L.B.: That girl

Left Behind, pp. 436-438

I can somewhat relate to the situation Buck Williams faces here. You’ve probably faced a similar dilemma yourself.

Your friend finally seems happy. She’s Met Someone and she’s caught up in the excitement. All she needs from you just now is for you to share that enthusiasm and unqualified happiness, but you can’t do that because you know the guy, or you know something about him — you heard some stories from his third ex-wife, or you recognize him from an episode of Cops. But whatever this cautionary information is — his past infidelities or his arrest record, his incomplete rehab stint or the reasons why he can never return to Canada — you’re going to have to be the bearer of bad news, and that’s never pleasant.

That’s the situation Buck is in here with Hattie. Buck’s situation is even more awkward, in fact, since he’s the one who actually introduced her to the special someone she’s now so excited to see. Now Buck faces the unpleasant task of having to tell Hattie that the guy she thinks is Mr. Right is really Mr. Antichrist. That’s the subtext here for the final phone call before the final showdown here in Volume 1:

He phoned Hattie Durham.

“Hattie,” he said, “you’re going to get a call inviting you to New York.”

“I already did.”

“They wanted me to ask you, but I told them to do it themselves.”

“They did.”

“They” here would mean Steve Plank. Or maybe Steve and Chaim Rosenzweig on speaker phone.

Although it’s strange to rely on your press secretary or your Nobel laureate lackey to ask someone out, I do have to give Nicolae some credit here for not contacting Hattie personally and thus, apparently, refraining from using his mind-control mojo to pick up women. Then again, it’s still not clear how his powers of super-charisma work — Could he mind-whammy Hattie from a different time zone? Do his powers work over the phone? Can he channel this power to work through Steve? — so maybe he is being secretly coercive, bending her to his will through some means we just can’t see at work.

“They want you to see Carpathia again, provide him some companionship next week if you’re free.”

“I know and I am and I will.”

“I’m advising you not to do it.”

She laughed. “Right, I’m going to turn down a date with the most powerful man in the world? I don’t think so.”

“That would be my advice.”

“Whatever for?”

Buck has several very good answers to that question. Why should she turn down an apparently innocent invitation from the “Sexiest Man Alive”? Well, for starters, because he’s the Antichrist, the Beast from the abyss of Hell bent on mass slaughter and the destruction of all that is good. That would seem to be a good reason to caution Hattie not to date the guy.

Buck might be reluctant to just come right out and say that, though. He knows that Hattie has already heard all about the Antichrist from Rayford (twice), and that she didn’t find such talk very persuasive. But Buck doesn’t need to talk about end times prophecies to answer Hattie’s question. He could simply tell her about Nicolae’s involvement in the deaths of Dirk Burton, Alan Tompkins and Eric Miller. He could tell her about his shady past in Romania and the suspicious death of his business rival. He could tell her about Nicolae’s dubious back-channel bribery to ensure the removal of the previous secretary-general. He could, in other words, talk for hours about all the reasons that no one in their right mind should consider dating this murderous megalomaniac without ever even having to get around to mentioning that, oh yeah and by the way, he’s also the Antichrist.

But Buck doesn’t do any of that. Instead, he says this:

“Whatever for?”

“Because you don’t strike me as that kind of girl.”

“That kind of girl,” I take it, means here the same sort of thing it always means — morally suspect, loose, cheap, concupiscent. The “kind of girl” upon whom young men’s “wild oats” are sown, leaving them forever morally tarnished. (The girls are left tarnished, that is, the young men, well, boys will be boys — or at least that’s how it seems to be viewed by the sorts of people who use the phrase “that kind of girl.”)

I really can’t figure out, though, why Hattie accepting Nicolae’s invitation to New York would make her “that kind of girl.” The only way that could be true is if we interpret “provide him some companionship” as a euphemism for something exclusively sexual. I’m reminded again of Eric Idle in Monty Python’s “Nudge, Nudge” sketch, licking his lips, winking salaciously and leering like a dirty old man. This apparently was how Steve must have sounded when he extended Nicolae’s invitation: “… to New York to ‘provide him some companionship,’ know whatahmean, know whatahmean? Companionship, eh? A nod’s as good as a wink to a blind bat, eh? Com-panion-ship? He asked him knowingly …”

Hattie, we should remember, has been completely chaste for at least the past year or however long it’s been since Rayford started stringing her along as the “woman he had never touched.” Now she’s being told that accepting a public dinner date with a universally respected world leader would mean she’s some kind of slut. She’s entitled to a bit of indignation:

“First, I’m not a girl. I’m almost as old as you are, and I don’t need a parent or legal guardian.”

“I’m talking as a friend.”

“You’re not my friend, Buck. It was obvious you don’t even like me. I tried to shove you off on Rayford Steele’s little girl, and I’m not sure you even had the brains to pick up on that.”

Once again I find myself applauding where the authors don’t intend as Meta-Hattie struggles to make herself heard. Meta-Hattie is ticked off at Buck here, so she lashes out and mischaracterizes her earlier match-making. She hadn’t really just been trying to “shove him off” onto Chloe, of course, that’s almost never what motivates match-making in the real world. In the real world, it’s usually due to fondness, affection and a desire to make others happy.

That explanation makes the most sense here. Hattie liked Chloe, and while she wasn’t interested in Buck, he seemed like an OK guy, so she nudged them together in the hopes that they might find some happiness. It turns out she was right, they’re perfect together — even if Buck, Chloe and the authors never give her any credit for that. Now, after she’s helped him find happiness, Buck turns around and tries to deny her her own shot at it. This is the thanks she gets?

But I don’t think that’s what the authors intend us to take from this passage. I think they want us to read “I tried to shove you off on Rayford Steele’s little girl” as a literal and accurate representation of Hattie’s earlier motives, rather than as a way of saying something more like, “You’re making me regret I ever set you up with poor Chloe.”

Buck could clear all this up easily just by telling Hattie what he knows, telling her why Nicolae Carpathia is an exceptionally bad guy to get involved with (Antichrist, murderer, etc.).

But he doesn’t do that. He doesn’t say, “Don’t go on a date with this particular man because this particular man is evil incarnate.” Instead he just keeps saying, “Don’t go on a date with any man because going on dates makes you a slut.”

And the authors make it clear that they share Buck’s opinion:

“Hattie, maybe I don’t know you. But you don’t seem the type who would allow herself to be taken advantage of by a stranger.”

“You’re pretty much a stranger, and you’re trying to tell me what to do.”

“Well, are you that kind of a person? By not passing along the invitation, was I protecting you from something you might enjoy?”

“You better believe it.”

“I can’t talk you out of it.”

“You can’t even try,” she said, and she hung up.

Buck shook his head and leaned back in his chair …

We readers are intended, apparently, to share Buck’s head-shaking, condescending pity for this loose woman. What I find myself wondering, instead, is how the human race could possibly continue if the authors’ concept of morality were universally embraced. They are not merely saying that sex before marriage is immoral, they’re saying that dating before marriage is immoral. Seriously, how is that supposed to work?

Buck wondered what Rayford or Chloe would do if they knew Hattie had been invited to New York to be Carpathia’s companion for a few days. In the end, he decided it was none of his, or their, business.

Buck’s a bit confused here about what is and isn’t his business. He’s perfectly comfortable lecturing Hattie on the evils of dating and telling her she’s acting slutty for spending time with another unmarried adult. But letting her in on the secret that the man who’s invited her to dinner is Satan’s minion, a murderous tyrant destined to revel in the deaths of millions? That he decides is none of his business.

If Buck Williams worked for the National Weather Service he would never issue a tornado warning. When he spotted a tornado, he’d just tell residents to go to their shelters because only sluts walk around outside and you wouldn’t want people to think you were “that kind of girl.”

  • Tonio

    That would put the blame for sexual immorality on men, not women.
    (smacks forehead) You’re right, I was forgetting about that aspect of the L&J mindset.
    Perhaps more that the Right men must control women, or the women will use their Evil Sexual Powers to lead men into immorality, and it will wind up that the Wrong men are getting to have sex with/command the women…
    I was originally thinking that being led into immorality would turn a Right man into a Wrong man.

  • Tonio

    L&J don’t think in terms of considering both sides of an issue and then choosing which one convinces you…
    It wouldn’t occur to me to see that attitude as Calvinist. I would have seen it as anti-Enlightenment. Would that equate to the same thing?

  • Dorothy

    The Grimm brothers mostly collected (and edited) folk tales. I suspect the folk tales used a some Christian tropes, because it made sense to the audience and provided useful shortcuts. – inge
    I don’t think Snow White was originally a Christian allegory (I’m no expert) but it is often interpreted as such (see here for example.) There’s no “Buck” character in Snow White, as far as I can tell. But then, that’s just like Buck, injecting himself into the story and making himself a little demi-god. A nasty, capricious, judgmental and self-righteous one at that.
    I’m really in the mood for Buck-bashing today.

  • http://www.kitwhitfield.com Praline

    I wouldn’t say L&J were actually Calvinist; it’s just that, like Calvinists, their conception of God is primarily as a force of will rather than a force of mercy, love or forgiveness. Different faiths, same temperament.

  • Tonio

    their conception of God is primarily as a force of will rather than a force of mercy, love or forgiveness.
    How would you define “force of will”? Is that the same as the god being in charge of the universe?

  • mcc

    About Creative Baby Names.
    One of the girl names on that site is “Abcde”. That can’t be right…

    Hey, it says creative baby names, not good.

  • Caravelle

    Wow ! And do you really pronounce those three consonants ? I can do it, but I couldn’t do it all day long in casual conversation…

  • hapax

    MikhailBorg, all the best for your Mom.

  • hagsrus

    And when you’ve enjoyed the Purity Testicles check out An ‘atheist’ during the ‘rapture’
    http://tinyurl.com/5ac62l

  • hagsrus

    Skirts were shortened which was fine for summer, but the winters remained cold. Little girls wore socks. Older females wore stockings with suspender belts which left a distinct gap. No wonder we were plagued with chilblains and bronchitis, especially in Great Britain where central heating was unknown and being cold was probably Good For You.
    My darling mother made me a little sleeveless pullover which could be secretly worn under my shirt for outdoor games in the winter. We wore shorts, of course.
    Oh, how I loved central heating when I moved to the US in the 60s. Even if it’s only on a moderate setting there’s a wonderful background of non-shivering, non-cringing at the thought of going to the bathroom or even getting out of bed…

  • inge

    hasgrus: I grew up with red for Labour (and Communist), blue for Tory / Conservative.
    You and most of the known world. (It’s red and black here, but the principle remains.)
    Even the US didn’t exactly have “blue scares” or “blue menaces” in the last century.
    My impression is that the current political color coding in the US is very recent. Can anyone more knowlegable comment?

  • http://www.kitwhitfield.com Praline, using her real name because this issue needs open commitment

    How would you define “force of will”?
    God does what God wants. Right is right because God wants it, not because of other moral considerations such as compassion or mercy. Everything is how it is because God says so, and God doesn’t have to give any other explanation than ‘Because I say so’. God’s will is right because it’s God’s, not because God is love or anything sappy like that. Justice means God getting His way, however unfair it may seem to humans. We’re saved because God chooses, and if God chooses not to save us, we have no right to complain, because God’s will is inherently right. And so on. Basically, obedience to God is the only virtue, and God can do whatever He darn pleases.

  • Hawker Hurricane

    U.S. Red/Blue political map
    IIRC, it dates back to the 1972 election. Red and blue are nice, contrasting colors with which to show ‘who won what’. The colors switch parties whenever the current president isn’t running. So, while right now Bush and the Republicans are red, in 1972 Nixon was blue, in 1976 Carter was blue, in 1980 and 1984 Reagan was red, in 1988 Bush (the greater) was blue, in 1992 and 1996 Clinton was red…
    The current red/blue-ness comes from how close the 2000 election. And the part how it can be used to describe so many divides in U.S. culture: the same states that favor pro choice, seperation of church and state, gun control, and give more in taxes than they recieve from the Feds are all voted for Gore in 2000.

  • http://profile.typekey.com/RajExplorer/ Raj

    MikhailBorg: I just read the post about your Mom. I’ll keep both of you in my thoughts and prayers.

  • http://profile.typekey.com/RajExplorer/ Raj

    Praline: Everything is how it is because God says so, and God doesn’t have to give any other explanation than ‘Because I say so’.
    An example of this principle, from the lolcat translation of The Bible:
    Make gynormus bote calld ark ov gophr wud …. An noah sed wait a minit u cant getz wood frm gophrs, u has 2 use treez. An Ceiling Cat sed i can callz a tree a gophr if i wantz cuz i iz Ceiling Cat. so stfu…

  • KnightHawk

    On the last name issue, my wife has it kinda weird. When we got married, she was wishy-washy on wether she wanted to take my last name or not. One day she’d be Mrs. Hawk, other days, she’d be Mrs. Madien Name. Well, when it came down to it, she still hadn’t made up her mind, so she ended up not changing it, and she still hasn’t.
    Now, none of that would really matter, if it wasn’t for one thing: she still hasn’t decicied three years later, so half of her legal documents have my last name, the other half have her legal one. Add into the fact that she flat out refuses to deal with paperwork in any form, I never know which last name whatever company or government agency I’m calling on her behalf knows her as, and I come off on a regular basis as an identity thief.
    Love. Peace. Metallica.

  • cjmr

    KnightHawk,
    At least the agencies that you are calling on her behalf will actually talk to you about your/her accounts.
    Despite the fact that I handle 90% of the paperwork/bill paying in our household, they generally won’t talk to me about any account that has his name first on the documents. Two weeks ago someone called from one of our investments and wouldn’t talk to me. It turns out they were trying to find out if we’d received a proxy and not sent it in or if we hadn’t received a proxy at all. That’s not even a privileged question!!! And he had to come and ask me what the answer was, so HE could answer them–which is a big waste of everybody’s time.

  • http://danielharper.blogspot.com Daniel

    And when you’ve enjoyed the Purity Testicles check out An ‘atheist’ during the ‘rapture’
    http://tinyurl.com/5ac62l

    And as horrible as it is, note that the people in the newsroom are actually covering the story, trying to find out as much information as possible and using that information to move forward. Unlike some other protagonists we could name.

  • Cowboy Diva

    Tonio:

    I keep wondering if there is a single core disagreement between red and blue that drive all the other disagreements on social issues. My best guess is that the red positions on those issues are driven by economic and social insecurity.

    I think racism plays a part too, unfortunately.
    You may find this interesting, from the memory hole at web.archive.org
    with more details here including UN and EP animations as well.

  • Tonio

    Cowboy Diva, I cannot get the second link to work.

  • Cowboy Diva
  • aunursa

    Praline, using her real name because this issue needs open commitment
    So that’s what you look like.

  • http://www.nicolejleboeuf.com/ Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

    My husband and I decided that marriage meant joining each other’s family without leaving our original families. We also wanted to have the same last name. Hence the hyphenated monstrosity you see before you. Both of us wear it. And my name goes first because at 5’2″ I’m a little enough LeBoeuf without having it rubbed in every time I sign my name.
    The funniest consequence of that has been the way he’ll hand someone his credit card, they’ll run it, they’ll glance at it, and then they’ll hand it back to me. Because there’s a hyphenated name on it, and only women wear hyphens, duh! Sometimes it happens twice. After handing me the card and watching me hand the card to him, sometimes after even hearing me say “That’s not mine,” they’ll still hand me the receipt. Because look! Hyphen! Full of icky girl-cooties!
    Some credit card companies will try to tell us that they can’t handle hyphens (not the company whose card was handled in the previous anecdote, obviously). In that case, we tell them just to run both names together: LEBOEUFLITTLE. Because if they put a space in it, I will without exception get called Mrs. Little because the LeBoeuf part is so very obviously just a middle name.
    (And so obviously hard to pronounce, right, that they decided not even to try. And I’m suppose to appreciate that? *sigh*)
    Sometimes friends ask us, with great horror, what we will do if we have kids and the kids get married. Will the names just keep growing and growing? My answers to that have been 1) that’s up to any hypothetical kid, isn’t it? If s/he takes the spouses name, or spouse takes his/hers, or if they hyphenate further, or if they do the hispanic surname route so admirably explained before, that’s not our decision, is it? And 2) unless we change our minds down the road about this, there won’t be kids, so, moot point.
    The second most amusing thing is the junk mail we get for “Little J. LeBoeuf.” Whee.

  • lonespark

    Ketubahs can be very lovely heirlooms.
    My ex and her wife have one. They’re not Orthodox, obviously.

  • Comrade Rutherford

    “While I would not suggest that Orthodox Judaism is egalitarian, the traditional ketubah (marriage contract) specifies the husband’s obligations to his wife. Those insane rabbis also required that a husband who divorced his wife pay her a sum of money.”
    I find all the followers of the god of Abraham to be quite fascinating. The very ancient-ness of Judaism has lad to quite sensible societal rules in many cases, like the ketubah. Here at least the female is recognized as having an existence other than as subservient to every one else.

  • rp

    My mom graduated high school in something like ’68 and she’s still bitter about the fact that girls weren’t allowed to wear pants to school there until the year after she graduated.

    I was in grade 9 (end of junior high, age 14-15) in 1966/67. They insisted we wear skirts – as practice, because we would be required to wear skirts in high school. I didn’t think wearing clothes of any type was something I had to practice – I’d been pretty good at it since about age 2. Even as gullible as I was, this seemed like BS. And this in a place where temperatures of -40 were rare, but not unknown. The routine of wearing a skirt and pants to school to avoid freezing off this skin on my legs, taking the pants off and carrying them around all day (no lockers), then putting the pants on again at the end of the day to go home got real old real fast.
    The punch line: when we got to high school (1967, mini-skirts etc, remember) they didn’t much care what we wore as long as it covered all the necessary bits on the torso and got within waving distance of the knees. Skirts, shorts, trousers, it was all good.

  • Ken

    I think it goes farther than that. L&J seem to believe that a woman will instictively obey the men around her, so that if the Right men allow her to be alone with the Wrong men, she’ll fall into obeying the Wrong men, despite any belief she may have that she can take care of herself.
    In a way, the mind-whammy that Nicky Mountain has over other men is one that all men naturally have over all women, to L&J. And the protective power that the Magic Words give RTC men to resist Nicky is the same sort of protection that obedience to the Right men give a woman over the corrupting influence of the Wrong men.
    — Ursula L
    Isn’t this similar to Wahabi & Khomeinist Islam’s justification for their treatment of women? That women are naturally stupid and horny, so you have to whack their clits off, sew them into a bag, and keep them locked up for their own good, else they’ll Dishonor you by straying to any male who sees them unveiled?
    I know LaHaye once had associations with the Moonies (themselves advocates for totally arranged marriages), but are LH&J closet Wahabi or what?

  • Ken

    That’s the first time I’ve heard of that concept. Is it fairly common? I’ve heard of people with four names, but that was always with two middle names, like George Herbert Walker Bush. — Tonio
    I think that started with Catholic and Orthodox custom. There, the second middle name is a “Baptismal” name, normally one of a saint, taken at baptism to indicate your new life in Christ. Add to the First/Middle/Last name convention, and you get two middle names.
    “Purity Balls”: Did I mention that the photos I’ve seen of them give me a extreme squick. Middle-aged men escorting dolled up pre-teen girls… it looks like a pedophile’s dream convention. — Hawker Hurricane
    “Just like Jon-Benet Ramsey, except CHRISTIAN!”
    I know some children with two last names–their mom kept her last name on marriage, and the couple decided the children should have both last names, unhyphenated, as their last name. So no, I don’t think it’s terribly common. — cjmr
    Remember the Beautiful People (TM) of San Fran in South Park‘s “Smug Alert”? (The episode with the hybrid cars and Kyle’s family moving to San Fran.) All the Beautiful People had hyphenated last names through marriage (Poot! Sniff! AAAAAAHHHHH!); their children hyphenated the hyphenated names when they married, further accreting with each generation…
    POOT! SNIFF! AAAAAAAHHHH!!!!!!
    Kyle: So what do you do around here?
    SF kids: We drink and do drugs.
    Kyle: Uhhhhh… I’m not into that.
    SF kids: You will be.

  • Tonio

    I think that started with Catholic and Orthodox custom.
    I know several Catholics who go by their middle names, with their first name being a saint’s name, but all of them have three names.
    Two off-topic comments:
    1. Slate Magazine once predicted that American Catholicism would break off from the Vatican within 150 years.
    2. The Robert Redford image offered for Nicolae is not only ludicrous but also not sinister enough. Sam Neill was right for Damien in “The Final Conflict.” Nicolae should have piercing eyes, like a younger Lindsay Buckingham, because that would be part of his mojo.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    their attitude seems to be that men are utterly helpless in the face of female charms, and therefore women are obliged to protect the virtue of men by covering up. — McJulie
    Excellent point. One could argue that these men don’t trust their own self-control, or that they’re afraid God will kill them if they get a boner. — Tonio
    And if there’s any violation of your male virtue (like the abovementioned boner), you honor-kill the cunt BEFORE God can kill you. Better her in Hell than you. It’s all HER fault, not yours…
    Again, are LH&J (and their self-inserts) closet “conservative Arab men” or just cavemen with a club?

  • Tonio

    Again, are LH&J (and their self-inserts) closet “conservative Arab men” or just cavemen with a club?
    According to my Molly Ivins books, Texas law before 1972 specified that a man suspected of killing his wife or girlfriend could be charged with manslaughter and not murder.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    I picture men crushing mice in their hands just to prove their male bonafides… — Tonio
    Well, we DO know Dashing Airline-Pilot Hero Captain Rayford LaHaye Steele has a macho handshake that could crush a mouse. It was specifically mentioned in a scene otherwise very light on description.
    Makes you wonder what Author Self-Inserts do, deep in their dens…

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    Note that the overall theme for this scene has turned into slut-shaming an independently-acting woman. (“Bad Girl Hattie” as contrasted with “Good Girl Chloe/Ofrayford” in a previous scene.)
    This does fit with the “Born-Again Bored Housewife” target-audience demographic — vicarious slut-shaming with the accompanying “I Thank Thee, LORD, that I AM NOT As That SINNER!” reaction.

  • MercuryBlue

    Far’s I’m concerned there is no moral reason not to hop into bed with someone you’ve just met, provided all involved parties are adult and consenting. Doesn’t mean there’s not a bunch of reasons unrelated to morality.


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