RIP, Cardigans: Beautiful Disaster Chapter 5

It feels like it’s been ages since I wrote about Beautiful Disaster. Now that this chapter’s all about Parker Hayes, I imagine we’re in for lots of disjointed dialogue, drama and drinking. The three Ds of dumb fiction. [Matthew says: And suddenly, BBGT became educational.]

Do I really need to tell you what happened last time? How could you forget Travis’ angry threesome or Shep’s dramatic, senseless outburst about whether or not Abby and Travis are a thing, which will surely have an effect on his relationship with America for some reason. Abby cries in the shower in the aftermath of Travis’ threesome, but since she never thinks very much outside of narrating what’s going on in the physical world, I’m going to assume she’s crying because she really wanted spaghetti for breakfast, but the drama distracted everyone too much to eat it.

Chapter 5: Parker Hayes 

Side-note before we begin: whenever I see pigeons around London, I think, “ABBY? ABBY IS THAT YOU?” I’m still not seeing how this is a term of endearment.

Matthew says: It's like this, except Beautiful Disaster isn't in on the joke.
Matthew says: It’s like this, except Beautiful Disaster isn’t in on the joke.

The chapter begins with the gang headed to the frat party that Parker asked Abby to come to. Not to be confused with the big date frat party that’s coming up in the future.

I smiled and looked down at my dress. A bustier that elongated into a short skirt, it was admittedly more daring than what I had worn in the past.

And she never wore cardigans again I guess. R.I.P, cardigans. [Matthew says: Our dearly departed stereotyped bit of characterization that turned out to be either totally inaccurate or the lamest red herring ever. You’re in a better place now, cardigans.]

At the party, Travis gives Abby a lecture on not taking drinks from anyone but him or Shep because she’ll most likely get date raped. Though his advice isn’t inherently bad, it does reek of the usual paternalism we’re forced to suffer with all of these books. The more intelligent man offers his silly woman advice, she disobeys it, and he must rescue her. [Matthew says: It’s always the patriarchy.] It’s also perfectly reasonable that Abby could go get a drink herself, or watch the person getting her a drink to make sure they don’t slip something in.

Parker shows up, and he and Abby go to chat outside the party. We discover fascinating facts about Parker like he gets good grades and is probz going to Harvard for medical school because his dad went there and donates tons of money. I guess Travis really isn’t the love interest in this book, because he’s not rich like Christian Gideon Parker.

We also discover that Abby is amazing at math, but who is going to talk about math when you could talk about boys, so this will probably never come up again. [Matthew says: Like how Anastasia Steele is an English major! That sure was a detail that lasted three chapters.][Ariel says: Somehow that lasted Abby’s cardigans. SO MISSED, BELOVED CARDIGANS!] And if Abby’s so good at math, how come she hasn’t figured out that Abby + Travis = TWU WUV. Feel free to throw tomatoes at me.

Parker offers to give Abby a ride home from the party, and she eagerly accepts. Travis is not so pleased.

“The hell if it’s not. I’m not letting you ride home with a complete stranger. What if he tries something on you?”

Ha! What? Travis knows Parker pretty well, so this “complete stranger” line holds zero weight.

Abby tells Travis she likes Parker, which prompts Travis to say this:

He seemed stunned at my confession, and then his features turned severe. “Fine. If he ends up holding you down in the backseat of his car, don’t come crying to me.”

This is troubling on two levels. One, he’s basically saying, “Well, now that you’ve chosen another guy over me, don’t expect me to come save you when you’ve inevitably raped without my protection.” Two, this implies that Abby couldn’t possibly want to hook up with Parker in the backseat of his car, which, you know, is her fucking prerogative. [Matthew says: Patriarchy! *shakes fist, doesn’t even need to write an actual joke*]

By the way, at this point Parker does know Abby’s staying with Travis because she lost a bet (for some reason he doesn’t comment on how utterly stupid this is) but does not know she’s sharing Travis’ bed yet. I imagine that’s a really attractive fact to find out about someone you might start dating, so I’m not sure why she would leave this tidbit out.

For no reason, Parker’s reaction to the lost bet situation is basically to think Abby is the most interesting person ever because she’s not sleeping with Travis even though she’s staying with him.

Girl-of-mystery

Being able to resist Travis’ penis is sort of likened to having a superpower in this book.

You know how I keep getting mad about how Abby acts completely oblivious to Travis’ feelings even though there has been so much evidence to the contrary? Even though she’s commented on the blurred lines of their relationship? [Matthew says: Even though she knows she wa- *throws up everywhere*] Well, she goes and does it again.

The anger subsided, and my shoulders fell. “I know you didn’t. But you have got to curb this overprotective big-brother thing you’ve got going on.”
Travis laughed once. “I’m not playing the big brother, Pigeon. Not even close.”

McGuire is to blame here, not Abby, I know. It’s not Abby’s fault her author just puts in lines which only exist in a vacuum, ignoring all context. What could save this moment would be if Abby inwardly reacted to what Travis just said, or told us, “I knew he wasn’t playing big brother, but I said it anyway.” ANYTHING to show us she’s not a total fucking idiot. Come on, Abby, do the math. [Matthew says: The math you’re apparently so good at.] He’s into you.

Parker drives Abby home in his Porsche and makes misogynistic comments, so now I’m definitely convinced he’s the real love interest in this story.

“Let me guess, it’s the love of your life?” I said, quoting Travis’s statement about his motorcycle.
“No, it’s a car. The love of my life will be a woman with my last name.”

He’s rich AND conforms to gendered traditions no matter how outdated (and this is not a jibe at anyone who does want to take the same name as their partner; it just bothers me he makes that assumption), so he must be the guy Abby ends up with! [Matthew says: Technically he just said “a woman with my last name”. Maybe there’s gonna be a big Norman Bates twist at the end and we find out Parker’s sort of got a thing for his mom.][Ariel says: His mom does kind of act weird around Abby, but I just thought it was because she’s rich and stuck-up (detailed character traits as usual), but now it seems a lot more sinister.] 

Abby gets home and has more disjointed, dramatic conversations with Travis where nothing is accomplished and she doesn’t actually listen to or comprehend anything he says. Even though he’s like, “I’m scared to mess things up with you, I want to be who you deserve,” [Matthew says: Which is kind of a big deal, actually.] she doesn’t react inwardly or outwardly. Is Abby just a cardboard box that formerly wore cardigans? Like Wilson from Castaway where she’s an intimate object but these people keep fucking talking to her and projecting their emotions onto her. [Matthew says: I mean, she is the female character in a post-Twilight romance novel. Basically.][Ariel says: Yes, Matthew, I already said she’s a cardboard box, God, you never listen to me like Abby and Travis!!] [Matthew says: Shut up! I’m gonna go have a threesome!]

It’s no surprise then that later when she starts gushing about Parker to America, it makes no sense.

I poked my head from the curtain. “I didn’t want to come home! I could have talked to him forever!”

I shit you not all they talked about was what they were studying and whether or not she and Travis are just friends. A cardboard box wouldn’t need more conversation than that now would it?

Despite being excited for Abby about Parker, America also expresses regret over Travis and Abby not taking things further.

I turned off the water and wrapped myself in a towel. “You’re as bad as he is. It’s a sickness . . . no one here makes sense. [Matthew says: Word.] You’re pissed at him, remember?”
“I know,” she nodded.
I turned on my new hair dryer and began the process of primping for my date with Parker. I curled my hair and painted my nails and lips a deep shade of red. It was a bit much for a first date. I frowned at myself in the mirror. It wasn’t Parker I was trying to impress . I wasn’t in a position to be insulted when Travis accused me of playing games, after all.

Yeah, cardboard box, you make total sense. It’s everyone else with the problem. I’m startled that it’s acknowledged in the book that no one makes sense, but it would hold a lot more weight if it came from someone like Kara. Abby can’t possibly act like she hasn’t worked out what’s going on. No one is that dumb. And she especially can’t say no one else makes sense when she then has an entire paragraph dedicated to not making any sense.

We’ve been in her head this whole time and she has only talked about being into Parker, and now it’s Travis she’s trying to impress? Now she is actively playing games with Travis? WHAT IS HAPPENING?? JAMIE MCGUIRE COME TO THIS BLOG AND EXPLAIN WHAT THE FUCK YOU WROTE!!!

Parker comes to pick Abby up for a date that night, and he takes her to an Italian restaurant his family owns. For some reason, people are wearing diamonds and jewels there. [Matthew says: Looks like a better place for pearls than an underground fight club, which thus far is the only place Abby has worn her pearls.][Ariel says: R.I.P cardigans and pearls.] Parker’s mom is one of those people wearing jewels, and she’s skeptical of Abby until Abby expresses admiration over Parker’s likely acceptance to Harvard. I just got so bored writing that sentence.

After her date, Travis is grumpy. Guess he’s playing protective big brother again, huh, guys? No one gives two fucks about Travis’ feelings, though, but you know what we all give two fucks about? Why he calls Abby ‘Pigeon’.

 “‘Pigeon’?” I said with the same amount of disdain. “An annoying bird that craps all over the sidewalk?”
“You like Pigeon,” he said defensively. “It’s a dove, an attractive girl, a winning card in poker, take your pick. You’re my Pigeon.”

No. [Matthew says: No.]

Even though Abby expressed that she really wanted Travis’ attention from all this, she gets all gooey about Parker, confusing me even more. The chapter ends with Travis being amazed by Abby’s interest in this guy, and I have to say I agree. The kindest word I can use to describe him is “bland.” I guess that’s better than Travis still, though, because the nicest word I can use to describe him is “shithead.”

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0 comments

  1. Judy Reply

    That lame explanation of “Pigeon” has not changed my mind about the weird yuckiness of that nickname.

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  2. Dana Reply

    Wasn’t it also mentioned that Ana spoke “fluent Mandarin” or something, even though this was never once demonstrated and not even included in the story until the second or third book?

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  3. Pingback: Postscript #1: Comments on the Internet! | Bad Books, Good Times

  4. E.H.Taylor Reply

    How is it possible to be reading a book from someone’s point of view and not even be able to discern how they feel about anyone else in the book? I mean, even if she was confused, you would think she would acknowledge that fact.

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    • 24karats Reply

      I had the exact same complaint in my review. She’s narrating the story and I still have no idea what’s going on! And it’s not like her actions explain how she feels either…it’s almost like McGuire doesn’t know what she’s doing….

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  5. 24karats Reply

    “He’s rich AND conforms to gendered traditions no matter how outdated (and this is not a jibe at anyone who does want to take the same name as their partner; it just bothers me he makes that assumption), so he must be the guy Abby ends up with! [Matthew says: Technically he just said “a woman with my last name”. Maybe there’s gonna be a big Norman Bates twist at the end and we find out Parker’s sort of got a thing for his mom.][Ariel says: His mom does kind of act weird around Abby, but I just thought it was because she’s rich and stuck-up (detailed character traits as usual), but now it seems a lot more sinister.]”

    He could be talking about anyone – a sister, a cousin, a child. THERE ARE FLOWERS IN THE MFING ATTIC, PEOPLE!

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    • 24karats Reply

      Also, I forgot to say, is pigeon ever used for any of those terms? I think I googled and found ONE thing referencing a pigeon as a good hand in poker, but come on? Who has ever heard of that? I’m also pretty sure the response song to TLC’s No Scrubs was called No Pigeons. And one hit wonder bands who exist only to spoof 90s R&B songs > my faith in McGuire’s linguistic skills.
      I searched this because I couldn’t let the pigeon thing go. (in other news, I need a hobby) There’s some weird backtracking to Lady in the Tramp where he either calls her a pigeon or some kind of bird and says “we all have a little bird dog in us” or something. First of all, i cannot even….
      But at best this means you’re getting your inspiration from children’s stories, and at worst means you’re equating your romantic leads to an irredeemable man/dog whore and the lifeless, helpless prey it goes after. Excellent work Jamie.

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      • 22aer22 Reply

        I put in a No Scrubs reference for you this past post :). I had no idea about the No Pigeons song, but I’ll include it in one of the next few chapters. This past one was getting way too long and that deserves it’s own space.

        You know, if Travis was getting his inspiration from children’s stories that’s totally fine. Just fucking tell us that! It’s just that there’s no explanation that makes sense, yet other characters always nod with understanding when Travis is like, “Abby is a pigeon.” They’re like, “Oh yes of course a pigeon, no wonder you love her so much!” WHAT? Can’t even.

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