The Fictional Hockey League

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

Friday, November 14, 2014

Play the Man: Post 27

Chapter Nineteen & Twenty: Rewriting History

Jenna falls asleep in Nick’s arms and he puts her to bed (fully clothed). Then it’s Nick’s turn to ponder the situation to himself. He admits he loves Jenna more than he has “ever loved a girl in this world” (129), which still leaves options for other worlds, I supposed.

And Ryan was more than a guy he played hockey with or his captain—he was his friend (129).

Have we been reading the same book? There’s never been anything more than teammate-ness between these two thus far. It’s like the narrative has decided this would all be more poignant if the two men in the love triangle were truly good friends, even though the major set up of the love triangle in the first place was how different Nick and Ryan are and how they have so little in common, which lead to Jenna hanging out with Nick in the first place.

At any rate, Nick decides that since he’s never failed at anything he’s put his mind to (with the exception of getting Jenna to love him), he’s going to get these two back together… somehow.

And then it’s Ryan’s turn to pace around and mope and mutter and wonder what the hell happened. He’s particularly miffed that the affair happened after he gave in and proposed.

Now? After he was finally giving her everything she wanted? (130).

He decides he can’t stay in the house, since it reminds him too much of her, and goes to a hotel. Then he shocks all of his teammates by going to an optional skate. Maybe I’m just spoiled because my favorite hockey team has pretty much the best captain ever, but I can’t imagine Shane Doan not going to almost all optional skates, because he leads by example.

Speaking of my favorite team, apparently the Blackhawks next game is against Phoenix and Nick is hoping to be cleared to play. I am not the only Coyotes fan who hates the Blackhawks. It is so miserable to go to a Blackhawks at Coyotes game, and not because, as you might think, the Blackhawks are guaranteed to win—they’re very much not, thankyouverymuch, may I direct you to the Coyotes winning the playoff series against them in 2012? It’s miserable because so many former Chicagoans live in Phoenix and are asshats against Phoenix fans.

Anyway, moving on. Nick is at practice and thinking about Jenna, of course, and realizes that Jenna needs Ryan “to feel complete and whole” (133), that their opposites fit together. I loathe the idea that you need a significant other to be complete. That way lies madness. I far prefer the idea of two complete humans finding each other and that 1 + 1 = 2. That’s why it’s called a couple, not a person.

Locker room gossip breaks out, as one of the Blackhawks players says he heard that one of the Detroit players is sleeping with another player’s wife. Everyone in the locker room is pretty horrified—they make fun of the husband being cuckolded and criticize the accused wife, but another player declares that this is against the code.

“I don’t care, that’s still fucked up,” Mike added. “You just don’t do shit like that, ya know? Not to a teammate. I don’t care how pretty the chick is. I don’t care if her fucking pussy tastes like Dom Perignon—you just don’t do shit like that” (133 emphasis original).

Classy, Mike. Classy. But of course, this cuts awfully close to home for both Nick and Ryan. The first player who brought all this up pokes fun at Mike, joking that he looks at some other player’s girlfriend. Unfortunately for Mike, his defense is that he “prefers blondes. Like Jenna” (134).

Ryan goes ballistic. Even though he’s half dressed for practice, which to my mind makes this scene hilarious, he throws himself at Mike.

He pushed himself off the bench and balanced himself on the thin skate blades before launching himself at Mike and unleashing the dormant anger (134).

First? I can’t believe he’d take the time to consciously balance himself. If you’ve been playing hockey long enough to be in the freakin’ NHL, you can walk on those suckers just fine and if you adrenaline and anger have you going crazy at a teammate, you’re not stopping to think about your balance. All that said, second, hockey fights are already kind of hilarious because of the skates. Half dressed and in the locker room? Oh yeah, I’d pay to see that. (Particularly if it were Blackhawk on Blackhawk violence.)

Nick steps in between the two before any actual fighting can happen, sadly, and drags Ryan out of the locker room. Nick tells Ryan (once they’re alone) that he knows what Ryan is upset about and Ryan assumes this means that Jenna told him.

“She cheated, and you knew. She went to you, she told you, and she left me out to dry. You’re just as fucking bad as she is.”

“I am,” Nick admitted, knowing he was just as bad. Just as guilty. It was time to come clean. “It was me.” (135 emphasis original).

Okay, if Nick weren’t the other guilty party in the affair, then I’d fail to see how Jenna going to talk to him in confidence (theoretically) and his therefore not telling Ryan makes him just as culpable.

There’s a lot of “How could you!?” back and forth and Nick trying to say that it just “happened” and that Jenna still loves Ryan. It goes about as well as you’d expect, but sadly there’s no more half-dressed-for-hockey fighting. Nick does manage to get in that Ryan wasn’t there for Jenna, but Ryan assumes he means physically and gets pissy about it, pointing out that she knew he’d be traveling when he went pro.

The weird part is Ryan’s reaction to it being Nick instead of some guy from the Art Institute that he doesn’t know.

Nick was supposed to be his friend, and Jenna was supposed to be his girl. They were supposed to be the two people in this world who he could rely on for support—he never would have suspected they’d do something like this to hurt him. Ryan felt betrayed by the two people that he trusted most, by the two people that he should have been able to depend on more than anyone else (136).

And yes, very sad and all that. Except no. Before this, Nick was never so much as mentioned as being more than a teammate. For heaven’s sake, when Nick got concussed, Ryan didn’t so much as want to drive him home, let alone let him stay in his house. That’s not exactly a strong friendship.

This is why editors matter. A good editor would have cut ½ the moping and all of the inconsistencies. Grrr. You can’t just rewrite history unless you actually go back and rewrite the damn book.

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