Cathy has drifted off to sleep after Chris went off exploring in his Charlie McCarthy cosplay (I use only topical references) and she gets woken up in possibly the most frightening way–shaken and yelled at by an angry (and probably drunk? I mean, it’s a Christmas party) Corinne. Cathy tells her mother where Chris has gone since they never lie to Momma, and, really, how much of a lie could she tell? There’s a finite number of places where Christopher could be hiding. I mean, he’s not Cory.
Too soon for you to show up, you mean. So Cathy tells Corinne that Chris is out wandering the halls and Corinne is less than thrilled with this information. She starts cursing under her breath and lays some guilt on her daughter, all “Oh I thought you two loved me, but you betrayed me and now I’m never going to let you out again!” which is…harsh stuff. Cathy points out that she and Chris did exactly what their mom asked–they were super quiet in the chest after all, and Momma can’t say that she’ll never let them out because she has to let them out eventually, right? About that. This awkward moment is interrupted by Chris’s return as he tries to sneak in all quiet-like and is alarmed to see their mom there waiting for him. Fun fact–this happened to me once in high school. Sat on my bed to take off my shoes all proud of myself for sneaking in and then in walked my mother. Secret agent I am not. ANYHOW, Corinne greets her son with a couple of rousing slaps to the face and threatens to whip him AND Cathy if he ever does this again (are the twins just sleeping right through all of this?) and Cathy is mightily freaked out by this side of her mother. Cathy starts to realize that her mom has been changing this whole time–she doesn’t come to visit as often anymore, she’s yelling and hitting them, she’s locked her children in an attic–but the situation defuses/gets weirder when Corinne comes back to herself and starts kissing all over Chris’s face and snuggling him against her bosom, apologizing all the while. Cathy makes sure to note that even at Chris’s age he must kinda like it a little and GOD CATHY STOP THAT.
Corinne tells them that she’s so so sorry and will never do it again, but that they can’t ruin everything now because things are starting to go their way again. The kids forgive her and try to find out what exactly’s going their way, but Corinne has to get back to the party and off she goes. What a night, man. After she leaves Chris and Cathy spoon for a while on one of the beds (these kids) and Cathy lets loose with a lot of her suspicions. Like how Corinne is always talking about how they need money to leave, but she’s always wearing fancy new clothes and tons of jewelry and how she waited until her father had bought her a TV so that she could pass it along, rather than buying one for the kids earlier, and while I think the TV thing is a little shaky, I tend to agree with Cathy on this one. Chris, naturally, defends Corinne, pointing out that if she’d bought them a TV right away they would have just mouldered away in front of it rather than making paper flowers in the attic and using their imaginations. I’m so sure that was your mom’s intention, Christopher. He notes that they’ve all changed since living there, but won’t explain when Cathy presses. She puts that aside for the time being and asks him to describe what he saw on his adventure, not leaving out a thing. So:
The house is huge, “like a hotel”, with fourteen rooms on their floor alone, and all of them are super decorated and full of expensive things. Chris watched the party from one of the landings for a while and saw their grandparents leaving, then had to hide behind a suit of armor (which large Virginia estates love) when he heard their mother and her date (Bart, it’s Bart, I’m calling him Bart, the kids keep acting like they don’t know that but they do) coming up the stairs. Bart wanted to see the fancy bed that Corinne has in her room (I’m so sure, Bart) and Chris glosses over what happened next, but Cathy can tell he’s doing that and makes him tell her that he saw Bart and Corinne making out. Cathy needs clarification that Bart got to second base like she saw their Dad do one time (CATHY) and Chris admits that he did. Ew, guys. So anyway Corinne told Bart about how her bedroom set used to be her grandmother’s, who was not the best woman, and that when Corinne moved back to the house her parents figured she was bad enough already, so she could just have her slutty grandma’s bed. THIS FAMILY.
ASIDE: I kind of like that we never get Original Corinne’s back story. There’s no tragic childhood, no sad marriage, nothing like that. Just: she married Garland, they had Malcolm, she had an affair, she left. Sucks, but it happens, and that is that. It’s no excuse for Malcolm’s weird obsession with her, but I honestly enjoy the relief of just your garden-variety “bad mom”. Now watch me have forgotten some factoid from Seeds of Yesterday or something.
And we’re back: Corinne and Bart moved on and Christopher continued exploring, eventually finding Corinne’s room (I guess she and Bart were gone already) and it’s 110 degrees of opulent bananas. The carpet is mauve and it’s so thick you sink to your ankles! There are 4-foot tall crystal lamps with black shades! An ivory chaise lounge (Noooo not another chaise lounge!) covered in rose velvet, “like something you’d see in a Roman orgy” like how do you know that Christopher, and, of course: the swan bed. Lemme let Chris take this one.
“In the center of the room, on a dais, was the fabulous swan bed! Oh! What a bed! [thanks for the commentary Little Nemo] …It has a sleek ivory head, turned in profile, and appears ready to plunge its head under the ruffled underside of a lifted wing….The designers arranged for the wingtip feathers to act as fingers, and they hold back the delicate, transparent draperies that are in all shades of pink and rose, and violet, and purple.”
That’s one hell of a bed, there, Corinne. The swan bed in the movie was SO disappointing, I am eagerly looking forward to the Lifetime one, if only to get a better swan bed. Cathy knows that Chris saw more than he’s telling her, but she lets it go and they say good night.
The next few months they basically watch TV all the time. No, really. It’s too cold to go in the attic so they sit around and watch TV all day. The twins love it and Cory is even happen to watch the static that comes on after the stations sign off, which is just the saddest thing. The television starts to give the kids a whole passel of issues: they’re paranoid about cleaning the room, about never having dandruff, things like that; and Cathy, about to turn 13, is terrified she’s going to wake up covered in acne. She also starts tweezing all of her underarm hair which, ouch, and Chris calls her out on it one day, noting in his know-it-all style that she can’t keep the hairs from coming. He also says they’re sexy, which CHRIS STOP. Cathy thinks that’s nuts, since hair isn’t sexy, boobs are, and y’know what? There’s a lot of awkward puberty stuff and gazing and Cathy not getting why Chris is wetting the bed (AAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH) so we all know it’s happening and we’re moving along.
The twins just want to watch TV and complain a lot that they can’t have the snacks that kids on TV have, and they want to know why Corinne doesn’t visit much anymore. Cathy doesn’t know what to tell them and it hurts her. She and Chris watch a lot of soap operas and decide that’s what growing up must be like. Cathy also notices that the twins aren’t comfortable with their mother when she does visit, instead they run to Cathy’s arms and sit with her whilst Corinne fusses over Christopher. The dynamics are definitely just getting weirder and weirder, huh? Cathy’s birthday comes and Corinne teaches her how to do crewel embroidery and I love embroidery y’all, but not READING ABOUT IT, so I wish some of that fabled FitA drama would hurry along and get here. (For all that this is an infamous book about scandalous things, there is a LOT of downtime in it) The twins’ birthday is next and we get a few bits of Corinne’s back story when she notices Cory’s musical talent. See, both of her brothers were musicians, which her father despised and considered weak, so her oldest brother Mal built himself a cabin in the mountains where he’d go to compose. And then one day he took a curve too fast on his motorcycle and died. Oh. That left second brother Joel, who was close to Mal (but not like the rest of this family) and left after his brother’s funeral, going off to Europe. Joel got a job with an orchestra, but then he died in a skiing accident, though his body was never found (DUN DUN DUNNNNNNNNNN).
Cathy’s like, wow this family sucks, and once Corinne leaves the kids all head upstairs immediately to get away from that cheerful cloud of family nonsense. She and Chris decide that they’re going to teach the twins to read, which results in some predictable screaming, and oh my god then it’s summer. This needs a montage, for serious. Corinne just brings up whatever books she can find in the library without regard for reading levels, so Cathy and Chris end up reading all sorts of stuff, namely a historical novel that gets them talking about whether nudity was sinful in the past too, and there’s some low-level weirdness about turning into men and women before Cathy broaches the subject of whether or not their mom sucks. The answer is yes, obviously, but Chris refuses to see that and defends her, claiming that she’s doing her best. Cathy realizes that Corinne is still all perfection in Chris’s eyes, even though at one point a whole week goes by before she comes up to see them. This visit she comes with the news that her father is very sick (though she doesn’t seem as glad about it as Cathy is) and tells them that he’ll be dead soon. Cathy is pretty ecstatic and goes around singing hymns of glee before Corinne reappears to say nope, he pulled through, sorry. And then she’s gone again. That’s a lot of stairs to hang out for a minute, Corinne. I would’ve thought you’d be too lazy. Cathy puts the twins to bed, since Corinne is never there to do it anymore, and marks another day off on their calendar. They’ve been in the attic for a year.
That’s the end of Part I of the book, so I’m gonna close this recap up there too. AND immediately start working on the next one because y’all deserve better, honestly. And the new movie! The new movie, guys!! I posted the trailer over on the Facebook page, but it looks like we lost that version, so here’s another one:
I’m pretty psyched about it, I won’t lie.
Coming up next time: Another time jump (seriously), and the REAL drama starts. You know what I’m talking about. Tar! Blood-drinking! Ballet! Oh this book. Here we go.