The Good, The Bad, And All Of The Sexing: Fifty Shades of Grey Chapter Twenty-One

Posted on July 3, 2012 by


Last weekend I met up with an old friend from high school that I hadn’t seen for a year. And we talked about Fifty Shades of Grey for about an hour. I want everybody reading this to appreciate how I let this book take over my life just so I could write a lot of jokes for strangers on the internet.

Chapter Twenty-One

Okay, guys, I have to be honest with you here – I didn’t totally hate this chapter. I’m certainly not saying this chapter was good. Hell, I’m not even saying it’s not bad. But rather that some of this chapter was like actually reading about a new couple having a few sweet and/or flirtatious moments, and while I wouldn’t say it was unpleasant, what I’m trying to say is that it got close enough where I wished this was a better book, as opposed to just read it completely dumbfounded by its existence. Huh, the more I try to explain this, it actually sounds even worse. Let’s try something else.

Almost Good…

Ana wakes up upset about Christian’s distressing past. This is fine. When you’re in a relationship, there will be plenty of times where you can’t help but dwell on what’s breaking down the person you’re so attached to. This is a Real Human Feeling (patent pending), and E L James has recognized it as one worth writing about.

…But Then It’s Not

Except it’s still E L James.

I lie back for a moment staring through the windows at the lofty vista of Seattle’s skyline. Life in the clouds sure feels unreal. A fantasy – a castle in the air, adrift from the ground, safe from the realities of life – far away from the neglect, hunger, and crack-whore mothers.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen an attempt at “good” writing go from meh to “holy shit hahaha what happened to this sentence?!” so abruptly.

Almost Good…

Christian’s not in bed, so Ana wanders around looking for him, finds him in his office, doing business. And it’s kind of a boring scene, it’s basically just one half of a conversation concerning things of absolutely no importance to the reader. This is still good, though, because after the reveal in the last chapter, it’s good to slow down the narrative a little bit and give us time to catch our breath. Christian smiling and looking at Ana while involved in his own Christian the businessman things is the closest we’ve gotten to a legitimately tender moment.

…But Then It’s Not

So they fuck on the desk.

“You want it, you got it, baby,” he mutters, producing a foil packet from his pants pocket while he unzips his pants. Oh, Mr. Boy Scout.

I wish I could say this was the first time I’ve put a picture of a boy scout in a post about Fifty Shades of Grey…

Okay. I get it. Sometimes you and that special someone just need to get it on right then and there and just do it on the desk. Maybe you have to pause to put a sock on the doorknob first or send what you hope is a very subtle text message to your roommate to ask him to not come back to the room for a little bit, but Christian Grey is a billionaire and doesn’t have these problems, so BAM desk sex all the time! And, Jesus, I think we get that these two characters have fantastic sex by now. We can explore other areas of their relationship.

And, of course, it wouldn’t be aFifty Shades of Grey sex scene if Ana didn’t have some weird description of an orgasm, and this time she tries to continue her artsy symbolism from earlier, and, um, it’s a winner:

I close my eyes, feeling the build up – that delicious, slow, step-climbing build. Pushing me high, higher to the castle in the air.

I don’t know about you, but “castle in the air” is my new codeword for sex. Similarly, it wouldn’t be a Fifty Shades of Grey sex scene if Christian didn’t say something that would make a normal person run to the police afterwards, so here we go!

“You. Are. Mine,” he says, each word a staccato. “Do you understand?”

More distressingly, Ana’s response is this:

He’s so earnest, so impassioned

…so probably going to murder you in your sleep.

Or in the shower.

Almost Good…

But then suddenly Christian gets all moody after the sex! But you know what? Sometimes people get moody after sex. And Christian Grey’s supposed to have a sad side. Maybe we’ll see a bit more?

…But Then It’s Not

Ana basically just whines about how Christian’s being weird, but the bar for normal behavior in this book is already so low I’m really not sure what particular red flags she’s seeing. Nor does her subconscious.

He seemed fine when I went into his study. We had sex… then he wasn’t. No, I don’t get it. I look to my subconscious. She’s whistling with her hands behind her back and looking anywhere but at me. She hasn’t got a clue

I’m going to ask a lot of you, dear reader, right now, and ask you to pretend for just a second that this isn’t totally fucking stupid. Okay? Take all the time you need, we’ll move on when you’re ready. You good? Right. Isn’t this body language more or less universal for knowing something and trying to keep it a secret? Or, you know, the exact opposite of what Ana gets out of this? WHAT DOES ANA’S SUBCONSCIOUS KNOW?!

Almost Good…

Ana goes on to her interviews at two publishing companies.

…But Then It’s Not

Fifty Shades of Grey is rather infamous for having started out as Twilight fanfiction before receiving fan encouragement and turned into its own thing and was self-published. Let’s read about the two publishing companies Ana’s interviewing for and, well, let’s just see if we can see anything interesting.

My first interview went well, but it was for a larger conglomerate with offices based throughout the United States, and I would be one of many editorial assistants there. I can imagine being swallowed up and spat out pretty quickly in such a corporate machine. [Seattle Independent Publishing] is where I want to be.

Almost Good…

But at least we’re finally getting some time to flesh out Ana’s career and not just oversexualizing every aspect of her entire life, right?

…But Then It’s Not

Surprise! The interviewer for the publishing company is a Christian Grey clone! Seriously, I kept a list!

  • he stands and gazes at me with fathomless blue eyes (379)
  • He says my name softly and cocks his head to one side (379)
  • Indulge? I blink at him. What an odd choice of word (379)
  • Jack, though argumentative, is charming in his way (380)
  • “Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?” he asks
    “Copyediting, perhaps? Maybe a literary agent, I’m not sure. I am open to opportunities.”
    He grins. “Very good, Ana.” (380)
  • “It’s been a pleasure to meet you, Ana,” Jack says softly as he takes my hand. He squeezes it gently, so that I blink up at him as I say goodbye. (380)

I wonder if this will become important later? You may also notice all of that came from two pages. Make of that what you will.

Almost Good…

Ana has a heart-to-heart with Kate about her conflicted and powerful feelings for Christian!

…But Then It’s Not

Kate makes a sex joke and decides to order Chinese.

“We haven’t been doing much talking lately.”
“That’ll be the sexing! If that’s going well, then that’s half the battle, Ana. I’ll grab some Chinese takeout.”

Still not ruined by Fifty Shades of Grey!

Almost Good…

Ana and Christian have another one of their weirdass email conversations, except this one actually seems realistically flirtatious. It’s a light balance of actual conversation, actual humor, and flattery, and, hell, I actually chuckled at a few of their silly, stupid, flirty jokes to each other.

…But Then It’s Not

Ana asks Christian if his housekeeper is a former submissive of his. I don’t know where to begin with this one, nor do I want to.

Almost Good…

Ana goes to the airport to fly home to visit her parents and learns that her multibillionaire boyfriend secretly upgraded her ticket to first class! D’aww!

…But Then It’s Not

Because I already gave up on caring about these characters like three hundred pages ago.

But At Least We Have This Quote!

Yes, that would be all the sex then.

I’m not even going to tell you the context for this line because, seriously, this is a fantastic sentence, and one that I need to try to use more regularly. I bet it’s super applicable! Let’s try a few scenarios!

Scenario One
“Man, Susie’s become a totally different person since she started dating Reginald!”
“Yes, that would be all the sex then.”

Scenario Two
“Last weekend? I’m not sure… There was Alice, there was Hilary, and… and… and Sally! Yes, that would be all the sex then.”

Scenario Three
“You can see here in the surveillance tapes where the shoplifter made off with perhaps six hundred dollars worth of electronics, as well as one hundred fifty of sex.”
“One hundred fifty?”
“Yeah, about that. How much sex did you have in stock that day?”
“About one hundred fifty.”
“Hmmm. Yes, that would be all the sex then.”

Super applicable!

– – –

On less of a Bad Books, Good Times note and on more of a shameless self-promotion note, I made my first album entirely of original songs and it is out today! If you’re interested in any of the other stuff I do outside of make fun of Fifty Shades of Grey online, you can stream and download the whole album (for free, I might add) on Soundcloud, or if you want to learn a bit more about the music I make and a personal story behind this particular batch of music, there’s a whole big thing you can read on my personal blog, Angry Postcards From Nihilist Penguins. Thanks!