Chapter Three: I’m Beginning to Hate This Couple
I get that the author is trying to show us that there are problems in this relationship. I also accept that I know I couldn’t possibly be happy spending most of my life taking care of my significant other, whereas other people take great joy and satisfaction in doing that sort of thing. So I know that I am not critiquing this in a completely balanced way. But I’m already annoyed because this couple makes pretty much zero sense to me. Jenna is supposed to be smart and an all-around good person, but she seems to only like Ryan for his looks. And he’s …. got pretty much nothing I find redeemable.
In this chapter we finally learn that Jenna is a graduate student (flashback to Body Check again. The similarities are starting to weird me out). She’s at the Art Institute of Chicago studying art history (again with the similarities! Do art history people have a thing for hockey players?) The two of them wake up, and Jenna tries to start her very busy day, but Ryan wants sex. He asks if she can’t miss just one day’s class and Jenna points out that in graduate school classes seldom meet and each one is important. Having multiple degrees, I can confirm her point.
But Ryan pushes, both physically seducing her and guilting her since he’s about to leave for a five day roadtrip. Jenna points out that if he’s going to miss her, he could meet her for lunch to spend time together. Ryan initially declines.
“No offense, babe, but I can talk to you over the phone from the road. I can’t, however, do this” (23).
Where the “this” in question is sucking on her nipples. She acquiesces and is late for class.
Afterward, Ryan changes his mind and meets Jenna for lunch. This scene starts from his perspective (none of the scenes since the third in chapter one have remained from one perspective. Yes, this is driving me nuts).
Now he watched as she went on and on about something having to do with her class or whatever. … it made her happy. That’s all Ryan cared about. When she was happy, she glowed, and he’d do anything to keep that fire in her lit. He continued to watch as she talked animatedly, even though he wasn’t truly listening (24).
I’m glad that Ryan genuinely wants Jenna to be happy and that he’ll do whatever it takes for that to happen (except, I guess, set a wedding date). But to literally not care about her passion, even to the point where he consistently doesn’t bother to listen, that’s just patronizing and obnoxious. I mean, I’m not saying he should start taking art history classes, but if he loves her, he should at least learn a little about her interests. They don’t have to share every interest ever, but I have to believe that she knows more about hockey than he does about art history.
(And fair’s fair. Remember back in Body Check that I found Hayden’s refusal to learn anything about hockey, and condescendingly (in my opinion) agreeing to attend hockey games but bringing class notes with her, was equally problematic. But by contrast, in that book Brody not only liked how Hayden lit up when talking about art history, he actually joined in the conversation.)
Eventually, he cuts into her gushing about Chagall to give her her engagement ring which she’d forgotten to wear. She’s mortified to have left it behind and calls herself a horrible girlfriend, but she does tease that if Ryan hadn’t made her late, she’d not be rushing and thus forgotten it.
“I know, I know,” he replied, finding humor in the way she threw the blame around. “It’s all my fault” (25).
The give and take in most relationships would include this dialogue but not claiming that the other “threw the blame around.” I mean, she apologized, took blame, then joked, then after this comment, she apologizes again.
Then, after he puts the ring back on her hand, she just basks in “the way his thumb rubbed over her fingers” because ordinarily he doesn’t hold her hand in public. This continues to support my point that Ryan just lays claim on Jenna when he deems it necessary (grabbing her in chapter one and pulling her into his lap despite her discomfort) but not to make her happy (holding her hand in public.)
I really don’t like this couple. I liked Jenna at first, but the longer she stays with this guy and the more I learn about their relationship, the less I like even her. Worse yet, this scene ends with the following:
Jenna placed her hand back in her lap, glancing down at the giant pink diamond. As gaudy and showy as it may have been, it was hers; she’d put in the time, the dedication, and the work. She deserved it (25 emphasis original).
Really? She’s deserved it?
Initially I was rooting for this couple to break up so that Jenna could be with Nick. Now I’m rooting for Nick to go find some nice girl elsewhere.