Chapter Thirteen: These Characters Sap My Will to Live
What to say about this next scene? Really, it’s mostly Ryan complaining to himself, assuming that the problem is the wedding and thinking he deserves credit for taking a whole 30 minutes to (finally) put together the guest list that Jenna has been asking for for months. The perspective then leaps to Jenna who agrees that they should forget all the bad stuff that has happened lately and try to go back to how things were—which in her mind means she should also forget the sex with Nick and never tell Ryan. Then, to seal the deal, they have sex.
Some of the language here is troubling, though.
It felt wrong to be doing this with Ryan so soon after doing it with Nick, but she was afraid to stop him (85).
The next sentence explains that if she stops Ryan from having sex, he would know that something was wrong. Yet I’m troubled by the word “afraid”, particularly since just five pages ago Jenna is afraid of what Ryan might do to her or to Nick upon learning of her infidelity. She spends the next two paragraphs trying to get his attention in order to get him to stop, despite the above mentioned fear. But Ryan takes it as encouragement. And when he pushes, it makes Jenna “give up and cede to him” (85). That is also problematic. Ceding her body to him, because he wants sex and she doesn’t? (But she feels guilty so she cedes to him?) This relationship is dysfunctional in a lot of ways right on the surface, and the subtext is making it even more troubling.
Jenna asks Ryan to “make love” to her, rather than simply having sex, because she feels that it would means something more than their usual cycle of fighting, making up, and having sex. But at first Ryan doesn’t understand what she wants and when he does, he’s unwilling to take the time. He uses the excuse that he has to leave soon for an away game. Seriously? This irritates me. And yeah, it’s supposed to—this moment with Ryan is supposed to contrast to the worship Jenna felt from Nick. Ryan takes what wants and only barely even tries to understand what Jenna wants, both in this moment and throughout their relationship.
Nick overhears almost everything, from Jenna and Ryan’s conversation to the sex afterward, and it makes him feel sick.
Jenna was choosing Ryan. After their amazing moments spent together, she was choosing Ryan over him (87).
Well, yeah. She’s been with Ryan 8 years and just had a moment with Nick over which she feels incredibly guilty. One passionate embrace, no matter how worshiped Jenna felt, is not going to make this woman in particular throw over her fiancé. Nick is an idiot for thinking it was even a remote possibility at this moment. Besides which, Jenna doesn’t even know that there is a choice to be made. As far as she knows, Nick just wanted sex in that moment.
Ryan leaves the house to head off to play the Minnesota Wild the next day and says “Take care of yourself and rest up” to Nick (88). Evidently, Nick feels that this is somehow a demeaning comment, “a backhanded jab at him” because (subconsciously??) Ryan knows that he’s won (this battle for Jenna that he didn’t know was going on.) For all that the narrative continuously assures us that Nick is calm and cool and collected, I don’t actually see it often.
Nick decides to confront Jenna again, because frankly what the heck else is this book going to do to fill 80 more pages. She insists again that she doesn’t want Ryan to know.
[Nick] supposed it was his fate, to always pine after what he couldn’t have (90).
That’s odd because, well, the narrative has never shown us (or even told us) that this is something Nick is used to. Yes, we know that his childhood was difficult, but he’s a freakin’ NHL player. At this point, there actually isn’t much he can’t have. Jenna’s affections are apparently one of those things but one doesn’t make a pattern.
The chapter ends with Jenna upset that she can’t seem to forget the sex with Nick even though she’d told herself (and Ryan) that she’d forget all the stuff that had happened since summer. I don’t know about you, but I think it’s just a tiny bit unrealistic for Jenna to think she could forget the sex, especially just a couple hours after it happened! Yes, Jenna, how dare you have short term memory of an experience you found deeply moving in multiple ways!