‘Twas the Night Before: Chapter 6: Tom and Noella, Part Six

Or, Meet the Families!

Noella volunteers her family up first.  Her distant, brooding father is a few years dead, and her mother and grandmother (father’s mother) live together.  Since Noella is an only child, that’s it.

Not much to tell on this meet-and-greet.  Noella’s mom seems like a nice person, and Grandmother is the classicly stereotyped Old Biddy Who Tells It Like It Is.

Both Mom and Grandmother immediately fall for Tom, and Awesome Old Lady immediately Tells It Like It Is by asking Tom when he’s going to pop the question, already.  (They have, after all, been dating for very nearly two months at this point.)

So, yeah, she’s pretty cool.

Mom and Grandmother have a tiny, momentary spat that freaks out Noella, but honestly it literally lasts for two sentences (it’s about which side of the family had more “class.”)

In the car, Tom tells Noella how much he liked her family, and we see another charming side to Noella: victim-blaming.

“Trust me, Noella,” he said in the car.  “I loved it.  My father told the truth only when he was hammered, and at the top of his lungs.  Later he would cry and say he’d been lying about hating us or wanting us dead.  Which do you think we believed?”

“Don’t you owe it to a man to believe his remorse, especially when he’s sober?”

So Tom opens up with a story about his abusive father, and Noella’s immediate response is to SIDE WITH THE ABUSER.  A man told his children he wished they were dead, and Noella thinks the children needed to be more sensitive.

Wow.  Just wow. 

If my partner said something like that to me, I would consider myself very generous in driving him back to his home before dumping him, instead of just making him get out of the car right there.

But Tom is already under the spell of “sensitive,” “sweet” Noella, and just goes with it:

“You’re an inveterate fixer, aren’t you?”

Well, that’s one way to put it, I suppose.  A wrong way.

“Your mother and grandmother’s arguing bothers you.  My telling the truth about my father makes you uncomfortable.”

Huh.  He thinks Noella is uncomfortable?  She seems quite comfortable dispensing her advice to be sensitive to an abuser.

“But look at you,” she said.

This is all your fault, you insensitive abuse victim!

“You’re not fixing or facing it.  Are you going to avoid your parents the rest of your life?”

Meta-Tom: That’s the plan, babe.  You gotta problem with the way I deal with MY family?

“If I were harboring bitterness or letting a problem fester, wouldn’t you want me to get past it?” [Noella said]

I see no evidence that Tom is being bitter or letting a problem fester.  Exactly how does Noella want to “fix” this problem? 

Fixer, indeed.  That’s an awfully kind word Tom is using for “controlling.”

“So it’s my fault.” [Tom said]

Got it in one, pal.  Get used to it.

“Of course not.  The home you grew up in didn’t keep you from becoming a wonderful person, a gifted journalist. … I’m not asking you to pretend they’re the Partridge Family.  Just give them their due.  Introduce me to them.”

Sounds to me like Tom has given them their due.  His father was an abuser and his mother was an enabler.  Tom’s dad has been sober for a couple of years, but that does NOT mean that Tom is obligated to forgive and forget.

Well, except if Noella says he is.

Tom, whipped as he is, caves and takes Noella to his parents’ house.  They have dinner and the Doutens invite them to stay and watch professional wrestling on TV. 

You can tell they’re lower class because they pronouce it “rasslin’.”  Also, Charles Douten, and possibly Dorothy, think professional wrestling is real.

Mrs. Douten, when her husband wasn’t shushing her, explained how important this match was to the challenger.  “He’s suing his former manager for a billion dollars,” she said from her spot on the floor, “and there’s a good chance he’ll get it.”

It was all Noella could do to keep from laughing.  Mrs. Douten squeezed in next to her.

Wait, a second ago she was on the floor and now…wha?

With Tom on one side emitting barely audible groans and his mother on the other explaining everything, Noella was having the time of her life.

There is so much wrongness here:

1.  Noella’s slumming.  I’m sorry, but there’s no other word for it.  She’s having fun, and it’s at their expense, chuckling behind her hand at their silly notions and entertainment choices.

2.  Noella doesn’t give a rat’s ass about her boyfriend’s feelings.  He is clearly miserable, and she is laughing.

3.  Also, I find it very weird that Noella is amused by audience commentary when it comes to pro wrestling, but not when it’s a date movie she has all but memorized.

Poor Tom. 

At least he got to see some cool pro wrestling.  (‘Scuse me, rasslin’.)

 (Picture by John O’Neill at Wikipedia)

I think someone needs to tag Tom out of this relationship.



Posted on December 15, 2011, in Books, Christmas, Twas the Night Before. Bookmark the permalink. 19 Comments.

  1. Holy crap. This isn’t a romance novel, this is an Agatha Christie mystery. Noella will be offed, just as soon as we add a few colleagues to the long list of people who’d want to leave her on the side of the road – and then run her over.

  2. Noella, when it comes to believing in professional wrestling and believing in Santa Claus, you have no right at all to laugh at believing in professional wrestling—or anything else for that matter.

    As an aside, I just began a Babylon Rising TV Tropes page. Please help in improving it, if interested. I proved a link back here to get more people interested.

    • Interesting, but while I have put some edits on the Left Behind page, I’m a bit hesitant to help create a page on a work I only read the snarking from. I haven’t seen the actual book, just some choice quotes and Ruby’s summary. I’m not sure I should base the whole page on that. The people who HAVE read the whole book here should feel free to edit of course.

      Ah, the father is the head of the household, and therefor deserves all the sympathy and respect no matter what he did, and must be obeyed again the second he decides to stop doing it (whether he lets the rest of the family know of his promise to stop or not, right Paul?) Finally we’re getting some recognizable Jenkins material.

      I hadn’t thought of that, but yeah someone who believes Santa is real has no buisness mocking people that think wrestling is real. We still haven’t gotten to the point where she claims to, have we?

    • I am beyond flattered to be included on a TV Tropes page! 🙂

  3. Good lord. (O_O) Noella – I just don’t even.

    At least I’m starting to see where L&J get their misogyny from, though. They appear to honestly believe that all women are basically pushy, selfish, controlling and are secretly smirking at everybody else behind their hand.

    Else how to explain Noella? 😦

  4. I think I’ve worked out how Real True Christian Dispute Resolution works:

    The oldest man in the room is right.

  5. No adult human in this decade believes professional wrestling is real. More likely, Charles and Dorothy Douten are what the wrestling community calls marks, which is to say, they know it’s fake but genuinely enjoy the drama and storylines, just like fans of any fictional show. I choose to believe this because the alternative is to face the fact that Jenkins really is that out-of-date on the wrestling industry (which dropped the “we’re really real, really” claim some 20 years ago), and I just can’t deal with Jerry’s crap before lunchtime.

    • Yeah, it seems to me that Noella would be more likely to struggle with the concept of professional wrestling being fiction considering that she apparently still believes in Santa.

      Consistent characterization, what’s that?

    • Well… professional wrestling isn’t “real” in the sense of the performers getting hurt as much as they appear to be getting hurt, but the performers are putting their health on the line, and it is a physically taxing performance. So while it’s not 100% “authentic”, there’s some real skill, performance, and athelticism on display. Unlike believing in Santa Claus, which takes credit away from parents and friends and gives it to a fictional character loosely based on a historical myth that is only tangentally connected to Jesus.

      TL;DR version: It’s a lot easier to say “Wrestling is fake, but wrestlers are still atheletes and performers” than it is to say “Christmas: Jesus, man!”

    • I’m not even sure why Noella thinks they think professional wrestling is real (though her stifled laughter suggests she does), from the dialogue quoted. That’s exactly how people talk about events in serial fiction, too. Is Dorothy speaking of what she believes is real, or is she just bringing Noella up to speed on the story?

      And, wait, Noella thinks Santa Claus is real? What in blazes?

      • Jenkins states that “It was clear Tom’s parents bought the whole package.”

        And yes, she thinks Santa is really real. This is Jenkins’ “parable of faith,” with Santa as the Jesus substitute.

        • I’ll be over here headdesking forever.

          There’s a staggering amount of wrong in this book that I can’t put into words at present. Is Santa real in this book? Why couldn’t Jenkins be satisfied with having Noella think Tom’s parents believed wrestling is real – that would keep her an asshole, but at least make him (Jenkins) a little bit less of one. Oh there’s so much fail here.

  6. *headdesk*

  7. I take back all my previous comments about this book not being so bad. It’s classic Jenkins through and through – terrible writing, worse ethics. What’s especially said is that IRL people who grew up with abusive parents do sometimes end up attracted to, or at least not able to leave, controlling partners. Its a sad, sad cycle. Don’t fall for it Tom. There’s still time to get help and get out.

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