When we last left off, everyone with a shred of empathy was feeling all the sads about Hubert’s situation. Time for more creepy behavior to mitigate that!
“You wound up the clock?” I asked
He grinned. “Yes, I did. I just made myself at home. I hope you don’t mind. This place is great.”
That’s literally the next thing said after “Kelly and I just need to work through some things”. Mood whiplash: he’s now grinning and complimenting her place. And seriously, he’s taking guestrights way too far – coming in unasked while she’s not home, messing with her stuff…
“Nothing here reminded me of you. I almost thought I was in somebody else’s house.”
Given you’ve never been here before and helped yourself to the key alone, yeah, that’s a reasonable feeling, I’d say.
“How the hell did you know how to get in the house? The cop said you got a key from under the planter.”
The answer is too long to quote; it seems a neighbor of hers, a “little Korean lady” (Mrs Cho from next door), showed him where the key was. Jesus Christ this is the least secure neighborhood ever. On the bright side, he did call her cell — she didn’t answer.
“You could have been an ax murderer or a rapist, for all she knew.”
“And yet, I am neither. Just a lowly fourth grade teacher at Eisenhower Elementary. Sorry to disappoint.”
Ok, can we talk for a minute? Lola’s been through a terrifying experience, one that comes with a good dose of violation as her personal sanctuary was entered by an unknown person for unknown reasons. And yet, instead of apologizing or trying to comfort her, Hubert belittles her viewpoint — that easy sort of victim blaming that says “Well nothing did happen, so you were foolish to be afraid.”
Sympathy greatly reduced. Is anyone in this book a decent human being? I begin to wonder if the author has sociopathic tendencies and honestly does not understand how to express empathy for another person’s plight.
It dawned on me then. “Were you thinking you were going to sleep here tonight?”
“Well yeah. That’s OK, isn’t it? you said I could drop by anytime.”
There it was again. My open invitation to visit anytime. Wasn’t there a statute of limitations on such social blatherings? Surely it couldn’t be endless, or you’d have people you knew in grade school dropping by for milk and Girl Scout cookies.
What an entitled prick. Lola attempts to politely hint that he might not be welcome by saying she’s “not set up for guests” — actually handling the situation well, I think, since she doesn’t want to chase him away entirely from her life, just get him to give her some space. She also spends a page or so taking it out on herself:
It’s an unfortunate quirk of my personality that I’ve always been easily overwhelmed [...] The truth of it is, I’m rattled by things other people take in stride. An unexpected visitor, even a good friend, feels like an intrusion.
I don’t know for sure, but I suspect this situation would rattle anyone.
Hubert has tried calling to see if Kelly’s over her “snit”, but she wouldn’t pick up. Suddenly he remembers he’s supposed to be the good character in this chronicle and changes his tune:
“I know how surprises throw you off course, Lola, and if I could have given you some notice, I would have. But I’ve got nowhere else to go at this hour, and you’ve got all this space. One night, that’s all I’m asking.”
See? You can act like a decent human being and ASK for a place to stay rather than barging in and assuming it’s yours. She relents, and he tries to make things up to her by offering to play her favorite board game, Scrabble (which he hates). Just when I think he’s back to being a likeable character:
“Oh!” [...] “And I totally forgot to tell you — we’re both invited to your neighbor’s house for dinner next week.”
“Well, it has to be next week because she’s making kimchi and it has to soak for several days.”
“You accepted a dinner invitation without asking me?”
“I wouldn’t normally, Lola, but we’re talking homemade kimchi here. I couldn’t imagine anyone turning that down.”
Oh, just watch me.
This book. What.