Monday, May 3, 2021

Kepnes' YOU LOVE ME: Budussy & Teen Age-Gap Love Triangle

Here is Penguin Random House's plot summary for Caroline Kepnes' You Love Me:
Joe Goldberg is done with the cities. He’s done with the muck and the posers, done with Love. Now he’s saying hello to nature, to simple pleasures on a cozy island in the Pacific Northwest. For the first time in a long time, he can just breathe.
He gets a job at the local library—he does know a thing or two about books—and that’s where he meets her: Mary Kay DiMarco. Librarian. Joe won’t meddle, he will not obsess. He’ll win her the old-fashioned way . . . by providing a shoulder to cry on, a helping hand. Over time, they’ll both heal their wounds and begin their happily ever after in this sleepy town.

The trouble is . . . Mary Kay already has a life. She’s a mother. She’s a friend. She’s . . . busy.

True love can only triumph if both people are willing to make room for the real thing. Joe cleared his decks. He’s ready. And hopefully, with his encouragement and undying support, Mary Kay will do the right thing and make room for him.

As you can see, there doesn't appear to be any nympholepsyany in the novel. Or so I thought, until I read the last 25 pages of the 385 page turner. Interestingly, the two previous novels in the series, You and Hidden Bodies, didn't contain any nypholepsy. However, season two of the Netflix adaptation did take advantage of the allure of nymphets.  

You S02E03

For example, in episode 3 of season 2 of You, Joe confronts Ellie Alves, his 15-year-old neighbor, about "chasing an internship" with Henderson, a famous much older comedian. Joe advised Ellie, because Delila, Ellie's older sister, informed Joe that when she was 17, she was drugged with GHB, raped and photographed in Henderson's sex dungeon. 

Ellie didn't take Joe's advice well, she assumed that he wanted her to call him Daddy, and she asked him if he wanted to "fuck" her, because, "Everybody wants to fuck the 15-year-old!" 

In You Love Me, like Penguin Random House shared, Joe met Mary Kay, but the publisher didn't relate Nomi, Mary Kat's teen daughter, who had an extended age-gap relationship with Seamus, a short CrossFit enthusiast with "piercing blue eyes and a strong jaw", who went to high school with Nomi's mom, where they had sex when Mary Kay was 17. Seamus inherited Cooley Hardware, the local hardware store, where Nomi worked, "But just for a few months."

There were clues about Seamus' nympholepsy. For example, at the gym:
"[...] Seamus is working out two feet away, singing along to Kid Fucking Rock, who waxes nostalgic-pervert about his whisky-soaked glory days mounting an underage girl by a lake."
And Seamus scolded Joe, but Joe and I assumed that Seamu was referring to Mary Kay:
"Whole shit ton of girls out there, Joe, and you just had to fix your eyes on mine."
"The worst part about all this, oh man, she tells me she wants you and she says that me and her can be friends."
"One week ago, one fucking week ago she was in my cabin with me and you come back outta nowhere and boom. Finito. She'd be here right now if it wasn't for you, you bookworm piece of shit." 
Photo: The Bibliofile

But during Joe and Marky Kay's wedding, Nomi:
"She wants to dance and this is wrong - eighteen is too close to seventeen - but she leaves me no choice. I rest my hands on her hips and I hit bare skin, but if my hands go any lower, they're on her ass, if they go higher, they're on her chest. She looks up at me and there is moonlight - Are people looking at us? - and she smiles [at Joe]. "I owe you."
"[...] and she runs the tips of those fingers through my hair."

Subsequently, Nomi filled Joe in on her age-gap relationship with "Uncle Seamus":

"He told me he was gonna 'teach you a lesson' for trying to steal me away, like it's not my choice. Such a jerk."  

Apparently, Nomi and Seamus' age-gap affair took place throughout Nomi's high school career:

"He could be sweet, though, like driving to Seattle to pick me up from Peggy and Don's to take me to his cabin. I don't think I would have gotten through high school without those weekends."

Nomi even shared how her age-gap relationship started:

"But kids here...they're like kids everywhere. They suck. Seamus was just, I mean one day I was bored hanging out by the creek near my old middle school and...there he was." 

Joe attempted to convince Nomi that she was a victim:

Joe: "He's a rapist."
Nomi: Now she sits up. "You stop it. Nobody raped me, Joe."
Joe: "It's call statutory rape. And it's wong."
Nomi: "Oh really, Mr. Morals? Mr. Hiding in the woods watching me...."

And of course, Joe incorrectly diagnosed Seamus as a pedophile. 

Very interestingly, Kepnes made Joe a Woody Allen fan: "[...] say what you will about him...his movies have a lot of great female leads." And Joe even suggested Woody to Nomi:
Nomi: "Now you're gonna tell me that you didn't push me to watch your favorite movie..."
Joe: I hate that this is true-I did that, I pushed a teenage girl on Woody Fucking Allen [...]

Although Joe denied it, Nomi was under impression the Joe was suppressing his nympholepsy:

"One word," she says. "Budussy."*

"That that whole time you helped me at the library you were making eyes at me all nervous about getting caught and you keep looking to see if my mom noticed. You were so cut, Joe, So cute."

*Per Lena Dunham, budussy is: "[...] butt, dick, and pussy,[...] I mean, it’s a useful word.”

Nomi's an avid reader. But did she read The Red Queen, because she knows that most men are nympholepts\ephobophiles. And she shared that she's an (open) teleiophile:
Joe: "I'm horrified by what Seamus did to you but I am not like that."
Nomi: "He didn't do anything to me. I like older guys. You and Seamus like younger girls. Almost all guys like younger girls. There's nothing wrong with that [...]"

To avoid any more spoilers, I'll abruptly stop here, but I'm certain that you see Kepnes' use of the allure of nymphets. 

Lastly, of You Love Me, Stephen King opined: "Hypnotic and scary...totally original.


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