Projection Room Voices: Starting Media in 3...2...1...
ZeldaQueen: So! When we last left off, Vee decided that somehow, breaking in to see Patch’s private records would be beneficial to Nora. Any takers on whether or not Nora acts sensibly over all of this?
Ket: That’s a sucker’s bet. We also got Chinese food instead of the usual booze and ice cream. *Offers Zelda fried wontons*.
ZeldaQueen: Ah, thank you kindly but I conjured a pepperoni pizza out of my hat. Mmmm...cheesy. And in a good way!
So the chapter opens with Nora talking to the receptionist of the principal’s office, explaining about how she’s on a prescription medication that she takes daily and that her friend told her it has to be registered. She’s clearly loathe to do this and wonders if she’ll want to call Vee her friend when this is all over. Why the ever-loving fuck she’s going through with it, I don’t know. Girl, grow a frigging spine!
Ket: Never mind the fact that we pointed out last chapter that she can’t get into school records, and have been pointing out since the beginning of the book that she should have gone to the principal’s office, but to talk to the principal about Rag.
ZeldaQueen: This is going to be a reoccuring issue with Nora. She’ll wibble and whine to us about how she thinks something she’s doing is incredibly wrong (and it usually is), but instead of shutting the fuck up and just refusing to do it, she tells us how she simply must do whatever it is. She sins her ass off, but unlike Bella Swan, who at the very least sinned off her ass and got on with it, Nora just drags things out as long as she possibly can!
Ket: It pains me to say this, but I can call Twilight better of the two serieses now.
ZeldaQueen: Right. I mean, I honestly don’t see what the appeal is with Nora. She clearly is capable of realizing when her behavior is wrong so one can’t excuse her through ignorance, however she also refuses to take a stand against being told to do things like this, so she doesn’t come across as having a particularly admirable moral compass. And since, like I said, she whines and cries and does those things in the most sad-sack way possible, there isn’t even the argument that she does amoral things and at least comes across as badass or cunning! She’s just pathetic, which I hate to say because reading about her makes me uncomfortable in the worst way possible!
Ket: Just like Ana, though Ana is quite possibly developmentally delayed and suffering from a mental condition like DID or schizophrenia. Nora is just a spineless moron.
ZeldaQueen: I don’t know. Nora herself starts to show a lot of codependency issues and signs of insanity. That’s more prevalent in Crescendo though, so we’ll save that particular discussion for then. For now, Nora laments how she’s somehow being made to do this awful thing.
“As of late, I was exhibiting a lot of uncharacteristic behavior. First I'd followed Patch to a disreputable arcade late at night. Now I was on the verge of snooping in his student file. What was the matter with me? No-what was the matter with Patch, that when it came to him, I couldn't seem to stop exercising bad judgment?”
ZeldaQueen: Shall we pick this apart piece-by-piece, Ket? I’ll start. Nora? Honey? Nobody made you do any of those things. You’re making terrible decisions under your own volition, because you can’t just stand up and tell people to fuck off. Don’t go blaming Patch for this particular issue and don’t act like some mysterious force is making you do this. This is all on you.
OUR INTREPID HEROINE: 33
Ket: Besides that, your plan is still asinine. I’m having a little trouble finding information, but I don’t think that criminal information is kept on your school record, unless the violation occurred on school property. It more keeps records of your grades, attendance, contact info, and so on. But let’s say for the sake of argument that Patch did commit a crime on school grounds. So what? Whatever it was obviously wasn’t enough to get him expelled, at least not from this school, and if he was expelled from another, do you really think anyone else would be shocked that the quiet weirdo in the back of the class committed a crime?
ILL LOGIC: 50
ZeldaQueen: Also, “disreputable arcade”? We already pointed out how the bar and pool hall Nora went to does not sound like any usage of “arcade” we’ve ever heard.
Ket: It sounds like a dive bar. I realize I said earlier that I’ve never been in a dive with a pool table, but I’m an idiot. I’ve been in at least one dive with several pool tables and darts.
ZeldaQueen: Indeed. But more than that, “disreputable”?!? Really? This isn’t some laid-back place that the well-to-do look down their noses at! This place is supposed to be fucking dangerous!!! We hear stories later on about people being attacked there! What, is Nora suddenly some upper-class twit from the 1950s, going on about those silly ruffians these days, corrupting the youth?
SAY WHAT?: 38
Ket: More like she’s written by an upper-class twit from the 1970s.
ZeldaQueen: We’ll see more evidence of that shortly. On one final note, Nora just openly admitted that being around Patch made her display horrible judgement. Doesn’t that just make him sound soooooo romantic? I mean, when I’m looking for a boyfriend, I know I’m interested in someone whose presence causes me to make potentially life-threatening decisions!
Ket: I display enough horrible judgement on my own without someone pushing me towards it, thank you very much.
ZeldaQueen: Lord knows I don’t always make the right decisions, but I feel comfortable in the knowledge that I can figure out how to not do things that could lead to my death/arrest.
The secretary tells Nora that all drugs must be registered. Considering that Nora pops those things like Skittles, I have to wonder why nobody had her do this earlier. I...guess it could be possible that the teachers just didn’t notice, but she’s apparently been taking them for some time.
Ket: Teachers don’t even like it when you carry painkillers, really. I gave someone an herbal supplement once and they called the cops.
ZeldaQueen: I know my school was very strict about even stuff like headache medicine. I don’t know how hard they came down on anyone who carried it, but it made trying to get through the day with a cold to be a real pain (hur). Oh, and the secretary tells her this information “solemnly”. I...guess this is really grave stuff, then?
SAY WHAT?: 39
The secretary proceeds to direct Nora to the nurse’s office, which is, “third door on the left, across from student records”. I have to ask, how big is this fucking office? And considering how often students get sick or fake it, does it not get inconvenient for the principal to have kids marching in and out to get to the nurse’s office?
The secretary tells Nora to go on back and just wait for the nurse if she isn’t in. Nora heads on down and starts talking about how she’s looking over her shoulder and feels so alone and damn it, how long is this hallway even? I refuse to believe she walks that far from the front office!
Ket: Also, someone who knows about school admin correct me if I’m wrong, but wouldn’t it make more sense for her to leave the med and information with the secretary, rather than keeping Nora out of class?
ZeldaQueen: I can’t say for certain, but it would make more sense to me. You pointed out in the last chapter how Vee’s plan could work just as well if Nora faked being sick. What she’s doing here would work fine with that plan. It would be totally believable if Nora came in faking, say, a stomachache and the secretary waved her to go lie down in the nurse’s office until the nurse could come back and see what’s up. Having the issue be centered around an administrative issue would, like you said, suggest that the problem is one the secretary herself could handle.
Of course the nurse is conveniently not around, so Nora waits in the hallway and watches the Student Records room. She wonders if Patch would have any records if he really did not go to school last year, but figures he should at least have his home address, immunization, and last semester’s grades recorded.
Ket: And having those would do what for her, unless she plans to wait in his bushes?
ZeldaQueen: Considering how she acts in the second book, that very well could have been her plan! Also, while I’m not one hundred percent positive, I’m fairly certain that a student’s grades are not kept with their immunization records and contact information. Actually, I’m not even sure why his grades would be in a filing cabinet at all. If we figure that this book is set in the year it’s published, this is 2009. By this point, I think most schools opted to move towards storing records on computers, since it’s easier, more efficient, takes less space, and is easier to protect the information.
Ket: I imagine there are paper records, just in case of a server crash, but it’d make more sense if those were kept at the district administrative building, rather than on the school property.
ZeldaQueen: That’s also not the case, since when Nora does get in, she notes that, “The tabs on the files were labeled by hand, and I wondered if Coldwater High was the last school in the country not computerized”. I have no idea why they haven’t computerized at all, considering the school doesn’t seem particularly underfunded, lacking in resources, or with a small student body, but whatever.
Ket: Aha, I found something useful. This is what’s kept in your record:
Date and place of birth, parent(s) and/or guardian addresses, and where parents can be contacted in emergencies;
Grades, test scores, courses taken, academic specializations and activities, and official letters regarding a student's status in school;
Special education records;
Medical and health records that the school creates or collects and maintains;
Documentation of attendance, schools attended, courses taken, awards conferred, and degrees earned;
Personal information such as a student's identification code, social security number,picture, or other information that would make it easy to identify or locate a student.
Ket: Also as of March, 1997:
FERPA applies to public schools and state or local education agencies that receive Federal education funds, and it protects both paper and computerized records. In addition to the Federal laws that restrict disclosure of information from student records, most states also have privacy protection laws that reinforce FERPA. State laws can supplement FERPA, but compliance with FERPA is necessary if schools are to continue to be eligible to receive Federal education funds.
Yes, they can keep paper records, but to continue to receive school fundings, the records, at least, must be kept on a computer.
ZeldaQueen: Most interesting! In that case…
DID NOT DO THE RESEARCH: 14
Nora starts pelting us with dead herrings, assuring us that the Student Records room will most definitely be locked and thus whatever diversion Vee plans on making to clear the office, it doesn’t matter because they’re most definitely not getting in. Not at all. Nope. Nada. We’ve read Twilight (or the sporkings, at least), so we know what’s going to happen.
As she waits, Nora keeps trying to convince herself that she’s right in doing this. Why?
Ket: Because plot.
ZeldaQueen: Well, yeah. But in-universe, because of this.
“On the other hand, what if Vee was right and he was stalking me? As his bio partner, regular contact with him could place me in danger. I had a responsibility to protect myself ... didn't I?
If the door was unlocked and the files were alphabetized, I would have no trouble locating Patch's quickly. Add another few seconds to skim his file for red flags, and I could probably be in and out of the room in under a minute.”
Ket: How is this protecting yourself? You’re looking for what, blackmail material? Has anything about this boy given you the idea that his response to blackmail would be to back off and not oh, say, murder you?
ZeldaQueen: No, Ket. See, “red flags”? She apparently thinks that maybe Patch’s file holds some information about, say, a criminal past or violent behavior that might let her know if he may be a threat to her. Because it’s not like his behavior here and now already gives her plenty of reason to think that. And it’s also not like Patch could be very dangerous but be good enough at hiding it that he hasn’t been arrested or caught yet.
ILL LOGIC: 52
Ket: And if he has, what the fuck does she think she can do about it? He’s already clearly stalking her and nothing is making him stop!
ZeldaQueen: The only possible thing I can think is if she intended to use it to back her argument that she shouldn’t be made to sit next to him. There’s two issues with that argument, though.
The first is that Nora has shown no interest in pursuing the idea of having her seat changed through using the argument that Patch is a danger to her and the authorities at the school should fucking well do something about it. She hasn’t tried to contact the principal or the superintendent or otherwise file complaints or do anything like that. And it’s not because she feels discouraged because of Coach’s reaction. She just hasn’t thought of it at all.
The second is that even if Nora does try that, how the hell is she going to justify having that information? If she went to a teacher and said, “I want to be moved away from this guy because he scares me and I know for a fact he has a history of stalking/harassment/criminal activity”, the first question is going to be, “How do you know that?” And if they find out she got that information by breaking into his student record, guaranteed that she’ll be in trouble. Of course, there’s still the chance they’d investigate Patch… but given how he’s been acting, how hard would it be for him to pretend that he has no knowledge of her allegations of harassment and that she’s just some crazy stalker chick?
ILL LOGIC: 53
Ket: There’s also a third problem: This is the worst possible way to go about solving her issue with Fuckrag. She won’t just be in trouble if she gets caught or even admits to breaking into his school records--she’s committing a felony. At the very least, she’ll be expelled. And if she’s expelled, Patch will be able to just stalk her at her house forever.
ZeldaQueen: *grimly* And we’re going to see about how safe she is when multiple parties (natch) stalk her at her house over the course of the series.
ILL LOGIC: 54
Nora notes that the front office is “unusually quiet” - because offices are notoriously loud - and then Vee shows up. Oh, that’s just wonderful. She also is walking in a really weird way.
“She edged down the wall toward me, walking in a crouch, dragging her hands along the wall, stealing surreptitious glances over her shoulder. It was the kind of walk spies adopted in old movies.”
Ket: And it was done to show the audience that the character was being sneaky. In reality, nothing could look more unnatural and suspicious.
ZeldaQueen: Uh, Ket? Does that sound like any spy-walk you’ve ever seen in an old movie? Because that doesn’t make me think “spy” that makes me think “feral wolf-child”.
Ket: I know what she’s trying to convey, but her wording is, as usual, bananas.
SAY WHAT?: 40
ZeldaQueen: Nora asks what happened to the secretary, to which Vee says, “She had to leave the office for a minute”. Nora responds to this with, “Had to? You didn't incapacitate her, did you?” and Vee tells her, “Not this time”.
Ket: Do you have a habit of knocking out secretaries, Vee?
ZeldaQueen: I’m legitimately baffled by that. This is all delivered seriously, so it can’t be just them trying to lighten the mood. But Vee’s only ever described as a somewhat-overweight average teenager who, as we’ll see, is also remarkably lazy. Are we supposed to believe that she not only was arsed to knock someone out before and potentially knocked out the secretary in the principal’s office, but somehow managed to do so quickly enough that there was no struggle or sound?!? What the hell? Does Vee secretly keep a tranquilizer dart in her watch or something?
Ket: It’s awful comedy, and her writing is so bad that it just comes off as a really stupid question and response.
LAUGH, GODDAMMIT: 23
But no, Vee did not knock out the secretary. Instead, she distracted her by calling in a bomb threat.
Ket: Are you fucking for real? If she called in a bomb threat, the school would be evacuated. Nora would have her ass ordered out of the office and the school would probably be shut down for the day. Pulling the fire alarm would have been smarter. A little.
ZeldaQueen: Even the fire alarm would have fucked things up for their plans. There was a serial fire alarm-puller at my high school (no, really) and every single time it happened? The school had to evacuate. It didn’t matter the circumstances, the teachers were required to treat it as a potentially serious case. And since the fire alarms were connected to the fire department, that meant they showed up as well.
Ket: The only way pulling the fire alarm would work is if they pulled it, hid, and checked the record quickly before they ran outside with everyone else.
ZeldaQueen: Right. Now, like you said, calling in a bomb threat would have massive consequences at a high school, especially in 2009. This is after Columbine and the Virginia Tech shootings! High schools had been installing metal detectors to make sure weapons weren’t getting snuck in. My high school delayed classes simply because someone found bathroom graffiti that suggested that an attack might have happened. There were two separate incidents when my high school thought there was a crazy person set to attack (one of which happened before I was there, the other during my sophomore year). Both times, the teachers went into total lockdown! My one history teacher told us he was mentally trying to figure out if his first-floor class had windows close enough to the ground that everyone could escape, if the alleged gunman tried to get in. During the second incident, I nearly got locked out of the school entirely because I was outside through the theater’s backstage exit during a runthrough for our musical. The school was NOT taking chances with the potential gunman getting inside.
All of those cases I mentioned turned out to be nothing. But nobody had any way of knowing that. Schools tend to take this sort of thing seriously because if they don’t? Well, that very well could be the time when something is going to happen.
Ket: I’m almost a decade older than Zelda, and I can tell you when I was in fifth grade, which was in the early 90’s, mind you, we had reports of a gunman on property. Even back then, it was taken very seriously. We were locked in our classrooms (under the pretense that there was a “special visitor” there, so as not to scare the kids, but I heard the truth later). I was in a second-floor classroom, so jumping out wasn’t an option, but it was definitely treated as a serious threat and the rooms weren’t unlocked until I presume the police had checked the premises.
ZeldaQueen: Also. I just found this article on the bomb threat policy of the Maine School of Science and Mathematics (not quite a high school, but close). Here are a few choice parts from it.
“Whether real and carried out or intended as a prank or for some other purpose, a bomb threat represents a potential danger to the safety and welfare of students, campers, and staff and to the integrity of School property.”
“Any bomb threat will be regarded as an extremely serious matter and treated accordingly. ”
“All bomb threats shall be reported immediately to the local law enforcement authority, as provided in the bomb threat procedures.”
“Making a bomb threat is a crime under Maine law. Any student suspected of making a bomb threat shall be reported to law enforcement authorities for investigation and possible prosecution. Apart from any penalty imposed by law, and without regard to the existence or status of criminal charges, a student who makes a bomb threat shall be subject to disciplinary action by the School.
The administration may suspend and/or recommend for expulsion any student who makes a bomb threat. The making of a bomb threat will be considered deliberately disobedient and deliberately disorderly within the meaning of 20-A M.R.S.A. §1001(9) and will be grounds for expulsion if found necessary for the peace and usefulness of the School. ”
“A student who knowingly encourages, causes, aids, abets, or assists another student in making or communicating a bomb threat shall be subject to the disciplinary consequences described in Section F [the part quoted above] of this policy.”
“MSSM reserves the right to bring suit against any individual responsible for a violation of this policy and to seek restitution and other damages as permitted by law.”
ZeldaQueen: So there you have it. This is not a silly prank. If Vee were caught, she would face not only legal repercussions, potential lawsuits, and disciplinary action from the school, but also puts Nora at risk for the same, since she could easily be seen as an accomplice.
Ket: Even if they don’t get caught, this is still pretty much the dumbest thing Vee could have done, outside of actually knocking out the secretary.
ZeldaQueen: Of course. This is, however, a series that is devoid of reason. This is shown when the only reaction Nora has to all of this is a shocked, “Vee!” Yeah, this is supposed to be funny.
LAUGH, GODDAMMIT: 24
Ket: *Sighs* just get this over with, Dumb and Dumbass.
ZeldaQueen: Vee says that they should get finished and split before the cops show up. Oh, really? The two stare at the door and then Vee starts trying to open it up by punching it. Nora then just tries to open the door normally and finds that it’s unlocked.
LAUGH, GODDAMMIT: 25
Yeah, that important room that’s full of all the personal records of the students? It’s left totally unlocked and unguarded while students are allowed to wander that hallway unaccompanied. My head hurts.
Ket: Also, no one heard her punching the door?!
ZeldaQueen: The office is empty, remember? Clearly no one is going to check in on the girl who was sent back there minutes before. *head desk*
Vee tells Nora to go in while she does “surveillance”, and no, I don’t know what that means. She also tells Nora to meet her at this one particular Mexican restaurant (no, Vee doesn’t actually give the name) in one hour.
Nora goes in and starts pawing through the records until she finds Patch’s. She finally extracts it and proceeds to give us an example of Sin Thine Ass Off that frankly stunned me.
“I held it in my hands a moment, trying to convince myself there was nothing too wrong with what I was about to do. So what if there was private information inside?
As Patch's biology partner, I had a right to know these things.”
ILL LOGIC: 55
OUR INTREPID HEROINE: 34
Ket: You know, I’ll bet Dishrag also thinks he has the right to know those things about you, because you’re his...mate or his destined partner, or whatever bullshit reason the story’s going to give us for this pairing.
ZeldaQueen: So it’s hypocrisy to the nth degree. Lovely.
Nora hears voices heading towards the room and quickly opens the file. We aren’t told what’s in there though, only seeing it makes Nora “flinch” and tell us that it makes no sense at all. Well gee, I wonder what the big secret about the boy with apparently no past is?
The voices outside continue to get closer as Nora quickly shoves the file back in the filing cabinet and closes everything up. Apparently it’s the principal right outside the Student Records door, and Nora thinks that he’s talking to “every major player on the school's faculty”. I mean, it’s not like the teachers would evacuate with the students, or that he’d be talking with the police or anything!
Ket: No one but the police and/or bomb squad should be in the building right now! Let alone “every major player in the faculty”!
ZeldaQueen: Fitzpatrick doesn’t seem to realize how bomb scares work, or at least not in most high schools in the time her book is set.
Ket: Even if you don’t know how they work in schools specifically, use some fucking logic! “We are inside of a structure that may or may not explode, because we’ve been told it may. Hm. Standing around talking seems like a smart idea!”
ZeldaQueen: I think this is a case of Suethor Logic. Fitzpatrick knows the bomb threat is a fake, so she probably figured that the teachers would somehow know it quickly and go back inside while the kids would be sent home. Or something. Hell if I know.
ILL LOGIC: 56
For some reason only God knows, the principal decides that he must check the Student Records room. He steps in to find Nora in there, and I swear to God, we get this.
“He opened the door. ‘This area is off-limits to students.’”
Ket: ...you know, sir, the fact that you and everyone might die if you don’t leave is a little more important for you to say! Hell, even “what are you doing in here?!” would make more sense!
ZeldaQueen: That writing is just terrible. We don’t even get a description of any sort of reaction! I would have settled for something simple, like, “He blinked at the sight of me”! I mean, he should be thinking the entire student body was evacuated, and now he found that not only is one still there, but she broke into a room that students have no reason to be in!
Oh, and speaking of which, a bomb threat is called and he catches a student in an off-limits room. Please tell me I’m not the only one who thinks that scene is incredibly suspicious.
Ket: You’re not, but I’m sure he doesn’t, considering this is a universe devoid of logic and reasoning.
ZeldaQueen: Oh ho ho ho, you got that right? Because how does Nora explain her presence in this room?
SHE PRETENDS SHE GOT LOST ON HER WAY TO THE NURSE’S OFFICE, HAVING MISCOUNTED THE DOORS.
Ket: *Rubs forehead* okay. Let’s pretend for a second that the non-suspicious response to that issue, if it came up, would be to immediately leave the room. Number a, she is clearly there after the bomb threat got called in. Who would have sent her to the office? Number 2, how does that explain Vee’s presence?!
ZeldaQueen: Vee let when Nora entered the room, although given that it’s said as a passing mention, you’re forgiven for not remembering it. As for your first point though, there’s no answer. And while it’s heavily implied that the principal knows she’s lying, he honestly and truly decides to let her go instead of calling bullshit, since he has to choose between the options of “stick around and deal with me, or deal with a bomb threat”.
Ket: Uh, sir, I propose a third option: tell her to get her ass outside, and ask the secretary later if anyone came into the office before the bomb threat!
ZeldaQueen: Or hell, get her name and call her back for a talk after the bomb threat’s over! She’s a student! It’s not like she can’t come back! Not to mention, remember how we agreed this was so freaking suspicious? The principal just caught her in an off-limits room shortly after a bomb threat and her excuse is clearly a pile of crap! There should be no reason for him not to suspect she may be involved with the threat and detail her for questioning!
Ket: If the cops are here, he should just deliver her right to them. If not, he should hold her in custody himself until they do arrive.
ZeldaQueen: Of course, this being Hush, Hush, he instead chooses to just let her leave.
ILL LOGIC: 57
She runs off on her merry way, and apparently the student body in general was just dismissed to go where they pleased. I realize policies on early dismissals vary from school to school, but I’d like to point out that at my high school at least, the teachers were legally responsible for their students until the scheduled end of the day. So on days when we had to be sent home unexpectedly early (like the day we lost electricity), our homeroom teachers had to call every students’ home number and confirm that they had someone at home to get them. Not to mention, high schools also vary in their policies on cancellations. I’m sure Vee’s classmates would be thrilled to know she’s the reason they potentially have to come in to school on a vacation day to make up lost class time.
Ket: As a matter of fact, I found an article about a bomb threat that was made at a Maine high school. It’s very short, so I’ll post it in full:
“GRAY, Maine — A bomb threat prompted southern Maine school officials to shut down Gray-New Gloucester High School on Monday afternoon.
The threat was made through a handwritten note discovered by school staff in a girls bathroom shortly before 2 p.m., according to Capt. Don Goulet of the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office.
The school was evacuated, Goulet said. He said bomb detection dogs from the Maine State Police and the Portland Police Department were called in as a precaution and checked the school.
Goulet said that deputies and detectives will continue to investigate leads and those responsible will be prosecuted. Those involved will face felony charges and costs associated with the evacuation and investigation.”
Ket: Granted, the article is from this year, but considering how brief this is, I refuse to believe that what they did isn’t standard procedure.
ZeldaQueen: So, lack of research as usual?
Ket: Of course
DID NOT DO THE RESEARCH: 15
ZeldaQueen: So we cut to Nora and Vee meeting at the Mexican restaurant, The Borderline. She pointedly tells us how she’s never eaten here before, but the name somehow sounds familiar.
Ket: Why the hell would you meet somewhere that you’ve never been before when Nora doesn’t have a smartphone?!
ZeldaQueen: For whatever reason (probably Vee wanting to sound mysterious) she only identified the restaurant by its street location. Other than that, the only reason I can think of as to why she chose it was plot convenience. Here’s a hint - we, the readers, have indeed heard this place’s name before. It was in passing, so it’s understandable we’d have forgotten it. In fact, it was so in passing that the idea of Nora finding it familiar at all is kind of silly.
Ket: I sure as hell don’t remember it being mentioned. When did it come up?
ZeldaQueen: The first chapter. Just...remember who she mostly talked to in that one. It’ll come to you.
Nora and Vee meet up and a waiter immediately takes their orders. We then get far too much of Vee complaining about how she’s starving and hates being on a diet. This girl is like an unfunny female version of John Pinnett. We then get a totally out-of-place section in which Nora tells us that, “Vee is voluptuous, Scandinavian fair, and in an unorthodox way, incredibly sexy. There have been days when our friendship was the only thing standing in the way of my jealousy”. *raises eyebrows* Huh.
Ket: Nora, please. Just date Vee and end our misery with Rag.
ZeldaQueen: It says something that as obnoxious as Vee is, she still treats Nora better than most of the prospective love interests in this series. Oh, and Nora takes the time to bemoan how she is so homely in a Sue-ish way, with terrible hair but incredibly long legs and a good metabolism (so, wankage over being skinny).
So yeah, more unfunny about Vee’s diet…
LAUGH, GODDDAMMIT: 26
And then Vee excuses herself to the restroom to deal with her time of the month. Lovely. This leaves Nora alone to stare at a busboy wiping down a table and wonder what it is about this busboy that’s so danged familiar. *bored* Anybody care to wonder who the busboy is?
Ket: *Check imaginary watch* countdown to dull surprise. Three, two, one…
ZeldaQueen: It’s Patch. Because, as Nora recalls, he told her way back in their “sleuthing” exercise that he works at the Borderline as a busboy.
Ket: *Raises eyebrows* It’s pretty illegal for a high school student to be working during school hours while they’re enrolled, unless they can prove they have no classes during that time. I doubt that Patch is taking advanced classes and has enough credits for the entire year. Especially if he’s so busy stalking Nora.
ZeldaQueen: Patch has no intention of graduating. He’s not in school like the Cullens, to fit in or whatever. It’s purely so he can stalk Nora.
Ket: Yeah, I get that, but if he misses too many days, they’re just going to kick him out. He’s over sixteen, the legal age he can drop out at and the legal age that they stop enforcing his attendance.
ZeldaQueen: Well, outside of the main characters and anyone they directly interact with, no one else in this town seems to exist. That explains why nobody kicked Patch out. Clearly there are no classes beyond Biology. Doesn’t that make sense?
Ket: *Flatly* no.
ZeldaQueen: Well, don’t try to think about how the fuck this works, or you’ll go mad. There’s really not even a reason for Patch to have this job, since it in no way helps his stalking of Nora and we later see that he’s fine making money through less-than-legal means.
Ket: Zelda, he has this job for this scene.
ZeldaQueen: *rubs temples* Given the last chapter of this book, you’re right.
Well, back to the book (sadly). Patch notices Nora and promptly moseys on over, “apparently enjoying my discomfort”.
JERKASS EXTRAORDINAIRE: 35
What a dreamboat.
He makes a smartass comment about how she’s not content only seeing him five days a week in class. Nora tells him this was just coincidence.
Ket: Nora, you can at least get him fired from his job for harassing you!
ZeldaQueen: Please. If the second book is any indicator, she has no clue what levels of abuse people can put up with in server/consumer relationships. Of course, she still should figure that she at least has the grounds to complain, since Patch proceeds to sit down across from her. You know, after she repeatedly has made it clear she doesn’t want to be around him! Oh, and he then reaches across the table and starts playing with her glass of water.
FROM ASSHOLE TO NIGHTMARE: 32
Ket: *Sighs* I wish she would at least tell him to go the fuck away.
ZeldaQueen: Now now, that would be impolite and the last thing you want to do is be rude to your stalker. I mean, what would people think? You know, besides the fact that you have a spine.
Ket: Or a brain.
ZeldaQueen: Both, really.
Nora takes back her glass of water and immediately starts acting all romcom awkward. She first tells him that the seat is taken and then points out that he can get in trouble for talking with the customers. Considering he’s on the clock, yeah, he definitely could. In fact, if you shouted, “STOP BOTHERING ME!” that would work out great for you. That’s why you aren’t going to do it, right?
Ket: Let me guess: she starts waxing about how good-looking he is.
ZeldaQueen: Not quite. Instead, Patch just flat-out ignores her question and asks her if she’s doing anything on Sunday.
JERKASS EXTRAORDINAIRE: 36
The proper response in this situation would be, “Yeah, staying away from you!” Nora, on the other hand, just asks if he’s trying to ask her out. No, Nora. Patch is clearly the sort of guy who just is interested in how things are going in your life.
Ket: Nora, he has gone on repeatedly about how you are obviously compatible and are his ideal mate. What the fuck do you think?!
ZeldaQueen: Well, in all fairness I guess it’s a bit too much for her tiny brain to comprehend. I mean, Patch himself keeps refusing to give straight answers, in favor of idiocy like, “You're getting cocky. I like that, Angel”.
Ket: *Punches herself in the forehead*
ZeldaQueen: Yeah, that’s his new nickname for her. Nora makes it clear she doesn’t like it and doesn’t want it to be used for her.
Ket: I don’t either! It’s so on the nose!
ZeldaQueen: Well, his response? “It stays.”
JERKASS EXTRAORDINAIRE: 37
I, meanwhile, get the sense that besides having it be ~~symbolik~~, Fitzpatrick also imagined that it’d be like the stereotypical nickname a biker would give his girlfriend.
TOO COOL FOR SCHOOL: 10
Anywho, Nora makes it quite clear that she won’t go out on a date with Patch. This would be admirable if we who have more than five brain cells aren't able to predict that she will, in fact, be strongarmed into dates with Patch later. She also gets angry at herself for feeling, “a hot thrill upon speculating what a night alone with Patch might entail”. I think murder might be what it’d entail, but that’s just me.
Ket: Murder at the very least, if she’s lucky.
ZeldaQueen: Yeah, you’re right. Given how Patch has been acting, I have the nasty feeling an evening alone with him would actually entail an operating table with straps, a video recorder, and a lot of nasty miscellaneous items. *shudders*
Nora, ever the witless one, is more fussed about how Patch probably didn’t really meant to ask her out, because golly, it’s not like a guy like him would want her, right? After all, he’s probably just baiting her! Why do I get the impression that Nora’s one of those people who sends money to Nigerian princes that e-mail her?
Ket: He’s stalking you, and whether or not he really asked you out is the biggest of your worries?!
ZeldaQueen: Priorities, Ket. Don’t you know that being asked out by an attractive boy is the most pressing concern a girl can ever have? Patch reaches out and brushes his thumb across Nora’s lips, causing her to move back from him. Smart move. After everything he’s done, touching shoots well into “ABSOLUTELY NOT” territory. As it turns out, he’s wiping off her lip gloss. Why? Well, he tells her that it’s because “You'd look better without it”. You know, that routine’s got to be so old, it has holes in it. Not to mention, it’s kind of insulting. Let her wear lip gloss, if she wants! It’s one thing to tell someone they don’t need that sort of thing if they’re clearly feeling that wearing it’s the only way they have self-worth, but if she just likes wearing it, leave it alone!
Ket: Maybe she just has dry lips. And really, it’s not like lip gloss changes your appearance that much.
ZeldaQueen: No kidding. Isn’t it usually clear with a slight sheen? I’ve mostly seen lip glosses being advertised according to flavor.
Ket: It can be colored, but still. It’s not like she’s going to look that much different with non-shiny lips.
ZeldaQueen: Well, apparently that lip-rubbing was so danged erotic that Nora pulls a Bella Swan and forgets what they were talking about in favor of thinking about hiding how turned on she was by him touching her. She finally picks up on the whole him asking her out conversation thread, saying she’s not allowed out on weekday nights. That’s how she got out to interview him in a bar. *nods sagely*
Ket: Allowed out by whom? She’s alone by herself.
ZeldaQueen: I...guess her mom would think poorly of her? Hell if I know. Nora basically does whatever she wants when it’s plot convenient, a la Bella. I suppose this could be an excuse she cooked up to keep Patch from bugging her, but given how little of her actual motivations we get when she says or does shit, I can’t say.
Ket: Do you honestly care?
ZeldaQueen: No, or at least I shouldn’t. It doesn’t matter, since we know she’ll be going out with him later. Patch tells Nora that it’s a shame she can’t go out, since there’s a party at the “coast”.
Ket: That’s very specific. Where at the coast? You kind of are bordered by an ocean.
ZeldaQueen: Why do I get the feeling he’d blindfold her before taking her there and not tell her the name of the place, just so she couldn’t find her way home if she tried to escape?
Ket: Or take her there to drown her.
ZeldaQueen: “Party at the coast! Wear your finest concrete dancing shoes!”
So because Patch sounded all sincere in his talk about this party, Nora thinks that she doesn’t understand him at all. What’s to understand, hon? He’s probably lying! People can be very good at it! Patch already comes across as a textbook sociopath, and they can lie well enough to pass themselves off in society! She gets all hot and bothered, takes a drink of ice water, and has one of her top ten dumbest thoughts of this book.
“Time alone with Patch would be intriguing, and dangerous. I wasn't sure how exactly, but I was trusting my instincts on this one”
OUR INTREPID HEROINE = 35
Ket: *Rubs face* you’re not sure why being alone with him might be dangerous? The freak that’s been stalking you for fuck knows how long?!
ZeldaQueen: *flatly* Isn’t she just an excellent detective, Ket? V.I. Warshawski would be proud.
Nora makes a big show of not being interested, complete with saying that she knows anything that Patch enjoys, she wouldn’t. She is pleased with herself, thinking about how she resolved that all neatly… and then, “without any warning whatsoever” (not sure why that matters), asks why he wanted to ask her out.
Ket: Nora, I’m gonna tell you the same thing I told Ana: because he wants your tender buttmeat.
ZeldaQueen: Or her liver with some fava beans and a nice glass of Chianti. I realize that Nora may be sheltered, but she’s apparently supposed to be very intelligent! Any aspiring detective worth her salt ought to at least have some understanding about sinister motivations!
Ket: I’m just going to quote the movie: “Hannibal” here:
Mason Verger: So what do ya think, Cordell? Does Lecter want to fuck her or kill her or eat her alive?
Cordell Doemling: Probably all three, though I wouldn't want to predict in what order.
ZeldaQueen: Sounds disturbingly like the Reavers, from Firefly. “If they catch us, they’ll rape us, kill us, and sew our skins into their coats. And if we’re very lucky, they’ll do it in that order.”
Nora does not pick up on any of this, though. Nora decides, instead, that Patch is the most fascinating person she’s ever met and that she is “curious enough about Patch to go almost anywhere with him”. At this point, all Patch needs is a white van and a bag of candy. It’s not helped by Patch’s next comment, which you’ll need a minute to digest. His reason for wanting to go out with Nora?
“I want to get you alone”
ZeldaQueen: I shall repeat that so that everyone in the back can see it.
“I want to get you alone”
FROM ASSHOLE TO NIGHTMARE = 33
Ket: If he were a normal teenager, I’d assume for humping. But being that it’s Rag talking, it just sounds like he doesn’t want witnesses.
ZeldaQueen: Yeeeeeeeah. Fun fact - the first time I heard the song “Alone”, as sung on Glee (I know, I know, I was on Pandora when it came on), my brain chose to interpret the duet as the female singer knowing a dark secret and the male singer planning to kill her over it. Obviously I had detective noir on the brain, but to me, “I want to get you alone” sounds very sinister.
Ket: I assume it was the “Alone” as originally sung by Heart?
ZeldaQueen: That’s the one! I have that version on my iPod.
Ket: I like Heart. I’m a big fan of 80s pop. And hey, if you have noir on the brain, write it. I’m a big fan of the noir genre. The video probably helps that, considering Ann Wilson has a black veil over her eyes.
ZeldaQueen: I’ll have to see if I can ever develop it into a full-on plot.
Anywho, back to Patch and Nora (much as it pains us). They snipe a bit, Patch has the balls to accuse Nora of being rude…
JERKASS EXTRAORDINAIRE = 38
...she admits to herself she’s being immature, Patch tricks her into admitting she’s scared of him…
FROM ASSHOLE TO NIGHTMARE = 35
...and then smugly starts asking her things like “Are you scared of all guys ... or just me?” and “I make you uneasy?”
JERKASS EXTRAORDINAIRE = 39
FROM ASSHOLE TO NIGHTMARE = 36
Ket: Yes, Assrag, you do!
ZeldaQueen: He should know it, by this point. He keeps saying how Nora’s an open book. And fuck him for suggesting she’s just paranoid around men in general. HE’S the only one stalking her (at least, that she knows of…)
Ket: We’ve barely seen her interact with other males for more than a minute or two at a time. We don’t even know if she’s uncomfortable around men.
ZeldaQueen: The most we’ve heard is that she never was interested in dating. And, according to Vee, she’s “picky”.
Ket: Be. Picky. When it comes to dating. It’s not like you’re picking out a sweater and you can return it to the store.
ZeldaQueen: Agreed. Nora remembers that conversation, funnily enough, and alludes to it to Patch. Patch asks about it, then insists that everything about her he finds fascinating. Yeah, I’ll bet.
Ket: Now I’m picturing Nora scratching her ass and picking her nose.
ZeldaQueen: Funny how those details don’t crop up in these sorts of moments, eh?
Ket: Fun fact about me: when the owner of one of the hotels I worked installed security cameras, I found out he had them streamed to his phone so he could watch all the time. So I used to deliberately pick my wedgies in front of them.
ZeldaQueen: Good on you. XD
Nora reminds Patch that he should probably actually get back to work. Pfft, like he actually holds his job. It’s not even a spoiler that he ditches it after this book. Patch says that he likes that there’s no guy at school who matches her expectations. Dude, she doesn’t have expectations! She just doesn’t want to date, or at least isn’t actively seeking out a boyfriend!
Ket: Or if she does have any expectations, she hasn’t shared them with us.
ZeldaQueen: Nora mocks the idea that he knows all about her expectations and Patch gives what I guess is meant to be an assessment of her personality but is almost entirely Informed Attributes
“You're not cagey, Nora. Not shy, either. You just need a very good reason to go out of your way to get to know someone [...] You think you've got everyone all figured out.”
HAND HOLDING = 24
Ket: Uh. How do you get that? Also, not really related, but it annoys me in young adult romances like this where the heroine is only supposed to have “flaws” like being clumsy or too nice. Yes, they often end up being stupid or sociopathic, probably against the author’s intentions, but I want something different. What about messy, or loud, or short-tempered in a way that actually gets her into trouble instead of just making her love interest think it’s cute?
ZeldaQueen: That’s why I love Sailor Moon so much. She actually lists eating cake as one of her hobbies, you know.
Ket: Usagi is messy, actually clumsy, not very bright, lazy, and a crybaby. But she’s also strong, loving, and loyal.
ZeldaQueen: There’s also Maya Fey, from the Ace Attorney series. She’s a big eater who’s constantly having Phoenix pay for the many burgers she eats, she’s pretty snarky and not above making jabs at people, and can be plenty strange, but she’s fiercely loyal to Phoenix, uses her channeling to help him in court, actually is able to help with her own attempted rescues when she’s a hostage, and is incredibly depressed when she feels she can’t help out.
Ket: Ellie from “The Last of Us” is fourteen. She’s rude, foul-mouthed, flippant, impulsive, and argumentative. She’s also strong, fiercely independent, loyal to a fault, protective of those she loves, and has the true heart of a hero. She’s willing to sacrifice anything, even her own life, to do the right thing.
ZeldaQueen: Lynne, from Ghost Trick is a big eater with a slightly-less-than-healthy obsession with chicken, is pretty ditzy, gets in trouble so often that her co-workers on the police force pretty much expect it, and dies eight or so times over the course of the game, to the point where it’s a running gag by the guy who keeps reviving her. Her sole motivation in the game is to rescue the person she admires from prison against false murder charges, even if it means dealing with a childhood trauma. God, now I want to go play some video games and read manga.
Ket: Can we just talk about awesome teenage girl characters and fuck the rest of this book?
ZeldaQueen: Sadly, we can not. But we invite all of you, dear Viewers, to list your own favorites! It’s wonderfully cathartic.
Back to Dipshit and Dumbass - Nora says she can’t get a bead on how Patch ticks, to which Patch says that she
Ket: Besides that, the file told her precisely dick.
ZeldaQueen: Well, that’s kind of her point - that the empty file clearly indicates that something’s weird about him. He has the audacity to tell her that it was illegal to look at his file. That may be true, but so’s stalking!
Ket: Or...it could indicate that said person is really boring and/or not doing anything wrong.
ZeldaQueen; To be fair, I’d think his records ought to have something, even if it was health records.
Ket: Being that it was totally empty, I’d assume that it was either misfiled, or currently on someone’s desk.
ZeldaQueen: Yeah. We know this guy’s a fallen angel and presumably he’s posing as a student to get close to Nora. Why does he even have a file at all, empty or not? Just say he screwed with everyone’s brains so they thought he was there the whole time.
Ket: Or have psychic paper in there.
ZeldaQueen: Wasn’t there an episode of Doctor Who where he infiltrated a school? The one where Sarah Jane Smith returned?
Ket: Yeah, but I haven’t watched it in years, so I don’t remember much about it. Psychic paper gets around, though.
ZeldaQueen: That’s true, but if he stole the Doctor’s that means the Doctor will be showing up to take it back. And do you really think he’d let Patch run around like he is?
Ket: *Sighs* oh, we can dream, can’t we?
ZeldaQueen: And spitefic.
So yeah, Nora continues on about how something’s Clearly Not Right with Patch and she intends to “expose him”, which leads to the predictable reply that he’s looking forward to that. Despite that being one of the most standard forms of innuendo amongst teenagers, that retort makes Nora blush.
Ket: Nora, if you intend to “expose him”, all you need is the fact that he’s a creepy stalkerfuck. Which you already know.
ZeldaQueen: Again, priorities. Clearly the empty file that may or may not have a perfectly normal explanation is much more incriminating than the actual crime he committed.
OUR INTREPID HEROINE = 36
Nora notices Vee coming back (don’t lie, you forgot she was here, didn’t you?) and tells Patch to leave. Patch stares at her for awhile, before saying that she isn’t like what he expected. Which was...what, exactly? Didn’t he spend an entire chapter detailing how she’s exactly like what he says, because he’d stalked her enough to know?
Ket: And haven’t you said multiple times that you know her inside and out?
ZeldaQueen: Methinks this is some attempt at making their relationship equal. “Well, Nora can’t figure him out, BUT LOOK, NEITHER CAN HE!”
Ket: You can’t really have “equality” in this sense, when one of them can literally screw with your thoughts.
ZeldaQueen: And can physically overpower her, as we’re reminded at several points. Mustn’t forget that. Nora says that Patch isn’t like what she expected either and that
he’s “worse”. HOW did she suddenly come to this conclusion? She’s mildly concerned that he’s stalking her, but considers him incredibly strange and creepy for having an empty file? Isn’t that backwards?
ILL LOGIC = 58
HAND HOLDING = 25
OUR INTREPID HEROINE = 37
Ket: I don’t know, Zelda. Maybe she actually has a braincell or two rolling around in her empty skull.
ZeldaQueen: Like a bean in a salad bowl, to quote Spoony. Of course, it’s better than when she goes into the negatives later on. Anywho, that’s where the chapter ends. Wasn’t that fun?
Ket: *Flatly* vodka. And ice cream.
ZeldaQueen: On the way. For everyone else, have fun thinking of your favorite flawed teenage characters and hang in there until the next chapter!
Ket: See you guys then. *Stands up* I’m getting chocolate cherry chip today, Zelda.
ZeldaQueen: Chocolate peanut butter for me.
TOO COOL FOR SCHOOL - 10
DID NOT DO THE RESEARCH - 15
SAY WHAT? - 40
ILL LOGIC - 59
RELIGION FAIL - 3
JERKASS EXTRAORDINAIRE - 39
HAND HOLDING - 25
ALL WOMEN ARE LUSTFUL - 14
LAUGH, GODDAMMIT - 25
FROM ASSHOLE TO NIGHTMARE - 36
OUR INTREPID HEROINE - 37
Onward to: Chapter 6
Back to: Chapter 4
Return to: Table Of Contents