The last chapter ended super ominously like this:
And that’s when it all came crashing down.
Which is, ironically, probably when the BBGT crowd gets most excited, so I’m glad it was so clearly spelled out for us! LET US BEGIN THE GRAND DEMISE!
Beautiful Oblivion Chapter 20
We open up with Cami wrapping up a customer’s paperwork at the tattoo parlor, who starts flirting with her.
“What time does this place close?” He stared right into my eyes, flashing a sexy smile that I imagined he had been perfecting in a mirror since puberty.
Somehow I feel like “sexy smile” and “puberty” have not previously appeared in a sentence together, and for logical reasons.
Strangely, Cami’s rebuttal actually starts out kind of alright.
“I’d love to take you to the Red Door. Have you been there?”
“Have you?” I asked, slightly amused.
And then (of course) Trenton shows up and ruins it.
“You want me to do [the tattoo]?” Trenton asked. […] “I’ll do it, but you’re going to have to stop staring at my girl’s tits.”
EVEN MORE STRANGELY, Trenton ruining it actually becomes the point!
I watched, unimpressed, as Trenton strolled back to his station […] with an arrogant swagger […]
“What the hell was that?”
“He asked you out!”
“So? I should have beat his ass!”
I sighed and closed my eyes. “Trent, I handled it.”
Hell, she even sort of calls him out on HIS OWN SEXISM.
You can’t run customers off every time they flirt with me. That’s what Cal hired me for.”
“He did not hire you to be flirted with. He hired—”
“A hot piece of ass to work the counter. A job you offered me, don’t forget.”
Cami telling off Trenton for being an arrogant, possessive hypocrite who openly objectified her himself? Christ on a bicycle, what is this? Opposite day?
But, lo, it is not opposite day.
“I’m not sorry for running him off, but I am sorry I made you mad. Think about it, though. I wasn’t going to tat him up after he hit on my girl. Trust me. It was best for everyone.”
“Stop making sense,” I snapped.
Cami’s brothers, Colin and Chase, show up for the anticipated “we’re not gonna let you tear apart this family by staying away from our emotionally and physically abusive dad, somehow this makes sense” scene.
Colin frowned. “We need to talk to Camille. Alone.”
Trenton shook his head. “Not gonna happen.”
Chase narrowed his eyes and leaned toward us. “She’s our fucking family. We’re not asking for your permission, Maddox.”
Trenton raised an eyebrow. “You are, you just don’t know it yet.”
My God, it’s like a high stakes pissing match entirely between people I completely hate.
Chase demands to know why Cami didn’t show up at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s day, and says that she “better fucking be there” for their dad’s birthday next week.
Meanwhile, bitches gonna bitch.
“Or what?” Trenton said.
“The fuck did you just say to me, Maddox?” Chase snapped.
Trenton lifted his chin. “She better be there, or what? What are you going to do if she doesn’t show?”
Chase leaned against the counter. “Come get her.” […]
“Camille, come outside with us right now, or I’m going to tear this place apart while I kick your buddy’s ass.”
Suddenly and astoundingly, Calvin shows up to do the only good thing he’ll ever do in this book: wonder why a bunch of underage douchebags are acting like this is acceptable behavior.
Calvin appeared on the other side of me. […] “Did you just say you were going to tear up my shop?”
Man, if Calvin weren’t the worst person in this book (which is a really tough competition, you guys), I’d absolutely love him here, utterly perplexed why he stumbled into a bad novel about walking penises.
Bishop and Hazel show up too to turn the scales. Hazel has a line about how she “may not look like much” but promises to “claw your eyes out”, but doesn’t want to have to because she doesn’t want to have to hurt Cami. This is interesting, because it’s probably supposed to say “See? Women are tough too!”, but the only way anyone in these books can be “strong” or “tough” is by adopting traditionally male qualities, almost exclusively aggression. It’s amazing how even in a scene where a female character delivers the final blow, everything in the Beautiful books comes down to who has the biggest metaphorical penis.
Chase looked to me. “I’ll call you later. We deserve an explanation for why our family’s falling apart.”
I keep being amazed that everyone keeps using the present progressive “falling” here.
So, for those of you keeping score at home, here’s how “it all came crashing down” so far:
- Trenton is being a dick
- Cami’s family are dicks
Yes, both of these things are veeeeeeeery different from how the novel has been up until this point. It’s like I’m reading a completely different book.
In the wake of the standoff with her brothers, Cami and Trenton have a weirdly on-point conversation…
“I’m never going to let them intimidate you again.”
I pressed my cheek against his chest again. “It’s all they know, Trent. I can’t really blame them.” […]
“they can make different choices. They choose to stick with what they know.”
“Kind of like you and your brothers?” I didn’t look up, and Trenton didn’t respond right away.
But, lo, it is not opposite day.
“[J]ust because you can beat someone’s ass… doesn’t mean you should.”
Trenton chuckled. “Yeah it does.” I tried — and not very hard — to push him away.
Not that she’s laughing (finding 100% accurate gifs gets hard), but, still, why is she enabling his behavior? Reading Beautiful Oblivion (or most of the books we’ve read on BBGT) is basically reading one scene over and over where Trenton totally ignores Cami calling him out on some sexist or otherwise arrogant bullshit that makes him a disgusting human being, and she lets him disregard her.
Cami also tells Trenton where he spare key is hidden, which naturally segues into… a conversation about gambling on Travis’s fights and making bank? No, seriously, read this shit:
“Wait. Did you just tell me where the spare key was?”
“So can I use it anytime?”
I shrugged. “Yeah.”
A small smile tugged on one corner of Trenton’s mouth, and then it spread across his face. “I’m going to bet on Travis’s next fight.”
It then briefly turns into a conversation about them looking for an apartment together, which is sort of more apropos, until you realize that “LET’S GET A PLACE FOR OUR LOVE” doesn’t really logically stem from “the spare key is under a rock” either.
Trenton drives Cami back to her apartment, mentions that “it’s nasty out” (Cheeeeeeeeekhov’s guuuuuuuuun), and she gets ready for work at the bar with Raegan, who still has a subplot in this book.
“But we had plans. It’s not okay to cancel plans with me to go drinking with your frat brothers! Why don’t you get that?”
Brazil pulled his hat down low over his eyes, zipped up his coat, and left.
As a casual reminder, Raegan’s entire subplot is that she was happily dating one guy, then he didn’t along great with her dad, so she dumped him for her ex who has never not treated her badly, and she’s upset that her life isn’t better. Usually the “sub” in “subplot” refers to how it’s of less importance than the plot, and less so how it’s a significant decline in quality from the plot.
“He’s not ready for a relationship. He wants the benefits of a girlfriend without the commitment.”
She shook her head. “Then he’d just pull a Travis Maddox and fuck everything with a vag until he found the one, instead of trying so hard to make things work with me.”
Yes, 100% of Brazil’s scenes being him breaking a promise to Raegan to go drinking with his friends really shows how hard he’s trying to make things work.
SOMEHOW IT GETS DUMBER.
“What are you waiting for, Ray?” […]
“Brazil dumped me right about this time before last year’s date party. I bought a dress, I told everyone he asked me. I’m going to that fucking party.”
I glared into the mirror, staring at her reflection in disbelief. “Are you kidding me? You are putting up with this frat boy nonsense to go to a party?”
“I bought a dress!” she said. “You wouldn’t understand.”
“You’re right. I wouldn’t.”
Pro writing tip: If the only conversations anyone can have with a character about their motivation is about how it doesn’t make sense, maybe this is not an interesting motivation for that character to have.
Kody shows up offering to drive them to work, because apparently no one in this book thinks women should be allowed to drive.
“What are you doing here?” Reagan asked, stepping out into the living room.
“It’s getting worse, Ray. I don’t think it’s a good idea that you drive. Either of you.”
Question of the day: What’s the book/movie/music/some other media coming out in 2015 that you’re most excited about? My inner nine-year-old is shamelessly pumped about a new Star Wars.