TEoD: Chapter 42: It’s Not You, It’s God
You know those RTCs, right? Paragons of independent thinking and not easily swayed by the opinions of others…
So the moment Murphy’s pastor hints that Isis might not be the best match for Murphy, he hops a plane to D.C. to kick Isis to the curb.
This is especially sad and amusing when you remember that Pastor Bob is one of the stupider characters in these books. And that’s saying something.
This chapter reads a bit like a few other chapters, like the one in Ararat where childless Murphy counseled another man on how to raise a teenage daughter. That is, Phillips is writing a how-to for any RTC in a similar situation. So this chapter is how to break up with a nonbeliever.
Now, most of this chapter is focused on Murphy’s feelings—how bad Murphy feels about dumping Isis. Because the man’s feelings, the dumper’s feelings, are way more important than the female dumpee’s feelings.
So they go out to dinner, and…
Isis could tell that Murphy was a little preoccupied. She thought that he must be tired from the trip or maybe that he was worried about Shari…or Paul Wallach in the hospital.
Yeah, these two clearly are not meant for each other. Isis just assumes that Murphy has some normal human empathy, when in fact Murphy could not give two shakes about Shari or especially Paul.
Then they head back to Isis’s apartment, so Murphy can do the dumping in private. Which I suppose is more decent of him than doing it in public.
Now, to be incredibly fair, at a few moments, Phillips does seem vaguely aware that there is another person in this scene. So in between Murphy’s paragraphs about God and his (Murphy’s) feelings, Phillips interjects a few generic observations from Isis:
Isis could feel that something was coming.
Isis could feel it coming and she didn’t want to hear what he was going to say. She knew that it wasn’t going to be good.
Isis felt like she was going to cry.
So, it’s not really a character here, a person with feelings. It’s Phillips reassuring RTC males that if they use the right phrasing, they can weasel out of a waning relationship with a minimum of fuss and ugly crying.
Then again, I might not ugly cry either, if someone broke up with me with the kind of impersonal platitudes that Murphy uses:
“If two people are to develop a strong and lasting relationship, they really need to be on the same wavelength when it comes to faith in God. Divided families often have great struggles. Both parties are not able to share the same experience or values. It can bring about great stress.”
Hell, I even mostly agree with Murphy’s point here. It’s just so dickishly Nice Guy the way he puts it here—just as he made a mental list of pros and cons of Isis versus Summer, he’s now putting their relationship into a series of theoretical contortions.
I mean, this is all just a how-to manual, but shouldn’t there be just a hint that when you dump that atheist chick, she might have something more to say than…nothing? Just staring at you with the sparkling eyes that very nearly tempted you?
And speaking of temptation, does anyone think Murphy would be so quick to kick Isis to the curb if he didn’t have Summer waiting in the wings? (Or rather, Pastor Bob in the wings, waiting with baited breath to throw Summer at Murphy?)
Isis has one moment where she tries to assert herself. Or at least, makes a play for the relationship to continue:
“I think that two people can still see one another and have a relationship grow, and still talk about faith. I don’t think it has to end.”
“But what if the relationship grows and the faith does not?”
“There’s risk in every relationship, Michael.”
And I can see Isis’s point, too. I mean, it’s all moot for several reasons: Murphy dumping Isis is the best thing that can happen to her, and it’s not like Murphy would listen to what a mere woman has to say about relationships, anyway.
So it’s all a done deal. That said, Murphy does try to weasel out of completely dumping her with one of the two oldest tricks in the book:
“It might be good for both of us if we began to see other people.”
(The other one, of course, is “Let’s just be good friends.”)
Isis is nobody’s fool, and immediately sees that that is bullshit. To put it in a nicer way:
She could tell that his mind was already made up and that nothing she could say would make a difference now.
Yep, this sure isn’t a relationship between two adults, where they can sit down and talk about their feelings together. At least it isn’t from Michael Murphy’s perspective.
Murphy makes his escape before the tears happen (Isis’s, not his, because we know he isn’t going to cry about this, not with Summer waiting).
And instead of sticking with Isis, we follow Murphy back onto his plane home, of course, where we can know more about how very badly he feels, even asking God why. Well, because you found another Like A Model, Murph, and because your pastor told you too.
Still, though, lucky Isis. Even if she doesn’t know it yet.