The Importance of Being an Emotionally Detached Womanizer: Walking Disaster Chapter 1

Yesterday Ariel gave you the first chapter of Abby’s side of the story, but today you get the first chapter of Travis’s side of the story! [Ariel says: Barf.] What was Travis really thinking during those scenes where he was a misogynistic dick or when Abby was wearing a cardigan [Ariel says: CARDIGANS RULE, TRAVIS SUX]? Today we begin to explore this in a book whose title I don’t even have to try to make fun of: Walking Disaster.

Prologue

Okay, except the prologue is actually pretty good. And depressing. And I know, I know. For me, “depressing” is shorthand for “pretty good”, but it’s literally just a scene where three year old Travis is at his mother’s deathbed.

“Travis, I need you to listen to what I’m going to say, and even more important, I need you to remember. This will be very hard. I’ve been trying to remember things from when I was three, and I…” She trailed off, the pain too big for a bit. […] “First, it’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to feel things. Remember that. Second, be a kid for as long as you can. Play games, Travis. Be silly” – her eyes glossed over […]
“One of these days you’re going to fall in love, son. Don’t settle for just anyone. Choose the girl that doesn’t come easy, the one you have to fight for, and then never stop fighting. […] And never” – her eyebrows pulled in – “forget that Mommy loves you.”

A dying mother’s advice to her three year old son. Nothing to make fun of here, right? God, I wish I could say so.

I tried to glue it to the inside of my head: Play. Visit Dad. Fight for what I love. That last thing bothered me. I loved Mommy, but I didn’t know how to fight for her.

Wait. Is the plot of this book seriously how a man took his mother’s dying words too literally when he was three years old? [Ariel says: Going by what happens in the first chapter of Beautiful Disaster he also took this advice to mean, “If a girl says no, keep asking her out. Harass her! Fight for her, damn it!” Which is a really bad way to interpret that advice!]

When the sad went away, I would always play, and I would always fight. Hard.

And it's not even the first chapter.
And it’s not even the first chapter.

Chapter 1: Pigeon

Pigeon? Why, that’s the nickname Travis gives Abby for some reason that didn’t make any sense in Ariel’s post for Beautiful Disaster yesterday! Maybe this will shed some light on things!

Fucking vultures. They could wait you out for hours.

…Maybe Travis just really likes birds? [Ariel says: I still like to believe Abby pooped on someone’s head while we weren’t looking.]

It’s the vultures that are easy. Just when they think all they have to do is be patient, to sit back and wait for you to expire, that’s when you hit them. That’s when you hit them. That’s when you bring in the secret weapon: an utter lack of respect for the status quo […] That’s when you shock them with how much you don’t give a fuck.

Letting yourself feel made you vulnerable. As many times as I tried to explain this error to my brothers, my cousins, or my friends, I was met with skepticism. As many times as I had seen them crying or losing sleep over some dumb bitch in a pair of fuck-me heels that never gave a shit about them anyway, I couldn’t understand it.

Hahaha, wow, this is like the completely dimensionless emotionally detached womanizer stock character, except they’re the main character of a whole story. Are you ready for all the deep insights into the psyche of a character who thinks feelings are dumb because then you feel? Because that’s literally all that this book is about. How much story can you get out of a stock character? The only thing that can happen to them is their one and only defining trait becomes the opposite. It’d be like if Lord of the Rings was told from the perspective of the Ring.

"I was bad! Then I was thrown into a volcano."
“I was bad! Then I was thrown into a volcano. That’s pretty much it.”

Anyway, one-dimensional misogynist keeps mansplaining about love and sex and also vultures still for some reason.

Attraction, sex, infatuation, love, and then heartbreak. […] But not for me. No. Fucking. Way.
I decided a long time ago I would feed on the vultures until a dove came along. A pigeon.

Seriously, what is it with this guy and birds? [Ariel says: And how does one feed on vultures? Da fuq?]

The story finally actually starts with Travis at his apartment when he sees (in his building? out the window? the book is super unclear) “the girl in the bloody, pink cardigan from the Circle”. Seriously. That’s where the parallel novel begins its story. After the fight where Abby and Travis meet in in Beautiful Disaster. I had no idea this was supposed to be important until I read Ariel’s post yesterday. While Beautiful Disaster‘s first chapter is apparently drowning in exposition and introductions to stuff, Walking Disaster COMPLETELY SKIPS OVER what the Circle is and who Abby is.

Instead, it hits us over the head with the “TRAVIS SLEEPS AROUND A LOT AND DOESN’T PARTICULARLY VALUE WOMEN HAVE YOU GOTTEN THIS YET” stick some more.

Megan lay on my couch lazily, watching TV. She looked bored, and I wondered why she was still in my apartment. She usually got her crap and left right after I bagged her.

If Bad Books, Good Times had a bigger readership/was more profitable, I’d donate a dollar to charity every time Travis says something about “bagging” a woman. Because this is one chapter’s contribution to the “Travis Uses The Word ‘Bag’ When Talking About Sexual Encounters With Women Because He Is A Misogynistic Dickbucket But Maybe We Can Make Some Good Of This” charity:

  1. She usually got her crap and left right after I bagged her.
  2. “Hey, Trav,” Lexi said, standing with perfect posture. […] Those irresistible, bouncing mounds [Ariel says: I would donate a dollar to charity every time breasts were described in gross ways in all the books we write about here] were what begged me to bag her in the first place, but once was enough.
  3. Nathan Squalor bagged her the night after I did. (This is in the next sentence after instance #2, btw)
  4. Half of them I’d bagged my freshman year
  5. I had a feeling the probationary period before Shepley could bag her was about to end, though.

Seriously, that’s all in the first chapter. What else do we learn about Travis in this first chapter that makes him a ridiculous stock character-douchebag? Has a Harley?

My Harley glistened in the morning autumn sun.

Check. Fucked a mom?

“I thanked him for taking off out of town a few weekends before, because his mother was a wildcat.”

Check. Has groupies following him everywhere he goes on campus even though he largely ignores them?

Regardless of my dismissal, both girls followed.

Check. And then they literally fight over him?

“I think I just threw up a little bit in my mouth.”
Lexi turned, her entire body rigid. “I heard that, skank.”
A dinner roll flew past Lexi’s face

space balls check please

Travis stands up and lets Lexi, who was leaning on him, fall to the floor.

My toleration for girls like Lexi only lasted so long. I had one rule: respect.

Dude, we’re only 2% of the way through this book and this is already like your fifth “one rule”.

Anyway, ready to hear Travis describe love interest Abby?

She didn’t have the biggest tits I’d ever seen

Yeah, we were all expecting that, but wait for it, because it gets hilarious.

She had the hair of a porn star, and the face of an angel.

I know I used this gif last week, but I clearly used it too soon.
I know I used this gif last week, but I clearly used it too soon.

Travis continues to describe this magical woman whose beauty is that of both an angel and a porn star.

To anyone else, she was pure and naive, but this girl was hiding something. […] Even when she smiled, I could see sin so deeply ingrained in her that no cardigan could hide it.

I’m calling it right now: the next Bad Books, Good Times mug is going to be some joke about cardigans. [Ariel says: Cardigans are what keeps this family together, Matt!] 

After spending sixty seconds in Abby Abernathy’s presence, I discerned two things: she didn’t talk much, and when she did she was kind of a bitch.

Abby said zero words during this scene, I’m not even kidding. But Travis does get her to talk with him, he feels like there’s a connection.

I made her uncomfortable, and that meant I was getting somewhere.

Did I accidentally buy The Tao of Badass? I feel like this is just a pickup artist rulebook. [Ariel says: He’s just following his dying mother’s advice, Matt. Oh my God. What if his mother WAS the Tao of Badass all along?!]

Travis’s roommate/cousin (Shepley)’s girlfriend (America – because I guess only Travis and Abby get to have common names) warns Travis to stay away from Abby. The fact that Abby and America are close friends isn’t made clear in this book. Nor why Travis calls Abby “pigeon”.

Pigeon was the total opposite of the girls I’d met here, and I had to know why.

Dude, I’d like to know why too, but you haven’t said anything.

Travis goes to another class where he is immediately swarmed by women fawning over him.

Vultures. Half of them I’d bagged my freshman year, the other half had been on my couch well before fall break.

Does Jamie McGuire realize she has this vulture metaphor completely backwards? [Ariel says: Maybe it’s like a situation where the vulture is also the vulture-ee?] 

Abby is suddenly in Travis’s class too (is it the first day of the semester or something? [Ariel says: Oh my God I was so fucking confused by when this is supposed to be taking place!]), and he changes seats to sit next to her, where he says “Good. You can take notes for me.” because apparently this is middle school and/or Grease. He keeps bugging her about coming over to his apartment to hang out and eventually she agrees so that he’ll quit following her [Ariel says: If all women had this sort of strategic thinking, it would be the end of sexual assault as we know it]. Then he talks with his roommate/cousin and realizes he’s falling in love with his girlfriend, because someone in this book has to respect women, and it’s weirdly not gonna be any of the dozens of women we’ve met thus far.

Although, weirdly enough, Travis claims he likes his cousin’s girlfriend, America, because she hasn’t slept with him yet. Sure. Travis respects women who aren’t “easy”. But that doesn’t stop him from taking advantage of the ones who are. Male characters like this aren’t “complicated”. They’re just assholes.

And now you're all going to subconsciously picture Travis as John Travolta.
And now you’re all going to subconsciously picture Travis as John Travolta.

Interestingly enough, this is one of the few times on this blog where our summary is exactly as detailed as the plot, because I have no idea why any of this is happening. Except that because Travis is a womanizer. That I got.

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