‘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.
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.