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He’s not dumb, he’s a gentleman! (The Awakening Part 4)

January 5, 2009

Dear Diary, today I was manipulative and my not-boyfriend went to the dance with someone else.  HOW DARE HE?  It was not the best day ever.

Welcome back to the Vampire Diaries recaps.  We’re entrenched (who has an entrenching tool?) in The Awakening, the first book of a four-book trilogy.  You heard me.

You’re going to have to forgive me tonight, for there is something weird about my eyes.  They suddenly hurt.  And I am tired.  I am starting to wonder if this has something to do with the fact that my daughter and I have started watching MST3K together.  Although I watched quite a few episodes of the show in my day, I cannot forget the night I watched the Manos: The Hands of Fate episode with my then-boyfriend back when I was in high school.  He’d come right over from his job at the animal hospital, and I had the biggest allergic reaction I’d ever had in my life to anything.  It SUCKED.  I don’t even really remember the movie, or whether we got to the end.  Oh, sure, it’s been like 15 years, but I’ve decided, I’m having Manos flashbacks.  That’s why my eyes hurt and I’m tired now, and I felt crappy the other night when we watched the movie.  Or else I did something stupid to my eyes and I’m tired.  Either way.

But enough about me.  Let’s get back to the book.

Chapter six begins with ~*Elena*~’s diary entry about the old man attack.  (Does the poor guy ever get a name?)  Apparently, he was raving about “‘eyes in the dark’ and oak trees and things.”  Raise your hand if you think this is going to come up later.  Also, Tyler Smallwood’s dad has come up with the ridiculous “self-inflicted” theory.  Raise your hand if you think he’s being shifty.  We’re also told it’s been three weeks and that the post-attack panic has calmed down.  That means everyone’s ready for some dancin’!  Homecoming, to be specific.  But before we can get to that wild and crazy event, we have to put up with three pages of ~*Elena*~ giving us the short, short version of what’s been going on.  Clever method of infodump, I have to say.  Let’s see: Meredith has the hookup with some florist, so ~*Elena*~’s fake French boyfriend has sent her flowers, and it’s all good because everyone thinks she’s got someone!  GOD FORBID she be thought of as someone a GUY TURNED DOWN FOR A DATE!  Clutch your pearls at the thought, ladies!  What else, what else.  Caroline’s disappeared from lunch.  There’s actually a bit here and there about Caroline (she comes up while they’re getting ready for the dance), so I’m thrilled with that.  Unlike certain other vampire-lovin’ teenage girl characters in certain other four-book YA series, ~*Elena*~ has friends and a past and did normal people things and is hurt when friendships die.  Especially when they’re murdered by a bitch in a gold lame (LAME) dress.  But I’m getting there.  IDK, if it were me, I would’ve been more upset about losing one of my three BFFs than some guy turning me down for a tour around the school or whatever ridiculous “scheme” she’s been coming up with.  But at least ~*Elena*~ (and the author) brings it up from time to time.  But ~*Elena*~ also says she doesn’t care where Caroline is in her journal entry.  I don’t buy it.  Unlike certain other etc etc, ~*Elena*~ has a heart.  Just really messed up priorities.

So she swears that the only thing she cares about is Stefan.  (Did anyone ever do a reading of this where her obsession with Stefan has something to with her separation from Caroline?  That would be fun.)  She’s shocked by the depth of her obsession–I guess she never really had a crush before.  Or watched that Alicia Silverstone movie.  She’s even stopped eating enough!  That’s okay, because I never believed she ate anything anyway.  You know, I could use a good crush since I don’t have a gym membership right now.  Ooh, or that feeling early on in a relationship where you stay up talking till 4am even though you have to be up at 6:30am and you don’t even care even though you KNOW you’re tired, because you’re so damned hyper?  I could get SO MUCH (website-hopping) done if I didn’t need 9-10 hours of sleep a night.  (Yes, that thing about an eight-hour average is an AVERAGE for a reason.  I feel bleh on 8 hours of sleep, horrible on 7.)  Oh and she can’t concentrate on anything like classes or even fun stuff LIKE THE HAUNTED HOUSE FUNDRAISER.  I LOVE that everything in this book is so relevant.  I WONDER IF ANYTHING IMPORTANT WILL HAPPEN AT THE FUNDRAISER?  I BET IT WILL!  For all the issues I’ve had with L.J. Smith, she sure does know how to make every word count.  And I’m not even being sarcastic.  Anne Rice, take some freakin’ notes.  Not that anyone I know has read any Anne Rice in YEARS.

But in the plus column of ~*Elena*~’s life, she’s pretty sure Stefan has been sneaking glances at her in that class they share.  Oh thank God; otherwise she would’ve become the most horrifying (but BEAUTIFUL!) stalker.  I guess this has to happen, otherwise everything irritating that ~*Elena*~ does from now on would just be completely unjustified and she WOULD be as pathetic as she’s afraid to appear, although for a completely different reason.  But she can’t seem to find him anywhere else to see if this eye contact will lead somewhere!  He’s not at lunch!  He doesn’t go to the coffee shop I’m fairly certain we never hear about ever again!  It would be too pathetic to just show up at his boarding house or pretend her car broke down in front of it or whatever (FINALLY, A LINE SHE WILL NOT CROSS), so she’s getting twitchy.  And she says she feels like she might (pause for effect)…gosh, she was going to say “die.”  WHATEVER COULD THIS MEAN?  It’s really a good little creepy line, even though reasonably there’s no reason for her NOT to use the cliche.  It freaks her out to use this cliche.  It made me shiver when I read it the first time.  When there are pervert crows and attacks on subhumanshomeless people, no one wants to use the word “die.”  Especially not beautiful blonde girls.

So she suddenly comes up with a “plan” (wait for it; it’s so stupid) but it involves DoorMatt, who has been upset about the whole fake boyfriend thing.  ~*Elena*~ comes clean to that right away, and Matt gets that it was just a dumb scheme to prove that she didn’t care that the new boy, unlike all other boys, didn’t fall at her feet.  Matt apologizes for Stefan and talks about how lonely he (Stefan) is.  Oh good, Matt, that’s just going to make him want her more.  Actually, ~*Elena*~ DOES want him more after that, because OMG STEFAN IS JUST LIKE HER, COOL AND CALM AND COLLECTED AND PERFECT ON THE OUTSIDE BUT OH SO LONELY ON THE INSIDE.  It’s destiny, you guys.

Then she starts to manipulate Matt into helping her get Stefan to come to the dance.  Matt immediately starts giving her crap about it.  GO MATT!  Then he backs down, because he’s lame.  BOO MATT!  He calls himself dumb and ~*Elena*~ replies, “You’re not dumb, you’re a gentleman.”  I’ve got to use that on my BFF one of these days.  He’ll kick me.

Anyway, he agrees to try to talk Stefan into going to the dance, and then asks ~*Elena*~ to go with him.  She agrees, which is JUST. WRONG.  I don’t care who you are, you don’t take a guy who still has feelings for you ANYWHERE.  It’ll tear his heart out when you mack on someone else.  He’s a fool, and you’re a fool too.  Sorry, a gentlewoman.

~*~

All right, so now we’re getting ready for the dance.  Bonnie’s hot for Matt’s talents on the football field…Stefan’s too, but mostly Matt’s.  I WONDER…  ~*Elena*~ is wearing a dress that’s an “iced-violet color” and “pale and steely…like a very young soldier being sent to the front lines.”  ~*Elena*~ needs a hobby that doesn’t revolve around Italian boys.

And her brilliant plan is revealed: She’s going to ask him to dance.  He can’t say no, you see, because she’s going to be the Homecoming Queen.  And you can’t turn down the Homecoming Queen.

No, seriously, that’s the whole plan.  THAT’S the whole plan.  The whole thing.  And her friends aren’t stopping her.  Maybe they secretly hate her.  Bonnie might, because she’s still babbling about Matt.  She’s got a boyfriend (or date or something) with a guy named Raymond, but she’s ready and willing to toss him over for Matt.  ~*Elena*~’s response to this is “Oh, do whatever you want.”  Condescension alert!  Look, we all know you need to get permission from your friend to date the ex, but I HATE the way ~*Elena*~ treats guys like objects.  She’s no better than Tyler Smallwood in her own bitchy little way.  Reverse sexism to the max.

Blah blah, descriptions of what they’re wearing: Meredith in burgundy satin, Bonnie in pink taffeta (a redhead in pink? she’s so NINETIES) with black sequins, and ~*Elena*~ in the “iced-violet” dress.  Love it, actually, even though I want to make fun of it.  The color I pictured in my head was very light purple, probably lavender, but whatever.  It was, uh, iced.  ~*Elena*~ thinks that her dress reminds her of crystallized violets, something I never saw or heard of growing up.  No wonder I got the color wrong.  It’s way darker.  I did a Google search.

As they go down to meet their dates, ~*Elena*~ briefly thinks of Caroline.  (See?)  Aww.  She realizes she has no idea who Caroline is going to the dance with.  Considering how we never really get to know any character that doesn’t serve a function, her date is obviously either a) Tyler, b) Stefan, or c) some random new guy who serves a purpose.  But ~*Elena*~ doesn’t give it any thought, because her almost-uncle Robert is there to give an inaccurate history lesson.

He tells us that the name Elena is a version of Helen (true), and Bonnie’s like “Yay!  I’m a couple years too early to be a Wiccan goth!” and he’s like “Yeah, she was doomed.”  Actually, this is not true.  Ancient Greek minor, don’t fail me now.  Helen wasn’t “doomed,” she was just a pawn.  She marries the guy she likes best, Meneleus, and then along comes Paris, who’s been told he can take Helen by Aphrodite because Paris has declared the love goddess the most beautiful of all the goddesses.  Helen gets taken to Troy, and then there’s a whole war and stuff, but then she’s reunited with her husband!  Not doomed at all!  Well, in the most popular version anyway.  In the Odyssey, she’s with her husband again, very much not dead or anything.  I’m not sure if they’re crazy in love anymore, but still.  NOT DOOMED.

So Robert’s unhappy because ~*Elena*~ shares the name with a not-doomed-at-all-really fictional character.  THAT MAKES NO SENSE, ROBERT.  Ooh, unless he has psychic abilities too, like almost everyone else in town!

So the dates get there.  We now find out why Matt’s a trade up from Raymond.  Yeah, no surprise there, he’s a minority.  Of course Bonnie wants the poor but attractive white guy instead.  See, Raymond, if you were just white and NOT poor, you’d be fine.  But you gotta go and be Latino.  ARGH.

Meredith’s date is named Ed Goff.  Okay.

Oh, and Matt’s still poor, because he’s wearing his “usual” outfit.  Sigh.

Matt tries to tell ~*Elena*~ something, but he’s cut off.  That means it’s important.  It’s because Bonnie and Raymond are “trading witticisms.”  That’s cute.  It’s like there’s a real couple in this book, except that she doesn’t actually want him.  Double sigh.

~*Elena*~ has a feeling that this is It, somehow, and they find themselves in “a kaleideoscope of color and activity.”  Love it.  This whole dance thing has a trippy feel to it, especially later where it gets choppy and montage-y.  Really sparks the imagination.  See, it’s not all hate here.

We do a rundown of the important people: Tyler is there, “smelling of punch and Brut and Doublemint gum.”  Ugh ugh UGH.  I hate mint gums 99% of the time.  They remind me of my first boyfriend, who chewed gum to try to make me forget that he was a smoker.  Doesn’t work, people.  So if I didn’t like Tyler before, I REALLY don’t like Tyler now.  Mr. Tanner the mean teacher is there, uncomfortable and kind of dorky.  Someone named Sue Carson, “the other senior homecoming princess,” does things like “breeze” and “coo.”  I’m guessing she’s only second to Caroline in bitchy behavior.  (If you don’t count ~*Elena*~, that is.)  And the Coach is there too, talking about the game.  ~*Elena*~ and Matt are mobbed, and ~*Elena*~ thinks that this is like being royalty.  Actually, it reminds me of the reception line (or whatever it’s called) at a wedding.  ~*Elena*~’s looking to share the joke with Matt, but he’s caught a glimpse of Stefan.  ~*Elena*~ so considerately offers to give DoorMatt a pity dance before going to hook the big fish, but even Matt knows better.  If I didn’t know he was going to lie down and take it later, I’d say he was on his way to earning a better nickname.

Stefan is, of course, slightly better dressed than everyone else, in Consummate Eurotrash, in a black blazer over a white cashmere sweater.  He is not wearing his sunglasses!  It makes ~*Elena*~ happy in her secret places.  So much so that her superpower kicks in.

“In that instant, Elena was aware that she was beautiful…slender, imperial, a thing made of silk and inner fire.”

His eyes are green, as I’ve said before.  “Green as oak leaves in the summer,” but still green.  No reason for the sunglasses at all.  Also, to continue the cliches, they have the “Are you having a good time?” “I am now” conversation, except he doesn’t actually reply, but they both know it, except, uh, for the fact that he looks “stricken, in pain.”  Still, when you’re a tween, this is hot stuff, cuz he seems like “he might jerk her to him and kiss her hard, without ever saying a word.”  Yeah…kiss.

She asks him to dance, and her spider-sense kicks in, warning her that there’s danger in these here parts.  But she doesn’t care, because that’s what happens when you love a vampire, you act like an idiot (Bella)–or, in the more reasonable words of Ms. Smith, “The same force that was terrifying her was holding her there.”  Well, somewhat more reasonable.  Still, it’s pretty awesome.  “Whatever was happening here was beyond her understanding, was nothing normal or sane.”  Aw, teenagers.  “It was the most intense moment she’d ever experienced with a boy, but nothing at all was happening.”  I love hormones!  Stefan’s just about to give in when Caroline, HIS DATE, comes by and bursts their Labyrinthy bubble.

Caroline is wearing gold lame (LAME) that reveals a ton of skin, and is appropriately catty.  Pre-Cordelia, if you will.  The descriptions keep coming fast and strong–really–but all it boils down to is that Caroline acts like she owns Stefan and Stefan doesn’t do much about it.  The girls in this town, I tell ya.

~*Elena*~ immediately makes about 100 connections I wouldn’t have and goes back to Matt, who FINALLY has a chance to tell her that Caroline’s been hanging around Stefan at lunch all this time, but he doesn’t seem to be taking it seriously.  Then the girls have a fun bitchfest about Caroline and her dress, and ~*Elena*~ starts to sort of fade out and everything gets that trippy feeling.  It’s cool, because you’ve got rave, bubble, rave.  You’ve got the likely flourescent lights of the girls’ room, where they’ve ducked into so that ~*Elena*~ can decompress, and then the choppiness that leads to the end of the chapter.  You were right, aethyrkitten.  So good and yet so bad.

Bonnie makes a comment about how everything can go back to normal and now ~*Elena*~ can move on, but the reader knows that Bonnie Just Doesn’t Get It.  DESTINED, people, DESTINED.  “Et tu, Brute?” ~*Elena*~ thinks.  Oh, L.J.  You’re always worried about learnin’ us kids.  Meredith is on Bonnie’s side, because it’s the sane side.  That pisses off ~*Elena*~, who’s still embarrassed about asking a guy to dance in front of everyone and having him want to hang out with his date instead (PEARLS AGAIN EVERYONE) and she stomps off in a huff of “Maybe I need new friends!”

Then she’s off “laughing too loud” and partying too hard.  She gets crowned, but it’s all very quick and choppy and soon she’s moved on to Tyler, who’s not only mint-stinky but alcohol-stinky (ew ew ewwwww) and she doesn’t care that Tyler’s date is upset about not having her guy pay attention to her, she only wants to have such a “good” time she forgets that she’s hurt and embarrassed.  Also, Dick was mean to Stefan before, so she’s extra happy to be hanging with the Smallwood Gang.

Then Tyler suggests they all go to the cemetery, and everyone who doesn’t is a total wuss, man! ~*Elena*~ wants to go too.  She’s a bad girl now!  Someone calls for her but she doesn’t care.  She removes her tiara–metaphor!–and they ride off into the night: her, Tyler, Dick, and Dick’s date Vickie.  I wonder if anything will happen to Vickie in the next chapter?

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