Soon: Chapter 13: More of Paul Being an Ass

It is so depressing to keep writing about the continued emotional abuse of Jae by Blind Paul.  I’d like to say that it will all be over soon, because The Big Damn Conversion is just around the corner, but I can’t because Paul doesn’t change.

Paul is home now, and generally doing everything he can to avoid his wife and kids. 

Straight visited every day, and they spent hours playing chess and talking.  Occasionally Straight would bring his sax, and if he was still there when the kids got home from school, they seemed fascinated by his music.  At least a couple of nights a week, Straight took Paul to chess clubs.

(Emphasis mine)

Clearly, the entire hospital is now wise to Straight’s ways now (those ways being: touch people and talk to them incessantly about yourself, even when people ask you not to do these things).  They must have barred him from the hospital, which explains why Straight is spending all his days and nights with Paul.  Hey, it’s not like any other patients might need a volunteer, right?

Jae is none too pleased about how things are going, though it’s not like Paul was in the running for Husband and Father of the Year even when he could see, so I’m not seeing a big difference.  Heck, at least he’s not out chasing down every airline attendant who crosses his path.

Jae is filling her usual role as chauffeur.  (When listing Jae’s various faults to Straight, Paul cited that she has nothing to do all day, because all she does is drive the kids to and from school.  Way to respect the stay-at-home moms that you want women to be, Jenkins.)  Jae takes Paul to the doctor every week, but he doesn’t even let her come in the room and talk to the doctor.  This is so asshatty that I can barely believe it, even from Paul.  And now I’m imagining meta-Jae telling the staff in the waiting room that she is his chauffeur, just to see the reactions.

In the car, Jae complains about the situation:

“Don’t forget, I have more of a vested interest than you.  It’s my life.”  [Paul said, because he’s an ass]

“Isn’t it our life?”

Paul shrugged.  “Not necessarily.”

“What are you saying?”

He hesitated.  Then, “No one’s making you stick with a blind husband.”

“Have I said a word about leaving?”

“You don’t have to.  I can hear the ‘poor me’ in your voice.”

I’m trying to think of a way Paul could be more of a jerk, but I just can’t.

Jae, honey, that’s your cue!  Three words: So long, sucker.

Still listening to the friggin’ NT, Paul believes he has found out the secret code: In Revelation, believers in Sardis are told they will be clothed in white if they keep the faith.  And St. Stephen was wearing a white t-shirt!  (I’m serious, this is the big breakthrough.)  Paul jumps from there to thinking that the underground is trying to duplicate the 21 judgments, but they’re so frickin’ vague that Paul can’t make the theory work.  He ends up dismissing the idea, and even St. Stephen’s book medallion, as “far-fetched.”  Huh, ya think?

This is, btw, the second time that Paul has come up with a Brilliant Theory, only to have to dismiss it as far-fetched.  (The first, of course, was when he thought Ranold and the NPO had planted a fake Dad-Says-Come-To-Jesus letter for him.)  Paul is clearly not the mental giant that he thinks he is.

Time to go to Washington!  Paul gets two first-class plane tickets, but doesn’t want to take Jae, because that would interfere with Angela-flirting.  But happily, the kids get the flu and Paul can take Straight with him, instead of his despised wife.  Score!

Paul totally freaks out on the plane ride, but calms his shit down once they arrive in Washington and smell the cherry blossoms.  Straight very helpfully tells Paul that the blossoms look “like you remember them.”  Thanks, asshat, you really have turned into Paul’s substitute pair of eyes, haven’t you?  Paul whines and whines about his sight being gone and how his life is SO HARD FOREVER, and I’d feel a helluva lot more sorry for him if he wasn’t such an ass, especially because a big part of his complaint is that…

“I was actually scared today, Straight.”

Yup, Paul is one of Those Men: men who think they are never afraid of anything, because being scared is Unmanly.  You would think that being in the military would have introduced Paul to the concept of facing fear and then controlling it, but evidently not.

Straight quotes the Bible (calling it “that ancient book“) at Paul, about having faith.  Paul rather sensibly asks, “so where’s my healer?” and Straight dodges the damn question with the usual RTC argument that Paul is missing the point of the story, which is to just Have Faith.

This whole bit with Straight telling Paul to have faith is a bit odd.  Not because Straight wants Paul to have faith.  After all, Straight couldn’t more obviously be a Christian if he was wearing a big sign on his chest saying, “JESUS, MAN.”  But because you would think this would not be a common subject of conversation in Atheistopia, and might even cause Paul to be a tad suspicious.  Our Paul Apostle, though, is dense as a big chunk of dense stuff and doesn’t catch on.

It’s almost time for Paul to receive his medal for stupidity valor, but first…I HAVE AN IDEA!!

Give me a few minutes…

Advertisements

Posted on May 5, 2011, in Books, Soon. Bookmark the permalink. 32 Comments.

  1. Straight needs time to work his way into a family before killing them all and eating their livers.

    [Firedrake is impressed by ruby’s mental fortitude.]

  2. Redwood Rhiadra

    Somehow I have the image of Paul trying to flirt with a flight attendant on the trip over, while Straight is internally laughing his ass off because the attendant is hideously ugly.

    And Paul would know that Straight’s Christian if he weren’t blind – I’ll bet Straight is wearing a white shirt!

  3. Straight needs time to work his way into a family before killing them all and eating their livers.

    Yes, you laugh. But you know how bad my eyes are: when I read Occasionally Straight would bring his sax, I thought it said Occasionally Straight would bring his ax. And for a moment I thought we were in for an entirely different kind of story.

    “I was actually scared today, Straight.”
    Is that anything like being Scared Straight?

    Aren’t these two clowns (if that’s not an insult to clowns) headed for an Official Atheistopian Event? Right into the Belly of the Beast? So is this the time to be quoting from “that Book”? It’s a wonder that Straight is still walking around free, unless Atheistopia’s anti-religion bark is much worse than its bite.

    • “…when I read Occasionally Straight would bring his sax, I thought it said Occasionally Straight would bring his ax.”

      That is the best misreading ever, I think. Especially because he brings the ax only occasionally.

      I can just picture the scene now: Straight fondling the ax while he and Blind Paul play chess, and if Jae pipes up with any objection, Paul just snaps, “Oh, that’s just like you, isn’t it, you whiny bitch–always suspicious of everyone!”

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      “I was actually scared today, Straight.”
      Is that anything like being Scared Straight?

      “See How Clever I Am?” — Jerry Jenkins, GCAAT

    • or maybe “occasionally Straight would bring his sex”? Because the Hoyay between these two is beginning to make that between Buck and Rayford loo almost subtle.

  4. Choir of Shades

    I read that conversation between Paul and Jae and actually started to feel a little sorry for Paul. Hear me out, I’m not condoning his horrible actions. I just think we may have a slight glimpse at a Meta-Paul, one which the authors intend even less than the rest of their meta-characters.

    I say this because of his hesitation in suggesting that Jae will leave him. It says, to me, that he is honestly afraid of this chance. The way that I am envisioning Meta-Paul is as someone who suffered constant abuse throughout most of his life. The idea that of course parents love their kids is constantly ingrained by our society, so Paul’s perspective on that idea is constant abuse. Perhaps he even questions the existence of love. Meta-Paul wants to be loved more than anything. But his past is one of constant abuse. He doesn’t know any other way. He wants to love Jae and wants to be loved by her, but when she actually gives him love, he can’t really comprehend it. And then when he tries to show love and care for her, he has no understanding of love to give, so he reaches out and hurts her instead of embracing her.

    Or maybe I’m just succumbing to Stockholm Syndrome just from reading these damn things…

    • AndrewTheEternal

      I have the same problem of sympathizing with characters authors really don’t intend for me to like at all because their consistent bad characterization reads like victims acting out their pain.

      That said, there are a few problems with (possibly)Meta-Paul there. This is Atheistopia: given how awesome it has been shown, I very much doubt that Mr. Stepola would have gone long without being reported for child abuse. I also seem to recall an emphasis that Family is falling apart in this brave new world, so I don’t think that Paul would assume his parents loved him. Remember who he describes as ‘like a father’ and how long it had been since he last spoke to him.

      I think the explanation is similar, but more rooted in how the author thinks. Paul/Jenkins are obsessed with STRENGTH!, which they have defined as masculine self-sufficiency. However, being human beings, they crave companionship; they want to be wanted. But they can’t admit that to themselves. Needing someone else isn’t STRENGTH! after all. So they convince themselves that their emotional anchors (wife, friend, etc.) need them instead. That the other is WEAK! and not themselves. Once that seed of contempt sprouts, well…

      I’d be willing to be that Jenkins is at least subconsciously aware of that aspect of himself, but believes that a greater authority figure(God) commands him to need others and to support them in return. So he writes what he thinks he is without God. He writes Paul.

      Words fail to capture how much that idea saddens me.

      • AndrewTheEternal

        *sigh*
        …I’d be willing to -bet- that…

        Under no circumstances would I be willing to be Jenkins.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy

        I think the explanation is similar, but more rooted in how the author thinks. Paul/Jenkins are obsessed with STRENGTH!, which they have defined as masculine self-sufficiency.

        This is dancing closer and closer to something called “Hypermasculinity”, which I first heard about in a 1943 OSS psych profile of one Adolf Hitler. And which is currently a part of Extreme Islam Taliban-style. Define “Masculinity” only in terms of STRENGTH, POWER, and DOMINATION and firewall it as far as you can go.

  5. Choir of Shades

    I didn’t notice it at first, but if we twist some grammar ever so slightly, Straight’s nickname becomes “Occasionally Straight.”

  6. Occasionally Straight would bring his ax, and if he was still there when the kids got home from school, they would stand in the doorway and stare at him, shy, silent, fascinated; and he would stare back, slowly rubbing a calloused thumb across the blade, up and down. Then Straight would get up from his chair, and look over at Paul — Paul was always asleep by the end of the visit — and the children would hold their breath with anticipation. There’d be a contemplative pause as Straight would gaze down at Paul, the ax bobbing absently in his hand with a soothing rhythm; the young eyes were drawn to it like a dog watching its master eat. And in the end, every time the same outcome, the same quiet words chanted to himself in that deep baritone.

    “No,” he would say, “not today.” And he would go for his hat.

    After a few weeks, the children stopped showing up to watch Straight leave. They couldn’t bear the disappointment any longer.

    But happily, the kids get the flu and Paul can take Straight with him, instead of his despised wife.

    I don’t care what anybody says. Stuart is so clearly imaginary that I’m positive he spent the entire plane ride telling Paul about his soap company.

  7. Paul rather sensibly asks, “so where’s my healer?” and Straight dodges the damn question with the usual RTC argument that Paul is missing the point of the story, which is to just Have Faith.

    Wait wait wait. What happened to Biblical literalism and nothing being a metaphor? You know, the Biblical literalism that RTC theology is supposed to be entirely predicated upon? Since when was Jesus healing the blind anything but Jesus healing the blind?

    Oh, when someone started asking inconvenient questions about why Jesus hasn’t healed their crippled limbs or blinded eyes. I see.

  8. Andrew Glasgow

    Jae, girl, you need to get yourself OUT of that house honey! Uh-huh!

  9. What kind of a nickname is “Straight” anyhow? Nicknames are given to you by your friends and peers, based on their observations of you. How would you wind up being called “Straight” by your friends in an affectionate manner?

    So our large-handed, saxiphone-playing black man with the not-at-all-ironic nickname of “Straight” is spending every day with jerk Paul, who takes every opportunity to run down his wife and suggest that she leave him. Ooooookay.

    And now I’m imagining meta-Jae telling the staff in the waiting room that she is his chauffeur, just to see the reactions.
    Heck, at this point I’m imagining meta-Jae in an actual chauffer uniform, ala Mercy Graves, dressing up just for kicks, because her husband can’t see what she’s wearing, but everyone else can.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      Nicknames are given to you by your friends and peers, based on their observations of you. How would you wind up being called “Straight” by your friends in an affectionate manner?

      I can see it happening in RTC-land. Very easily. Because “Straight” means “Not-Faggy”.

      Funny how everyone in Atheistopia understands and speaks fluent Christainese…

    • In the same sense that large men are somtims nicknamed “Tiny”?

  10. Paul rather sensibly asks, “so where’s my healer?”

    He’s not doing it right. He’d get better results with “lvl 18 asshat LFH, DC quest, pst tia”.

  11. Is it… is it remotely possible that Jenkins, fed up with dealing with Tim “Rayford Steele!” LeHaye getting all the girls gold and glory for writing Left Behind, decided to subvert the idea of the asshole RTC main character, and went completely and utterly Poe on the entire RTC community?

    Otherwise, I’m just… it’s… It’s enough to drive me to drink, to think that there are people who think Paul is behaving rationally.

  12. I will say this, in the year before and the 2 years after my husband was diagnosed with MS, he acted a lot like this. He was horrible towards me and relatively okay with anyone he didn’t just drop altogether. And that line about leaving him? That came up a lot, and it was completely and utterly unfair and he knew it.

    It’s not uncommon for people dealing with a sudden descent into disability to act like this.

    HOWEVER

    I knew who my husband was before and who he would be again (and is getting back to recently, actually). So when he acted that way, I could say, “Have patience, have understanding, he’ll be back eventually, this is a normal reaction.” We the reader don’t know who Paul was before- other than a cheating asshat. So what’s our motivation to stick with Paul and sympathize with his egregious behavior?

    None. We have no motivation. I want Paul to fall off a cliff, not regain his sense of self and security.

    • Exactly. If Paul hadn’t been an asshat from the get go, his behavior after being blinded would look like a reaction to it. But his behavior toward Jae really doesn’t change. At all.

  13. Inquisitive Raven

    Okay, I wanna know how they’re playing chess when Paul can’t see the board. I can believe that a chess grandmaster might be able to keep track of pieces and moves in his head, but this dweeb? No way.

    • Choir of Shades

      Now now, it never said he played well. And yeah, I could totally see him doing the 4-move checkmate two games in a row.

    • There is passing reference made to Paul brushing his hands over the pieces to tell where they are, and to him being a good player and playing in tournaments (ten years ago), but I agree: there’s no way he’s smart enough to do that.

      • Inquisitive Raven

        One reason I mentioned keeping track of this stuff in one’s head is that while one might be able to tell a piece’s rank by touch, one won’t be able to tell which side the piece belongs to with most sets, and certainly not a cheap set. I rather expect that Jenkins missed that detail.

  14. Chess sets for the blind have pegs on the bottom of the pieces fitting into holes on the board, so that touching them doesn’t shift them around; and touch-distinguishable pieces for the two sides. So it can be done, but takes a little preparation.

    You don’t have to be a grandmaster to play from memory, but you do have to be pretty good–serious tournament player level. And very non-distracted, because it takes utter concentration. I agree, I don’t think Paul could do it.

    The author could get away with showing Paul as an asshole if he also showed Paul as a non-asshole, but by all accounts that just doesn’t happen, which tends to undercut any attempts to sympathize with or explain his badness.

    • Redwood Rhiadra

      It looks like playing from memory isn’t that uncommon actually – see Blindfold Chess.

    • And Straight tells Paul that his chess set will be sufficient because the pieces are big. Which, as you point out, doesn’t solve the problems of shifting them when touching them or telling one side from the other.

    • Inquisitive Raven

      Hmm, from Ruby’s description, Jenkins mentions Paul brushing his hands over the pieces to tell where they are, but as someone newly blind, I’d suspect that he wouldn’t have the tactile or kinesthetic memory for that to do him much good. Not to mention the problem that there doesn’t seem to have been any mention that they’re using a chess designed for blind people so Paul doesn’t knock over the taller pieces while feeling for the pawns. And yes, the problem of knocking pieces over or shifting them when feeling for them did occur to me.

    • Also, a suggested alternative:

      In Lucky Starr and the Moons of Jupiter, a blind man has a chess set with round checkers-like pieces, using a chessboard with small grooves. The pieces themselves have shapes carved into them, and white pieces have a different design around the edges than the black ones, and they’re magnetic so they stick to the board and you can’t just knock them off by accident.

      I bet Atheistopia might have something like this, too.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: