The Fictional Hockey League

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

Monday, February 16, 2015

Offside: Post 13

Chapters 16 & 17: Pajama Hockey

By writing about these two chapters together, I’m almost certainly giving them short shrift, but I’m just not sure what to say about them beyond reporting what happened in them.

Billie wakes up super-early Monday morning, because she must go give a 6am hockey lesson to Logan. The text makes a very big deal about the fact that Billie puts on slippers to go have breakfast.

They had large bunny heads on the end and the ears flopped around when she walked, but they were warm so she was willing to overlook the fact that they looked ridiculous (265).

What’s with this family’s cozy footwear? Back in chapter 7, when Billie’s grandfather came outside to rescue Logan from her gun-toting father, he was wearing slippers with beaver heads on them.

Regardless, for now, Billie is pondering how much she wants to be with Logan but how she never ever can because she’s afraid that he still wants Betty and she’s just a substitute. She also does, I must admit, also think to herself that she also can’t be with him because “of what she’d done,” presumably referencing the bed trick (read: rape) from their teenaged years. She does not think about it in terms I’d like her to (read: rape) but rather about how he’d never believe that she didn’t plan the deception.

After navel gazing, Billie goes down to the kitchen for breakfast and is surprised to find her father making porridge. Even more than that, he’s coherent. He recognizes Billie and even talks about how he knows he’s usually not himself these days. He asks about Billie’s injury, and the benefit of this is that it’s finally explained.  Billie really is fine, recovered from the concussion. She tells her father that she left pro-hockey, though, out of fear that if she were hit again the health risks were too high. But in actuality, the narrative informs us that after the first hit and injury, the team thought her too weak and bought out her contract, “Another boys [sic] club where she didn’t quite fit” (275). And now, without hockey to play, “she didn’t know anything else. She was lost” (273).

The two of them share a sweet father-daughter moment that’s bitter because they both know that it won’t last, that Trent (her father) will get lost in time again soon. The grandfather (Hershel) and Bobbi also come to breakfast and there’s a nice moment of family, until suddenly Billie realizes how late it’s gotten and how she has to get to the arena (by which I assume she actually means rink.)

Honestly, I think it’s kind of lousy that Billie runs out to the rink in this moment. Yeah, she owes Logan ($1k but also…) but there’s no way of knowing how many more lucid moments she’s going to have with her father. I’d’ve stayed and been there for as long as it lasted. But instead, Billie heads to the rink and the next chapter switches to Logan’s perspective.

Oh Logan.

Hell, he’d been walking around with a permanent boner ever since [Saturday] and not even four fucking cold showers had been enough to quench his desire (280).

Well, Logan, I guess I can thank you for giving me a chance to use my “possible priapism” tag again…. You really ought to have seen a doctor about this issue. You’re risking permanent damage.

While waiting for Billie at the rink, Logan is comparing Billie and Betty, admitting to himself that Betty was the cock tease but also special. Despite the fact that most of the town claimed to have slept with Betty, “that night had been different. Special. He’d known they’d been good together” (282).  When she returned from NYC, Betty had then acted like they’d never hooked up (which, of course, they hadn’t, but Logan doesn’t know that.)

Not that Billie had a chance at his heart. He wasn’t that stupid, but maybe… maybe it was time to teach one of them a lesson (282, emphasis original).

I know that revenge is a common motive in romance novels for a couple to get together, but it’s always questionable. And here, it’s more upsetting. Logan is mad at Betty. It doesn’t matter (for this moment) that he’s mad at the wrong sister. He’s mad at Betty so he figures he should teach Billie a lesson? That’s a really asshat move. (And no, it’s not mitigated by the fact that Billie did her own asshat move on him years before since he doesn’t know that.)

Logan goes from anger at Billie’s tardiness to surprise at her appearance.

Where was the goddess, sex slave who had haunted him for the last two nights straight? (284).

You know, on another day I might get all ranty about “goddess, sex slave” because those ought to be mutually exclusive things, one denoting power and the other denoting submission, and by appearing together in Logan’s description of Billie, he’s simultaneously granting her power (because he wants her) and demoting her and controlling that sexual power (by picturing her submissive.) But I just don’t have it in me to unpack it tonight.

Besides, he’s surprised at her appearance because she’s wearing pajamas (“blue flannel pants with pink piglets all over them”), an old raincoat, and the bunny slippers.

Seriously? She couldn’t take two minutes to put on pants and sneakers?

Also, if she had shown up in ordinary clothes for playing hockey, she still wouldn’t have been the “goddess, sex slave” (since that description seems to be linked to appearance, presumably hearkening back to the naughty angel costume she’d been wearing the last time he saw her) since she’d be in hockey gear (ooooh, sexy padding) or at best in something like sweats and a helmet.

Instead, since she didn’t bring her gear with her—just her stick and skates—she coaches in pajamas bottoms, her sweatshirt, and borrowed gloves. Given that she’s had a concussion already, she really ought to be wearing a helmet. When I’ve gone to see NHL players practice, okay, yes the coaches don’t tend to wear helmets. But all the amateur league coaches I’ve ever seen have worn helmets. Know why? Because it’s a requirement for USAHockey, frankly, which as I’ve said before is the organization that manages things like insurance for rinks.

Also, she claims to have forgotten her gear. But she didn’t forget her stick and skates? I can see the stick being separate from her gear (it doesn’t fit in the bag, after all) but the skates? That’s a little weird. (Not entirely weird. I mean, you can explain it away by saying she put her gear out to air after playing on Friday and hadn’t packed it all back up yet. But in that case she wouldn’t so much have forgotten her gear as passed it over as she bunny-slippered her way out of the house with her stick and skates.)

Anyway, Billie puts Logan through his paces to the point where even though the narrative takes great pains to tell us what great shape he’s in, he’s shaking and heart pounding ‘til they’ve finished. He then challenges her, saying she needs to show off her skills to him.

How was it that this woman could tear up the ice the way she did, and still be the hottest thing he’d ever seen? (288)

How is it that someone purported to be smart doesn’t see that those two things are not mutually exclusive?

Did you know that girls drop out of organized sports in huge numbers because as they get older (like, pre-teens and such) they think that sports make them look too unfeminine? So, thanks Logan, and thanks Offside, for helping to perpetuate that sort of thing by normalizing the idea that a woman can’t be both an athlete and attractive.

Anyway, Logan challenges Billie to a race and she agrees and takes off her sweatshirt. I have to say, if Logan is skating in full gear (which he is) and she’s skating in pajama pants and a t-shirt (which apparently is a midriff one because it bares her belly button ring and Logan finds this to be incredibly sexy), in some ways she has the advantage. Gear is bulky. On the other hand, were they to hit the boards or something, she’d be screwed.

So they race and the girls who had been practicing on the other sheet of ice come and watch them, cheering for Logan. He wins, but just barely, and afterward he notices her wince. Because oh yeah, she just had a whole bunch of stitches on Friday night and Logan had forgotten.

The race was a bet, and since Logan won he’s taking her out somewhere that evening.

“Tonight,” he repeated, watching her closely. Be ready by seven.”

“But,” she sputtered.
“Seven sharp, and make sure you look good” (295).

Logan’s high-handed “make sure you look good” atop his desire for revenge (against Betty but to be taken on Billie) has pretty much made me lose all favorable opinion of him. I dislike him slightly less than I disliked the main character from Play the Man but only because Logan’s more interesting, at least.


  1. Oh, so there is an explanation of why she is not in Sweden. I must have forgotten that. So my next question would be why isn't she in the CWHL? It doesn't pay, but she doesn't seem to have a job yet or be looking too hard for one.

    Your suggestion that she spend more time with her dad was quite poignant. I have to admit, I did like the subplot of her senile father, I felt it was different and more real than most romances.

    But pajama pants and bare midriffs at the rink? That ain't right, unless you're Chris Higgins.

    1. Yeah, if she doesn't know who she is without hockey, then the CWHL seems like a logical place. And she doesn't have a job-- Bobbi's boyfriend specifically says so and criticizes her for playing hockey when she should be looking for a job (and offers her one at his firm.) I don't understand the criticism (how dare you have fun once a week when you're jobless?) but it does specify.

      (Actually, I've been wondering just what the heck Billie DOES all week since she only plays Friday nights and then seems to spend the weekends dealing with the repercussions and fallout from playing on Fridays. No info on the weekdays until this post where she's coaching Logan.)

      Your comment re: Higgins? Totally made me LOL (and scare one of my cats. I'm snowed in with only the felines (and my turtle) for company.) So thank you for that ;)