We start back up with Betsy snapping awake once the sun goes down, also atypical from her previous life, and feeling like she’d “just had three Frappucinnos. With extra sugar!”
She realizes Giselle had apparently been sniffing her corpse all day and decided she would do, so she feeds her cat, takes a shower, and prepares to take on Antonia and get her shoes back.
She goes into her history with her wicked stepmother a little, stating how it wasn’t just her marrying her father and ruining her mother’s marriage that made her unforgivable–although she plainly states Antonia and her father (John) had been sleeping together behind her mother’s back for years before the divorce and remarriage. She says: “My father wasn’t a saint–still isn’t–but Antonia did everything she could to make him fall from grace. You know how some people are born artists or born accountants? The Ant is a born homewrecker. She even had the right build: falsely augmented breasts constantly swelling out the v-neck of her too-tight sweaters, black miniskirts, bare legs (even in winter! In Minnesota!), and fuck-me pumps.
To complete the stereotype, she was stupid. And blonde. She once asked me if lesbians had periods. I managed to choke back the gales of humiliating laughter that wanted to pour forth, and explained. “Well, that doesn’t make any sense,” she had snapped back.” Oddly enough, this alleged stupidity doesn’t really rear its head in the character of The Ant thereafter–in fact, she’s often calling out Betsy on being dumb as a sack of hair, but this is first-person so perhaps that is why.
She goes on to say that her mother got the house and “the humiliation that comes from your family and friends knowing your husband traded you in for a younger, thinner model,” and her father got a 28 year old wife and a promotion–all while Betsy was 13. The Ant never made any attempts to befriend Betsy, and in fact was cruel to her and derisive of her mother, and Betsy never made any attempts to get to know her, either. She mentions that one time she heard The Ant refer to her mother as “that cow from the suburbs,” and Betsy responded by throwing her gold ingot necklace into the blender and hitting “puree.”
The Ant suffers from chronic depression which basically makes itself known whenever she wanted to skip any of Betsy’s milestones, or if she wanted new jewelry. Medication never helps, but jewelry always does! The only thing she wasn’t able to manipulate John into doing was giving up his rights to shared custody of Betsy. So he would buy off The Ant with jewelry, Betsy with shoes, and went out of town a lot. Which makes me wonder why he kept his shared custody anyway, but whatever.
Betsy arrives at her father’s home and overhears Antonia and John arguing. The Ant is shrieking at him, “Goddammit, Arnie, you should sue their asses off! They lost your daughter’s body! Now the funeral’s been delayed who knows how long, we’re going to have to postpone our vacation–Jesus Christ!”
You may be wondering why I keep calling her father “John” when The Ant just clearly called him “Arnie.” I wonder that, too. Because here she calls him Arnie, but forever after this scene they call him “John.” So…boy howdy, her continuity editor sure is the best!!!
Anyway, the scene goes on and on, with the Ant mostly whining about their lost cruise deposit while Arniejohn gets drunk and occasionally notes that it’s not really his main concern. The Ant finally realizes she’s pissing him off (but still doesn’t care–her solution is that maybe she should go alone and he can join her later if/when the whole “missing daughter’s corpse” thing gets settled) and then goes for her only fallback, trying to seduce him so he won’t be mildly irritated that she’s a monster. But Betsy finally intervenes so that she won’t overhear sex between the two, to angrily shout at the Ant for putting her in a pink suit and castoffs then stealing her shoes. And then as an afterthought, for not giving a shit about her untimely death, while her father sputters and gently chides her for the shoe theft:
“ Toni, you really did that? You know how long she saved up to buy–”
“She was dead, for Christ’s sake!”
And they briefly confront one another, but then Betsy’s best friend, Jessica Watkins, suddenly tells Betsy to check her closet. They hug and cry and go into Chapter 7, where they’re in Antonia’s closet packing all of Betsy’s precious shoes into a ballgown the Ant owns for no apparent reason, using it as a makeshift bag.
Betsy briefly touches upon when they met in seventh grade, where she was the only one who would stand up to the insanely rich, quote “grossly prejudiced” Jessica. Jessica is black, and is said to be richer than Oprah, richer than Bill Gates, the richest person in the state (other times the richest woman in the state–in one book they specifically say woman, no person, not just woman…in the next, they just say woman. Her wealth seems limitless, although just exactly how many billions she has is up in the air, as again, in one book she mentions turning down Bill Gates for a new startup to equal out the universe, and the next they only claim she’s the richest something in Minnesota).
“When we met in seventh grade, her first words to me were, “Drop dead twice, you privileged whitemeat schmuck.” The fact that she was saying this while clutching a Gucci bag didn’t seem to be relevant. My response (“Go cry into a bag of money, sweetie.”) startled her into becoming my friend. That’s how I made most of my friends: the element of surprise.”
They then start up something in the series that will persistently remain confusing: the subject of Betsy’s funeral. They clearly state that Betsy didn’t have a funeral, but the next page or so is Jessica describing Betsy’s funeral, who was there (her boss, some dude renowned for picking his boogers and wiping them on stuff–Jessica says she made sure he didn’t desecrate her coffin with his snot), and specifically mentioning Detective Nick was “at the funeral,” (Jess had been trying to convince Betsy to get with him–Betsy says she doesn’t even need one entire hand to count her previous lovers despite being a rich, white, blonde, model-level beauty with no apparent qualms about her sexuality…anyway) but then a couple sentences later also specifically says “Of course there wasn’t actually a funeral–they lost your body!” Which I guess maybe indicates it wasn’t a completed funeral?
From here on out, they just keep switching this…sometimes someone will say they were at her funeral, then a page or so later Betsy will ruminate on how she didn’t even have a funeral because they lost her body (but apparently rolled her casket out, I suppose, as Jessica had to stop someone from wiping boogers on it). Nick, too, will often speak to her about this…saying he was at her funeral, then following it up with how there wasn’t a funeral but he saw her funeral announcement, or there was one or there wasn’t one or there was one or there wasn’t one…like I’ve been saying, continuity seems to be MJD’s Achilles gold, leather, strappy open-toed heel with dead butterflies in the sole. And when Betsy asks why Jess is at her father’s house:
“I got a look at Mrs. Taylor’s footgear at the funeral is all. I knew those weren’t her Pradas. So I figured I’d come over and try to get them back.”
So, again…funeral or no funeral? The world may never know. Also, the Ant is also told to be a whole size smaller than Betsy so she must have looked like a little plastic-enhanced girl playing dressup, and Jessica has “feet like Magic Johnson” that would never fit into Betsy’s heels (it is also said Betsy is 6 foot tall but has very tiny feet, and eventually Jessica is claimed to be exceptionally short but has gigantic feet…seems backwards!) so she was going to donate them to the nonprofit she founded and spends 60 hours a week working at, called The Foot (or The Right Foot, but never again after the first time) that gives interviewing tips, résumé advice, and hand-me-down suits and accessories for disadvantaged women. I emphasize women because she specifically states just women, and while that’s great and all I kinda wonder why it’s only for women…but whatever, I guess.
They finish packing, Jess is completely casual and cool with the whole vampire thing–not even a moment of surprise, she just says “I don’t give a shit,” and they hug and move on. Betsy dumps the entire contents of Antonia’s jewelry box into the blender and hits “liquefy.” Funny and well-deserved, sure, but I always wonder whether a blender could even function trying to chop up precious metals, or if it just scratches some of them and the rest are fine. Meh.
Up next: The weirdest family dynamic I’ve ever read in a novel.