive characterization than this book.
It's also lazy of the author to make him gay, because hey, what if Jean-Paul was straight? What if he was straight and gave her a purely professional massage and that was something Dowel BentRod just had to deal with? News flash: sometimes your partner will encounter people who could be attracted to them. I'll wait here while you recover your monocle.
“Miss Steele, you’ll need to stow your laptop for take-off,” the over-made-up flight attendant says politely. [...] She hands me a soft blanket and pillow, showing her perfect teeth.Was that really necessary? For chrissakes, Buff Wonderful isn't even here, and still every woman onscreen has to be a caricatured sexual threat?
The plane jolts as it pulls away from its stand, and I breathe a sigh of relief but feel a faint tingle of disappointment too… no Christian for four days. I take a sneak peek at my BlackBerry. [email:] Dear Miss Steele, I know what you’re trying to do – and trust me – you’ve succeeded. Next time you’ll be in the cargo hold, bound and gagged in a crate.ANA! You're supposed to be in airplane mode! You shut that off right now, young lady!
Anyway, ha ha, those threats of physical violence sure are hilarious from the guy who's repeatedly been physically violent to her!
Holy crap. That’s the problem with Christian’s humor – I can be never be sure if he’s joking or if he’s seriously angry. I suspect on this occasion he’s seriously angry. Surreptitiously, so the flight attendant can’t see, I type a reply under the blanket. [...] You see – I have no idea if you’re joking – and if you’re not – then I think I’ll stay in Georgia. Crates are a hard limit for me. Sorry I made you mad. Tell me you forgive me.Once again, I don't know Ana's deal here. Like, she set out to make him angry, and now she's really shocked that he's angry? I don't want to criticize her too much, though. She's a little inconsistent sometimes. He's threatening to throw her in a box because she got a massage. I think he's the problem here.
To: Christian Grey: [...] I like traveling first class, it’s so much more civilized than coach. So thank you. I mean it – and I did enjoy the massage from Jean Paul. He was very gay.My sympathies are still with Ana, because she's the one suffering the abuse, but man, some days she is not an easy person to like.
You were right when you said I didn’t have a submissive bone in my body… and I agree with you now. Having said that, I want to be with you, and if that’s what I have to do, I would like to try, but I think I’ll suck at it and end up black and blue – and I don’t relish that idea at all.This whole "you're not a submissive" thing is... it's entirely correct. She's not. That's fine. Most people aren't. This is a fact, not a problem.
The weird thing is that Dirk HardWood isn't even trying to make her into a submissive. In another BDSM novel, this is where "I will train you in submission until you love it" would come in, but in this one, he sits on his ass and complains about her not being submissive. His training method is to pout until she trains herself with zero guidance or support.
You know, for all his talk about being the Domliest Dominant Who Ever Dominated, he's kind of lacking in actual... domination. I mean, that means different things in different relationships, but my general idea of a dom is someone who gives orders and enjoys receiving service. Goofus BreakWhip here isn't really doing that. He hardly ever gives Ana clear, achievable orders. There's sort of the implicit orders of "put up with all the crap I do to you" and "never interact with another heterosexual man", but beyond that? Even if Ana were a super enthusiastic submissive, he's not giving her much to work with.
My mother lounges beside me in a ridiculously large floppy sun hat and Jackie O shades, sipping a Coke of her own. We are on Tybee Island Beach, just three blocks from home. She holds my hand. My fatigue has waned, and as I soak up the sun, I feel comfortable, safe, and warm. For the first time in forever, I start to relax.Every time Ana is in a safe place, we get another one of those "E.L. James, how could you not know what you were writing?" moments, because she seems very happy in Georgia. Way, way happier than she ever is when she's around her supposed lover. This is sort of the opposite of how romance works.
After some lying in the sun not being completely miserable, Ana checks her email again. It's an enormous, multi-page, wall-to-wall "you don't understaaaaand me" whine from Smurf ChopSticks, so I'll try and spare you and only quote bits.
I am annoyed that as soon as you put some distance between us, you communicate openly and honestly with me. Why can’t you do that when we’re together?Well, probably because every time she does, you threaten or outright beat her for it. Just a guess.
I apologize for frightening you. I find the thought of instilling fear in you abhorrent.
Do you really think I’d let you travel in the hold? I offered you my private jet for heaven’s sake.
Ah, the old "swing your fist at them and then yell 'why are you flinching? you think I'd punch you? imagine how that makes me feel!'" game. Always a favorite of... super sexy romantic heroes, yes, that's definitely how that sentence ends.
What I think you fail to realize is that in Dom/sub relationships it is the sub that has all the power. That’s you. I’ll repeat this – you are the one with all the power. Not I. In the boathouse you said no. I can’t touch you if you say no – that’s why we have an agreement – what you will and won’t do. If we try things and you don’t like them, we can revise the agreement. It’s up to you – not me.
Everything he's saying here is great, if we ignore the minor detail that it has absolutely nothing to do with his behavior in the entire book up to this point.
Yeah, she said no in the boathouse--and he said "since you don't want to be spanked you have to let me fuck you." (Then threatened to spank her anyway.) That's not "I can't touch you if you say no." That's "I will slightly modify how I touch you if you say no. If I feel like it."
I want to share my lifestyle with you. I have never wanted anything so much. Frankly I’m in awe of you, that one so innocent would be willing to try.
What does that mean? Everyone who does BDSM is a newcomer when they start. Are we all awe-inspiring? I mean, I know I am, but...
...but the actual implication here is that he's in awe that a nice girl wants to do BDSM, instead of the dirty sluts who are usually into it.
I will endeavor to keep an open mind, and I shall try and give you the space you need and stay away from you while you are in Georgia. [Ana's reaction:] He’s going to try and stay away! Does this mean he might fail to stay away?
Well shit, she's getting pretty good at this game.
“Now that’s an impressive piece of technology.” [Ana's mom] points to my laptop. Oh crap. “Oh… this?” I strive for casual, surprised nonchalance. Will Mom notice? She seems to have grown more astute since I acquired a ‘boyfriend’. “Christian lent it to me. I think I could pilot the space shuttle with it, but I just use it for emails and Internet access.”
Really it’s nothing. Eyeing me suspiciously, she sits down on the bed and tucks a stray lock of hair behind my ear. “Has he emailed you?” Oh double crap. “Yeah.” My nonchalance is wearing thin, and I flush. “Perhaps he’s missing you, huh?” “I hope so, Mom.” “What does he say?” Oh triple crap.
We're up to triple crap here. This is serious business, this... um, telling your mom that your boyfriend lent you a laptop so you can email him. Not quite sure why this is such a tense conversation.
Maybe because the next thing that happens is Ana and Methyl MerCaptan have incredibly drawn-out, hilariously bad email sex. IN THEIR SUBJECT LINES. THIS IS A THING THAT HAPPENS.
From: Anastasia Steele Subject: Panting Date: May 31 2011 19:33 [...]
From: Christian Grey Subject: Groaning Date: May 31 2011 16:35
oh my sweet goodness
After dinner, they email again, and what with the email headers and their tendency to speak in frustrated questions and clipped answers, this means that an utterly inane "how was your dinner?" conversation stretches over four pages.
Jack SteelCrank mentions he had an old friend over for dinner, and Ana decides that this must mean his molester "Mrs. Robinson," which sounds like sort of an unreasonable jump until you realize he's never mentioned having any other friends. As per usual, Ana has a jealousy freak-out, because that's obviously the reasonable way to respond to molestation. ("Molestation" is a word Ana explicitly uses, by the way, so that's not just my interpretation.)
I struggle out of bed and fire the mean machine up again. I am on a mission. I drum my fingers impatiently waiting for the blue screen to appear. I hit Google images and enter ‘Christian Grey’ into the search engine. [...] Then, on the third page, there’s a picture of me, with him, at my graduation. His only picture with a woman, and it’s me. Holy cow! I’m on Google!
Holy cow! Everyone is "on Google"! Google is a Panopticon!
Anyway, after copious amounts of angst over anything and everything, Ana goes to the bar with her mom and starts tossing back Cosmopolitans to drown her "my boyfriend was molested, poor me" sorrows.
Man, there is a lot of drinking in this book. Fuzz WhaleFeet first kidnaps Ana when she's staggering drunk, then feeds her tons of alcohol every time they talk, explicitly saying it's because when she's drunk she's more open to BDSM. When she tries to order a soda, he insists she gets wine instead. Then when she's away from him, she relaxes with a few more drinks.
She emails Brunt FussThud again from the bar, because of course she does, and after some snippy back-and-forths about "Mrs. Robinson" (wasn't the guy in The Graduate like 21, anyway?), he sends this:
To: Anastasia Steele
This is not something I wish to discuss via email. How many Cosmopolitans are you going to drink?
Christian Grey CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.
Holy fuck, he’s here.
Oh Jesus Christ Ana RUN.