The Fictional Hockey League

Critiquing hockey romance novels, of which there are many. Overthinking it is the point.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Play the Man: Post 12

Chapter Seven: The Cracks are Beginning to Show

Frankly, the book could have begun with this chapter and we would have gotten everything we needed to know about the dysfunction in this couple. Between their regular stress (NHL season for Ryan and grad school for Jenna) with the addition of wedding planning, the two are fighting all of the time. Immediately after telling people that they’ve set a date, both their mothers begin to pressure Jenna to plan more things. Which, to be fair, there are things that need to be planned in advance, like choosing a location and booking hotel rooms. But since they can’t make those plans until they have a guest list, and Ryan keeps adding to the guest list, those decisions can’t be made.

The two of them are placing entirely different values on the wedding. To Jenna, it’s important because it’s the start of the rest of their lives. To Ryan, she’s confusing the wedding with the important stuff, although he does not clarify what he does consider important. He says it’s just another day and how could it be more important than any other day.

They argue constantly and it usually ends with someone storming out. In Jenna’s case, she meets up with Katie, “her only friend who existed outside of Ryan’s hockey world” (50). I find that troubling, since she ought to have been able to meet people in her classes and through the Art Institute. Far more troubling, however, is that the narrative points out that this “friend” Katie doesn’t know that Ryan is a Blackhawk. That… seems like a major point of information that eventually a friend is going to need to know. I can understand Jenna not telling everyone immediately, but she met Katie in her classes, to which she’s been going for three years. Even if she didn’t meet Katie until the most recent semester, Katie is spending enough time with Jenna that she’s the only one to whom Jenna can go when she’s upset about Ryan’s behavior. And she’s going to be attending the wedding—Jenna even plans to set her up with one of the other players. They’re pretty close, in other words, and by this point I think it’s insulting to Katie that Jenna hasn’t told her what her fiancé does.

Then again, I have no idea what Jenna has told Katie, since the latter is convinced that as a couple the two of them are one in a million, although she’s never met Ryan. Still, as a plot device Katie is useful. The two of them chat long enough for Jenna to try to convince herself that Ryan makes her happy.

“…I don’t want anything that Ryan can’t give me. I want what Ryan gives me to be enough.”
… “If what he gives you isn’t enough, Jenna, then he can’t give to you what you want him to. Maybe it’s a good thing you realized this now before it’s too late” (51).

Yes, yes, yes.  Listen to Katie, Jenna. Listen to the words of wisdom. But before she can, the narration switches to Ryan. Whenever Jenna storms out, Ryan works out.

The extra workouts were helping his game, because Ryan began to lead the team in goal production—he wasn’t just the captain, he had become the best player on the team (52).

I won’t disagree that working out off-ice is helpful for on-ice strength, stamina, and speed. But I can’t see how cycling or weight lifting by itself helps someone to become the top scorer. I mean, it can be related. If you have more stamina, you’ll get more ice time, and if you use the ice time productively, you can get more shots on goal. But there is no way strength training is going to lead directly to more goals.

Along with more workouts, Ryan is also going out with the guys more, and Jenna has begun to start refusing to join him. When asked about Jenna’s continued absence, Nick admits to his teammates that his fiancée may have become sick of him.

“Wait. What?” Nick asked. He was torn between the concern for his teammate and the glimmer of hope that he immediately cursed himself for having (52).

He goes on in this vein for a while—insisting that Ryan and Jenna love each other, even if Nick could love her better. Not to mention, he puts it in terms of hockey, that if Ryan was upset his production would suffer. While he’s probably right, that’s a relatively unfeeling way of looking at this possibility. For all of Nick’s valuation of Jenna as an actual person and not as an accessory, he still values hockey beyond all else.

Ryan isn’t too worried about Jenna leaving him, however. As far as he’s concerned, she’s just turned into a Bridezilla and everything will be fine after the wedding. The thing is, her asking for a little bit of input and decision making about things as basic as the guest list is hardly being a Bridezilla.

I know I’ve said “I hate this couple” any number of times already, but seriously I see no value to this relationship and therefore no tension in Jenna leaving it for Nick. None. Zero.

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