Now, this may be me being overcautious, but there’s a very small instance in this recap where I quote lines that sound like the language used in abuse situations. I’m just giving you a heads up. Because it’s fairly creepy. It’s very brief and comes during an altercation at a lemonade stand.
Yeah, that’s what you’re in for with this one.
During the tarot video last week, I mentioned that the action shifts from Zani to her mother. It’s another of those triple goddess map or astrology chart whatever page ornament preceding italics section.
“Oh, Zade. You have a very difficult journey ahead. I don’t know how, but after everything falls apart, it will all be okay again.”
In the tarot video, I covered why there is no way everything is going to be okay. Zade received the worst possible outcome in her spread. There’s no way everything is going to be okay.
I mean, it will be. But it shouldn’t be, and super great tarot reader Dela would know that if her author hadn’t tried to go all in on the drama.
She’d been doing readings every day on Zade and looking in. She still missed Zade’s voice and actual interaction with her, but she knew she needed to let Zade be–for now. It wouldn’t be like that forever, but Dela needed to be patient till it was time for them to reconnect.
This sounds like some toxic-parent-absolving-themself-of-responsibility bullshit. “I lied to and gaslighted her for most of her life, so she left. I’ll wait until she reaches out to me, rather than confront my wrongdoing and apologize.” It doesn’t work like that. If you fucked your kid up, you apologize first then wait for them to throw the ball into your court. Dela–and basically every other toxic parent out there–is doing it wrong, assuming forgiveness is owed after a passage of time, not an admission of guilt and expression of apology.
Plus, doing a tarot reading to snoop on your own adult child without their knowledge is basically just new age surveillance. You might as well wiretap her phone, Dela.
The door in front of Dela opened, and a young woman in her early twenties entered. She was dressed modestly in jeans and a loosely fitted blouse. Her stringy brunette hair was brushed but not styled and she didn’t seem to have on any make-up. She was skinny, amost too skinny, and she looked sad–and slightly scared.
Wait, Anastasia Rose Steele-Grey is in this book, too?
The girl introduces herself as April. She says she’s there because she wants a reading, and Dela is like, it’s because someone broke your heart.
The reality was that more than half of the people who came to see Dela came because of some matter of the heart. It wasn’t too terribly hard to guess that was probably the reason why anyone, including April, would darken Dela’s doorstep. Dela, however, wasn’t guessing.
No, she’s not guessing. She did a cold reading. Next, she’s going to be like, “I feel like I’m getting a letter…it’s an m…no, it’s an s. A J? Did you know somebody connected to a J?” This is something that good readers actually work against because you can do it unconsciously if you don’t know what to look out for.
Dela had a general speech for anyone who came in to see her for the first time. She had said the same words thousands of times. She had tweaked what she would say here or there but it was basically the same thing and she always said it with just the right amount of dramatic flare.
Was the thing she said always the same? I feel like it might be the same, but it’s only described as being the same three times in that paragraph and I really need this book to tell me things four or five times to get it.
“So, before we begin, I need to explain to you a little of how this works. I will tell you what I see, good or bad. I do not sugarcoat. What I tell you is based on the path you are now on–and the path that those you ask about will take. I can look and see what they will do, but because this is your reading, and you are gaining the knowledge, you will have the chance to change the path, if you so desire, to get the outcome you wish. I can tell you what you will need to do to get your most desired outcome. If you follow what I say, you will see happen what you wish.”
“Now, with that said, there are things that are set in stone. Our paths are not destined, but Destiny is within everything we do.
Some things you cannot change–and if this is the case I will tell you so. Perhaps you have heard the saying, ‘You can’t fight fate.’ Well, if it is fate’s desire then–regardless of the path you take–you will end up in the same place. Do you understand?”
First of all, why does Destiny get to be a proper noun, but fate is just like, there? Does fate not have a personality and consciousness as is implied of Destiny through the bestowing of a capital letter?
Second, how can your path not be destined if everything you do is connected to your destiny? And how are things not fated to happen unless fate wants them to happen? Wouldn’t literally anything that happens, ever, be fate’s desire by default, then? That’s a pretty convenient way to look at the world, isn’t it? “This shitty thing happened to you? Must have been fate’s desire. Oh well.” Dela’s little speech here really renders anything anyone ever does as fully pointless and futile, because no matter what we do, we’re going to end up in whatever place fate feels like dumping us off in. Her big speech here doesn’t just contradict itself; it annihilates hope.
Much like the very existence of this book.
Another handy way that, “Well, I guess it was what fate wanted!” thing works for Dela is, she’s a fortune teller. She hands out this disclaimer and when people come back and say, “This thing didn’t happen,” she can say, “Well, must have been fate.” Which is cheap. Readers and psychics and mediums are all human and fully fallible. We can get it wrong. Good readers just accept that they got it wrong and say, “Hey, I got it wrong.”
Oh, were you wondering what happens to the girl getting the reading from Dela? Don’t. Because that last line of dialogue there ends it. We just needed the girl as a vehicle for the speech. Now, we’re back to Zim’s POV.
It wasn’t but a few days later when I found myself back in the mall. I may not be super keen on shopping but I had finally realized how few “going out” clothes I really owned.
Don’t worry, guys! She’s only there because she wants to shop for clothes. It’s not like she’s there shopping for clothes. She’s still Not Like Other Girls™.
Because malls quickly made me tired and cranky quickly,
Quickly, you say?
I figured I deserved some lemonade for the suffering I was enduring.
She goes to Hot Dog On A Stick, where the cashier is male:
He was like most teenagers and some of his body were more manly–like his filled-out arms–while other parts like his scrawny legs sticking out of his shorts still looked more like those of a boy. He couldn’t have been older than about nineteen or twenty years old.
How did she see his legs? Also, isn’t this supposed to be a YA novel? What’s with the “teenagers are funny looking, even if they’re adults” nonsense? I’m sure that’ll be endearing to all those YA readers.
As I dug through my purse for the exact change, I could feel his gaze on me. I hadn’t really been paying him any attention but once I looked up I noticed he was just staring at me with the biggest puppy-dog eyes. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I’m not trying to be weird. You just have really great hair.”
I smiled back mostly as a reaction to the compliment. He was not at all my type even though when you looked past the braces and acne he was actually decently cute. Talk to me in ten years.
In ten years? When he’s pushing thirty? I thought this was supposed to be a YA novel. But of course, their hands brush as they exchange cash and he tells her she has “striking” eyes.
Do the Hot Dog On A Stick people get tips? Asking so I can defend Alan’s poor judgment.
Zardon fiddles with her phone so she doesn’t have to engage the absolutely smitten teenaged-hot-dog-adult. Alas:
I glaced up to see if Alan was still staring at me and he was, so he caught me looking at him. He obviously took it as me eyeing him, considering the way he was eyeing me while I was barely paying any attention to the next customer or their order.
Listen, Zlartibartfast isn’t into this guy. It’s not her fault that she’s so sexually alluring to all men everywhere.
If only the tragic, ugly, fat girls of the land could understand that. Alas, again:
A short, stocky girl with mousey brown hair was behind the booth preparing orders. She had obviously noticed the attention I was getting from Alan, and she didn’t seem too happy about it either.
“Hey!” she yelled, and even though I was already looking at her through my hair she startled me with her sharp voice. “He’s taken.”
What’s with the looking through her hair thing? All I can think of is:
I frowned in confusion and raised my right eyebrow.
How could she see it if you’re hiding under your technicolor dream hair?
The girl stormed out from behind the stand, coming in front of it to get closer to me. She tried to raise herself to my face, but I towered over her. She coudln’t have been more than 5’2″, perhaps not even that tall, and was struggling to look tough or mean. She glowered. “I said, he’s taken. So you can cut it out with that cute routine you’ve got going.”
Of course, Zooboomafoo knows how it’s going down. She’s the tough one.
“I’m just waiting for my drink,’ I said frostily. I squared my jaw and looked her directly in the eye. I was not afraid of much, and I was definitely not afraid of an eighteen-year-old girl with a jealousy issue.
You can tell how not threatened she is by the way she’s telling us how tough she is. And how she fully overreacts to the entire situation.
“Don’t give me that, you little skank,” the girl spat as her voice got louder. You could visibly see her blood pressure rising.
Thanks for clearing that up, but I cause though I might be audibly seeing her blood pressure rising.
“I saw you batting your eyes.”
Okay, but that’s not her fault, Lemonade Girl. She’s a self-insert.
“Listen,” I said, in a much lower and more matter-of-fact tone than her high-pitched bark.
God, Lori is even bragging about how she can get into an argument better than this girl.
I even leaned toward her some before speaking to try to keep the altercation just between us. “You don’t want to start anything with me. I suggest you back down now.” I formed my hands into fists. As I did so, the vat of lemonade on the counter began to rattle. It was probably unnoticeable to most people–just a slight tremor–but it was definitely rattling.
This is like Mystery Men, when Ben Stiller transforms into “Mr. Fury,” or whatever, and all he’s doing is fighting some imaginary internal struggle that makes his forehead veins pop out.
The girl stepped back, but only a small bit, and folded her arms. “I’ll back off when I want to back off, you miserable bitch.” I’m not really sure why I had allowed some lemonade girl to bother me–or what I did what I did next.
Uh, yeah, I’m not really sure why you’re getting into a fight with a teenager at a lemonade stand, either. I mean, let’s look at this from the parameters Leslie set. The guy at the register is a gangly, awkward kid at the age of nineteen or twenty. She says this girl is eighteen and totally non-threatening and not scary to Zivian. Zippy here is a grown woman with a successful career, two hot guys fighting over her, and the ability to do actual real life honest to fucking god witch magick with a k. So, I don’t get why she gave a shit about this girl. Especially since the last time she was attacked at this mall (read that again, it gets funnier the second time you think about it) she found out that men are always going to be attracted to her and women are going to hate her and it’s a totally uncontrollable thing. Knowing that you’d think she could go, “Okay, I was a teenager once, and this isn’t her fault, she’s reacting to my unintentional sorcery,” and move on.
Scratch all that. I do know why Zinfandel is getting so packed up about fighting this girl. This chick is 5′ 2″, and we already know Zowie has a hard-on for how tall she is and how intimidating people find it, and she’s already told us twice now how short this lemonade girl is.
Sometimes I guess someone just pushes you over the edge. I wanted to teach her a lesson. Sadly, though I doubt I actually taught her anything, I’m sure she will never forget our encounter.
Read this in Daniel Stern’s voice from The Wonder Years and it sounds like Kevin Arnold murdered somebody. But wow, the language in that paragraph almost makes me want to slap a content warning on this whole recap, because that sounds like some scary abuse shit.
Actually, let me hop up there and do that right quick.
As soon as the last word left her mouth, I snapped inside. I squeezed my eyes shut tight and shook my clenched fists once more.
I can’t even begin to describe the mental image I get from this. Like, not even enough to make fun of it. There’s just uncontrollable laughter to the point of tears. In my head, she’s making this really scrunched up, constipated expression and like, maybe she’ll get so mad that she poops herself? I’m sorry, I can’t handle this shit. I have to move on.
The vat of lemonade exploded, sending yellow liquid and shards of glass in every direction. I opened my eyes to see what I had done. When the vat broke and the lemonade went everywhere it had bowled her over and knocked her to the ground. She was drenched in sticky, sugary lemonade. I had made sure that the other customers and any passerby had all “miraculously” been spared being hit. After all, there was no need for anyone else to suffer because of her. She was soaked–dripping from her hair to her fingertips and as she struggled to get back up, lemonade started pooling around her shoes.
And lo, our magikal heroine did vanquish the loathsome fat girl, even though it was super important that our heroine’s fearsome magik like, totally didn’t, like…get out, and junk? Whatever, I’m sure the satisfaction of this moment will outlast the consequences of going Super Saiyan and acting out a scene from Carrie in the middle of a fucking mall.
Don’t worry, she even has a clever line that totally would have made it into the trailer:
I shrugged and declared, “When life hands you lemons…,” then turned and left her on the ground.
You can just hear the crunchy early ’00s girl rock guitar rift on the soundtrack. It’s probably this:
But here’s the thing, Limbo: those kids are getting fired. An expensive piece of equipment, an expensive, critically necessary to manufacture one of the store’s trademark products piece of equipment, broke during an altercation with a customer. And nothing’s going to happen to you. You would have been fine if you just walked away, because you know there’s a magikal reason both the guy and the girl behaved the way they did and it’s no their fault or something they can control.
But guess what bitch?
You didn’t get your lemonade.
And they still have your two dollars.