‘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???
YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO USE THAT WORD IN THAT WAY, JENKINS. I AM SICK OF IT.
“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!
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.
“Then say so.”
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.”
SAY WHAT I WANT YOU TO SAY, MY MAN, REGARDLESS OF YOUR OWN FEELINGS
“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.'”
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.
NO, NOT THAT KIND OF STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE!!!
(I used to have one when I was a kid.)
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.