‘Twas the Night Before: Chapters 6 and 7: Tom and Noella, Part Seven

Tom doesn’t need to be manipulated into introducing Noella to his real family: his two childhood best friends and his co-workers at the Tribune.

Remember how Noella laughed behind her hand while hanging with Tom’s parents?  Well, she does it again when she meets his childhood friends:

She met Tom’s high school buddies and their current wives (the second for one and the third for the other, and she was certain there would be more before they were through).  She saw what he liked in the guys.  They were straightforward, blunt, cynical.  They were also loyal–at least to him, if not to their wives.  They drank too much, but Tom never seemed to abuse alcohol.

Pfft.  Those lower-class guys with their cheating and their drinking.  Too bad they can’t be like Tom, Noella’s extra-special, different from Them, prize.

Then Tom and Noella go to an “anniversary coffee” for Tom’s column, and she meets his co-workers.  Time for some fat-hate!

[Noella] approached a huge man in a too-tight shirt and thrust out her hand.  “You must be Rufus Young.”

HAW HAW HAW.  ‘Cause he’s fat, see???

He roared.


“How did you know it was me?  I look like a photographer?”

He had her trapped.  “No.  [Tom] just said you’d be the best-looking, most athletic guy in the room.”

Rufus embraced her, laughing.  “Anything else would have been slander.”

See, it’s funny, because fat guys are ugly and unathletic!

C’mon, laugh!

Yanno, for someone who has been quite open about his own struggles with his weight, Jenkins is not one to cut others any slack.  We will see more of this when we get to Soon’s sequel, Silenced.

After the Tribune get-together, Noella decides it’s time to manipulate Tom again:

“So I’m more than just someone to show off?” she said.

He nodded.

“Then say so.”

*whip cracks*

“You know.”

Tom desperately tries to get out of the cleverly-sprung trap, but Noella has years of experience in manipulating men’s emotions, and she’s not about to fold so soon.

“I want to hear it.”


“I love ya.”


“Who’s ‘ya’?  For a man of letters, you’re a man of few words.”

Sorry, Tom, but you are just not good enough as you are.  It’s not enough to say it, you have to say it THE WAY I WANT YOU TO SAY IT, DAMMIT.

“I do, you know,” he said.

“Slow down.  You can’t get to ‘I do’ without going through ‘I love you.'”

“I know.”

Meta-Tom:  Whoa, whoa, whoa, babe, whoever said anything about marriage?  Not me, that’s for damn sure!

“You know I love you, Tom, because I tell you.”

Guess I’m just a better person than you are, Tom.

But I guess Tom likes being manipulated, because he proposes in September.  He invites Noella to Round-the-Clock for dinner (usually, they only have coffee and hot chocolate) and he wears a suit to the greasy spoon diner. 

You would think this would be a tip-off to Noella, especially since she pulls all the strings in this relationship, but she remains blithely oblivious as he orders them dessert. 

Because Meta-Tom is utterly confused by his own emotions, he orders the dessert his mother served when they visited: strawberry shortcake.


(I used to have one when I was a kid.)

This kind:

I’ll treat my lovely, loyal readers better than I treated myself, and spare you the excruciating details of Tom battling whipped cream and Noella taking his spoon. 

He  put the ring on the end of the spoon, so Noella hits it with her tongue (ewwwww). 

This scene is clearly meant to be BAWWWW but lasts for-fracking-ever and JUST ASK HER ALREADY HOLY CRAP.

So, yeah.  They’re engaged.

And this brings us up-to-date!  Tomorrow, we will be back at Round-the-Clock during the Black Friday blizzard, and Tom and Noella begin to deal with their Great Christmas Rift.

Posted on December 16, 2011, in Books, Christmas, Twas the Night Before. Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. Maybe it’s because this book is ostensibly set in the real world, maybe it’s because I’m currently ill, but I’m developing a real visceral hatred for it. Noella is such an asshole. And I’m getting the odd impression that she’s the author avatar, or at least that Jenkins agrees with her asshole opinions.
    This book is just filled with nasty attitudes and contradictions that make me want to say to Jenkins “your book is bad and you should feel bad.” Noella emotionally manipulates Tom into proposing after blaming the failure of his friends’ marriages on them – maybe they were pressured into marriage like she’s pressuring Tom, maybe the marriage just didn’t work out. What kind of asshole thinks that one -ONE – divorce makes someone a nasty cheater? What kind of asshole writes a book in which Santa is real, yet works in taking pot shots at people who think professional wrestling is real? You don’t do that. It’s assholy. Why write a supposed romantic interest who’s nasty about everyone in the man she supposedly love’s life? Why have her side with his abusive dad? WTF!?

    This book is reaching “I want a match” territory for me.

    • Echoing your feelings so much because good lord, wtf. O_O

    • Noelle is definitely Jenkin’s author insert. She possesses all the snobbery of his other author insert, Buck Williams.

      Why would Tom want to be with someone who sneered at the friends he loved, chortled indulgently with the parents he hated, and acted like a jerk to his co-workers?

  2. “You know I love you, Tom, because I tell you.”

    Actually, I have my doubts.

    This morning I woke up to find that my state’s governor’s press secretary had been forced to explain that when Mr. Sixty-One-Percent-Of-People-Voted-Against-Me-And-I-Won-Anyway uses the words, “They said,” to preface things that they didn’t actually say (or indeed say anything remotely like), that’s not lying, that’s just the way asshole talks. Apparently, it’s reached the point where he lies so much he’s now trying to pass of lying as a dialect.

    Maybe that’s coloring my view here, but I don’t think it is. Noella says she loves Tom, but I’m not convinced Tom really has reason know she loves him. I think he has reason to suspect that she doesn’t.

    “You know I love you, Tom, because I tell you even as I’m being a complete and utter jerk to you. That’s what love is, Tom. Love is when you treat someone like shit, but say, ‘I love you,’ every so often. I tell you I love you, and I show you that I hold you in contempt.”

    If he follows her example he should start cruelly manipulating her as well as saying, “I love you.” Somehow, I don’t think that’s what Noella wants.

  3. Yeah, apparently Noella hasn’t figured out that loving someone isn’t about just saying it. Love is about actions. So far, her actions haven’t demonstrated love.

  4. Hi, I found my way here from slacktivist and have been enjoying the snark. Thought I’d join in.

    I think in the hands of a better writer, having one of your main characters battle whipped cream, a light frothy substance most people associate with innocent pleasure, would be an indication of the toll that his paramour’s emotional manipulation has taken on him.

    That bit up there really makes me feel for Rufus. I get the impression he’s so used to receiving ridicule, including of the insincere compliment variety, that he uses that sort of exuberance and bravado as a defense mechanism. Really, Noella, a simple “Because Tom has told me all about you,” wouldn’t have sufficed?

  5. Well, I put the ring on the spoon, and she broke a tooth. Then I hid it in the DVD case, and the TV blew up. Starting to think someone’s giving me a hint, here…

  6. “She met Tom’s high school buddies and their current wives (the second for one and the third for the other, and she was certain there would be more before they were through). She saw what he liked in the guys. They were straightforward, blunt, cynical. They were also loyal–at least to him, if not to their wives. They drank too much, but Tom never seemed to abuse alcohol.”

    – Hmm, so much for Jenkins not stating outright what characters are like, and letting his readers figure it out on their by how the characters act and what they say. But then, Jenkins never misses a chance to state outright what the characters are like (no matter if their words or actions contadict it.)

    — of course they’re a bunch of drunk divorcees. They’re CYNICS, doncha know. And OF COURSE Tom isn’t exactly like them. He’s a Jenkins hero, poor doomed bastard.

    “You know I love you, Tom, because I tell you.” — so if I said I was hornbilled toucan, you’d know if was true because I said so?

    Argh. I wanted to like Noella so badly, and now I really (really, really, REALLY) don’t!

  7. Ah, now we’re getting into the awefullness and Chrisitan turf wars (divorce! drinking! child mollestation! No, that last one doesn’t happen but you just know it comes directly from the first two!)

    Didn’t Noella dump multiple serious suitors after lying to them for attention? Who is she to judge people who decide their relationships aren’t working out? And given that she just ends relationships she doesn’t like and that Tom is friends with people who she thinks just divorce their wifes on a whim, she think’s its a good idea to brow-beat Tom into marrying her? Hey, Noella, you hoping for a divorce settlement within a year?

  8. Ugggh, the more we know about Noelle the more I dislike her. She reminds me a bit of my SIL. I really can’t stand when a person accepts only one way of doing things. Soooo manipulative.

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