What Jenny's Reading

{May 20, 2015}   Pioneer Girl, Pt 8: Nicknames and Going Steady

Hi everyone!  Okay, so I know we had a new schedule, but this week I have to deviate from it.  I know!  I’m awful.  But I got a job!  Well, sort of.  I’m doing some contract work, and because of that I won’t be able to finish the Shakespeare review.  I know you’re all completely devastated.

So today is part eight of Pioneer Girl:

Laura’s home and all depressed because all her friends are running around in sleighs, dating and having fun. She’s bitter and surly that Cap took Mary Power out for a ride, like what a fucking hussy AMIRITE? She’s pissed because she hadn’t seen Cap in so long and maybe he should’ve taken her instead. GIRL, REMEMBER HOW CAP ENCOURAGED ALMANZO TO COME GET YOU? Okay, I forgot to add that part to the review a few paragraphs ago. I didn’t want to be redundant since there was already the discussion about him going to get her. But Cap was the one who encouraged Almanzo to go and pick her up that one freezing cold day, and Almanzo did tell her that. STOP TRYING TO MAKE YOU AND CAP HAPPEN, LAURA. IT’S NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN!

So while Laura’s wallowing, Almanzo pulls up and takes her out for a ride. She takes great care to let us know she’s wearing a coat and hat, not her fug hood from the Bouchies’ school, because she totally doesn’t care what Almanzo thinks about how she looks, nope, not at ALL. They have a conversation and Almanzo implies that he waited till she was really sad about seeing everyone having fun before coming to get her. I can’t tell if that’s annoying and Nice Guy-ish, or hilarious. I’m going to go with hilarious.

Laura says fine, but I’m not calling you Mr. Wilder anymore. I guess Laura’s not into D/s, then. He suggests she could call him Manzo or Mannie, and she says she’ll call him Manly, because she mistook Mannie for Manly. He corrects her, but she doesn’t give a fuck. He apparently had a sister named Laura, much older, so doesn’t want to call her Laura. Her middle name is Elizabeth, so he decides he’ll call her Bessie. Guys, I think they’re going steady now!! FINALLY! I mean, it’s not like the book is almost over or anything!

Of course, now she won’t shut up about “Manly’s” beautiful cutter and how much nicer it is than everyone else’s, and how his team of horses is the best of them all, like GIRL. We already know he’s awesome! Remember the whole possible-frost-god thing?

So they take tons of sleigh rides and buggy rides, sometimes alone, and sometimes with Cap and Mary. I guess the whole chaperoning thing just wasn’t an issue. That’s interesting to me.

Uncle Tom, Ma’s brother, comes to visit, just like he did in the story. And just like the story, Almanzo picks her up for a ride and “ferociously” asks her who that asshole creeping on his girl was. I may have paraphrased a little here. Laura thinks this is delightful, and I guess since we don’t see any other weird behavior from Almanzo indicating that he’s the super jealous and possessive type, it’s okay.

Then Cap comes and asks Laura on a ride! Alone! CAP, THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING, GOING BEHIND YOUR BEST FRIEND’S BACK AND TRYING TO STEAL HIS WOMAN? Betrayal! A friendship torn apart by love! Maybe they will meet for fisticuffs at dawn for the privilege of driving her around town! (There’s no way for me to write that without it sounding somewhat sexual. Believe me, I tried.)

Okay, fine. Laura just tells him she’ll go only if Mary goes, and that’s the end of that. I’m just trying to help you make the story more exciting, Laura! And yes, I know I bitch about love triangles and how much they suck and are usually an indicator that the author doesn’t know how to add real tension to a book, but this one had the potential to actually be interesting! I just feel like there’s so much she didn’t include, like why did she think Cap might take her around after she got back from the school? When did she decide she preferred Almanzo? Did Cap and Almanzo ever have a naked mud wrestling match?

Yeah, right. Like you weren’t wondering the same thing.

Back at school, Laura finds she’s actually ahead of the rest of her classmates in her studies. This isn’t surprising. She’s very smart, and also she had nothing else to do at the Bouchies’ other than be miserable. Of course she lost herself in her studies.

The schoolteacher, a guy named Seeley, was apparently really gross. He had some kind of pointer that he’d chew on, and sometimes use it to scratch his back, and then resume chewing. Ew!! That’s foul. The girls all agreed that it needed to stop, so they doctored the end of the pointer with something that tasted bad. I don’t know what, but Laura mentions it contained cayenne pepper.

And nothing comes of it. Well, he doesn’t like the taste, but that’s all. No one is punished, and she doesn’t say whether he stops chewing on the pointer, or if he goes and buys a new one. Laura Ingalls Wilder: master of buildup with no payoff.

Then Laura goes and stays with the McKees. Remember them? The people who needed to stay on their claim and the husband who ran their business in town? There’s no talk here of Laura being paid, just that she was going to go. Mr. McKee was apparently a Calvinist rather than a Presbyterian, and spent a lot of the weekend lecturing Laura about her soul and how she should join a church, but that also it doesn’t matter because everything’s preordained so it’s already determined if she’s going to hell. If I were Laura, I’d have asked him why anything I did mattered, if everything was already decided. She doesn’t, though, but I bet she thought it.

Mrs. McKee tells Laura that she’s obviously going to marry Almanzo, and Laura denies it. Also, we find out that she’s still writing to Clarence, that redhead from Wisconsin from so long ago. LAURA! How could you keep that a secret for so long?????? Tell us more about ginger Clarence! Why is he so much better than Almanzo? Why did you even marry Almanzo, if you weren’t even that interested in him in the first place?

Seriously, she talks about her and Almanzo’s relationship like it’s serious, then drops a bomb like that. It’s like the sky is green and the ground is blue, I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO THINK ANYMORE.

Back home, Laura goes back to work sewing, but this time she claims to enjoy sewing. I don’t believe her. She tells us that “of course,” the money she earned went into the home fund, and once school started again she and Carrie just helped with chores and so forth. Is that shade? I think it might be shade. Pioneer shade. Good on you, Laura, for calling out your parents for stealing your cash.

At school, most of the older boys were gone, working and married and so forth. I guess Genevieve Masters is still there, but no longer popular, like I honestly don’t remember her being popular at all, except back in Walnut Grove, years ago.

Pa wants to head West again. Surprise, surprise. Apparently he has a bromance with some guy he met while they were battling the grasshoppers. His friend moved to Oregon, and wrote Pa to come out and live there. But Ma shut that shit down, because she finally had a home not plagued by pure evil and didn’t want to start over again.


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