The Fictional Hockey League

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

Friday, February 27, 2015

Offside: Post 18

Chapter 23: I’m mad that you’re doing what I asked you to because it seems like it’s too easy for you to do it

The narrative jumps ahead three weeks from the previous chapter and finds Billie by herself at the “arena” (by which I’m still pretty sure the author means rink), skating at crack-of-dawn early because it’s the last time slot left of her $1000 coaching of Logan. Logan, however, has left town for the week, apparently for Magical Reasons (we’ll learn why later, but even then I sort of thing it’s Handwave-y Reasons.) No, the text never before made it clear that there were to be 4 coaching sessions.

The time alone is spent working on edges (when you use the, well, edges of your skates to dig in and turn quickly. My coach loved him some edges. Fortunately, they’re something I’m not terrible at.) and pondering how much she misses Logan and how much it bothers Billie that Logan is perfectly fine with keeping their relationship a secret just like she asked him to. Apparently Billie wants to keep the secret, because of her fear of damage to her already tattered reputation, but it should be a hardship for Logan to keep said secret. It’s not like he didn’t tell her upfront and immediately that he’d be fine with people knowing, not like he’s seeing her on the side while married to Sabrina, Goddess of the Folded Towels. I assume it’s this bizarre paradoxical desire of Billie’s that leads to some of her upcoming asinine behavior, but more on that later.

First, we have to start redeeming the townspeople. Some of the female teenaged hockey players have started to watch Billie skate by herself, as they have practice at the same time, on the other sheet of ice, as the donated charity coaching lessons. They ask Billie to teach them some of her drills. This is adorable and exactly how the town should be treating their home-grown TWO TIME OLYMPIAN. (I know that when a female ice hockey Olympian came to Phoenix recently, all of my friends’ hockey-playing daughters were super excited to meet her and to attend a coaching session with her. And that’s Pheonix, Arizona. You know, the place where it routinely gets to be 116degrees Fahrenheit in the summer? The desert where fans of other NHL teams make fun of Coyotes fans not because the team is terrible (which at the moment it is) but because “Hockey doesn’t belong in the desert”? (To be fair, there’s actually a lot of hockey in the desert. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a very good player and yet I’ve played or skated at 6 different rinks/arenas and there was at least one more on the west side that I’d never been to. But still, not exactly known town for hockey. UNLIKE New Waterford, which apparently is supposed to be.

Sorry, didn’t mean to rant. It’s just another part of why the Great New Waterford Cootie War makes no sense.

But it was a relevant rant because the narrative tells us that the girls’ team coach, Dave, was originally one of the Misogynistic Asshats who didn’t want her to play.

“I have to be honest though. I was opposed to you playing in our league. Hell I almost considered pulling out and driving twenty minutes to the city to play, … You’ve shown me that the desire to play trumps all that small stuff” (2383-84).

Frankly, that latter part is the attitude that a coach for a girls’ team should have started with. Asshat. I’m glad my (non-existent) daughter doesn’t have him for a coach.

He continues on to say that he thinks that everyone in the league is playing at a higher level thanks to Billie and that most of the players disagree with what Seth-the-Sociopath did. (Seth, we learn by the way, has ceased to play in the league and started playing “in the city.” That sure was an anticlimactic end to that conflict. I guess the “I slept with your sister but it was actually you!!!!” dramallama is now more important.)

He also says that the guys who complain that they can’t be “guys” around Billie are full of it, since they act the same around Billie as they did without her there. See? I feel (vaguely) vindicated since that’s what I said before.

Anyway, Billie forgives him. (In her shoes (skates?) I probably would have, too. As a reader, I’m still cranky, but that’s kind of my schtick.) So Billie coaches the girls and it gives her a “glimmer of something—a spark. A vision of what she could accomplish” (386). The narrative leaves Billie’s POV at this point to rejoin Logan, but I’m guessing that Billie’s Great Plan will involve coaching. And while that’s great and I hope that that’s what will bring her satisfaction, I’m somewhat surprised it’s taken her this long to come up with that. Hockey coaching is not exactly an unheard of career path for, y’know, former hockey players.

Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, Logan is eager to get home. He’d gone to the west coast in order to visit various clients and consider a “some reality crap type of television show” (386). We learn almost nothing about this trip except to see him flirted with outrageously by “some rich man’s bored trophy wife” who touches his thigh a lot, while all he can think of is his planned Skype session with Billie (387).

Then it’s the next morning, and Logan is actually on the airplane home, being flirted with outrageously by multiple women in first class. He tells them he’s gay to shut them up. Yes, yes, we get it, Logan is hot.

Oh, but lest you think that all this travel would keep you from being updated on the state of Logan’s trousers, you should not have worried. For you see, Billie apparently wore something super skimpy and did super naughty things on Skype the night before, which led to a long cold shower then (why not just take matters into your own hands, Logan?) and now, on the plane, he’s afraid he’ll spend the whole flight “sporting the hard-on to end all hard-ons” (391). I feel like I need some sort of special icon for News Bulletins Pertaining to Logan’s Penis.

Logan lands back home, presumably at an airport in “the city” on Friday night, meaning he’s missed the week’s hockey game, but he drives as quickly as possible to make it to the town’s One & Only Bar & Grill to join the players post-game.

Only, HORROR OF HORRORS. There’s another player STARING AT BILLIE’S BUTT. Gasp! Shock! Horror!

A butt that belonged to Logan and maybe it was about time the whole damn town knew about it (393).

Yes, Logan. Maybe your irrational jealousy and creepy possessiveness should overrule your promise made to the woman you’re so wild about and thinking about Forever with. Oh wait, no. Strike that.  Reverse it.

Tune in next time for Showdown at the Only Bar in Town.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Offside: Post 17

Chapter 22: Sisterly Love

This chapter begins with the dreaded words “Billie, can we talk?” (362) but the text doesn’t reveal who’s requesting that for another full page. I tend to equate that phrase with relationship issues and assumed it was Logan asking, but no, it was Bobbi.

But first we’re treated to a description of Billie doing laundry (specifically attempting to get the blood out of her “protective chest gear—gear that had pretty much failed the week before” (362). I wouldn’t say it so much failed as didn’t do a job it was never meant to do in the first place. Weaponized hockey, after all, is beyond the usual specifications of ordinary hockey gear.

However, Bobbi wants to clear the air with her sister and they are back to being loving and sweet in record time. Seriously, it takes maybe five lines and a hug.

The next order of business is to cover the tragedy that is their father’s decline into dementia. This takes roughly 2 minutes as Bobbi points out that Billie needs to get herself prepared for the fact that their father is going to need to move to an assisted care facility of some kind.

Then, with whiplash speed, Bobbi changes the subject to ask what’s going on between Billie and Logan. This seems like something of an inappropriate conversational change to me. Billie at first denies that anything is happening between them, but Bobbi says she’s aware that Billie has been sneaking out every night and since she asked Shane (who denied involvement) she assumes it must be Logan. This convenient logic is enough for Billie to admit the situation but she fears that if her sister found out, then others might know.

If anyone found out she was sleeping with Logan, her already shady reputation would be mud. It would be worse than mud. It would be heading into the crud that was beneath the mud kind of territory (370).

This I don’t get. The whole town already thinks she’s sleeping with the whole team. Why would it matter if it turned out that really is dating one person? I suppose it could be seen that she’s only sleeping with the team captain so that she can be on the team, but a) the text does not bring that up and b) it’s been shown multiple times that she’s the best player on the team, so it’s not like she’s gotten a spot on the roster that she doesn’t deserve (other than, according to many, her lack of penis making her undeserving.)

Then Bobbi really makes for sisterly affection by telling Billie that Logan is out of her league. She quickly back pedals and says she only meant that Logan dates around and “he’s thirty and nowhere near close to settling down” (373) whereas Billie isn’t a player.

I was under the impression that one reason to date people is to find out if you’re compatible with them and want to spend more time with them (maybe even “settle down”), so Billie’s response that “Maybe he hasn’t met the right girl yet” (373) doesn’t seem that farfetched to me. (Granted, the fact that Logan flips out because Sabrina folded his towels and said lesbian “love”, is a better reason to think that Logan’s not ready to settle down yet. But Bobbi’s evidence is just that he’s dated a lot of women, each of them for only about six months.)

Bobbi then drops what she thinks is a bombshell—she knows (thanks to Shane, from years ago), that Logan slept with Betty. When Billie isn’t surprised, Bobbi is horrified.

“So you’re perfectly fine sleeping with a guy who’s already slept with your sister? Your identical sister to be exact? Don’t you find that creepy?” (374).

So I suppose that this is why we’re meant to agree with Logan that he has an obstacle to overcome in telling Billie about his tryst with Betty. And I guess I can kind of see it? But it seems to me that personality is so much more important than looks and (should) make up so much more than mere appearance of what a person thinks of someone else. So it never would have occurred to me that this should be creepy.

“Doesn’t it make you wonder if he’s thinking of Betty when he’s with you?” (377).

Dude, he could be thinking of a Kardashian or something when he’s with Billie. All right, I guess I kind of get this… but again, not entirely, given my point above.

So I wonder, if Logan really had slept with Betty all those years ago, does that mean that his relationship with Billie could never be real? All those speshul snowflake firsts wouldn’t mean anything because he’d slept with Billie’s identical sister first? I don’t get it.

Billie does, however, surprisingly, come clean to Bobbi about the fact that actually she was the one that Logan slept with, but that he thought it was Betty. I will not go into my opinion on that again. Unsurprisingly, Bobbi is not horrified, she’s only confused as to why Billie would have done such a thing and whether Billie thinks she’s in love with Logan now. They agree that she’ll have to tell him.

But the big concern, for both sisters, remains not that Billie broke Logan’s trust as a teen, nor that she sexually assaulted him since he did not give consent to sleep with her, but that he might still be in love with Betty.

Betty must be quite the femme fatale. It almost makes me want to read Betty’s book, but not really.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Offside: Post 16

In case you thought that now that the main couple has had sex (multiple times, with a one-eyed cat watching) readers would no longer received a running commentary on their turgidity, I’m very sorry to disappoint. Chapter twenty-one opens post-coitus, and post-breakfast, with Logan loading the dishwasher and, having caught sight of Billie wearing only his button-down shirt, gets “instantly hard. Again” (345). I’ll spare you the further adventures of Logan’s penis.

Shane interrupts the two of them as they have a make-out session in the kitchen (remember that Shane lives in the apartment above Logan’s garage. Why that requires him to wander into Logan’s kitchen, I do not know. But he sees the two of them, approves, and says he’ll tell the workers at Logan’s garage that Logan will be late.)

After Logan muses on the fact that he’s never had breakfast with any of the women he’s ever slept with (seriously??), Billie says that they have to keep their relationship secret because of the way that the whole town is already treating her. I’m surprised but pleased to report that Logan is understanding—he says he doesn’t care if people know, but if she wants it to remain clandestine, he’s fine with that.

Then there’s more sex. But it’s speshul sex ‘cause Billie says she’s on birth control and they’re both STD free, so it’s sex sans condom, which neither has eeeeeeeever done. (Well, Logan says he did once as a kid but then was given the “’don’t get anyone pregnant, don’t get a disease or your pecker will fall off[‘] speech” (352). (Yes, the text forgot to close its own quotation marks. If the author paid the person she thanked at the beginning for editing/proofreading, she didn’t get her money’s worth.)

So, let’s see. Billie is Logan’s first date at the restaurant in the city (other than his mother), first post-coital breakfast, and first unprotected sex. I understand wanting to share firsts with the person you think will be your Forever-and-Ever, but this is a strange list. The restaurant thing is seriously arbitrary. The breakfast thing just makes me think Logan is a jerk to the women he dates. And the unprotected sex thing is cliché.

Oh, and Logan’s never been late to work before (for any reason), so there’s another first. He arrives, still musing on how great sex was, particularly without a condom, then chats with Shane. Both of them commiserate over how the town is absolutely ridiculous with their hatred of Billie  (or any woman) playing hockey with the guys.

No sh*t. I kind of feel like this is a conversation that needed to happen about 325 pages ago, because one way to get over things that don’t quite make sense in a novel (or film or play) is to have characters comment on it. (Fabian, from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night: “If this were play'd upon a stage now, I could condemn it as an improbable fiction.”) Oh well.

One conversation leads to another and Logan is bemoaning the fact that he has to tell Billie that he slept with, and took the virginity of, Betty.

How exactly did you tell the woman you were kinda crazy about that you had sex with her sister?

…Not only had he had sex with Billie’s sister—he had taken her virginity. Complicated didn’t come close to describing his current situation (361).

Again, I’m an only child (as are, I believe, my two main readers/commenters of this blog), so I don’t know that I’m the right person to comment on this particular bit of Manufactured Drama. But… really? I mean, if he’d had sex with Betty, say, last week, that’d be one thing. But it was years ago. If Logan really had had sex with Betty (instead of with Billie, as we the readers know), would it really have been that big of a deal? And if it were, wouldn’t he assume that Betty would have told Billie, since they’re triplets and all? I mean, sure, he should probably tell her as opposed to keeping it a festering secret, but does have to be a Hyooge Big Deal? I don’t get it.

Someone with siblings wanna chime in and help a Commissioner out?