Picking right back up where we left off, the babysitter is awake and on her way home and the narrator (Stephanie)’s beau (Peter) has left as well. Now Stephanie is unwisely talking to her children about her new boyfriend.
Resuming Chapter Three…
Stephanie’s 13 year old daughter is chastising her for her choice in men. Stephanie asks her “How can you be so cynical at your age?” and then muses “Maybe I had spoken a little too freely about Roger. But then again, he deserved it.” Roger, the children’s father, definitely does NOT deserve to be badmouthed to his children. No matter what he’s done, it’s not right for a mother to speak “too freely” about her anger towards her ex husband.
This next passage needs to be transcribed in its entirety:
“Is he gay?” Sam asked with interest. He had just learned the word, and a rather broad sense of its meaning, and used it at every opportunity, but I assured him I didn’t think so.
“He might be,” Charlotte offered helpfully. “Maybe that’s why his wife left him.” It was like listening to my mother.
So, her children are questioning the sexuality of her new boyfriend and her only thought is that it “was like listening to my mother”? There’s something horribly wrong about that. Of course, as we’ve seen before, Charlotte at age 13 seems to be more responsible and emotionally mature than her 40 year old mother. And no, in case you’re wondering, neither are reprimanded for being so rude about someone they don’t know.
The conversation continues. Stephanie tells the kids the family is playing tennis with Peter in the morning. Charlotte, like most teenagers, objects and refuses to go (bear in mind this is after midnight, so Charlotte’s probably overly tired and emotional anyway). Stephanie reacts to this defiance thusly: “I thought about strangling her, stopped only by my deep phobia about prison”. First of all, if she’s getting violent at this little bit of resistance, Charlotte and Sam’s teenage years are going to be exceedingly difficult for her. Secondly, it should not be a fear of going to prison that stops you from abusing your child, it should be your morality and love for your child that stops you. This woman is absolutely vile.
There’s another nightgown reference, Stephanie wins the argument and the kids both go for tennis, and Stephanie shows a strange fascination with men’s legs (something I don’t really understand. Butts, chests, arms: sure. But are men’s legs inherently sexy??)
Peter and Sam are on one team while Stephanie and Charlotte are on the other. Apparently Charlotte, age 13, is playing relentlessly and she “creamed” Peter who is in his 50s. The plausibility of this is not something I want to dwell on, nor the awkward usage of the verb “creamed”. At the end of the game, Stephanie thinks, “I was surprised that Peter didn’t hit her with his racket, or try to kill her”. So, this woman truly expected her boyfriend to react violently toward a 13 year old girl after losing at a tennis game? Why is child abuse mentioned so casually in this book?
Peter begins to show a creepiness that will follow him for a while, as after having known Stephanie’s 8 year old son for the length of a tennis game says, “I’m falling in love with Sam, though”. This seems all sorts of wrong for me, especially considering Stephanie barely knows the man and has not met anyone else who knows Peter and could vouch for him. This man, who she once called a “sicko” has just told her he’s falling in love with her young son, and her first thought is “And I loved [Peter] for it”. I am seriously unable to deal with the level of harm in which this woman puts her children.
Stephanie makes a deep thought later that Peter “Definitely didn’t fit the profile of the men I’d been dating. He was human”. Well, I would certainly hope so. But I’m guessing she’s referring to her stupid lion metaphor that we discussed earlier.
Some time later, she’s discussing her relationship with Charlotte. That’s where we find this gem:
“I know you’re going to do it with him, Mom,” she accused finally, at the end of August, and I was beginning to think she was right. As usual, her extrasensory perception was fully operative. We had gotten a little carried away that night when we left the restaurant, and engaged in some serious groping. But fortunately,, we had both come to our senses. Charlotte should have been proud of me, instead of looking at me outraged.
Repeat after me: You should not be seeking approval from your 13 year old daughter. You should also probably not be discussing your sex life with her. I’m all for having an open dialogue with your children about sex and answering all their questions. But I question the wisdom of talking about the sex you are or are not having with a man you’ve been seeing for around a month with your impressionable pubescent (and therefore hormonal/horny) teenage daughter.
During this conversation, her 8 year old son Sam comes out to the kitchn. “Sam asked again, helping himself to a Dr. Pepper. It was late, but he said he’d had a nightmare”. I’m not against kids drinking soda. I drank plenty of it in my youth. However, not a drink that has caffeine in the middle of the night when I should be sleeping. I also had to ask for soda at that age (the “Sam asked again” in the quote is asking about what they’re talking about not if he could have a can of soda). And if he had a nightmare, he should not be seeking comfort from sugar. Again, I am not a parent, I simply had the privilege of having two awesome parents.
Later while the kids are spending Labor Day weekend with their father, Peter basically propositions Stephanie. Her thought process? “I reminded myself that I was an adult, and Charlotte would know nothing about it”. Really? The reason you say yes is that your daughter won’t have to know? Does this sound like Stephanie is more of a teenager than her daughter to you, or is it just me? Anyway, she meets Peter on the fateful night wearing “pink jeans and a pink shirt, and a new pair of pink espadrilles”. Now, I’m no fashionista, but that outfit sounds like an absolute eyesore. First of all, all pink? Like old women who wear matching tops and bottoms? Secondly, where does one find pink jeans? And why would you buy them? But even if you had pink jeans, I think they would look much better with a white shirt and white shoes rather than going all matchy-matchy.
So, she and Peter start getting hot and heavy. We’re 75 pages into this ROMANCE NOVEL and we’re finally treated to the first sex scene, copied verbatim below:
“After he set the bottle of red wine down on the table somewhere behind us, and somehow at that point, I lost track of the groceries, and he began to slowly unwind what I was wearing like so much cotton candy. And seemingly effortlessly, our clothes vanished in a path of pink and white and blue and khaki, and the next thing I knew, we were lying on my bed naked, as the sun went down slowly over the ocean, and I was breathless.”
75 pages for an unsexy, vague 1.5 sentences. What a let down. I hope Stephanie enjoyed that more than I did. Of course, immediately after sexing the man, this is her thought “I wanted this man, never trusted anyone as much”. Stephanie, listen to me: You barely know this man. You have met ZERO of his friends and family. You have only known him a month, most of the time you were with your children (which, as I said, I find appalling). If you are this wholly trusting after such a short time, I worry about you. But, to each their own, I suppose.
The pair are hungry and decide to have a midnight snack. They decide to have “an omelette instead, which Peter cooked to perfection, with ham and cheese, and the salad he had brought to make for dinner. He was right. He was a terrific cook”. He made an omelette and a salad. I can barely feed myself on a regular basis and have almost killed myself with undercooked chicken, but I can cook a damn omelette and make a salad. Call me when he can make something slightly more complicated, like spaghetti or soup or Duck a l’orange.
After their snack we are treated to Stephanie’s inner monologue about how much she lurves Peter. “t was embarrassing to be head over heels for a guy I’d known for less than two months”. Actually she’s known him for barely a month. It’s Labor Day weekend (The first weekend in September and she met him the last weekend of July… So a month and change) And then she informs us “I was a grown-up”. Then start acting like it! If you can’t tell, this woman drives me batty.
Before the end of the weekend, “he told me he loved me, and I told him i loved him too”. Now, personally, I think it’s a little soon for that. But this is one aspect I won’t judge her too harshly on. However, a few sentences later we come to: “He’d said he loved me. But what did that mean?” Excuse me? Do you not understand the concept of love? Could this explain so many of your relationship problems? And if you don’t understand what love means should you be telling someone that you love them? Some things to think about because this is the end of the chapter.
Hopefully I’ll have Chapter Four up for Friday.