CHAPTER TWO – ENGLISH GOTHIC
In this chapter we are introduced to some new characters, Tony and Brenda Last. They have a son who is mainly raised by a nanny and Ben the stableman. They seem like a normal married couple who live on a HUGE estate in the quiet countryside of England. Normal. Anyway, Tony and Brenda were just talking about how they were so glad no one was coming for the weekend…
And then, Beaver shows up at their house, semi-uninvited for the weekend. Another reason I LOVE Beaver. Tony Last mentioned last time he saw Beaver at a bar, “Stop by my house in the country sometime, you’ll love it.” Tony Last never intended on Beaver actually coming out for a visit and anyone else on the planet would understand that Tony was just offering a polite ending to a conversation, not an actual invitation. BUT Mr. John Beaver, he takes everyone at their word, especially if it means a free weekend away in the country. FREE. Free food, free room, free. Yet again, he is a genius. He doesn’t even CALL to confirm his arrival. He sends a telegram. That way, they can’t say no!
That is where my love of Beaver ends.
The remainder of the chapter outlines how Brenda plans and executes an affair with Beaver.
I am, clearly, on Team Tony.
Why my sudden shift to Team Tony? One, he loves his home. He is proud of the estate that was handed down to him and cares for it by doing projects and knowing the neighborhood. Two, he loves his wife. He is truly infatuated with her and enjoys her company. Three, he just seems like a nice guy. Like the kind of guy you want to hang out with. He’s not outgoing or loud, just kind.
Brenda and Beaver, on the other hand, are awful. But, I won’t go into that. I’m curious what Mrs. Darcy thinks of all this…
-Team Tony (Mrs. Hemingway)
“For five years she had been a legendary, almost ghostly name, the imprisoned princess of fairy story, and now that she had emerged there was more enchantment in the occurrence, than in the mere change of habit of any other circumspect wife”
In this entire world…yes ENTIRE WORLD…I think I only know of one–possibly two–marriages that are between two people who genuinely enjoy each other’s company, they genuinely love each other in the true sense of friendship and partnership. That is why I refuse to settle for Mr. Dominant-Submissive or the Santa Claus Dad or Midget in a Black Leather Coat. I don’t want to be an “imprisoned princess of fairy story.” Because I see Brenda, and I feel a mixture of pity, sadness, and smugness. The world pushes people toward marriage, but do we ever ask why? These days it seems like it’s just “what you are supposed to do.” You are somehow branded LOSER if you–gasp–are not married by 30 and a total useless, spinster loser if not by 40. I’m sure the alleged useless, spinster losers don’t feel that way…but I dare you to be a 30-40ish woman and go to a party or to your dentist’s office or to a family reunion. What you’ll get is the sad-head-tilt-turned-lost-puppy-eyes and some form of “Well…that’s okay, dear. Your time will come.” And that’s it. After that you will be ignored because, really, what could you possibly have to share if you don’t have a husband and kids? So I suppose it’s no wonder Brenda wakes up and finds herself trapped in a life she doesn’t want. But I don’t agree with the assessment of others that “The choice of Beaver raised the whole escapade into a realm of poetry.” I think she just looks ridiculous.
Now, for Beaver…I am neither on or off Team Beaver. The stupid work ethic my parents instilled in me has not allowed me to like his freeloading ways, despite my attempts to romanticize it. But I will say that I don’t blame him for riding the Brenda Train. “For the first time in his life, (he) found himself a person of interest and, almost of consequence. Women studied him with a new scrutiny, wondering what they had missed in him; men treated him as an equal, even as a successful fellow competitor…but now when he came into Brat’s, they made room for him at the bar and said, ‘Well, old boy, how about one’” It’s like Ronald in Can’t Buy Me Love…Beaver went from totally geek to totally chic. I, myself, cannot blame a guy for enjoying that. As a person who rows through life in the boat of isolation, I can understand why he’d jump off…into anything.
But by far, my favorite line in the book is this exchange…
Marjorie (Brenda’s sister): And I shall go on saying that I think you’re making a ridiculous mistake.
Brenda: It’s just that you don’t like Mr. Beaver.
Marjorie: It isn’t only that. I think it’s hard cheese on Tony.
I’m going to start using that in my everyday speech. For example–in keeping with the novel’s theme– KStew’s cheating escapade is hard cheese on Robert Pattinson. (But the best news ever for me! Oh Rob…where are you? I will row us around in our boat of isolation…all you have to do is jump on in!)