A Little Less Threesome, A Little More Troublesome: Walking Disaster Chapters 10 and 11

So my girlfriend is in South Korea on a Fulbright teaching English, and she tried doing a skit-writing activity with one of her classes, and one of the thirteen-year-old girls she teaches wrote a skit about The Host. She asked me what horrors to expect, and I said, “Either cave tours or heavy-handed selflessness.” The good news is I was wrong about the cave tour. The bad news is apparently I was right on the money about the selflessness. So next time you’re having a bad day, just keep in mind: you didn’t have to feign interest in a thirteen year old’s The Host fanfiction today. [Ariel says: I can’t believe there weren’t any cave tours – it’s like she didn’t even try to make the story realistic.]

Chapter Ten: Broken

As you may recall, we’re slightly behind in Walking Disaster because the threesome already happened in Beautiful Disaster, but we’re only getting to it this week. This is what we get for dabbling in the dangerous world of parallel novels. [Ariel says: We like to take big risks here.] We have, however, seen Travis storm out to go to the bar, en route to said threesome, and now we see Travis talking to the bartender about his lady trubs.

she sat an empty shot glass in front of me, and then filled it to the brim with Jim Beam. I grabbed for it, but she covered my black leather wristband with her tattooed fingers that spelled BABY DOLL when she held her fists together.

Yes, this seems like a great person to get relationship advice from.

“What girl?”
Cami rolled her eyes. “What girl. Seriously? Who do you think you’re talking to?”
“All right, all right. It’s Pigeon.”
Pigeon? You’re joking.”
I laughed once. “Abby. She’s a pigeon.”

I like how in those last two sentences, “Pigeon” is both a nickname everyone knows and a category of person, because that’s how much sense this book makes. [Ariel says: Wait did Cami know what he meant by pigeon, or when she said “you’re joking” did she mean like “what the fuck kind of nickname is that?] [Matthew says: Who even knows.]

“She hates me.”
“Nah.”
“No, I heard her tonight. By accident. She thinks I’m a scumbag.” […]
“Well, you kinda are.”

Never mind. Maybe Baby Doll is actually the smartest person in this book. [Ariel says: She and Kara should hang out.] [Matthew says: WHAT IF BABY DOLL IS KARA? Have we ever seen Kara’s hands?!]

"Man, how will I ever find a funny picture that makes fun of both her finger tattoos AND that they say baby doll?"
“Man, how will I ever find a funny picture that makes fun of both her finger tattoos AND that they say ‘baby doll’?”

She tries to talk Travis out of drinking another beer, but he demands it, and then suddenly the section ends and we return to Travis waking up.

Why didn’t [Abby] sleep in the bed? What had I done to make her sleep in the chair? My heart began beating fast, and then I saw them: two empty condom wrappers.
Fuck. Fuck! The night before came crashing back to me in waves: drinking more, those girls not going away when I told them to, and finally my offer to show them both a good time – at the same time – and their enthusiastic endorsement of the idea. [Ariel says: That’s one way to get rid of people, I guess. Remember that next time someone bothers you on the subway.]

THE BOOK FROM TRAVIS’S PERSPECTIVE SKIPS OVER TRAVIS’S THREESOME. Moments like this would seemingly be why it’s worth having a parallel novel from Travis’s side of the story, and having him brown out during it seems like a cop out, except I actually kind of like how it skips over showing what he was thinking during the threesome because it shows how he wasn’t. And I’m relieved I don’t have to actually read a threesome, more importantly. [Ariel says: Although, as Madeline pointed out in the comments thread last week, the logistics of this threesome would be an interesting read. We’ll have to put this in the pile of unanswered burning questions along with greatest hits like “Why did Gideon have lipstick on his collar that one time when he said he hadn’t slept with Corinne?” and “Why do people like Fifty Shades of Grey?”]

Travis tells Shepley to stall Abby if she wakes up and wants to leave, and Shepley’s all “Uh, I’ll try but, uh, threesome, you know?” before Travis runs to the store. Now, we saw this scene last week from Abby’s perspective where he confusingly comes back with all her favorite food to try to apologize to her, and Ariel and I thought this made no sense at all. So now that we see it from Travis’s perspective, what was he thinking? [Ariel says: Yes, why did he think spaghetti for breakfast was the answer? Don’t make me add this to the burning questions pile.] 

One aisle after another, I grabbed at things that I thought she’d like, or remembered her eating or even talking about. […] An apology wasn’t going to make her stay, but maybe a gesture would. Maybe she would see how sorry I was. I stopped a few feet away from the register feeling hopeless. Nothing was going to work. […] This was the stupidest idea in the history of ideas.

So at no point in time did anyone in this novel think this made any sense? Okay, I can dig that. People do crazy things that don’t make sense when they’re in love and/or woke up and learned they had a drunken threesome. What doesn’t make sense it that he’s still expecting it to work. It plays out exactly like in Beautiful Disaster, with Abby insisting she doesn’t want to leave because of the bet unless Travis says it’s off. So, once again, what was Travis thinking during this scene that made no sense?

“Are you saying I’m released from the bet?”
The answer was easy, but I didn’t want to make her stay if she didn’t want to. At the same time, I was terrified to let her go.

Which I guess makes it really easy to ignore the thing you “should” do.

“You could have just asked me [to stay] instead of spending all that money at the grocery store just to bribe me to stay.”
“I don’t care about the money, Pidge. I was afraid you’d leave and never speak to me again.”
“I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings,” she said, sincere.

Why is she apologizing to him?! Was this a conversation from Bizarro Walking Disaster where Abby had a drunken threesome and was forcing the cardigan-clad Travis to sleep in her bed with her that somehow slipped into regular Walking Disaster?

If so, I hope the next time it happens we meet bizarro Shepley who understands his friends' business is their business.
If so, I hope the next time it happens we meet bizarro Shepley who understands his friends’ business is their business.

They all get ready for the party and nothing interesting happens. People put on clothes and shit [Ariel says: And yet no one *cough* Abby *cough* puts on a cardigan OR pearls]. They get to the party and Travis suddenly becomes the poster child for consensual sex advocacy. Get ready to roll your eyes as we list them all off!

  • Travis warns Abby not to take a drink from anyone but him (the safest of men, obviously) or Shep, because someone might slip her something!
  • Travis has heard “stories about no one in particular” of his frat brothers doing that, which conveniently means he doesn’t have to “beat the shit out of … anyone pulling that shit”, in what might be McGuire’s worst attempt yet to convince the reader that Travis really is a good guy – at least he doesn’t drug* women for sex! (*not counting alcohol!) [Ariel says: We live in a world where an author is self-congratulatory because one of her character’s traits is that he’s the guy that won’t date rape anyone or do that kind of shit. Excuse me while I hold my applause.][Matthew says: One of his most endearing traits, no less.]
  • When Abby wants to leave with Parker, he tells her, he’s not letting her ride home “with a complete stranger” because “what if he tries something  on you?”, which obviously wouldn’t entail, say, her wanting something to happen, but could only mean he might “[hold] you down in the backseat of his car”. [Ariel says: Also, I pointed this out yesterday, but Parker ISN’T a complete stranger. Travis knows him! This would make sense if he didn’t like him because he was one of those date-rapin’ guys. But his reasons for disliking him are unrelated AND Parker is just Mr. Blando, and everyone knows that you have a limited about of personality traits in these books.] 

Also, just in case this chapter didn’t have enough eye-rolling nonsense, a drunk America also tells Travis that “you just might be exactly what [Abby] needs. You get one more chance”, because for some reason America thinks a man who gets into drunken threesomes is just the man for her best friend, thus making America probably the worst friend ever.

Chapter 11: Cold Bitch

Amazingly enough, the “bitch” in the title isn’t Abby. It’s (ostensibly) the puppy Travis gets Abby. You may now roll your eyes once more. [Ariel says: I’ll do you one further. I’ll puke all over Travis and Jamie McGuire’s faces.] 

Travis waits up for Abby to come back. He’s so dedicated to making sure she comes home safe that Adam calls him to say there’s a fight in an hour but Travis won’t do it because he has to wait for Abby! That’s so sweet of him to turn down a fight that will apparently be secretly and spontaneously organized and advertized within an hour on a weekend night when the person in charge has no idea where his fighter is or what he’s been up to or even sober.

She gets back to Travis’s apartment and Travis acts super intimidating to get Parker to leave, Parker says “Any humiliated, stranded girls in there I need to give a ride?”, which I’m sure will totally work in both of their favors for Abby, who is right there listening to them have a very strange pissing match about their sex lives. Although, seriously, how exactly does Parker’s “haha, I always get your sloppy seconds! ALWAYS!” sex life really bother Travis? It just seems pathetic. Even in comparison to Travis’s sex life, which is saying a lot.

Travis and Abby fight, although Abby still undresses in front of Travis and crawls into his bed and waits for him. Even though she’s planning on seeing Parker again. I can’t even with the characters in this book. They’ve transcended stupidity. This is The Room level of inconsistent nonsense.

Travis starts crying about how “When we’d made the bet, it didn’t occur to me that she would be dating Parker” (They hung out after a party one time, so… “dating” is probably a little strong.) and they start bickering again.

“I guess I still feel bad about the other night.” (I guess I feel bad about having a threesome in front of the girl I’m actually crazy about, but I’m not totally sure.)
“I told you I didn’t care.”
“Is that why you slept on the recliner? Because you didn’t care?”
“I couldn’t fall asleep after your… friends left.”
“You slept just fine in the recliner. Why couldn’t you sleep with me?”

Just so we’re all on the same page here, Travis not only does not see anything weird about sharing a bed with a (theoretically) platonic female friend, but also does not see anything weird about doing so after one of them has a threesome. Weird. [Ariel says: God, I know, what is Abby’s problem?] [Matthew says: Guess this is one of those ways that she’s a sheltered good girl.]

Amazingly enough, Travis actually more or less admits his feelings for Abby to Abby! I KNOW!

“I wouldn’t even known how to go about being who you deserve. I was just trying to get it worked out in my head.”

And here’s Abby’s reaction.

“Whatever that means.”

Dang! Sorry, dude. Guess it’s really hard to recover from having a drunken threesome in the room adjacent to the girl you’re trying to be with!

Talking to her was like having a conversation with a black hole. It didn’t matter what I said, even the few times that I was clear about my feelings. Her selective hearing was infuriating.

Yes, because black holes are well known for being selective. I guess science isn’t cool enough for you, Travis.

If only science was cool!
If only science were cool!

[Ariel says: At least Travis acknowledges this. If only from Abby’s perspective we could understand why she’s like this. I think McGuire wrote this as an afterthought when people pointed out to her that Abby makes no sense.]

Travis gets a phone call from his brother  Trent asking for help fixing their dad’s truck. What follows is a chapter so boring it’s almost offensive, right down to some fatherly advice conveniently resolving the entire “Shepley is mad or something” subplot!

Dad touched Shepley’s shoulder. “You’re afraid, since this is Travis’s first attempt at a relationship, he’s going to screw it up, and that screws things up for you.”

Also we see the puppy and it does puppy things like bark and pee in the house. Sorry, Jamie McGuire, adding puppies to make things more likeable only works in movies where you can actually see the puppies.

Travis acts all pissy about how Abby’s going on a date with Parker. Shepley tells Travis that he has to play it cool and keep his temper under control while the girl he’s keeping in his house like a prisoner… wait…

Hahaha holy shit! Beautiful Disaster and Walking Disaster are just Beauty and the Beast: College Edition! The same Stockholm Syndrome you know and love, but with 100% less cherished musical numbers and 100% more bagging bitches.

...maybe
…maybe
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10 comments

  1. scummy48 Reply

    It’s like Jamie McGuire knows that the whole pigeon thing makes no sense and keeps trying to explain it to us even though it will never make sense. I also really enjoy that Travis wears a leather wristband. I know all the cool, dangerous college kids have those these days.

    And, this is more about last chapter, but why would someone who never actually seems to wear cardigans and pearls experiment with that outfit at a fight club of all places?? The consistency here is terrible. I’m really tired of this plot only existing because McGuire writes abby as too stupid/too inhuman to have any real reactions. If she has selective hearing, why don’t we get to see her react to what is said or try to make sense of Travis in her story? Why doesn’t Travis try to be clearer when he realizes she’s not getting it? There is no actual plot, just characters who are too stupid to express themselves or think like normal people so that their interactions drag out into something that pretends to be a plot.

    Also you should ask your girlfriend to send you that skit so you can share it with us. I can’t imagine many things better then a 13 year olds interpretation of the host (when I was 14 I had to do a skit on vikings and my group loosely based it off of twilight, so I can relate. I was a really cool child…)

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  2. Shannon Reply

    Loved this post! Literally laughed out loud at work! With Seinfeld and Beauty and the Beast too… perfect!!

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  3. Madeline Reply

    I keep getting put off guard when I see the name America because in the book ‘The Selection’ America is the name of the main character that makes questionable decisions. This America is instead the world’s shittiest best friend who makes even worse decisions. How do you solve a problem named America, shut it down.

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  5. E.H.Taylor Reply

    Does anybody ever explain how Travis and Abby being in a relationship would affect Shepley and America? I mean, isn’t what they’re currently doing worse? Because I really don’t see how any of this can end well.

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  6. black lamb Reply

    “Hahaha holy shit! Beautiful Disaster and Walking Disaster are just Beauty and the Beast: College Edition! The same Stockholm Syndrome you know and love, but with 100% less cherished musical numbers and 100% more bagging bitches.”

    This is way belated, but: it’s actually Lady and the Tramp! That’s where the “Pigeon” nickname comes from, the tramp dog calls the Lady dog “pigeon” several times in the film, but McGuire realised after writing Beautiful Disaster that the “Pigeon” is never explained and makes no sense in the context of the book, so in Walking Disaster she decided to try and make an origin for it by doing this weird Pigeon v. Vulture classification of women that everyone in the book seems to just intrinsically understand despite it being super random and arbitrary. (Let’s not get into how pigeons are widely regarded as dirty, disease-carrying vermin, and vultures shit all over themselves to keep cool and throw up as a defense mechanism.)

    I actually think “Pigeon” as a nickname would have been pretty cute **if McGuire had acknowledged in the first book that it came from a Disney movie.** Like, if Abby had gone “Why do you keep calling me Pigeon?” and Travis said “Because you totally remind me of the cocker spaniel from Lady and the Tramp.” Or if McGuire had ever like, described what pigeons are actually like. (Cleaner than people think, very intelligent, related to doves, mate for life.) Instead she just never explains it so you’re like “uh so he’s calling her an obnoxious pest that shits all over everything?” Romance!

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    • matthewjulius Reply

      “but McGuire realised after writing Beautiful Disaster that the “Pigeon” is never explained and makes no sense in the context of the book”

      Jesus, these books are amazing.

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