When we last left off, Alex graduated from college, the gang went to karaoke, and Henry & Alex had a very intimate night together afterwards.
We are now HALFWAY THROUGH the book, and since I keep doing full chapters at a time this is going much faster than I expected. But since I haven’t gotten any complaints about the long posts–if anything, I keep getting requests for them–I see no reason to stop, so climb aboard and
“You are so fucking beautiful.”
Henry swears so rarely that each one feels like…whew.
“Are you implying that you’re James I and I’m some hot dumb jock?”
I recently realized that everything I write boils down to “nerd fucks jock” and this book is exhibit A.
“Don’t apologize for calling me pretty. Because then you’re putting me in a position where I have to apologize for saying you blew my fucking mind in LA and I’m gonna die if it doesn’t happen again soon.”
“Not to be dramatic but if you don’t have sex with me I will literally die.”
“I’ll take you apart with my teeth, sweetheart.”
Thoughts & prayers to Henry.
“The press team compiled a list of acceptable answers. They wanted a realist, so I suggested George Eliot–no, Eliot was actually Mary Anne Evans under a pen name, not a strong male author. They wanted one of the inventors of the English novel, so I suggested Daniel Defoe–no, he was a dissenter from the Church of England. At one point, I threw out Jonathan Swift just to watch the collective coronary they had at the thought of an Irish political satirist.”
This was just such a fun Henry character moment to write.
“Alex feels like somebody has probably warned him about private email servers before, but he’s a little fuzzy on the details. It doesn’t feel very important.”
When I let a friend who worked on Hillary’s ’16 campaign read this she sent me a screenshot of this line like “fuck you!”
“Politico’s top story of the week: IS 2020 THE YEAR TEXAS BECOMES A TRUE BATTLEGROUND STATE?
PLEASE LET THIS BE PROPHETIC
“You should say ‘grit,’ not ‘fortitude’ there,” June says, reading the speech over hher shoulder.
“Do I go on your side of the cubicle and turn off your Dropkick Murphys Spotify station, no matter how much I want to?” Alex demands. “No, Hunter, I don’t.”
Sorry to Boston but I still think this joke is hilarious.
“Maybe those populations might be more motivated to vote if we made an actual effort to campaign to them and showed them that we care, and how our platform is designed to help them, not leave them behind,” Alex says hotly. “Imagine if nobody who claims to have your interests at heart ever came to your state and tried to talk to you, man.”
This whole rant is obviously from a very personal place for me…Alex, like me, is a progressive from a heavily diverse red state. It gets so very, very exhausting to watch blue states write you off again and again.
3 Geniuses and Alex
My friend Lena (in the acknowledgments) named this group chat.
irl chaos demon
[latrice royale eat it.gif]
We tried to get permission to print a screenshot of this gif.
“And assorted other nobility with whom you may have to make conversation. People named Basil.”
Because people have asked—no this is NOT a Carry On reference.
“He notices David Beckham in a well-tailored suit–once again, how had he convinced himself he was straight?”
A thought many queers will recognize.
“Henry looks at the lush green cushions of the seats topped with thick and shiny WIMBLEDON 2020 programs, right at the front edge of the box.”
The amount of research I did on Wimbledon only for most of it to be cut for space…there was a whole interlude with Alex seductively eating a Driscoll Jubilee.
“Well,” Alex grunts, “when at Wimbledon.”
I want this on a t-shirt.
“Mr. Wobbles preening in a corner, a seventeenth-century Dutch oil painting on one landing literally called Woman at her Toilet that only Bea would have selected from the royal collection.”
I spent ages combing through the Royal Collection online just for this one joke and IMO it was worth it.
“Back in high school in Texas, Alex was the most cultured of the jock crowd because he was a book nerd, a politics junkie, the only varsity letterman debating the finer points of Dred Scott in AP US History.”
People seem to forget that Alex was not just valedictorian but a preppy jock prom king. LAYERS!
“The andante–the third movement–is his favorite, he explains, because he read once that it was written to evoke the image of a castle in ruins, which he found darkly funny at the time.”
Another throwaway line that required an hour of research.
Henry lets Alex take him apart with painstaking patience and precision, moans the name of God so many times that the room feels consecrated.”
Alex’s narration is so deeply Catholic, which I think all Catholics can relate to.
“He remembers, as if from a million miles away, telling Henry not to overthink this.”
You sweet, sweet fool.
“I’m please to announce that, as president, I’ll be launching the Richards Youth Congress program.”
This name itself should be a red flag.
“There’s some Salon hot take going around, WOULD ELLEN CLAREMONT HAVE GOTTEN ELECTED IF SHE WEREN’T CONVENTIONALLY BEAUTIFUL?”
Ellen is often called “President MILF” in the tabloids…she’s hot! It did help…but also she’s a genius.
“His dad had been the delegate to cast the votes from California that put her over, and they all cried.”
I wish I could somehow watch footage of this moment.
“June has shut her journal in sudden interest.”
June’s journals have so much good top secret content in them…
“It’s long distance. But not like that. No more questions.”
One of the first things I decided once I filled my cast of supporting characters was that Zahra & Shaan would end up together.
“It’s Rafael Luna.”
This was the hardest subplot for me to figure out–I messed with third party candidates, etc.–but I’m really happy it came together.
“Because I slept with him last year, Alex, how do you think? You’re not the only one who makes stupid sexual decisions when you’re stressed out.”
LOVE this glimpse into June’s irresponsible side…she iS an air sign.
“He’s like some kind of billionaire, genius, manic-pixie-dream philanthropist.”
Yes, this is an Iron Man reference.
“He knows he would have chosen this life for himself given the option; he knows she wouldn’t have.”
This is what it all comes down to for Alex & June, and I love the juxtaposition. In my head June finally leaves DC after Alex starts at NYU Law.
“Tiny, miniature, itty-bitty, baby brother.”
We love a southernism ♥
“He wants to call Henry. He guesses it makes sense–they’ve always been fixed points in each other’s worlds, little magnetic poles. Some law of physics would be reassuring right now.”
This is called being in love and in a relationship, stupid.
“I’ll have a gin and tonic, thanks,” it says, and there’s Henry in the flesh.
“There’s color in his cheeks and lips, the glow of Brooklyn summertime warmth that his English blood isn’t accustomed to.”
Now that I’ve experienced Brooklyn in the summertime, I realize that this is not at all sexy.
Someone else’s choice doesn’t change who you are.”
This is one of the most intimate scenes in the book and it barely involves sex…but it’s full frontal emotional nudity.
“Most things are awful most of the time, but you’re good.”
Henry has this touch of cynicism about the world, and I love challenging it with Alex’s idealizing and then seeing him give that back to Alex when he needs it.
“He eyes the curtains furtively, as if considering hiding in them.”
Henry is many things but sometimes he’s also dumb.
“I’m fine,” he says. “It’s fine.”
This is a recurring Alex line…I think he says it like 4-5 times.
“It was. Er. Rather inevitable. At least for me.”
Early hint that Henry has been in love with Alex all along.
“Seriously?” she hisses. “You’re literally putting your dick in the leader of a foreign state, who is a man, at the biggest political event before the election, in a hotel full of reporters, in a city full of cameras, in a race close enough to fucking hinge on some bullshit like this, like a manifestation of my fucking stress dreams, and you’re asking me not to tell the president about it?”
As soon as I watched the DNC in 2016 I knew I wanted to have them hook up there…but there had to be a big reason for Henry to be there, so that informed when the final twist would happen.
Thanks for reading, y’all! I really love doing these for you! Come back next week for another doozy of a chapter where Alex finally tells his mom he’s bi, the boys send some emails back and forth, and the gang takes a trip to TEXAS! It’s both the best and worst, because we all know what happens at the end of the trip 😦