Cozy Christmas: Chapter 14 and Chapter 15

Time for the big reveal, everyone!  Let’s see how Josh can screw this up.

Well, he first gets himself all self-pitying.  As he and Whitney decorate a tree for Whitney’s parents, he reflects on how sad it was the he didn’t get to do this as a kid, due to those accursed decorators his father hired.

Anything that brought happiness into a home should never be banned, not even if it caused a terrible mess.

This leads in turn to him sighing to Whitney about how he never got to have a dog as a kid.  Poor little rich boy.

Decorating done, he asks Whitney if they can “go somewhere private to talk.”  This elicits a reaction that implies that Whitney is suspecting a proposal or something along those lines, which would seem like awfully quick work on Josh’s part, seeing as how they’ve had exactly one kiss, last week.

Whitney has left her glasses off the whole evening, given her mother’s comments about how “studious” she looks with them, and Josh checks with her to make sure she can see his face clearly, because “I want you to be able to judge how I feel and understand that I’m telling you the absolute truth.”

This understandably makes Whitney nervous, to the point that she asks if he’s married or something.  Well, or something, I guess.

Whitney actually calls out Josh on sending mixed signals.  And he doesn’t deny this, but tells her that’s for “a reason,” relating to “my income.”  Innocent, naive Whitney takes this to mean he is ashamed of being poor, and assures him that she is just a “down-to-earth, country girl.”  She even reiterates her condescending view of rich people, who “always seem so unhappy and unfulfilled.”

Well, Whitney at least proves that you don’t have to be rich to be a smug little snot.

Finally, before Whitney can dig her misapprehension hole any deeper, Josh pulls the trigger and tells her his real name and that he is the mysterious benefactor.  Unsurprisingly, Whitney is immediately angered about the lying-for-months thing.

“Remember, I wasn’t a Christian when all this started.”

It’s adorable that he blames the situation on that.  Because it wasn’t like he walked down the aisle in church and then confessed the next minute.

But the line doesn’t work on Whitney either.  She wants to get her tape recorder and immediately write a story, but Josh, for reasons best known to himself, begs off.  As a sort of compromise, he asks that she wait until the It’s a Wonderful Life screening, but she is “rip-snorting infuriated,” and refuses to sit on this “hot news.”  Which, fair.  I’m kinda fuzzy on why Josh needs to wait until after Christmas.

Josh, no doubt frustrated that things aren’t going exactly as he wished, decides condescension is the best strategy:

“You’re way too wound up to do [the interview] tonight.”

“Just remember, without the inside details that only I can provide, you won’t have the scoop you need to win your Pulitzer.”

And hey, not that there’s anything wrong with Josh being an asshole here: it’s conflict, something we’ve been sorely missing up till now.  And he doesn’t even apologize for saying that, even though he knows it was a “terrible mistake,” he just peaces out.

Whitney starts crying and her mother hears and comes in.  Weirdly, she also jumps to the immediate conclusion that Josh is married.  Whitney, who didn’t exactly take a vow of silence on this matter, even though she impliedly won’t write her story yet, tells Mom all, and her mother, ever so sensitive to her daughter’s pain…laughs in her face.  Because Josh was “just trying to do good,” and who cares if he toyed with her only child’s heart for weeks and weeks?

I’m beginning to understand why everybody in town thinks Whitney’s parents don’t get along.  Respect does not seem a high priority in this family.

Then again, maybe it’s a gender thing.  Because speaking of not taking women’s feelings seriously, Josh calls Coraline as soon as he gets home, whining to her about how Whitney “went ballistic” when he told her the truth, even though he’d “hoped she’d be thrilled.”  I know I’m always thrilled when I find out someone’s been lying to my face for months.

Josh invites Coraline to be their “disinterested” intermediary in the interview, though I’m not sure how disinterested the head of the Save Our Streets committee could possibly be.

Coraline hilariously suggests that the interview take place at Josh’s apartment, because “it will give you a chance to show her that you haven’t been lording it over the rest of us. Actually, I can’t believe how simply I’ve heard you’ve been living since you came to town.”

He’s living just as simply as any of the other businesspeople, I suppose.  He’s a single man who just moved to town: how big of a mansion did she expect him to build?

Anyway, Coraline then “blackmails” Josh into thinking about opening a branch of his company in Bygones.  And of course, Robert Randall is at Coraline’s house, right this very moment, so she puts the men on the phone together so they can talk man-talk about business-y business.

Later, Coraline calls Whitney and sets up the interview.  They head over to Josh’s place after church, and of course, Coraline was completely right about Whitney being blown away by Josh living in a small apartment.  Josh even smugly drives the point home:

“I could have made it into a lush penthouse, I suppose.  I just saw no need.”

Of course, he “saw no need” because he was planning to leave after six months, not because he’s okay with living the life of a common man.

Things get off to a rollicking good start when Whitney gets pissed at Coraline for not telling her more and sooner, which again, fair.  Josh blathers on about his Poor Little Rich Boy childhood and how he wanted to save the town for his Bygones-native mom’s sake.  (Btw, remember that he’s been lying to her all this time, too.)

Josh tells Whitney that the whole thing of pretending to be a coffee shop owner was so he “could keep an eye on the whole operation without making anybody nervous,” because if they knew who he was, they would be “always either looking to see if the donor is watching them or keeping an eye out to try to figure out what’s coming next.”  Which is kinda weird of him to say, because he was there in secret TO KEEP AN EYE ON THEM.  So isn’t this really just as bad as being open about it?

Coraline, the disinterested intermediary, urges Whitney to “put yourself in Josh’s place,” and guilt-trips her by saying that rejecting him for lying to everyone for months on end is just as bad as if she rejected a homeless and hungry Josh who showed up to the church in rags.

Then Josh brings it all home by trying to force forgiveness from Whitney on his terms, right this minute, thank you very much.

“In that case [if you wouldn’t reject a homeless me], tell me you forgive me.”

Ah, Christians!  Forgiveness on demand, and immediately, and completely, just as though it had never happened!  Don’t want to?  Guess you’re just a baaaddddd Christian!

And Whitney, to give her credit, does not fall for this manipulation.  Now it’s her turn to peace out.  She drives off with Coraline, Josh reflecting that he will always love her.  Because when you love someone, manipulating their forgiveness on demand is the best course of action.

 

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Posted on December 23, 2018, in Christmas, Cozy Christmas (In Progress). Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. FFS Josh, put a Mulberry Silk sock in it already. We don’t care about your first world problems.

    Guy negs a girl about how much hotter she’d look without glasses, then when she takes them off he tells her to her face that he presumes she’s now probably blind as a bat. Class act.

    Is he at any point going to get into why he thought “this whole operation” was in any way a good idea?

    Sigh, this is kind of a dud. Everyone in this book is a low grade asshole and moron, yet not interesting enough to get properly furious with like in Christmas Town.

    • There’s not even any non-Christian characters we’re supposed to hate who act much better than the “good” Christians in this book.

  2. Are we supposed to assume that Josh is a good guy because he “wasn’t a Christian when all this started”? He’s been a jerk this whole book so far, so unless other books in this series show him being even worse before, his becoming a Christian probably hasn’t made him a better person.

    • That would be in keeping with our December Christmas Romance Novel tradition. The unreedeemed sinners always come off way better than the Christians, insistence by the allegedly omniscient narrator to the contrary.

      Maybe that’s the problem here. As you say, there’s no accidentally sympathetic heathen for us to root for, and these fictional Christians don’t really tear into each other as much as they would a non-believer. So we have to make do with a nasty background layer of internalized misogyny as our hate-sink.

      Let’s hope that next Wintermass we get either a genuinely good book, or failing that one where we can all feverently wish the fictional smalltown gets hit by a meteor strike.

  3. “Anything that brought happiness into a home should never be banned, not even if it caused a terrible mess.” Except alcohol, of course. And un-Godly books and music. But apart from those, we don’t ban things.

    Yeah, the rich people you see in this no-horse town are always unhappy, because the only reason for them to be here is that their car broke down…

    RTC forgiveness is always demanded downwards: superior has abused inferior, inferior is required to forgive superior. (If an inferior has misbehaved, forgiveness is neither expected nor received.)

  1. Pingback: Deconstruction Roundup for December 28th, 2018 | The Slacktiverse

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