Thursday, March 3, 2016

It's Not That Complicated: Chapter 5 - Part One

New chapter: Wounding Friends or Kissing Enemy? Reforming our Philosophy of Relationships

Are "wounding friends" and "kissing enemies" two existing categories?  Are they mutually exclusive?  This doesn't bode well....



Overarching Theme:

The Botkin Sisters think the worst of everyone else possibly due to lack of socialization.
"We've all seen it (and maybe been in on it).  The circle of young people at church, standing a little too close to each other; the characteristic exaggerated movements of the guys and girls who are way too self-conscious around each other - flouncing, strutting, bobbing, hair-tossing, posing.  We get in a little closer, and hear a giggling "Brett, your hair is getting too long," while the girl reaches up to play with the same.  Some of them are sending each other giddy text messages from across the group, rather than verbalizing the nothing that they had to say.  "What would you know, Josh?" teases another girl, affectionately shoving him.  It's the usual melee of giggling and teasing that you see everywhere from school hallways to church foyers." (pg. 71)





  • Alas, I don't believe the Botkin Sisters have been in on this.  I feel sad about that for their sakes.
  • What age is "young people"?  This could be a group of people ranging anywhere from pre-teen junior high students through unmarried adults.
  • The rest of this paragraph reads too much like a nature documentary for my comfort.  
  • As a old millennial or young generation X, the use of text messages when you are in the same room as the other person baffles me.  My husband and I watched a group of college students texting (and laughing intermittently) while they were waiting to be seated at a restaurant.  They looked like they were having a blast!  I just can't wrap my head around using a text instead of saying something outloud to the person next to you.  I digress.

  • "What should we call this?  Flirting? Fighting? Love? Hate? Good innocent fun?  If we asked the young people themselves what was going on here, they would probably say, "Oh, we're just really good friends." (pg 71)
    • I would accept flirting, goofing around, having fun or undergoing needed socialization for answers.  No idea where the Botkins Sisters came up with fighting or hate.  Those are generally much more visible as heated arguments or cold dismissals.
    • The answer of "we're good friends" to the question of "What's going on here?" makes no sense.
    "Let's take a closer look at this really good friendship - as if we could take an X-ray and see beneath the surface.  Tina has a thing for Brett.  Brett spends more time with Bethany.  Now Tina's sure she can't forgive Brett (though not as sure as she is that she's not going to forgive Bethany), but is making a last-ditch effort to get his attention anyways.  Bethany encourages the attention from Brett, and enjoys the jealousy coming from Tina, but it's Josh she's really after. Brett senses this and is feeling hurt and betrayed.  Meanwhile, Josh is in a serious online relationship that his parents don't know about, although he still hangs out with Tina and  Bethany just for kicks.  Maybe Tina and Bethany will find out about this and the happy little friendship square will disband, or maybe it will keep going until everybody thoroughly hates everybody else and then they will have to go and find new really good friends." (pg. 72)
    • I will ignore the horrible use of "X-rays" for now, but please register my shudder of distaste.
    • Again - how old are these people?  If they are preteens or high schoolers, I'd be concerned with Josh's online relationship.  If he's out of HS, he's fine.
    • In real life, relationship triangles or squares or whatever are fairly rare.  Most people are savvy enough to realize when two people are in a relationship and look around for other options.
    • Here's a more realistic view assuming that Brett, Tina, Josh and Bethany are not the only people in the church and/or go to a public/private school:
      • Tina was interested in Brett, but Brett spent a lot of time with Bethany.  Tina gave up on Brett as a lost cause and started dating Nate.  Brett realizes that Bethany is not that into him.  This hurts Brett's feelings and he spends less time around Bethany and more time around Amanda who seems to like him.  Bethany keeps trying to get Josh to spend more time with her, but eventually gives up when Tim asks her out for a date.  Meanwhile, Tim, Brett, Bethany and Tina still see each other at youth group and enjoy each other's company.
    • Either way, that's a whole lot of assumptions based on two flirty interactions and invisible text messages.
    Now, we move into personal anecdotes and the cattiness ramps up.
    "In our early teens, we were profoundly affected by a girl we knew.  Well, we didn't actually know her - we were too shy to talk to her- but we would watch her from across the room, transfixed.  Sheila was without question the most popular girl in every group.  She wasn't exactly gorgeous, but she knew how to play guys like an expert fisherman plays a sports fish.  As we watched her oil her way around the circle of boys that she would always collect around her, moving from lap to lap, arm to arm, teasing and flattering en masse we became more painfully self-conscious of our own awkwardness.  She was confident and bold; we were both shy, and extremely uncomfortable around boys." (pg 82)
    • My mental image with this passage is Anna Sophia and Elizabeth dressed in dark, baggy clothing scowling at the rest of the teenagers while they stay protectively against the wall.
    • I think most women have at least one moment like this in their life.  You see another woman who is charming, self-assured and confident around men and you become aware of how awkward you feel around guys.  The difference is how people react to these moments.  Most women decide to grow by interacting with men more and more until they feel more confident.  The Botkin Sisters decide to devalue her  years later with "not exactly gorgeous", "oil her way around", and the entire sports fishing metaphor.
    "Naturally, there was no way that we wanted to sit on those guys laps, or make them look at us like stupefied Largemouth Bass, as they did to her. But our indignation wasn't entirely the righteous variety.  To tell the whole truth, we were also a bit envious of how smooth and self-assured she was.  We knew that what she was doing was very bad, but she was just so good at doing it.  We knew that neither of us could be that pro if we tried." (pg. 82-83)
    • I think Anna Sophia/Elizabeth - and this is one of those places where the use of "we" is weird- did want to sit on the guys lap and/or have the guys stare at them with adoration in their eyes.  Why not?  Wanting attention from someone you are attracted to is the most natural thing in the world.   The alternative is that Anna Sophia/Elizabeth really didn't want a sexual relationship with any men which implies they are either asexual or lesbians.  (Which is totally ok in my world, but not in theirs....)
    • Nothing Sheila did was bad in my book.  She was sitting on guys laps, holding onto their arms and flirting.  None of those actions are going to end in permanent harm - although the guys may have chosen to remain seated for a few minutes afterward. :-)
    • I wish for Anna Sophia / Elizabeth's case that they had tried to be more "bad".
    And now we jump to bitchy:

    "There is a fourteen-year age-span between our five brothers.  That means that we've seen everything from tiny amateurs clumsily batting their eyelashes at your youngest brothers, to desperate single-mothers trying to get rings out of our oldest brother.  You name the level of flirtation; we've seen it." (pg.  83)
    • I have one brother who is 4.5 years younger than me.  I know the girls he dated seriously and his long-term partner (who is a sweetheart) but I had enough on my plate that I couldn't sit around and judge every woman who flirted with him.  
    • The oldest brother - Isaac - is 5 years older than Anna Sophia and 7 years older than Elizabeth. Assuming he started looking for a wife at around 20 years old, that would have made the girls 15 and 13 during his first relationships.  That makes their withering disdain even more off-putting.
    •   If  multiple "desperate single mothers" are getting into relationships with Isaac, doesn't that imply that HE's doing something to attract them?  I mean, the Botkin family does not send off a "we're warm and non-judgemental" vibe on the internet, so I'm assuming the women would pick up on the family disdain pretty quickly.
    The rest of the chapter is both dull and repetitive, but I think I can make a quick overview for the next post.

    2 comments:

    1. Just wanted to say I've been enjoying your play-by-play of this book (even though it's also scary that this is reality for a lot of people). Your blog is great :) I look forward to you future posts! Cheers!

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