Monday, September 29, 2014

Fifty Shades of Parody (Chapter 14)

It's the morning of my graduation from UTEP, and I'm spending it naked in Christian Grey's bed.
     He's standing over me with a spatula in one hand and a flyswatter in the other. With one he's going to test my dodging skills, with the other he's keeping the bedroom free from annoying insects.
     He's promised me an orgasm.
     "Giving a woman an orgasm is a beautiful thing," he told me. "Or so I've heard."
     As he lifts his hand to give me the Spatula Treatment he takes a quick glance at his watch.
     "Oh, dear," he tells me. "You better hurry, or you'll be late."
     Oh my gosh, he's right!
     I jump up, run out of the bedroom and into the building where my class is about to start. I run up and down the halls, but where's my class? I don't know where I'm supposed to go. There's a boy at his locker. His face is hidden, so I can't see who it is. I run up to him just as he closes the door. He's holding a spatula in one hand.
     Oh my gosh, it's Christian! How did he get here before me?
     "Thank goobers, it's you," I gasp. "You've got to help me, Christian."
     "But you're too late, Miss Steele," he tells me, calmly. "Too late."
     "How do I get to my class?" I ask him desperately. I am so screwed, and not in the fun way. "How do I get to my class?"
     "Why, I thought you knew, dear Ana. You sign the contract."
     Sign the contract? What the heck does he mean? I'm here to take my final exam. Without it I won't be able to graduate, and he wants me to sign a contract? Is he crazy? I already know the answer to that question. There's nothing I can do...
     ...so I sit.
     But I'm too late. Too late. Everybody, all the other students, are already leaving. They've taken their exams and are filing out, on their way to graduation. How happy they all look in their shiny gowns, eager to start their new lives.
     "You do know you're still naked, don't you?" my professor wants to know.
     "I know, Professor," I say, making my excuses, "but I was running late. I didn't have time to dress."
     I look up and see it's Christian. He's my professor? After all this time, how did I not know this? Maybe I should have come to class more often.
     "Not that I'm complaining," he continues, "but there's a proper time and place for everything."
     "I'm here to take my test, Professor."
     "Your test?" he says, sympathetically. "Poor Ana. My poor sweet Ana. You're too late, my dear. I'm afraid the time for testing is over. Now is the time for action, my dear."
     "I'll do anything, Professor. Anything. Just let me take my test."
     I'm squirming in my seat, practically sliding off. All this anxiety has gotten me rather, well, hot.
     He sees my excitement. My discomfort. My yankee-doodle-dandy
     And he smiles.
     "Well, I suppose I could make an exception, Miss Steele," he tells me. "After all, I've made so many exceptions for you already."
     He places the final exam in front of  me.
     "Thank you," I gasp in appreciation. "Thank you. Thank you, thank, you, thank you. You won't regret this, I promise you."
     "I'm sure I won't," he tells me. "You've never disappointed me before. Except for that one time. And then the other."
     I look down, but instead of the exam, it's that dang contract he wants me to sign. I look up at him. He arches an eyebrow, steeples his fingers, and twiddles his thumbs.
     "I... this isn't..." I stammer, trying to get the words out.
     "Just sign it, Ana," he tempts. "Sin a little."
     His words are so seductive. He reminds me of the serpent in the Garden of Eden. Only with arms and legs. And a spatula instead of an apple.
     You know, I don't mean to belabor the point but I've never understood how Adam & Eve were tempted out of Eden by forbidden fruit. Now a forbidden Twinkie I'd understand, but an apple? They make good pies, but that's about it.
     Mmm... pies.
     Meanwhile, I have the pen in my hand. He puts one hand softly on my shoulder, urging me forward. I look up at him, into his eyes. They look so haunted, pleading. There's a little eye-booger in the corner of one, but that only makes him sexier to me. It makes him seem... less reptilian.
     "I... I'm not sure," I say, my hand quivering.
     "Ana," he tells me, his lips close enough to tickle the hair growing in my ear, "in the words of Confucius: 'Virginity. Like balloon. One prick. All gone.'"
     He places two soft fingers on my hand and pushes down gently.
     "Sign it," he says, exerting his will over mine. "You won't regret it."
     I can't help it, I feel myself giving in.
     "Sign it," he says again, his mother by his side. His mother?
     She's holding him by the arm and whispers something into his ear, but I can't tell if she's encouraging him forward or holding him back. Maybe her spitting in my direction is a clue.
     The pen's point lightly touches the contract. The paper ignites where they meet, then smolders. Little wisps of white smoke leisurely belly-dancing upward.
     "Sign it," he says.
     "Sign it," so does his mother.
     "Sign it," two familiar voices say.
     Kate and José have joined us. Where the heck did they come from? They smile at each other as they share a banana.
     I'm about to sign, when...
     ...the alarm goes off!
     I jump up, gasping for breathe. I'm covered in sweat, as usual. I look at the clock, it's eight in the morning. Was it...? Could it just have been...? Oh, thank goobers! In a moment of stunning unoriginality, I realize...
     ...it was all a dream. 
     I awake with a shock.
     That's the last time I fall asleep in the bathtub with a toaster.
     Wow... morning already.
     "What time is it?" I ask my Hello Kitty alarm clock. Not having a mouth, it doesn't answer, so I look to see where the little and big hands are pointing. I quickly do the math. Hmmm, carry the one... it's eight o'clock.
     Eight o'clock? Times a-wasting!
     I run into the bathroom for my morning constitutional. My tummy is rumbling, just a tad upset. I can't take care of business, however, because there's a man working on the plumbing. A Mexican man. Must be that cousin of José's from Mexico who's... um... visiting. He said he would send him over to fix our toilet.
     "Oh, excuse me," I tell him. "Are you working on the plumbing?"
     "Si," he tells me in Spanish.
     This toilet had always given us trouble. That's one of the reasons we're moving. Our landlord never wanted to fix it. That Mr. Benny is one cheap bast...
     "I guess José sent you."
     "Si."
     "Are you his cousin?"
     "Si."
     "My name's Ana. What's yours?"
     "Sy."
     "Sy?"
     "Si."
     "Do you speak English, Sy?"
     "Si."
     "Sy, I really have to use the bathroom."
     "So?"
     "So?"
     "Si."
     "Are you saying I can't use it?"
     "Si."
     This place drives me nuts. The toilet has never worked properly, and now I have to use the bathroom and I can't. It has to be fixed before we can move out or we'll lose our deposit, but why should we pay for something to be fixed that was already broken to begin with? We couldn't afford to hire a real plumber, so José said he'd get one of his relatives to do the job.
     "A cousin of mine," José told me. "He works real cheap."
     "Real cheap?"
     "Si."
     I vent all my frustrations to my captive audience. He listens patiently. I tell him that we--Kate and I--feel we're owed some kind of monetary settlement for all the pain and suffering we've been through.
     "So what do you think we should do?" I ask him finally.
     "Sue."
     "Sue?"
     "Si."
     "That's good advice, Sy."
     "Si."
     "By the way, thanks for coming by on such short notice. José says you work cheap."
     "Si."
     "So... how much are you going to charge us?"
     "A hundred bucks."
     "A HUNDRED BUCKS?"
     "Si."
     I'm discombobulated and just plain bobulated. I excuse myself and head back to bed.
     I'm so confused. Do I really have that final exam to take? Or was all that nonsense just a dream? I guess there's only one way to find out. I get back up and put on the first thing I find. Christian's jacket. That's sure to not draw suspicion from my nosy roommate. Speaking of whom...
     Kate is in the kitchen when I stagger in like Frankenstein's monster. I'm not what you would call a morning person. Kate, as usual, looks beautiful. When I first met her our freshman year at UTEP, she was rather plain looking. And then she had a drawing of a beautiful face tattooed over her plain one. It was a gift from her father. What a difference it made. She went from looking like King Kong to Fay Wray.
     "Well," she says when she sees me, "look who's up. You look like something the cat dragged in. And ate. And puked up on the floor."
     That Kate. She's such a kidder.
     We don't have a cat.
     "Thanks," I say, "and your tattoo looks as beautiful as ever."
     "Well, you know what I always say."
     "What?"
     "I was hoping you'd know, because I can never remember." She squints her eyes and takes a closer look at me. "Oh my goodness... is that Christian's jacket you're wearing?"
     I thought she'd never notice.
     "This old thing?" I mock. "I've had this Armani bathrobe for years."
     "Tell me, tell me, tell me," She says, apparently wanting me to tell her something. "Did you sleep with him?"
     "Not a wink," I assure her.
     She seems satisfied with that and begins to talk. Man, she has a lot to say.
     I head to the refrigerator and begin to make myself my morning concoction. I take some low-fat milk, mix it with honey, add some Chia seeds and stir vigorously. It's a nutritious drink designed to give me plenty of energy for the day. After I make it, I immediately pour it into the toilet, cutting out the middle-man. I'm on my third helping of whale blubber before I notice Kate is wrapping it up.
     "And that's the story of the man from Nantucket," she finishes. "Now tell me all about your date, Ana. Did Christian wonder where I was?"
     "No."
     "Did he wonder who I was with?"
     "No."
     "Did he wonder where I was and who I was with?"
     "Kate, I keep telling you" I say, telling her, "I really don't want to talk about it, and that's not because of any contract I may or may not have signed that legally requires me to keep mum."
     "Isn't there anything you can tell me?"
     "Well, he doesn't like Wanda."
     "He doesn't? I can't believe that. Who's Wanda?"
     "I don't know. Like you, I wasn't paying attention to the last chapter."
     "Well..." she starts and then tapers off with nothing to say.
     "Well..." I begin, trying to think of some other stuff to fill up this chapter. I get a sudden burst of inspiration. It was the bean burrito I had from Taco Bell on my way home last night.
     She lifts two fingers to her nose and squeezes her nostrils shut.
     "You want to listen to my valedictorian speech?" she squeaks.
     Before I can even say yes, she's already running out of the room. Wow, she must really be anxious to have me listen to her speech.
     While she's gone, I take the opportunity to think about that dream I had last night, about the contract Christian Grey wants me to sign, and about that bean burrito I had at Taco Bell. That dream must have had some deeper meaning, but as for what that deeper meaning is, I don't understand.
     The thing I remember most about last night's dream is Christian flying a 747 into the Grand Canyon. A big, long, hard object going into a giant gaping hole. Even though a 747 is huge, in the dream, once it was inside the canyon the plane looked so small and the hole so big. Surely that must mean something. but I can't make the connection.
     My inner goddess shows up smoking a cigarette. She has dark bags under her eyes.
     "Where've you been?" I ask her.
     "Mind your own business," she tells me.
     Just then, Kate rushes back in with a copy of her speech in one hand and a book of matches in the other. Unfortunately for her, I just had another inspiration, so she keeps moving on out the door.
     "I'll see you at the graduation," she yells on her way out.
     I'd answer, but I'm in the middle of another inspiration. 
     A second later, there's a knock at my front door. I look out the peephole. Great googly-moogly, it's Ray! My step-father! The man who's sacrificed so much for me.
     I quietly sneak out the window.
 
     I'm in the auditorium with the rest of my college graduating class. You can feel the excitement in the air. It's like "excite" with a "ment" at the end
     The comedian and host of the whole graduation/comedy roast, Jeffrey Ross, takes the stage at exactly 11:00am. The chancellor walks in just behind him and makes him give it back.
     "Good afternoon," the Roastmaster General says, "we're here to celebrate UTEP's graduating class of who-the-heck-cares?"
     He waits for a healthy chuckle from the audience, and then continues.
     "Joining me at the podium will be Milton Berle, Buddy Hackett, Jack Benny, Sid Ceasar, Geroge Burns of Burns & Allen, Bob Hope of Bob & Hope, Don Rickles, the Marx brothers, the Three Stooges, Abbott & Costello of Abbott & Costello, and Lisa Lampanelli."
     There is polite applause at the mention of each name, but the crowd really erupts at the mention of Lisa Lampanelli. Jeffrey Ross holds up his hand to calm us down. Who's this Lisa Lampanelli everybody is getting so excited over? I look at her. She looks like a million dollars... all green and crumpled.
     "First up, it is my honor to introduce to you... Milton Berle!"
     The crowd lets out an enthusiastic snore as Mr. Television takes the stage.
     "Good evening, ladies and germs," Milton says getting up from his wheelchair. "I don't want to brag, but those rumors you've heard about the size of my penis are all true. My penis is so big that. like you, it graduated from college..."
     We applaud enthusiastically at this.
     "...a year before I did!"
     After Milton Berle gets done bragging about the size of his equipment, Buddy Hackett takes the stage.
     "Good evening, ladies and germs," he says. "I'd like to thank the chancellor for his kind invitation." At this, he turns to the chancellor. "Thank you, Mr. Chancellor. Any similarity between you and a human being is simply coincidental."
     Buddy Hackett steps down and Jack Benny gets up.
     "It's lovely to be here," he begins. "Really lovely. As I look at the chancellor, I can't help but think that some town somewhere is missing its idiot." He turns to address the chancellor personally. "Are you the first one in your family to be born without a tail? I thought so."
     Jack Benny steps down, having gotten some pretty good laughs, but, unfortunately, no one knows who he is.
     Sid Caesar takes Jack's place behind the podium. He looks around, his crazy eyes taking everything in.
     "Mr. Chancellor!" he says, a bit too loud. "I would like to say that, despite what everybody think, you're not obnoxious like so many other people. You're obnoxious in new and different ways. While your students might think that you have a stick up your ass, let me correct that misperception. It's not a stick. The space aliens just forgot to remove their anal probe."
     George Burns takes a long time to make his way to the podium after Sid Caesar. A loooong time. Man, that old guy moves so slow it looks like he's moving backward. He slowly turns his head one way, then he slowly turns his head the other way. That's probably the most exercise he's gotten all week.
     "Ah..." he says, a big cigar between his fingers. He moves the cigar to his mouth, but before he can take a puff, he moves it back down. "Ah..." He turns to the chancellor. "Do you want me to accept your graduating class as they are, or do you want me to like them?" To us, he says, "Your chancellor is a modest man, and, believe me, he has much to be modest about. He could be described as charming, intelligent, and witty, and who knows, perhaps one day he will be."
     Bob Hope took time off from entertaining the troops and takes his place behind the podium with a big smile. As he passes the chancellor, he hands him something.
     "Here's twenty cents," we overhear him say. "Call all your friends and bring me back the change." To us, he says, "I love your chancellor. He's a difficult man to forget, but it's well worth the effort. He's a fine example for you, his students. He started out with nothing, and, to this day, he still has most of it. He's a man of many hidden talents. As soon as anybody can find one, we'll let you know what it is."
     Don Rickles is next on the stage.
     "Good evening, ladies and germs," he says, smiling like a snake about to devour a rat. "I don't know why everybody is insulting the chancellor. He's a fine, fine man. Why, his own father looks at him as the son he never had. Do you know what he uses for contraception? His face. I hear the only place he's ever been invited to is outside." Like the other comedians, Mr. Rickles addresses our chancellor personally. "I know you're a self-made man, Mr. Chancellor. It's so nice of you to take the blame." And, like the other comedians, he turns back to us. "His wife told me that he brought religion into her life. She never knew what Hell was until she married him. Speaking of his wife, she's so easy that the college faculty affectionately calls her 'Doorknob.' Everybody gets a turn.'"
     While the Marx Brothers were scheduled to show up, only Groucho does. Chico and Harpo had something else to do, like decompose. He raises and lowers his eyebrows several times, and wiggles his cigar in his hand.
     "Let me just say that I respect the chancellor," he tells us. "In fact, I respect the dead. And the only way I could respect the chancellor more, is if he were dead." With this, he, too, turns to the chancellor. "You know, I could rent you out as a decoy for duck hunters." He turns back to us. "I thought about you people all day yesterday. Yesterday, I was at the zoo. Speaking of the zoo, last night I shot an elephant in my pajamas. What he was doing in my pajamas, I'll never know."
     Next up are The Three Stooges, but Larry, Curly, and Moe only spend the whole time poking each other in the eye, so Abbott & Costello take their place.
     "You know, Lou," Abbott tells Costello, "I like your approach, now let's see your departure."
     "Aw, gee, Bud," Costello tells Abbott, "I used to think you were a pain in the neck. Now I have a much lower opinion of you."
     "Did you say something, Lou? I don't mind you talking, if you don't mind my not listening."
     "I said I'd like to give you a going-away present, Bud, but first you have to do your part."
     And then they turn to us and say, "We'd like to leave all of you with one thought, but, since you're graduating from UTEP, we're not sure you have a place to put it."
     Jeffrey Ross was quick to take the stage again. This graduation was sucking so much Paris Hilton felt left out.
     "And now, ladies and germs," he says, "the comedian you've all been waiting for. She's the Queen of Mean. She's the Wicked Witch of the West Coast! She's the Girl Next Door--if you happen to live next door to Overeaters Anonymous! LISA LAMPANELLI!"
     Lisa energetically waddles onto the stage like a walrus on crack.
     "I'd like to thank the chancellor for allowing me to make an appearance here today. The chancellor is so ugly that, when he masturbates, his hand throws up. He's so hairy, he looks like Chewbacca's butt. He loves to play Xbox because that's the only box he can get into. I bet you don't know this about your chancellor, but he's always been ahead of his time. He was the first man to take Viagra and wash it down with prune juice. that's why he doesn't know if he's coming or going. But enough about the chancellor. As I look around, I see the three vice-chancellors he brought along with him. I don't want to say they went into teaching because they're pedophiles, but they shop at K-Mart because they keep hearing little boy's pants are half-off. Oh, I also see the senior faculty is here, all dressed in their orange and blue school colors. What are you losers doing here? Was Hooter's closed? Oh, and there's the teaching staff. I don't know what's worse, fellas, the education you give your students or the smell of your feet. Hey, everybody, it's Professor Collins! Is that a toupee on your head, sir, or a sick ferret? And nice teeth. Are they yours, or did you bump into a piano?  It's amazing how you can be so old, and yet still addicted to drugs... stool softeners. Now where's this Kate Kavanagh I hear so much about? The student body knows who I'm talking about, but they probably know her from her nickname 'Elevator.' She got it because if you press a button, she'll go down. I hear her butt is so big, when she goes to the beach the tide comes in. I hear no one wanted to go with her to Homecoming, so she took her brother. Hey, at least he got laid. And what's up with her breast implants? She's been inflated more times than José's prom date. Speaking of José, doesn't he look like Rocky? I'm talking about the character from the movie Mask. The last time I saw a face like his, it was carrying a bone in its mouth. Which reminds me, he's gay, isn't he? He took an AIDs test and got a 55. Settle down, settle down everybody. Don't embarrass yourselves in front of our special guest, Mr. Christian Grey, the billionaire sex predator. What can you say about Christian Grey that hasn't already been said by the women in the Witness Protection Program? Don't worry, Christian, I'm sure that 666 on your scalp is just an unfortunate birthmark. An interesting fact about Mr. Grey, is he's a member of PETA, People who Eat and Torture Animals. I'm not saying he's a dangerous man, but his blood type is O-shit. I hear he thinks the best part about meth is that it keeps the price of prostitution down. And, finally, YOU... the graduating class of the University of Texas at El Paso. Are you really the graduates or the children of the Octo-mom. I look at all of you and I can see that you don't know the meaning of the word 'fear.' In fact, you look like you don't know the meaning of most words. Your brains are proof that nature does not abhor a vacuum. I'm kidding, I'm kidding. As a graduating class, you're not as bad as people say... you're worse! Thank you, and don't forget to tip your waitresses!"
 
     "That was the worse college graduation I've ever been to," Christian tells me back stage, "and that includes mine. It was interrupted by a malcontent ex-student with a grievance against the headmaster, Professor Doubledork."
     I try to imagine Christian as a college student. I imagine Hostess Ding Dongs instead.
     "That's funny," I say. "I can't picture you as a student throwing your graduation cap up into the air."
     "I didn't. Those things cost money."
     He looks at me.
     "And," he says, "speaking of money..."
     He's had one hand hidden behind his back the whole time. What has he been hiding? Could it be a graduation gift? For me? Ooh, what can it be? A ring? One that I wear on my finger? Isn't that what you do with them?
     He brings out a bird cage from behind his back and proudly holds it up. It's covered by a shiny black cloth, perfectly tailored to the cage.
     "...I bought you a gift for your graduation. A rare Liberian parrot from west Africa. It's rare because it doesn't have Ebola. It was very expensive."
     He removes the cloth.
     "His name is Gomer," he tells me.  "I got him from Monty's Pythons & Other Exotic Animals."
     I look into the cage. The parrot is laying on the bottom of the cage on newspaper and mangy feathers. Its legs are sticking stiffly straight up into the air. Like Kate, only with less enthusiasm.
     "Is he, um... okay?" I ask, not wanting to get too close.
     Christian cocks his head and gives his gift a quizzical look. Unfortunately, that's the only thing he's cocked lately.
     "Hmm..." he says, and arches an eyebrow.
     He gives his chin a thoughtful rub, shakes the cage from side to side, then up and down. Nothing.
     "He's just resting, dear," he tells me.
     "Are you sure?"
     "Of course I'm sure. He's just had a busy day."
     He sticks his index finger between the bars and gives the motionless bird a little push.
     "See?" he says. "It moved."
     "No, it didn't."
     "Yes, it did."
     "No, it didn't."
     "Yes, it did."
     "No, it didn't. I saw you. You pushed it with your finger."
     "I was just giving him a massage, my dear. He likes that. It relaxes him. See? He's taking a nap now. Nighty-night, Gomer."
     He hands me the cage.
     "He likes to take long, long naps," he says softly, almost whispering. "Try not to wake him."
     Just then, a man with a gun runs up to us.
     "This is a stick-up," the man yells, thrusting his gun forward. "Your money or your life!"
     I grab Christian's arm, and try to hide behind him. He beats me to it.
     "What?" Christian says, peeking out from around my delicate girth.
     "I said, your money OR YOUR LIFE!"
     Christian stands there, thoughtfully thinking, putting a forefinger on his temple to thoughtfully think some more.
     "Well?" the robber says.
     "WELL?" I say.
     "Give me a second," Christian says. "I'm trying to decide."
     Fortunately, Christian doesn't have to think for too much longer. The robber gets tired of waiting, grabs the cage from my hand, and runs off.
     "Oh, my gosh, Christian," I exclaim, practically in tears. "I was so scared."
     "Nonsense, my dear. You were in good hands."
     "Yes, I was, and you can them off my ass now."
     He comes around from behind me and I give him a grateful hug, trying to absorb some of his courage. He grabs me gently by the arm and leads me into a janitor closet located conveniently close by.
     "Christian," I say, "you were so brave, so brave."
     "Yes, I was, wasn't I?"
     "What's that smell?" I ask, crinkling my nose distastefully.
     "That's the smell of bravery, dear one."
     "You were so brave you deserve a reward."
     "I do?"
     "You do. I'm going to sign your contract, Christian," I tell him, and I rest my head against his chest. "I'm yours, all yours."
     "All mine?"
     "All yours."
     "All mine?"
     "Yes, all yours."
     "Dear Ana, I'd just like to say that you may not be the prettiest, you may not be the thinnest, and you may not be the funnest..."
     He pauses.
     I wait.
     Somewhere in the distance, a dog howls.
     "And?" I say, encouragingly.
     "And what?"
     "Aren't you going to complete your thought?"
     "I thought I did."
     He looks at me. There's something he wants to say, but he can't quite get it out.
     "I don't want you to worry, Ana," he says, finally. "I'm not talking about pre-marital sex..."
     My heart leaps in my chest.
     "...because I don't plan on marrying you."
     "Christian," I swoon, "I'd just like to tell you..."
     "Let me interrupt for a second here, Ana," Christian says, interrupting me for a second. "Why is it you constantly feel the need to introduce everything you're going to tell me? 'Christian, I want to tell you something...' 'Christian, you won't believe this...' 'Christian, of course it's edible...' Why don't you just tell me straight out so I can get back to ignoring you?"
     I love his honesty, his compassion.
     "Please be tender, Christian," I say to him, hoping this doesn't turn into some kind of horrible monkey paw wish.
     He must see my vulnerability, because he takes my hand in his and tells me, "Don't worry, Ana. I promise you I'll be tender. Do you know why?"
     I shake my head. That means no.
     "Because of your heart," he explains. "You have the biggest heart I've ever come across. No, wait... I was thinking of another part of your body."
     "Ana! Ana!" I turn around, hearing a familiar voice calling me from a distance. It's my stepfather, Ray. The man who's sacrificed so much for me.
     I turn back around in time to see Christian quietly sneaking out a window.   

     "Hey, Annie, sweetheart, I'm so glad we finally caught up with each other," my stepfather croons. "I was beginning to think you were sneaking out the window to avoid me."
     "Oh, Da-aad," I say, avoiding eye contact.
     "I like it when you call me dad."
     "You do?"
     "Not really, I prefer Ray."
     To celebrate my college graduation, Ray has brought me to the fanciest restaurant in El Paso, Bulimia's. "A Meal So Nice, You Can Eat It Twice" is their motto.
     "Order anything you want, sweetheart," he tells me, as he looks up and down his menu. "Nothing's too good for my little girl."
     "Well," I say, also perusing all the yummy entrees. No Cleveland Steamers on this menu. "I've never had caviar or lobster before."
     "She'll have the cheese sandwich," Ray tells the waiter as he hands back the menu. "And bring her the check."
      While we wait for our food to arrive, Ray turns serious.
     "You know, sweetheart," he says, "it broke my heart when you left home. I know you were on your way to college, but it still hurt. I remember when I first moved out of my parent's house. The first thing I wanted to do was buy myself the fastest motorcycle I could find, but my brother, you see, had just died the year before in a horrible accident, so my mom told me no."
     "Because she loved you and was afraid for your safety?"
     "Because my brother had a motorcycle, and she wanted to sell that one to me. On that note, I want to give--not sell--you something precious. Some land that's been in my family for generations."
     He reaches into his jacket pocket for--what?--a deed?
     It was a jar filled with dirt.
     "This is for you, sweetheart, you've earned it. It's for you, for your children, but not your children's children, because I don't believe children should be having sex."
     I take the jar and hold it up to my eyes to get a closer look. I shake it up and down.
     Yeah, it's dirt all right.
     "Uh, gee... thanks dad," I say, my bank account feeling emptier than ever.
     My cheese sandwich is delicious. It's just the right amount of cheese. Not too much cheese. Not too little. Who knew cheese could be so... cheesy.
     "How's your sandwich, sweetheart?"
     "It's delicious, Ray."
     Aw, who am I kidding?
     Cheese sucks.
     After such a fancy dinner, my stepfather drives me back to my apartment. I roll down the car window and enjoy the fresh air it lets in. I had forgotten the restaurant's cheese and my lactose intolerance wouldn't mix.
     "Well, it's been a big old day, hasn't it?" he says, when he's finally able to breathe. He pulls up to a stop in front of my apartment building.
     "It sure has, Ray," I agree. "Come back when you can't stay so long."
     "Want me to come in and make you some tea?" he asks, but he's too late.
     I've already snuck out the window.
 
     I wander listlessly back into my apartment. First thing I want to do is check my cell phone for messages. I guess I could have checked it at any time during the evening, or even on the walk to my apartment, but when have I ever done anything that's made any sense?
     Hmm, the battery is low. I suppose I have to find my charger to charge it before I can collect my messages. That really has nothing to do with the story, but it sure... does... eat... up... space.
     I have four missed calls, one voice message, and two texts. Three of the missed calls are from Christian. Boy, for a billionaire playboy, that guy sure does come across as desperate, but in a rich, self-confident kind of way. One of the calls is from José. He's also left me a voicemail.
     "Can you lend me five bucks, Ana?" he asks me via the recorded message.
     I press delete. That José. What a joker.
     A broke joker.
     I open the texts.
 
"Where are you, Ana? Why aren't you answering my calls?"
 
     And...
 
"Um, don't get the idea that I'm desperate or anything. I've got plenty of billionaire stuff to do. Believe me, PLENTY of billionaire stuff."
 
     They're both from Christian. You would have thought he would have put two and two together and realized I'd be with my stepfather, especially since I had already told him.
     I better get in touch with him right away. Forget the phone, which I have in my hand. That would be too slow. I'd better get on the computer, turn it on, and contact him with an email. Talking with him personally is too impersonal for something so personal.
     I see that he's already sent me several emails himself.
 
"Ana?"
 
"Ana?"
 
"Ana?"
  
"Ana, are you there?"
 
"Ana, are you there? If you're there, why aren't you answering me?"
 
"Ana, where are you?"
 
"Where are you, Ana?"
 
"Why aren't you answering me?"
 
"Ana?"
 
     What does this guy do, sit by his computer sending emails all day long?
     I quickly fire back an email to him.
 
I just got home. I went to dinner with Ray, my stepfather. He treated me to a nice cheese sandwich and gave me a jar of dirt. I can't wait to show it to you.

 
     I hit the "send" button and receive a reply almost immediately.
 
From: Christian Grey
Subject: Not That I'm Desperate Or Anything But...
 
...why wait? I'll be right there.
 
     And, sure enough, there's a knock at the door.
     
 
Fifty Shades of Parody
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