The French Solution

No, this is not about that horrid Marine Le Pen. Rather, it is about straight people and their fiction. I made the mistake of picking up a book entitled Sunset on Moonlight Beach by Sheila Roberts from a little library, and it is insufferable. Every ten pages I want to fling the book across the room, because straight people are also insufferable. (#notallstraightpeople, I guess?) Seriously — the book I read before this was an 1100 page fictional defense of Catholicism, and that was much more pleasant to read than this.

One of the subplots of the book centres on plucky heroine Jenna Jones, who is a massage therapist and manages a rustic hotel and is on town council and still has energy left over to mope over her tedious love triangle. In one corner is tall, blonde real-estate agent Brody Green. In the other corner is dark, muscular, brooding Seth Waters, a guest at her hotel with a troubled past. Oh noes! Two handsome men are pursuing her and she doesn’t know whom to pick! Brody (Brody??) is so successful and thoughtful and respectful, and everybody in town thinks he and Jenna are a couple already. Seth has overcome his troubled past, and although he doesn’t have steady work he’s the one who makes Jenna’s nether regions tingle. Both of these men are upstanding masculine figures who faithfully wait for Jenna to decide and never go any further than passionate kissing. No doubt they never think about other women or even touch themselves at night. Whatever will Jenna do?

Ugh. Why do straight people make everything so complicated? More specifically, why do American straight people make everything so complicated? The French have this figured out. French people know that some people make good life partners and some people make your nether regions tingle, so a good fraction of them have both wives and mistresses. Respectable, financially-successful Brody can be the wife, and brooding dangerous Seth can be the mistress. Problem solved. But noooo. Jenna Jones spends pages and pages agonizing between the two, neither of whom she has even slept with! Insufferable.

Look. Ideally all parties would explicitly (if begrudgingly) agree to this arrangement. Already Brody and Seth don’t like each other, so it is not as if Jenna’s arrangement would make the blood much worse. People get used to parents-in-law and the spouses of divorced exes; if Brody and Seth can’t like each other they can at least tolerate each other. But even if the arrangement is implicit and unstated (which as I understand is common among the French) it might not be a terrible solution. I do believe “cheating” is a thing, but cheating is not about sex; it is about violating trust. So the closer Jenna can get to maintaining trust (either by being explicit or because there is an implicit understanding) the further away she would be from cheating.

I have not finished the book, and since this is book four in a series, I bet Jenna won’t make up her mind by the end. I will probably finish the book, though. Dr Spo says that to Stoics the obstacle is the path, so I guess am obligated to finish the book regardless of my feelings towards it. Even if Jenna does finally make up her mind, I’m pretty sure her solution will be unsatisfying, because Americans choose The One and then have lifelong marriages and never even glance at other sexually-attractive people. Infidelity might be okay for the French, but that kind of thing doesn’t happen in America.