Friday, August 9, 2013

The Quest for Skye: Chapter 5

Recap: Our protagonists, Doctor Morgan Hamilton and Doctor Layland Leontiou, have met. They have met because of Doctor Layland Leontiou's obnoxiously precocious and oh-so-adorable-and-undoubtedly-life-changing daughter Skye. Doctor Morgan Hamilton and Tammy are going to have dinner with Doctor Layland Leontiou, Malinda, and Skye. I just can't wait to have this child around for another chapter.

This chapter opens with:
The lowering sun and the right amount of clouds hinted a spectacular sunset.
But it's just a hint. No actual spectacular sunset for you guys! Just know that the sun is lowering, and there are the right amount of clouds (everybody should comment with what they think that number might be), and those are all the hints you get.

Doctor Morgan Hamilton meets the maitre d', whose name is "Dimitrrri." With three Rs. Because all the boys in his family were named after his father, Dimitri, each kid with an extra R. Doctor Morgan Hamilton talks to Dimitrrri for awhile about absolutely nothing relevant to anything, then Skye shows up, demands the Hamiltons come sit with her family, drags them over to their table and sits in between them while the Leontious smile pleasantly at how cute and bold and confident and witty their daughter is.

This is all reminiscent of those awful children running around the plane screaming in the second chapter. Rothdiener thinks obnoxious children are adorable children. Fun fact: they're not. Also, "Leontious" should probably be pronounced "Leon-shuss."

There's another couple at their table:
Dr. Leontiou continued with the introductions. “You’ve probably heard of Doctor Samuel Roberts, and his wife, Doctor Elizabeth Roberts.”

Albeit a lady doctor who is, of course, married to a man doctor. But, hey, we're taking steps. At least he's willing to give a female doctor a title at all.

There's also a Dr. Laurence Whitman here - one of the few times when Rothdiener says "Dr." instead of "Doctor." Most of the time, it is spelled all the way out.

Tammy is flabbergasted by the presence of all these people.
“I heard there was a medical convention here, but I never realized to what magnitude. I mean, the four of you have rewritten the medical journals on many childhood diseases.”
Which re-asks the question HOW DID THEY NOT KNOW ABOUT THIS?

Their job requires a fair amount of research. They're working to cure childhood diseases. They should know what's going on in the field. Including major medical conventions full of people they idolize that happen to be on the same ridiculously long cruise they're on.

They are the worst researchers ever. Though I guess that shouldn't be a surprise, since their only accomplishment that we know of is an article persuading people they should care about rare childhood diseases. That probably didn't require all that much research.
Mrs. Whitman shook Tammy’s hand, and then Morgan’s. “I’m the nobody in the group. I’ve never written a book, and I’ve never discovered a cure for anything. I’m just an ordinary housewife.”
Tammy warmly responded, "It's OK, I've done all that my husband has done and more, but I don't get to be called a doctor."

"Yeah," Malinda said, "we're all pretty much in the same boat. Let's go do some dishes or something and let the men discuss things."

Dr. Whitman reassures Mrs. Whitman that she is TOO important because she is a mother, and this gets into a lecture on how important motherhood is. They ask Doctor Morgan Hamilton whether he thinks motherhood is important. He hems and haws and finally says it is important "if and when you have the opportunity to become a mother." Then this happens.
Then without thinking, Dr. Whitman blurted, “I take it you don’t have any children yet. Being in your thirties, I’m sure you know it gets more dangerous to have children the older you get.”
What the heck??

Is Dr. Whitman reprimanding them for not having kids yet?

That came out of nowhere. Way to be sensitive.

Mrs. Whitman apologizes for her husband, and Doctor Morgan Hamilton says, it's OK, he's been asked that question a lot before. Sigh. Come on, Rothdiener. Think. What question? Whether they have kids? Whether they know that it gets dangerous to have children when you're older? Whether motherhood is important? (That last one was the only question they've actually been asked in the last few minutes.) He shares with the group that they can't have kids.

There's awkward silence and then an abrupt transition into the meal. They begin to eat, and Skye immediately reprimands her father for not praying before they eat. Skye prays for the meal, and she prays for a "special blessing" for Doctor Morgan and Tammy Hamilton, which makes Tammy cry.
The others at the table stared at each other in silence— perhaps because of the content of the prayer, perhaps because they prayed at all.
Tammy and Morgan were amazed at the love this little girl showed others. 
They’d rarely seen such compassion in an adult, even less in a child.
OK, let's run through this, shall we?

The content of the prayer was thanking God for food, praying for the hungry, praying for orphans, and praying for Doctor Morgan and Tammy Hamilton.

Yes, it was a loving prayer that mentioned a lot of people beside just herself. That was nice.

However, it's far from The Most Compassionate Thing of All Time. Doctor Morgan and Tammy Hamilton claim to have once been religious, or Christian, or something. Have they seriously never run across somebody who likes to pray for those less fortunate? Or, heck, give something to those less fortunate?

This prayer is pretty generic as far as compassion goes. I mean, yes, it's appreciated, yes, it's sweet, but it's not some superhuman show of compassion.

I think we can only assume that Doctor Morgan and Tammy Hamilton have been socializing entirely with horrible people. It's not unlikely, given that in the midst of a sensitive situation with their current crowd, one colleague reprimanded them for not having children earlier, while another abruptly changed the subject and decided they should eat. Not exactly a group of compassionate supporters.

Poor Doctor Morgan and Tammy Hamilton. And the rest of the crew. Stunned into silence because a little girl did something nice. That says less about the little girl and more about the sad, sad fact that nobody else in their entire existence has apparently ever bothered to do something nice for them.
“Dr. Hamilton.” Layland looked directly at Morgan’s wife.
“Please, call me Tammy.”
"I don't deserve to be called a doctor. The author doesn't think so, anyway."

Doctor Layland Leontiou invites Tammy to speak at the conference on Tuesday. Because I guess they didn't book enough speakers of their own. Skye is devastated that her father wants to go to the conference on Tuesday, because apparently he promised her they were going to "kiss the dolphins" in Jamaica on Tuesday, and they can't do that any other day. (In other news, apparently the Panama Canal cruise is taking 14 days because they're randomly going to Jamaica as well. That wasn't in the brochure...)

Doctor Layland Leontiou responds to these objections:
“I realize that, but Tuesday is the most important day of the conference. I can’t get away and the schedule can’t be changed. You know that.”
THEN WHY THE HECK DID HE MAKE THAT PROMISE? Why did he actively promise his daughter he would spend the day with her on what he knew was the most important day of the conference? And, for that matter, this whole "the schedule can't be changed" thing is a lie. Obviously the schedule can be changed, because Tammy's randomly speaking at this thing now.

I think Doctor Layland Leontiou just doesn't want to play with dolphins with his daughter, so he deliberately scheduled it for a day he couldn't make it.

Tammy, on the other hand, suddenly volunteers Doctor Morgan Hamilton to take Skye to play with dolphins. Malinda warns him that Skye talks way too much and suggests that he spend all day with Skye tomorrow to decide whether or not he actually wants to spend time with her again the day after that. (Um. Sure. That makes sense.)

At the end of the meal, Doctor Layland Leontiou has a book signing, and so he can't take Skye to the cruise theater, and she doesn't want to join the group of kids who are going. Doctor Morgan and Tammy Hamilton offer to take her instead. Because apparently they won't be spending enough time with her over the next two days.

Next chapter: more Skye! And more! And more! Probably! Fortunately, I got the idea from the synopsis that she gets sick and dies, so maybe that will happen sooner rather than later. Maybe she gets a rare dolphin kissing disease.

(Chapter 6.)


  1. One cloud. Two clouds. Three clouds. Four clouds. Five clouds. Six clouds. Seven! Seven clouds is the right amount! Ha! Ha! Ha!

    I *want* to focus on "I don't get to be called doctor" because, seriously: WOW. Rothdiener isn't even bothering to hide his disdain for "lady doctors," is he?

    I *want* to comment on Jamaica and the entirely convenient flexibility/inflexibility of this conference.

    The problem is, this entire chapter sounds like a pedophile's dream. What kind of responsible parent casually agrees to farm out their daughter to some people they just met on a cruise ship? Oh, they're doctors? Doctors in the very field this conference covers and they didn't even know it! Seriously, no one bats an eye at this?

    Jamaica, incidentally, has become so rough over the last 20 years that their official tourism website actually cautions visitors that unless they have specific reason to go somewhere, to stay away from whole sections of the place. This is not a cozy resort island. It's overrun with violent gang activities. I wouldn't even be comfortable taking my daughter there myself, much less handing her over to complete strangers to take there.


    The one other point I would like to address is the impact of the prayer. Sometimes, something like that can happen and though the act itself is modest, the timing can take you by surprise so much that it magnifies the act. As you noted, they clearly don't keep very compassionate or tactful company!

    The writing is clearly the clumsy hyperbole that characterizes this guy's "style", but the concept itself of being overcome by an unexpected mention in a pre-dinner prayer by a little girl you've just met isn't *completely* far-fetched.

    But seriously, someone needs to instruct Skye's parents in responsibility because so far, I don't see much of it.

    1. Re: the prayer, that's a fair comment. It seemed far-fetched to me on first reading (and I'm a bit confused as to how religious this group is, at it keeps shifting - Morgan and Tammy are all over the place and I haven't the faintest idea if the Leontious are religious and, if not, where Skye's emphasis on prayer and extremely religious phrasing such as "special blessing" comes from - a grandparent?) but as you phrased it, I could see that happening. I'm still not sure it would cause the entire table to remain in silence for several minutes out of awe of the compassion of this prayer, which is what ended up happening, but I could see the couple involved being touched by it, though *probably* not as superlatively touched as the book indicates.

      And yes. The Leontious are pretty terrible parents. Keep in mind that not only is this a guy they have just met (because it's JUST Morgan taking Skye to Jamaica. Tammy's going to be at the conference) but it's a guy who Doctor L. L. met BECAUSE HE WAS TALKING TO HIS DAUGHTER. I opted not to comment on the potential creepiness of that in the previous chapter, because obviously men can talk to children without being evil, so I was giving Morgan the benefit of the doubt, but there is no reason Doctor L. L. should do so. I don't have kids, but if one of my little brothers met a random adult on a cruise ship, I would not that very night be like, "Hey, want to take my brother to Jamaica next week?" because NO.

  2. The best amount of clouds are when you have several big poofy ones and several little ones. Or when you have ones that start out big on the horizon and then turn into a bunch of tiny ones all clumped together higher up where the pink comes through. :-) Something like that.