Soon: Chapter 4: Apostle’s Ladies
Much of the rest of Chapter 4 showcases Paul Apostle’s interactions with the women in his life.
First up is Felicia, Paul’s secretary. As a black woman in her late forties, it is naturally assumed that this is the one woman in his world that Paul won’t sleep with. And as a black woman in her late forties, she is naturally introduced to us through a Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. plotline. You see, when Paul returns from a consulting job, it is “King Day,” and the big news is that a speaker referred to Dr. King as “Reverend.”
Here’s the odd thing–Dr. King’s doctorate was in systematic theology. So why is it okay to call him “Doctor,” but not “Reverend”?
Here is part of the exchange:
“Tell me the truth, Dr. Stepola. You see any harm in using a man’s title, one he earned and used himself?”
Nice to see that the tradition of LaJenkins heroes always being addressed by their titles is continuing.
“Yes, I do, Felicia. And the organizers know better, too. It’s playing with fire to link religion with a hero like Dr. King.”
“Link? Isn’t that where Dr. King got his nonviolence philosophy?”
“If you’re talking about his tactics, I believe he got them from Mohandas Gandhi. Think about it–what that title links him to is occultism and ignorance.”
“I just meant–”
“Dr. King was a product of his time. Do you think highlighting that era’s blindness serves his memory? When we want to honor Thomas Jefferson, do we focus on his slaveholding?”
Good thing Paul can whitesplain race history to a black woman. The long tradition of LaJenkins heroes interrupting everyone continues, too.
Felicia looked stricken. Paul smiled.
“Am I going to have to arrest you for practicing religion, Felicia?”
“Cuff me. You’ll need backup.”
Wow, Felicia doesn’t take any sass, does she? Excuse me while I roll my eyes into the next state.
“Oh yeah?” he said, chuckling. “We’ll see about that. But seriously, I spent four years studying the world’s major religions….
Um, it takes more than four years to get a doctorate, Paul. Maybe you can reference your friend Dr. King about that.
…And ‘I ain’t gonna study war no more.’ That’s what the history is like. Believe me, religion is the opposite of nonviolence.”
You ain’t gonna study war no more? Really, Paul? I just…there are no words.
After that battle of wits, Paul retreats to his office. The picture of Jae on his desk makes him “acknowledge” that he has thought more about Angela than about his wife lately. Meanwhile, I’m rather shocked that Paul has a picture of his wife on his desk at all.
Then, we meet Trina Thomas, the “vivacious redhead from the South” who “presides” over “the division lab.” Paul enlists her aid under false pretenses: he wants to make sure the letter from his father is not a fake, so he tells her that it’s a genealogy project of Jae’s. This is an example of the “flirtatious banter” the two exchange, though Paul describes their relationship thusly:
Though she was married, Paul always thought it was the fact that they worked together that kept them from taking the next step.
This is just fascinating, for so many reasons. First of all, Paul (and Jenkins) always seem to forget that Paul is married, too. As well, isn’t this the same Paul who slept with all his “female colleagues” on business trips only a few chapters ago? Not to mention that Paul is in consulting and this woman runs the lab. How much “working together” could they really be doing? And I love Paul’s (and Jenkins’) assumption that but for Paul’s misgivings about “working together,” Trina would happily hop right into his bed. Because women, even in our glorious cancer-curing, war-free atheist utopia, have no control over their own actions when the “quick-witted” Paul is on the prowl.
“And what do you have for us? Some precious artifact?” [Trina asked]
“A personal favor, actually. For Jae.”
“Is she ready for me to take you off her hands?”
Ah, the banter is indeed scintillating.
So, after his tough day of whitesplaining, banter, and getting on the new task force, Paul heads home to his despised wife:
“Paul, when you get back [from your trip on the new task force], do you think we should go to counseling?” [Jae asked]
“You go. You’re the one who’s paranoid.”
Yanno, I’m starting to see why Trina keeps their relationship on a strictly Stupid Banter level.
More on the task force next time.