It’s Black Friday and Jack is in a black mood. Six months ago, his boyfriend, Marshall, was given residence at a hospital on the other side of the state. They talked about Jack going with him, but Jack still had a lease on his apartment and they both thought the relationship was too new, so they decided to try doing the long distance thing. Now, it’s Skype calls, texts, phone calls, and email, but it’s no longer enough. Jack is tired of waiting, and tired of being the second most important thing in Marshall’s life.
The framing of this book, that Jack has been patient and enduring only to finally get tired of waiting, just didn’t work for me. Jack is the one who decided not to move, Jack is the one who brought up this long distance relationship, and Jack has been fine with it for all of this time. It’s just the stress of the holiday that has him getting tetchy, but even his minor whine at the end of the book doesn’t actually change anything. In the epilogue, a year later, the two men are together, but that was rather already a given, as Jack was only waiting until May for his lease to be over. Jack never came across as tired of the waiting as much as I’ve had a shitty day and I need my boyfriend to be here for me.
Marshall made it clear to Jack that his residency was important, that he couldn’t be the one to make trips to visit in case he was on call, but he was willing to pay half of Jack’s bus fare to get him to come over to Marshall’s apartment. And Jack was fine with this. Maybe not deliriously delighted, but fine, because they both knew this was a ‘for now’ thing, not a forever thing. Marshall and Jack have a pleasant chemistry together and a good rapport. The long distance seems to have helped keep much of their sex life fresh, as the long delays and gaps have them coming together like starving people for one another when they’re finally reunited.
I appreciate that this book did go into the strain and difficulties of what it’s like when your significant other is so far away, but what I didn’t appreciate was the aggressive and slightly unpleasant undercurrent to Jack’s inner monologue about how he is oh-so smart, able to wow his super smart and college-educated boyfriend, even though Jack didn’t go to college because he was too clever to waste his money on an education when he could be working. Jack acts smug about those friends that went to school who are now suddenly broke when the marked crashed and the bubble burst and are now in debt and struggling to find useful jobs. Never mind that his boyfriend is also getting degree, because Marshall is brilliant and actually putting his education to work as a doctor, who will one day be able to take Jack away from his hard working lifestyle. The bias felt jarring and off putting.
To be fair, Jack is working Black Friday and makes it patently clear that he has no fondness for his job in customer service. He does everything he can to avoid interacting with customers, and is clearly resentful of having to be there, but I was left with a slightly bitter taste after reading this book. That strange moment colored much of the book, for me. While Jack is, well, a jerk, he is under a great deal of emotional stress during the story and I’m glad he and Marshall found their happiness.