Commentary: Completely Fair

Chapter:  Are You Ready?

     Something caught my attention inside the van. The Motel Fairwil has a tiny parking lot near the Mmm Mmm Cafe. Many of the bigger buildings in the Wilshire-Fairfax corridor have underground lots, but the motel kept its surface one. A? The parking lot is far too small to bother moving, was always the Overbove thinking. B? Maybe they shouldn't build under the motel, for Reasons To Come. The Wilfair, by the way, does not have an underground parking lot, either, as it is an older building, but instead contracts with a parking lot down Wilshire Boulevard for guests' cars. The hotel's cars, the town cars and occasional limo, sit in the driveway out front, as do a few taxis.
     You're like, okay, Alysia, moved on, you've talked all about parking lots, and it is fascinating, really, but, um, one more quick thing: The motel parking lot gets a mention earlier in the book, when Monty wonders if Fair left her flying monkeys double-parked. (When Gomery wonders if she's dressed as Judy Garland.)
     “Is that. A banjo? Inside the van?” I wanted a sort of Chekhov's gun for Wilfair, but a banjo seemed much, uh, less intense. So, we have Chekhov's banjo, instead.
     “It is,” Gomery confirmed. He was going through his key ring. Gomery's key ring, being a motel key ring, is quite heavy.
     “In case we need a banjo.” One reader, in particular, has asked me, in so many words, "Who is Gomery, really?" Hi, Reader X! So these six words capture his Gomery-o-sity, to me. It's a nonsensical statement -- why in the world would they need a banjo? In what possible situation? But Gomery is the person half-expecting a nonsensical turn of events. Half-expecting? Anticipating. Anticipating? Hoping for. Hoping for? Planning on.
     I always wonder how he expects the banjo to be used, too. Will he need to play it to lull a frightened cat out of a tree? Will the friends stumble upon a wedding that happens to be sadly musician-less? Will he need to clock some baddie over the head? And then play the banjo to summon them back to alertness?
     The appropriate key was located and he opened the van’s back doors.
     Monty set my bag by the back bumper, and Gomery picked it up and easily slid it into the back cabin, where it sat alongside the instrument and on top of another bag. If Sutton were here, she would have observed this act, and then nodded to his rolled up sleeves, and then eye-waggled me, and then she’d have loud-whispered, “It’s all that suitcase lifting.” She’d then bemoan a certain actor’s almost certain use of an on-screen forearm double. Prior Yates, I'm sorry. You're going to get some love ahead. As for Gomery and Monty, it is indeed all the suitcase lifting, and the tray hauling, and the fixing of showerheads, and the moving of beds between rooms, and such, that lend them their memorable forearms.
      I loved my little sexy swear machine. A weird sentence, but there's a lot of emotion in it, so I left it.
     And she’d have been right, if she had said all that. The club-sandwich-making future physicist was indeed a champion suitcase lifter. I’d complimented a thousand brides in my time, but he’d likely hauled a million duffels and overnight bags. Who was ahead and who was behind between the two of us? Who was winning in our two lives, lives spent watching, from a close distance, strangers experience amazing times and amusing vacations and major events? All while we procured extra soaps and ordered fruit baskets and asked “Is there anything else you need?” and “Will that be all?” These people need a VACATION. From helping people with their vacations. There should be a special vacation wonderland solely for people who work at vacation destinations, methinks, because they work at people having fun. It's a special calling.
     Or were he and I exactly even in that particular race? And were we still on competing teams, even? And what was the prize? Dear Fair: You are deep, DEEP inside your head right now, but soon you will not be, and this development will be to your benefit. Also, asking internal questions with no real answer is a far more frustrating route to getting better acquainted with this interesting person than sliding around icy terraces together, laughing.
     Monty slung a slack arm around my shoulders, causing my shoulders to nearly lose their head. I put a tentative hand in the middle of his back and patted. Patting seemed like something a grandmother might do to a well-behaved tyke’s knee before offering him a boiled sweet. But the fact was I had to start my new career as a former fuddy-duddy somewhere, and practicing patting this particular space on this particular person practically guaranteed I’d stick with it until I became a patting pro. Awww. I have a soft spot for this paragraph, in part because I can just sense the stiffness in Fair Finley's tentative hand. It's got the same fingers-spread, rigid-knuckles, hard-palmed look as a hand being scanned by an x-ray machine. Just the idea of touching a handsome Overbove between his shoulder blades in a very, very non-romantic way is too much for a young lady who analyzes everything five yards to Sunday. Monty's "slack" arm is the comparison here. Also, I like the term "fuddy-duddy" and wish I'd used it a couple of more times in the series.
     It was a feeling that would have normally caused my inner old child to wring its hands, but since one of my hands was occupied, my inner old child was at a loss. Old children are expert hand-wringers.
     My gain.
     “Sorry. Um. Did you say something?” Daydreamer extraordinaire.
     “I said I’m glad you and the Suttonster are going with me and the Gomeryness.”
     “I’m glad you’re glad. And I’m glad to be going. Well. Scared like a huge simmering pan of scared sauce. What with all the, um, bedroom jumpery. But glad, too. Scared and glad. So. Sclad.” I personally have had to dump about a hundred pans of scared sauce straight down the garbage disposal over the course of my life.
     I glanced at the Gomeryness, the principle source of my personal scladness. And I stared into the back of the van, at my suitcase on top of his, and I thought about our lives, lives spent helping other people have a good time. And I wondered if we’d ever get our own good times. See: icy terrace sliding, above. And more to come. Hollerrrrrrrrrrr, "Fairwil"!
      “Do you feel glad I’m going?” I shaded my eyes with my free hand and squinted just past him, into the sun. He pushed his sleeves up past his elbows, and positioned the final bag. Los Angeles sun can be bright sun. So I liked the idea of Fair choosing to look into the sun than directly at Gomery, because it would be just too freaking much. The sun's the easier option.
     “I do,” he smiled. A callback to his "I do" joke earlier. He's joking! Loosening up! When he's not thinking of possible banjo uses.

     Rolled up sleeves and dark blue ties had become so much window dressing in just two days time. I was no longer mooning over marquee bulbs or popcorn boxes or collar curls coiling into sixes and eights. I wanted Monty and Gomery Overbove to have "their stuff" in the books, and this is a partial list.
     Well. Mooning much. Why haven't I used "mooning" more? I like it. Brb, gotta jot it down for next book notes.
     And bedrooms with their own bedroom brains and weird ghost toast and wrong-colored sequins weren’t troubling me. Much. "Bedroom brains" sounds rather smartly sexy to me, if not read the way it is meant to be read. Yeah, I said it.
     I was instead thinking of the two people I was going to have to put out of business, and their lifelong home, when I took their swimming pool. I cannot wait to see what happens with that!
     But they were no longer just two people. They were my old foes and new friends. My two same-name, ridickity adorable friends. Sometimes I forget that Monty and Gomery have the same name, because over the course of nearly 4 books, they're so different in my mind. Also, Monty's middle name, as he revealed, is Yves, while Gomery's is... at the very end of "Stay Awhile," or so Fair guesses.
     And what they looked like, and what they said, and what they were interested in, would be gone. The twisty toast analogies and the okay hand signs and the window waves and the practice back pats would be subtracted from my life. And my chair would again face my bedroom, like every other boring bedroom-facing chair on the planet. Monty seeing Fair's chair facing her window, and thus Motel Fairwil, is what prompts him to invite her to the mountains, so, really, that chair is to thank. It goes back to the banjo, in a way. The chair's usual purpose was not ultimately what changed the course of the story.
     That is, if Montgomery #1 and Montgomery #2 left our little corner of Los Angeles. That is, when they left our little corner of Los Angeles. That is, when I make them leave our little corner of Los Angeles, for good. Sutton has not yet revealed to Montgomery #1 and Montgomery #2 who is Montgomery #1 and who is Montgomery #2 in Fair's mind, but "Redwoodian" holds that development. And, of course, when Monty learns he's Montgomery #2, he could. Not. Be. Happier. It's like he's struck oil. And he rides the Montgomery #2 train, hard. Which pleases me. He's got a bit of an ego, and not being given first place would be something that would normally rankle him. But not in this instance. He'd be rankled if he learned he was Montgomery #1, and would probably try and hand his title away to his cousin.
     Or for bad, in other words.
     Just. Pick a side. Pick a side. Pool first, people last. People first, pool last. Just. Pick. A. Side. One of the books' themes: sides. And the futility of sides, I suppose. And the natural fluidity of sides and side-crossing and side-joining and the dissolving of false barriers. Look at these old enemies, the Wilfair and the Fairwil people, leaving for the mountains together, and there is flirting! And smiles! Sides stink.
     I sighed. Monty dropped his arm from my shoulders, popped the van’s side door, and scrambled over the middle bench. “Dibs on the back. And dibs on saying dibs. Dibs dibs dibs dibs. I can’t stop saying dibs.” It is a silly word that makes me happy, so I gave it to the most effervescent person in the books.    
     “You always call dibs,” Gomery protested. Because you let him, Gomery.
      “Whaaa!” Monty hung over the last bench, making a face. “I only called dibs on the back of the van. You’ve got dibs on anything I didn’t call dibs on. You can have dibs on everything in the known universe. The oceans, the skies, the wad of gum stuck under my favorite seat at my favorite movie theater. And if there happens to be a microscopic universe inside that wad of gum, that’s yours, too. You can call dibs on whatever you want.” The microscopic universe inside that wad of gum is actually one of my personal bases of the books. It's just representative of the lightly surreal air of it all, in my heart.
     “Completely fair,” Gomery said, and closed the van doors. Soooooooooo. SO. What is Gomery saying here? Two things, maybe. This sentence, specifically what he says, probably was the single line I fretted over the most in the book. I rewrote it and tweaked it and sat with it in a way that got a little obsessive. On the one hand I find dibs to be silly and sweet, but I don't like them called on actual people. The Overboves are feminists, raised by strong moms, and I can't see either one calling "dibs" on a human, unless comically so. ("Who gets to sit next to Fair at dinner? I call dibs!")
     I think Gomery actually is telling Monty his offer of calling dibs on whatever he'd like is indeed fair, small f, but as he's saying it, he realizes it could mean something else, because his mind is very much on his hotel-running neighbor at the moment. So I think it is one of those cases that as the words are leaving his mouth he's like "oh, whoa, double meaning" and "oh no, is she going to think..?"
     Anyway, just classic AGP-style overthinking of a character's motives behind a two-word sentence. :)
     Side picked.
     I had, in that instant, chosen a side, full-heartedly and without doubt. It was the third side, a side that didn’t yet exist, since sides generally come in two-packs. It was a side that would sit far outside the pair of sides I always seemed to vacillate between. It was a side where no one would be sad, and everyone would win. Ish.
     Completely fair. There are definitely two meanings here, in Fair's mind. This line read "Completely Fair." for a good long time, with a capital F, but it seemed too, um. Too much, you know? Heavy-handed. So I called the small f off the bench and sent it onto the field.
     Now I just had to invent that non-existent third side, and I had to invent it now. Fair, hang tight! Major revelatory moments are just ahead.

cr: The Marque


Kelly said...

Every time you do one of these it makes me want to read all the books all over again! Must suppress the urge though, since my TBR pile is getting a little mountainous.

I love the 'In case we need a banjo' bit, and the words "Chekhov's Banjo" made me grin. Although I have never brought a Banjo along on a road trip, I can absolutely understand the instinct to over-prepare. My friends have occasionally been known to tease me about my Mary Poppins tendencies, since I can usually be counted upon to produce any required item from my cavernous handbag.

I'm glad the 'I loved my little sexy swear machine' line stayed. I love the relationship between Sutton and Fair, plus that's just the kind of mental reflection I sometimes have about my friends.

Rosemary said...

In any other book, "bedroom brains" would definitely have a certain double meaning, but in THESE books, "diving board brains" seems more appropriate.

Oh dear, oh dear. Might need to re-read these.

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