Lock and Key – Chapter 4

Chapter 4


One definition of an optimist is someone with “a disposition or tendency to look on the more favourable side of events or conditions and to expect the most favourable outcome” and that basically summarised Jamie for me.  Normally these people have the tendency to bug the stuffing out of me, but not Jamie.  Until this moment, eight o’clock on a Saturday morning – is he mad?


A backhoe is not something I think about all that much or really at all.  I am not even sure I know what one looks like, I find myself typing the word into the Google search engine to make sure I don’t look like a complete goose.  Not that you guys can see me, but you know what I am talking about…hopefully.  Ahh now I know where I went wrong, we call them Front Loader’s in my neck of the woods (that’s my story and I am sticking to it.)  The thought of an exuberant technophile driving a backhoe in a sloping backyard with its own Stonehenge is somewhat comical.  The idea of waking up to that racket on a Saturday morning is a less cheery concept.  And then I realise Jamie is the overseer and not driving the backhoe and I am a little disappointed.  I am completely with Cora on this one, Saturday morning’s are for sleep and I guess we are all lucky the sound of the backhoe cancelled out what she said before that.  A beep or two might actually have been necessary if this were a TV show during primetime.


When Cora doesn’t provide Jamie with a desirable response to how cool a pond will look inside Stonehenge, he turns his attentions to Ruby.  I am, at that moment, unsure as to what a watery Stonehenge would look like – “pretty cool” doesn’t really cover it.  For some reason it reminds me of a time when I was assisting my mother in putting up curtain rods in our new house.  Somehow we got onto the topic of husbands, since I was only eleven at the time I have no recall of how we got onto that subject matter.  My father, of no apparent handy man know-how drifted past and she spat “don’t worry about finding yourself a rich one, get yourself a handy man”.  Now this stayed with me, but seeing Jamie in action I realise 1) he has no idea what is really going on out there and 2) rich men can hire handy ones.  Clearly my mother wasn’t in the optimist boat with Jamie. 


Laying in her new bed at Cora’s, Ruby begins thinking about the transition of the past week. 

“Hard to believe that the previous Saturday, I’d been at the yellow house, waking up on the couch with out mouldy afghan curled around me.  Fast-forward a week and here I was at Cora’s.  My basic needs were certainly being met – running water, heat, food – but it was strange to be here.”

Does this mean she’s had some change of perspective?  In the first chapter Ruby discussed how the status report on her living conditions was exaggerated.  Her statement above indicates otherwise.  Yet everything for her still remains tentative, temporary. 


The first demonstrating of Ruby’s bucking against the Cora/Jamie system occurs due to the carpool.  She’s putting her foot down, insisting on using the public transport system instead.  I feel like condescendingly patting Ruby on the head and murmuring ‘there, there’.   Is she completely nuts?  But then again if she takes the bus that is less time she’s in her sister’s house, which makes sense to me.  Ruby goes on about how Nate really doesn’t want to give her a lift and that the bus is fine.

“It just seems like a big hassle.  If I ride the bus, I can leave when I want, and not be at the mercy of someone else.”

That last piece of the sentence is the crux of the matter – Ruby needs control.  Being left to the whims of others is not her deal, hence the display of stubbornness that rivals the worst of Elizabeth Hasselbeck.  I loved Jamie’s response though ‘no, you’ll be at the mercy of the bus schedule, which is much worse’.  His suggestion to buy her a car, while very generous is completely ridiculous and I am glad Cora put her foot down.  Turns out that this disagreement was all for nothing as Ruby sleeps through her alarm and needs to take the carpool anyway.


Gervais.  A great name and reminds me of The Office (original UK series).   I am beginning to get really curious about the manner in which Sarah chooses her character’s names.  This little mouthy wonder is described as

“…a short kid wearing a peacoat and some serious orthodontia, sitting in the backseat with a book open in his lap.”

Seriously, this kid would have been my soul mate!  He’s precocious, persnickety (my favourite word of all time) and sounds like a goose.  Maybe he wouldn’t have been my soul mate, maybe my nemesis?  This kid is so intelligent that he rivals Doogie, taking classes at Perkins and at the U.  Wow that poor, poor kid.


Through this little nasal, bookworm we learn that Nate and his Pop-Tart gorging girlfriend, Heather are now broken up.  Nate apparently didn’t know it was coming.  I am really enjoying Gervais, he’s like an outsider commentating on Nate’s life and I like the new perspective. Turns out the girl we’ve been introduced before in class, is the infamous Heather.  There is still some vibes there so I am not completely sure that Nate is destined to be with Ruby, despite him being the only teen male (other than the douche) that we’ve met so far.


The next day Ruby sleeps late again and is required to carpool.  I am beginning to wonder if she is subconsciously sabotaging herself.  Gervais’ shampoo moment was hilarious, trees aren’t the greatest scent-related compliment. 


“Twelve year olds…so easy to break”

Ruby’s thought once she’s deterred Gervais with a stare.  So true.


Ruby’s arrival with Nate is noted by her classmates with interest.  She quickly figures out that his popular status makes her interesting as a by-product.  It quickly becomes habit that they walk into school side by side, Nate using Ruby’s advice to try and move on from the perfect Heather.  Carpool becomes an element in her new life she succumbs to-

“Resistance was futile, and Nate and I were becoming friends, or something like it.  At least as far as he was concerned.”

I actually felt pity for Nate in this moment, he thinks he’s making a connection with someone and she’s dismissive of it.  Or is she?  Is this one of her boundaries plonking in place?  Now I am just feeling pity for her.


Ruby’s concerns, regarding their “friendship”, seemingly revolve around their differences.  Train wreck girl versus wholesome boy.  I think she underestimates herself, that years of hardship have completely stripped away any of her self-worth.  The fact that Nate is an over-achiever just highlights her insecurities.  Ruby finds herself a person of further interest when the rumour mill indicts her as a contributing factor in the Heather/Nate ‘ship.  Rumours oh how I detest them when they are regarding me.  There was once a rumour involving myself and my art teacher, I was in the ninth grade and this man (a friend of the family) had taken me aside to inquire how I was dealing with my parent’s separation.  Let’s just say that dealing with your parent’s splitting combined with a rumour swirling around that you are boinking your teacher isn’t a fantastic experience.  Schools and rumours make for painful experiences all round.


The culture shift of the school sees Ruby dealing with more than just her move into a new home.  New school, new teachers, new library, new cafeteria and a butt kicking curriculum.  Like I previously stated, I made the move to a private school too, and the academic standards are very different.  I too, got my ass handed to me at the beginning and like Ruby I wasn’t without intelligence either.


The HELP table is something that both confuses and amuses me.   I obviously didn’t go to school with individuals that were so social conscious. I am guessing that lumps me in with the selfish students who didn’t care.  But then again I did always do the ’40 Hour Famine’, a fundraising  program to make money for third world countries.  That being said, a lot of girls did it so they didn’t have to hide their dieting or anorexia for forty hours.  I know, I know I am being callous.  We see Heather further demonstrating perfect behaviour and I blast her and her perfect hair.


Ruby struggles to find her place at Perkins Day despite having attended many new schools.  She decides Olivia is her best option of company at lunchtime, despite the cell phone permanently attached to her head.  Olivia, I like.  She verbalises her problems with her fellow classmates and their understanding of poverty and pain.  I love melodramatic people, they entertain me for hours on end.  I like that Ruby has the balls to question her about her problems with her classmates, it shows some great backbone and I suspect it is a quality that Olivia will respect.  What I love the most about this segment on Olivia is how it concludes.  We all know that acceptance is a motivating force-

“…I did get a moment of eye contact, some acknowledgement, although of what I wasn’t sure, and still couldn’t say.”


I love the concept of Roscoe sitting at Jamie’s feet anytime he’s home.  For some reason I get a mental picture of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito in Twins.  Roscoe seems to be making considerable headway in squeezing himself into Ruby’s heart also.



“You know,” Jamie said … “it’s pretty amazing, actually.  He doesn’t bond with just anyone.”

“I’m not really a dog person,” I said.

“Well he’s not just a dog,” Jamie replied.  “He’s Roscoe.”

So simply put but I suspect there are many layers in there – independence, acknowledgement, admiration and truth. I also suspect that Cora is one of the people that failed to bond with Roscoe.  He’s found bigger fish to fry with the new arrival in his home.


The less formal interplay between Cora and Ruby is welcomed, even if it is a superficial conversation about the pond.  Cora’s guess that Jamie had already won Ruby over was telling about Jamie’s universal likeability but I didn’t interpret any jealous in it.  Ruby’s response that she doesn’t take sides was an interesting one, did she want her sister to feel less marginalised or was it an attempt to stay out of the pool/pond debate entirely?


Then Cora goes overboard with talk about getting settled, normalcy and scheduling.  Three things Cora is well aware that Ruby hasn’t had in her own life.  Cora’s trying to hard while remaining completely removed from the situation.  The psychiatrist, while a threatening concept, would be a great idea but I knew Ruby wouldn’t go for it.  The “temporary” conversation was an interesting one, almost as if Ruby bringing it up was an attempt to hurt Cora or illicit some kind of reaction.  Which it did. 

“I can live on my own.”

“Ah, yes,” she said. “because that was working out so well for you before.”

Geez Cora. how about some warmth.  She’s colder than Hilary Clinton.  I feel that despite Cora’s good intentions her approach is way off.  Almost as if she is bracing for an attack, to protect herself from feeling for Ruby again.  Hence, her being a big, fat meanie.  The mention of a baby seemed to change more than Cora’s expression, I think Ruby’s unintentionally stumbled onto a sore point and I immediately felt horrible.  Ruby, however, didn’t appear to notice it at all.


The shopping trip.  Was it just me or did Cora change her mind?  Jamie inferred that Cora has intended on accompanying Ruby as a girl’s day out.  Maybe the proceeding conversation made her rethink the idea.  Was it Ruby’s defensiveness or the baby comment that changed things?  Either way my sympathy for Cora grows despite her apparent cold, outer shell.


These people are rapidly becoming real to me in a way that is tugging fervently at my heart strings.



A Note from Adele


So after my little heart warming Sarah Dessen Twitter moment yesterday, I awoke to find something a little more surprising.  I had twitter invites, a blog comment and a few hundred hits to my blog overnight.  I was even listed 15th in the ‘Most  Growing’ wordpress.com blogs due to this onslaught.  Why you might ask?  Sarah mentioned both my little project here (complete with link) in her blog.  I think I danced a little, on the inside to ensure I didn’t scare people, but I definitely was ecstatic.  Thanks to Sarah (you are the most loveable narcissist I don’t know) and all those people who followed the link.


Just to clarify on the podcast.  I read my chapter diary during the blog but I like to try and address other things also.  Any correspondance via blog comments or emails (sddiarist@gmail.com) will be tackled on the podcast. 


And for those of you who asked, still no developments on the getting the novels.  Darn.


Thanks for dropping by!

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