Soon: Chapter 11: Straight

Before moving on to Paul’s First Friend, I wanted to thank hapax for telling us all we ever wanted to know about Paul’s baldness.  Like hapax, I doubt that Jenkins gave it more thought than, “Hey!  The Biblical Paul is bald!  So I’ll have my Paul be bald for no discernable reason!” 

(I suppose he could have just had Paul be bald because, well…he’s bald.  But male pattern baldness was probably considered Insufficiently Manly for our soon-to-be Christian Hero.)

Onward!

Let’s get something out in the open…

LaJenkins heroes have no friends.  Certainly no friends that could not better be described by other terms: coworker, in-law, etc.

Let’s count the ways, shall we?

  • Rayford Steele (Left Behind series): No friends before Rapture, no friends after.  We can’t even count his pseudo-mistress, Hattie, since he doesn’t care about her or even want to talk to her.
  • Buck Williams (Left Behind series): No friends before Rapture, no friends after.  At all.
  • Michael Murphy (Babylon Rising series): No friends except for Levi Abrams, and as I describe here, it is a rather strange definition of “friend.”
  • Joshua Jordan (The End series): No friends except for maybe Fortis Rice.  But as my fellow reviewer describes here, Fortis is more of a co-conspirator than a friend.

And now we have Paul Apostle.  No friends.  Heck, I’d count a spouse if said spouse wasn’t just Paul’s emotional punching bag.

Well, no friends until now!  Paul is about to make a friend!

Sorta!

Welcome to the second appearance of If You’re Nice, You’re a Christian.

As I pointed out back then, Jenkins’ view of “nice” and mine are two very different things.  Because although this guy is about to become Paul’s BFF, I would not want him coming anywhere near me.

Paul gets a bit of sympathy from me right off the bat: his hearing is operating on overdrive and he can’t even cover his own ears to drown out voices.

One voice drew distinct from the rest: a deep, rich baritone singing, humming, musing, and greeting staff…

Okay, it strikes me as extremely rude to burst into song in a hospital wing where people are trying to recover and may be in pain.  Hell, it’s hard enough to get any sleep in a hospital without some asshat belting out unrequested solos whenever the mood strikes him. 

Then, even worse, there’s this:

“Are you awake, sir?” asked the baritone voice.  “Might I trouble you for a moment?”

“Well, I don’t have much choice now, do I?”

The man approached.  “Where might I touch you in greeting, sir, if I have your permission?”

“You don’t.  What do you want?”

Paul felt a light squeeze on his shoulder from an extremely large hand and wrenched away, but that didn’t seem to deter the man.

Holy.  Shit.

WHY ARE YOU TOUCHING HIM WHEN HE JUST ASKED YOU NOT TO, YOU HORRIBLE, SELF-ABSORBED MAN??  HE IS IN A HOSPITAL AND MAY BE IN PAIN AND EVEN IF HE WASN’T, YOU ARE DISRESPECTING HIS WISHES AND HE HAS NO MEANS OF STOPPING YOU!!!

The asshat control freak is Stuart Rathe (Urethra Tats?  Treat As Hurt?) and like Cameron “Buck” Williams, he has a nickname that he makes people use whether they like it or not: Straight.

“They tell me you should be sleeping at night and up most of the day.  Paul, is it?  May I sit?”

“Stop asking if you’re just going to ignore the answer.”

Straight dragged a chair next to the bed.

Wow, for once I find myself in sympathy with Paul.  This is just the most incredibly rude and disrespectful behavior–to ask a question then ignore the answer (which Straight has now done three times), and do it all in a sweet tone of voice with a smile on your face. 

The kicker: We’re supposed to like this guy.

Also, what is up with the staff disclosing details about Paul’s care to volunteers?  And again, regardless of what Paul is “supposed” to do, a hospital is not the best place to get a restful night’s sleep.

And here are times four and five of Straight asking Paul what he wants, then ignoring the answer.  Remember, this is a nice guy:

“Anytime you’ve had enough of me, simply say so and I will be on my way without the slightest offense.”

“I’m saying so.”

“The nurses sent me.  I am here to help in your recovery, not to tire you out.  May I continue?”

“No.”

“I, sir, am fifty-nine years old and an African-American.  I am six-foot-four and weigh 225 pounds.”

Holy crap, no wonder Paul and this asshat become bestest friends ever!  They share a common obsession with height and weight!

“Now, Paul, you’re sitting in that bed, but I’m guessing you are six-foot-three and 200 pounds.  Am I right?”

“Wow, Straight, it’s like you know me already!”

Straight gives Paul his history: he killed his own family by driving drunk, and in the process, lost a foot, too.  He adds…

“My life has never been the same.”

…which I can only presume means that he Found The Lord after that.  Now, he has retired as a history professor so he can harass patients volunteer every day.

He sometimes plays the sax for them.  Because he’s black.  But he also plays chess, which sparks Paul’s interest, because we all know what a tactical genius Paul is.

As Tom Servo would say:

“And thus, a solid friendship is born.”

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Posted on April 24, 2011, in Books, Soon. Bookmark the permalink. 66 Comments.

  1. Actually Buck had Lucinda, aka a case of showing a guy is cool by giving him a black friend.

  2. Redwood Rhiadra

    You know, if I were in Paul’s place (shudder), the first thing I would be doing when that guy touched me after I told him not to would be to ring the nurse to have security escort him off the premises.

    And yeah, sleeping in a hospital is always a pain. Pro-tip – get your doctor to authorize a shot of Benadryl for sleep. Yeah, I’ve been in the hospital often enough to give “pro-tips” 😦

    • I had to have them do that after my thyroid removal, though it wasn’t so much the noise as the complete inability to find a comfortable position when someone’s just sliced your neck open.

    • Morphine can help just a little bit, too. I had no trouble sleeping in the hospital.

      • Redwood Rhiadra

        Yeah, but getting doctors to authorize morphine is a *lot* more difficult. Even if you’ve just had massive gut surgery.

        • Well, my gut surgery was relatively trivial, but it came with FREE* bonus complications! So I got to spend extra time in the hospital, almost spent Christmas there that year, and got the morphine while I was there.

          * For certain values of “free”. Not valid in all states.

        • Depends wildly on the doctor and hospital. When I had massive gut surgery (it’s generally considered a bad thing when your intestines rupture), I was on morphine from the moment I was wheeled into the ER until whenever it was in there that I was in enough less pain to switch over to Tylenol+something which I went home on.

          I’m so sorry to hear that you (or whoever you were speaking of) didn’t get good pain managment. 😦

          • Redwood Rhiadra

            I’ve had seven surgeries at four different hospitals with four different sets of doctors, and they *always* put up a fight about pain meds. “We can’t let you get addicted”, “You can tough it out”, etc.

            I really don’t know why they’re such bastards about it.

        • Inquisitive Raven

          I’ve had massive gut surgery twice, and had no problem getting a morphine drip. It was one of those self-dosing machines although there’s a pre-programmed maximum dose/hour. They did take me off it about 24 hours after surgery though and put me on Percocet which is probably the Tylenol+something that Depizan mentioned.

          I think I must have weird reactions though. If I didn’t move too much the huge honking incision in my belly didn’t really bother me that much, and I didn’t have any trouble sleeping, well, not once I was in the hospital bed. I woke up in the recovery room after the second surgery in some serious pain, not from the incision, but from the total lack of lumbar support while I was lying supine on a stretcher. I could not seem to get this through to the nurse who was utterly convinced that if I was in pain, it had to be because of the incision.

          • It’s a little disturbing that so many of us have had gut surgery. You’d think this was a Crohn’s support group or something.

          • Redwood Rhiadra

            Hmm, maybe it is! (Yes, Crohn’s is indeed the reason I’ve had so many surgeries).

          • I thought it might be. There aren’t that many reasons people have gut surgery, especially not multiple ones. Crohn’s, obviously, is the reason my intestines ruptured. Though, aside from it trying to kill me early on, I’ve been pretty lucky – no flare ups since that first year. (Of course, they gave me an iliostomy during that surgery, and that seems to fix it for some people.)

            What’s the internet for if not TMI? 😀

          • Inquisitive Raven

            Speaking of Internet TMI, my surgery wasn’t literally gut surgery as in involving the digestive tract; it was major abdominal surgery for fibroids, which for some reason were extrauterine. Most women who get fibroids get them inside the uterus. No Crohn’s disease here.

          • Fibroids (especially ones wandering about on the outside of one’s uterus) do not sound notably more fun.

          • Inquisitive Raven

            No, they’re not. Especially not when they go necrotic. That’s what set off the first surgery.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy

            I’ve had massive gut surgery once four years ago (perforated diverticulitis), and didn’t have any problem with morphine. Mine wasn’t through a self-dosing machine, but by nurses on-request.

            First hit of Concentrated Essence of Opium Poppy was in the ER after diagnosis — I remember going dizzy for a moment as it hit. Other than that, no problems with morphine or pain per se — except for the morning after surgery, when an attendant taking my vital signs slipped and fell on top of me, right onto the surgical site — PAINFUL!

            Didn’t have much problem sleeping, despite the constant noise and light of a hospital — the surgery had drained me so much I wanted to do little else. Only problem with sleeping was the loud crazy lady across the corridor — whenever she was awake, she’d go on these LOUD nonstop complaining rants you could hear all over the entire floor.

  3. Stuart Rathe (Urethra Tats? Treat As Hurt?)
    Eep.

    I suppose it would be too obvious to point out that “Rathe” alone can be scrmabled ot produce either “Heart” or “Hater”?

    Redwood Rhiadra: Yeah, I’ve been in the hospital often enough to give “pro-tips”
    I’m sorry to hear that. I’ve been fortunate myself, but I’ll concur, from my limited experience, that the hospital was the noisiest place I’ve ever tried to sleep in.

    • Yeah, I suppose a more “Jenkins-ish” anagram would be Trust a Heart, which you can actually make.

      Then again, “Trust a Heart” sounds like a Care Bears slogan…

  4. I can see how Stuart would count as a good guy.
    The inability to take a hint (or explicit denunciation) are considered good things when evangelizing, no?

    I do wonder at his: “If you want me to leave, just say so.” “Leave!” “No.” thing. I mean, why bother saying that in the first place, then? Why not be honest? Would your case really be hurt by having you go away and then come back later to see if he’s in a better mood?

    Perhaps someone had put crazy glue on the chair and Stuart couldn’t leave, but didn’t want to admit that and look foolish? ‘Cause that’d put him in the ranks of the archangels, according to the author, and is about the only way I can make sense of his behaviour. 😛

    • This sort of counterproductive behavior, whiile not universal, seem to be pretty common among evangelicals, the sort of behavior that screams “Don’t join my church! We’re all assholes!”

  5. Ewwwww. The whole “May I touch you?” “No.” *touch!* thing radiates creeper vibes. I suppose this is indeed their idea of a good Christian, someone who completely ignores your boundaries when it’s for your own good and has no respect for you as a person rather than a subject.

    • Redwood Rhiadra

      Actually, I think it’s worse than just *ignoring* boundaries. Straight appears to be *seeking out* boundaries specifically for the purpose of violating them.

      Which is *seriously* sick. If he tried that sort of crap on the general public, he’d be maced, tasered, or shot by some angry victim. So he has to force himself on defenseless hospital patients instead.

      • Are they just incapable of writing a sympathetic character? Ever? It’s really not that hard, I’m a casual fanfic writer and even I can do it. I suppose this says more about the writer than the writing skill, though…

        • It may have to do with the “love the sinner, hate the sin” conceit. From that, perhaps things that can be considered to stem from the sin (here, Paul’s self-centered snappishness) not only can, but ought, to be trespassed on? I wouldn’t be surprised if they think “violation” can only accrue to legitimate (i.e. godly) things; if it ISN’T legitimate/godly, it isn’t violation, but rebuking et al.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy

          Are they just incapable of writing a sympathetic character? Ever?

          I think that’s literally true, at least in the case of Jerry “Buck” Jenkins, Greatest Christian Author of All Time.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy

        Actually, I think it’s worse than just *ignoring* boundaries. Straight appears to be *seeking out* boundaries specifically for the purpose of violating them.

        “May I Touch You, guy-to-guy”?

        And he’s named “Straight”?

        Is this another example of Jenkins “See How Clever I Am?” character naming?

  6. D:

    Thank you so much author. You actually managed to make a bigger asshole than Paul. That’s a truly remarkable feat. Also, holy shit, your idea of good is creeeeepy! Bad author!

  7. Choir of Shades

    Trusta Earth? *said in a Mario accent*

    Also holy cow at all the tall people. No seriously, of everyone he’s mentioned the height of (just about every male), like 2/3 have been multiple inches taller than 6 foot. Atheistopia breeds em tall.

    I suspect I’ll sympathize with Paul after he goes through a bit more of this, but right now it’s too much “taste of his own medicine” for me complain too much. Also, while I think we can be sure that this is just Jenkins’ latest fetish with height and weight, that isn’t a horribly unreasonable thing to tell a recently blinded man. It allows him to visualize you even if he can’t see you, and this soon after losing his vision, I could see someone appreciating the visual cues (or, alternatively, resenting them horribly)

    • Redwood Rhiadra

      Paul *definitely* seems like the “resent them horribly” type.

    • Since Athiestopia would of course make sure all its citizens are well-fed, the height thing could partly be because nobody (at least nobody young enough to have grown up Atheistopian) has malnutrition-induced stunted growth. Even so, it does seem a bit much.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      Also holy cow at all the tall people. No seriously, of everyone he’s mentioned the height of (just about every male), like 2/3 have been multiple inches taller than 6 foot. Atheistopia breeds em tall.

      Something Freudian about that. I mean, Ayn Rand had ALL her major characters (male or female) always obsessing about their weight every time they saw a mirror.

      • Whenever I read a line like “I am 6’4″ and weigh 235 pounds” I feel like it should be followed by “and I have an enormous penis”.

  8. I would characterise Dirk Burton and Alan Tompkins, the expendable meat from when Left Behind was briefly trying to be a conspiracy thriller, as friends of Buck Williams – at least he thinks they are…

    Stuart’s introduction looks to me like a power-ploy. Pretending to care about what someone else thinks, then doing what you like anyway, is a way of rubbing in your superior position. It probably is the most sensible way to approach a Jenkins character, because they don’t understand any other sort of relationship. (Yeesh, Jerry, just pay some nice lady to beat you up already.)

    I guess we file “Straight” with “Buck” and “Steele”.

    (A friend finds that whenever she’s in hospital she gets a mad Irish woman in the next bed who rants all night and eventually tries to get up and attack her neighbours. Different person each time. Doesn’t make for a good night’s sleep, and at that point one doesn’t want the drugs.)

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      (A friend finds that whenever she’s in hospital she gets a mad Irish woman in the next bed who rants all night and eventually tries to get up and attack her neighbours. Different person each time. Doesn’t make for a good night’s sleep, and at that point one doesn’t want the drugs.)

      WIth me, Loud Crazy Lady was across the corridor. Had a smashed-up leg in a halo splint, so she couldn’t get up to attack her neighbors. Didn’t stop her from trying, though. One morning I got over to the sink to wash up, looked across the corridor, and saw Crazy Lady trying to make a break for it, suspended like a catenary by her hand on the doorknob and the Foley catheter from her urethra. I wish I had never heard… I wish I had never seen… Ia, Ia, Cthulhu, Fthagn…

  9. I think the most disturbing thing about this disturbing scene, is that Jenkins means the readers to be thinking this is what Jae should have done, instead of trying to do what Paul asked and being hurt by his insults.

  10. Oh, man, if some volunteer tried this while I was in the hospital, there would have been words. Drug-slurred, incoherent, angry words, and stabby motions with whatever I could get my hands on. And then calls to my internet lawyer, because even atheist hospitals probably don’t want harassment lawsuits.

    I admit that I would probably be half sobbing, half asshatty after discovering my sight was gone, especially if it was partly my own damn fault. But at least I’d be aware that I was being a rampaging jackass, and try to rein it in a little around my loved ones.

  11. Abuse is a cycle. I bet we’ll get a prequel where a younger Stuart’s in the hospital recovering from his foot amputation, and some 6’10”, 325-pound Korean dude with Travel Yahtzee and a banjo keeps walking in and touching him.

  12. So he’s tall, with a deep, booming, baritone voice and large hands. And he frequently sings in the hall.

    Well surprise, surprise! He’s African-American!

    We’ve already had Paul’s secretary, Felicia, as The Token Black… so Mister Straight Hater will no doubt be The Magic Negro. (Because anyone who “isn’t white” can’t be anything more than a trope, if not an actual outright cliche, can they.)

    I hate these authors.

  13. Uhm, yeah. I can sort of see where Straight is coming from if he’s some kind of angelic figure with some kind of meta-knowledge that Paul honestly and truly needs his barriers broken down, which would be why Straight is flat-out ignoring those barriers.

    But that still doesn’t make it really right. This is seriously creepy.

    It’s almost like Straight was made for Stepola. Like Straight is less of an angel and more of a demon of some kind to make Stepola uncomfortable and unhappy.

    That being said, the racefail, it burns!

    • Paul’s been literally touched by an angel? Is that what that show was about?

      • “Now show us on the doll where the angel touched you…”

        • Paul *says* he doesn’t want to be touched– but he does really, and he loves the man who takes his “no” for a “yes.” Perfectly in keeping with the general misogyny and creepy sexual politics of the Jenkins oevre…

    • If they’re still following the checklist, the person sent to Paul was a man, Ananias, one who didn’t want to go see him in the first place and had to be persuaded by God. The details of how he first approached Paul aren’t spelled out in the Bible, but given his reluctance, it’s doubtful he was this pushy.

      Or maybe Jenkins is thinking about God’s persuasion part. Maybe Straight is a little worried that if he doesn’t make Paul convert, he’ll be in trouble.

    • He’s the “magical Negro.”

      • Exactly. Given his baritone, I’m thinking he’d be played by Morgan Freeman.

        • I was actually picturing the big guy from The Green Mile, since Jenkie is so obsessed with the big, strong manly-man with the deep voice. With all these slashy moments, I can’t help but wonder how long it’ll be before one or both of the Worst Authors Ever will get caught with a rent boy or a male “masseuse” and some crystal meth.

          • Strong manly black dude with soothing deep voice and large but gentle hands that seem to wander all over you…yeah, sounds like a buildup to slashfic.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy

            This is Jerry Jenkins. GCAAT. THE guy to go to for Canonical Slashfic Setups. Like in Left Behind, whenever the two Author Self-Inserts were together in the same scene. I’m in Furry Fandom, and I have NEVER seen a writer — not even in Furry — make things so easy for the slashies.

      • Stuart’s magically wise, and he’s the main character’s best friend. All he has to do is be the next to die, and he wins the Black Guy Cliché Trifecta!

        • Consumer Unit 5012

          Yeah, I figure Straight will stick around just long enough to get Paul to accept Jeebus, then the Evil Atheist Government will kill him.

  14. Redwood Rhiadra

    You know, now I’m wondering if “Straight”, as a nickname, is anything like “Tiny” for a really big guy, or “Curly”, for a bald guy.

    Sometimes, the slash really does write itself…

    • Could be because Ananias, the guy sent to the Paul in the Bible, lived on Straight Street.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      Sometimes, the slash really does write itself…

      Especially if the canon is Jerry Jenkins, GCAAT.

      Left Behind had more unintentional canonical slashfic setups (usually involving the two Author Self-Inserts) per page than anything this side of The Ambiguously Gay Duo. Or Ray Comfort and his banana proving Young Earth Creationism.

      I mean, I’ve done fanfic. I write Furry fic. No matter what you write, some fanboy’s gonna slash it. Why does Jenkins insist on making it so easy?

  15. Choir of Shades

    @Rhiadra & Vermic
    “Why hello there, little man.”

    “I’m only an inch shorter than you.”

    “I know. I saw. Guess what my nickname was back in prison?”

    “I don’t care. Go away. Also, what the hell heck do you mean ‘You saw?’ ”

    “Bubba.”
    [/racefail]

    I could buy the whole no malnutrition hypothesis if he didn’t make a point of saying the 5’10” guy was comically short. No, a lot of people are just naturally shorter than that and no amount of nutrition is going to change it. And my point about the giving of his height and weight could, in the hands of a better author, be a reasonable to do. Unfortunately, this is Jerry Jenkins we’re talking about.

    @Kish, nonono, Jae shouldn’t have done that because it isn’t the place of a woman to interfere in a man’s business, especially not her husband’s, unless it is for the explicit goal of converting him.

  16. He’s called Straight because, obviously, people need to know that he *is*. Otherwise they might mistake all that touching for, well, you know, TEH GEY. When, of course, it’s just perfectly innocent manly man touching, the sort that REAL MEN do…

  17. Now that I think about it, with all this talk of height and weight, he’s so-many feet & inches, and weighs about that-many pounds, wouldn’t Atheistopia surely have gone all metric (since it’s the Evil Un-American way to measure things), and they’d be talking about guys who are 190cm tall and weigh about 100 kilos, instead?

    • Come now. They may have totally rewritten the Constitution and all principles of governance, abolished religion, and cured most diseases, but they’re still Americans really…

    • Inquisitive Raven

      Well, I did wonder about the lack of metric myself way back here. Frankly, I suspect it’s because Jenkins is too lazy to do the conversions.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      Don’t you know the Metric System is SAY-TANN-IC?

      I heard that word-for-word in that one splinter church in the Seventies, and traced it back to the rant in the last chapter of the book that started all the “Great Pyramid Prophecy” movement back in the days of Queen Victoria.

  18. It occurs to me that when you said “if anyone deserves one…” I thought you were joking, but you’re right. Paul does deserve this “friend.”

  19. Because it needed to be said: “BAD TOUCHING!!”

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