Commentary: Face-kissing Inside a Boiler

Stay Awhile
Chapter: Shouldn't People Want Proximity in Love?    
Commentary Part One

     “Everything has to do with everything, Fair. But doesn’t it always?” Valencia squeezed my side. She was fast becoming one of my favorite people on the planet, even as jealous wispy vapors rose off my chest and shoulders. “Everything has to do with everything” is definitely one of the mini themes of the Wilfair books. Or is it even mini? It's pretty prominent, in my mind. Also, this line has a companion in Fair's later line “Don't you think everything has a finger in everything else?” If I had to pick three lines that, for me, best symbolized the series, that would be on the list.
     Also, briefly: jealousy. It exists and it is a fact of life but I didn't want it to ever be an engine in the books. Just as there is no love triangle in Wilfair, the jealousy is really only a... smattering. And, heck, Fair ponders how much she likes the person who is stirring up these tight feelings inside her chest. Which is also a fact of life: You can have complicated feelings towards a single person. Conflicting concepts existing in the same space.
     “Fair?” Gomery called. “Lever help?”
     “Excuse me, Valencia?” I ducked into the boiler’s tight central space. “Eesh. It got hotter in here. So, we do it like last time?” I knew, at the start of the books, that a boiler would show up, because I lurrrrve symbolism, yep yep, and boilers are the warm-pumping hearts of buildings, and the series is very much about buildings. (Spoiler alert: They're in the titles!) But did I know quite how much the boiler would show up? No. Am I pleased that the boiler room, a room that's usually associated with horror films, is a little lovey for once? Yes!
     Also, why does “do it” always make me laugh here? A little? Double entendres and saucier meanings that may or may not be there, I like you. A lot. Let's have lunch.
     “No steam burn for me, I hope.” Gomery has a few flaws I'd like him to work on. One is he thinks he is right, and should try something, but the result is not what he expected, for better or worse. So he gets a face full of hot steam.
     A whoosh of steam rose between us. “Valencia likes you,” I whispered.
     He smiled. “Why are you telling me this?” Characters who like someone tend to not be happy when they find out another person likes that same someone. They will often be negative about that second someone to their potential sweetheart or work to hide the fact that the second someone also has a crush.
     I'm not down with all that noise. And, besides, Fair is the sort of person who is so nice, to a fault, that she wouldn't heed that set of social rules. She sees the potential for happiness in both paths, either her own or Valencia's, and she loves creating happiness. 
     Of course, she's selfish -- she admits it later in this scene -- so she really wants her own happiness to flower here. But she can't not tell Gomery what she knows, because they've been sharing deep-level stuff all night.
     “I thought it would make you feel, like. Warm inside? She isn’t mad you didn’t read the directions.”
     “Not mad. Where’s the fun in that?” he asked. Ding ding ding! One of the pillars of the Fair-Gomery dynamic. It's not only okay to take the opposite position, it is encouraged.
     “Anyway. I said you were nice.”
     He stared at me. “Were you pitching me to her?” Now it is occurring to him that this really happened. Gomery understands that Fair is a complicated person, who often acts against her own best interests, but this is a moment where it dawns on him that he could be a potential casualty of her kinder but kooky impulses.
     “A little?”
     “I’m confused. I get you were upset about the ceiling, and rightly so, but how upset? Are we not meeting under the diving board?” He was as direct as ever. Gomery is really, really looking forward to the diving board. Let's just put that out there. No court in the land could argue the other side on this one.
     “It wouldn’t be a bad plan for you to, like, have options. In case there’s the resentment, with the possible motel buying.” I couldn’t meet his eyes. I don't think Fair is way off base here. I mean, let's be honest, I'm more privy to Gomery's thoughts than she is, but she is exercising an appropriate amount of caution. She gets that big things, like her taking Gomery's home, can change things bigly.
     “Donut say ‘resentment’ anymore.” It's a statement that breaks my heart, a little. Gomery says “donut” to keep things light but he isn't feeling very light here.
     “You don’t know it yet, but you’ll resent me. You will.”
     “Please don’t give me away like you’re giving guests a mint or a fruit basket. You don’t need to say yes to everything people want. I said before I like your niceness, very much. But when it comes to me, be rude. Be awful. Claw at people who come near me. Let me see you claw.” I clawed, then gripped the lever again. “You need to be a bad guy. Twirl your evil villain mustache.” I twirled an invisible mustache. “I know you can yell. But can you do that? Put up a fight?” I drove down to the Heart-tug Factory, bought a few dozen barrels of concentrated heart-tug, and crammed as much heart-tug as I could into this moment. Too much? I'm okay with that.
     Also, evil villain mustache-twirling is one of my favorite pantomimes, and it actually showed up in a moment between them that never made it into the books. So I had to revisit it.
      “There is someone who will take you away, though. From me. And you won’t win against her.”
      “Who is that?”
      “Me.” Truer words, Fair.
      “You mean when you buy the motel?”
       “That’s the day. Invite all your friends to the battle of me vs. me, going three rounds in a fight to the death.”
       He placed his steam-damp hands under my chin. “I’m on your side.” There are some “I love you” proxies in the books. This is one. Also, I don't think they're in love here, because, gurf, as Fair says later on, love can take a lifetime, sometimes. But they're in the reception area of love, for sure, the waiting room. The place where you fill out the forms and pass the time reading the inspirational posters lining the walls and you repeatedly visit the drinking fountain, for something to do.
      “Which me, though?”
      “The winner and the loser.” He brushed some hair away. “You are so, so sweaty.” He put his slightly open mouth on the plumpest portion of my cheek and pressed, releasing a soft and classic mwah sound. “And salty.” Gahhhhhh, several things to say here. “The winner and the loser” is dear to my heart, the idea of it, because I want my Wilfair people to find people who love them when they lose. Because they will, repeatedly, in life (and, yes, they'll win a lot, too). 
      Living in a struggling motel has impacted Gomery and Monty in different ways. Gomery doesn't take loss too personally but Monty, my darling, ego-y, puffed-of-chest popcorn box, does. And this may sound funny, and I type it with extreme care, but Gomery may even want to see Fair lose a little. He's slightly concerned that this life tool -- ability to move past defeat -- has evaded his privileged neighbor, a little, which is why she is so obsessed with everyone winning. 
      Lest that make him sound a little cold, he A) wants her to win with the motel and with him and B) hopes to be around when she does finally experience a defeat, to be a friend and support.
      Damn it, I haven't even gotten to the other things here. Uh. Plumpest portion of my cheek? Love the word plump in all of its forms. Love mwah sounds. And I remain pleased that Gomery says Fair tastes salty from all the perspiring. She's pretty soaked, throughout this book, what with the fixing-the-boiler sweat, happy tears, being in the tar pit, and jumping in the motel's pool. Oh yeah, and the ketchup on her face in the Mmm Mmm Cafe near the end.
      The mwah was louder inside me than out. A good third of my urges promptly awoke at the sound, kicked off their bed covers, and hastily shook all of the sleepier urges awake. My urge is always to use Fair's urges more, but a light hand is best with those rascals. Though they remain pretty active in both Redwoodian and Stay Awhile. Also, aren't kisses always louder inside us?
     “Well, uh. You said I needed more salt yesterday and less honey. How’s my salt-to-honey ratio now?”
     “Perfect.” He pulled back and waited. “Am I?”
     “Are you what?”
     “Am I salty, too?” Come here and kiss me, Fair, is what he's saying. Duh, right? Duh.
     My whole face was runny with perspiration, including my lips. I was pretty sure if I put my mouth against his cheek my face would just slide off of his. But I did so anyway.
     “Whoa! Thank goodness this is only the fourth weirdest thing I’ve seen in the last minute.” Monty swung under a pipe and stood close against me in the cramped space. “Face-kissing inside a boiler.” Hi, Monty!

I'll finish up this scene tomorrow. Yay!


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