Undead and Unemployed Chapter 6: Suburban Termite Blues

“It’s official,” Marc announced. “We’ve got termites.”

“Jeez, let me take my shoes off, willya?” I tossed my keys on the hall table and kicked off my heels. “Good morning to you, too.”

Pretty much every single chapter ends/begins like this. Some random dramatic thought (damn you, Sinclair) followed immediately by entering a scene mid-conversation so we get to play catch up.

This isn’t the worst or most dramatic offense, and maybe I look ridiculous for bringing this up now. But seriously, this format happens with nearly every single chapter: something dramatic happens or is said, then the next chapter typically opens hours or days later mid-conversation. I don’t know about you, but I find that kind of dramatic repetition a bit jarring. Especially since it happens over and over and over…it just strikes me as lazy, ineffective storytelling. Instead of feeling at all dramatic, it’s used to the point of boredom. Instead of wanting to know more, we just…start up in the middle and know exactly how this is going to go because we’ve already done it so many times. A chapter is going to end, the next chapter will open either at the start or more likely in the middle of a conversation to set up the scene which we will gather as we go along.

Maybe I’m being overly picky at this point because I am still casually reading ahead, and the stuff that comes ahead is so batshit fuckstupid I’m just angry. But I still think that’s a shitty way to write every new chapter.

Also, if ever you doubt me that Betsy is the ultimate Mary Sue, I challenge you to read a single blog post, or USA Today (yeah she’s apparently writing for them) article. She is Betsy. She is entirely Betsy. This entire series is a sad middle-aged woman from the Midwest explaining to us that she thinks she’s cool and y’know what else? She likes this cool stuff, isn’t that also cool? God, she’s cool.

That shit gets worse as we go, too. Right now she doesn’t interject with Stuff I Like all that often, but in later books she follows the formula of:

Character: Makes reference

Other character: Immediately explains reference (“thief! You stole that from ___,” or “ohmygod I know isn’t ___ the coolest?”) Except every now and again where it’s reversed (almost always with Sinclair)

Disparaging character: Don’t tell me that this is yet another tiresome reference to blah blah

Betsy: Blah blah is a living god! Don’t you dare speak ill of Blah “living god” blah! (<–that is a direct quote. That actually happens, except with someones name rather than blah’s.)

Regardless, that’s what serves as an opening for Betsy being at home with Marc. She describes what he looks like and what kind of hair he has this time. Weird note: throughout the series they keep mentioning how Marc changes his hairstyle every single week and keeps growing it out and styling it all crazy and then sheering it off and starting again, but every time she actually sees Marc his hair is “brutally short.” Anyway, she describes what he looks like and what he’s wearing and then says:

When I first met Dr. Marc Spangler, he was on a ledge ready to splatter himself all over Seventh Avenue. I talked him down and bullied him into moving in with me. He decided that living with a vampire was a small improvement over some cop scooping him up in a bucket.

Seriously. She is THAT fucking flippant about someone’s attempted suicide, and it’s neither the first nor the last time she will be. Hell, if you recall, we actually had a “funny attempted suicide montage” in the last book. Betsy, and thereby MJD herself, has absolutely no respect whatsoever for anyone or anything. And she considers that a good thing–even someone being so miserable with their lives they want to fucking kill themselves is played for laughs.

Y’know, I did often find these books stacked in Romance rather than Supernatural Fiction or whatever, but they’re still shitty, easy to read, introductory vampire novels. I’m sure there are plenty of (depressed) kids who picked these up because vampires, yay!, and wound up having the author repeatedly laugh at and degrade them. Cool.

Anyway, they have termites and it is going to cost a lot of money. Betsy asks, “Did you bat your pretty eyes at the bug guy?”

“Like Scarlett O’Hara. Believe me, it was my pleasure…the guy was built. But alas, he was mostly immune to my charms. Wouldn’t budge on the quote, or the bad news. Got a date Saturday night, though.” Which I genuinely assume is only in there so she could make another Scarlett O’Hara reference. Also, that was handy! That the bug dude was gay, I mean. In the last book, Marc claims he always assumes everyone is gay and Betsy tells him statistically, that’s pretty dumb, and yet against the odds they just so happened to get an attractive, “built” insect inspector who is also gay because the gay character was the only one home.

Also, this perpetuates another strange issue–allegedly, Marc cannot get a date to save his life. Almost literally, as that was one of the reasons he was on that ledge. Yet we often see him engaging in flirtatious banter, or hear about it very soon after. He’s said to be very, very handsome, with black hair and true-green eyes–she reiterates that they are true green, not hazel, not muddled, actually green eyes, and he’s the second person ever she’s met with them–the other being her mother. Anyway, he’s a hot young doctor who always seems to be dating but we are always told has serious issues ever finding a date and is super duper lonely (and horny) as a result.

Whatever, they’re talking about how they have termites and Jessica paid for the consultation. He starts to suggest that maybe Jessica can pay for an extermination, too, when Jessica comes in yawning and complaining about how disruptive it is to have to set her alarm to 2am so she can hang out with Betsy anymore. So apparently that’s a thing. Betsy counterwhines that she misses the feeling of the sun on her face, although technically it sounds like she’s had it, she just doesn’t realize it. In the last book he said her bedroom faces east and she has very thin, filmy curtains. Of course, that would require paying attention to your own work! Anyway, “Bitch, bitch, bitch,” Jessica replied good-naturedly, which would honestly make a more accurate subtitle than Vampire Queen Betsy Taylor. Undead and Unwed: Bitch, Bitch, Bitch. Undead and Unemployed: Bitch, Bitch, Bitch. Yeah, that works way better, considering the story within.

Marc and Betsy continue their conversation about Jessica right in front of Jessica, so we get that whole “I’m right here guys” bullshit everyone loves. Betsy exclaims “we can’t expect Jessica to bail us out every time we have problems,” and Marc counters, “Why not? She’s got more money than she could spend in thirty lifetimes. So why should we care if she wants to help us out? It’s not like she’ll miss it.” Again, during this, Jessica keeps saying that “uh guys I’m here hellooooo” shit.

“Well, she’s not paying to fix the house. And that’s that.”

“Well, what do you want to do? We can’t sell the house until the termites are kaput. I guess we could get an apartment…”

“Or a suite at the Minneapolis Marquette,” I muttered. I think I failed to mention that when Sinclair burst into her job and tried to get her fired last chapter, he mentioned they had a suite at the Marquette Hotel because of his house burning down. At least she remembered that much! Jessica asks what was that because she heard Betsy’s mutters, duh, and Betsy says, “Guess who came to work tonight to order me to quit and move into the Marquette with him?”

“Eric Sinclair?” They said this in identical, dreamy tones. My best friend and my roommate (nice!) had a severe crush. Then Jessica giggled. “Eric came to Macy’s? Did he burst into flames the moment he passed the first cash register?”

“I wish. He tried to hypnotize my boss into firing me.”

“Did you kill him?”

“I wish. (yes, she says it again right after). Then I had to work overtime, and then I had to…well, never mind…”

“Suck blood from a would-be mugger?”

“Would-be rapist, but never mind.” Seriously, how many fucking rapists are just hanging out in the Midwest? I had no idea it was such a dangerous place to live, but according to these books you can’t throw a rock without it turning around to sexually assault you! Is this just another form of the All Bad Guys Are Rapists cliché? Or is the wild, wild Midwest just so fraught with danger at every corner, and you guys all just hide it really well?

Jessica says it’s just as well that they have termites, as it may be a sign that she simply needs a new home. She asks whether Betsy owns it free and clear, to which she tells her she should know as she is the one who paid off the mortgage. Betsy has been living here many years. She first got the place when she flunked out of college, because her father gave her $20,000 to cheer her up. Seriously. He rewarded her for flunking out of college. What the FUCK?!

She thinks to herself how she outgrew the place years ago, while describing it as “a three-bedroom cottage.” Remember, she just now has roommates. Jessica is only around this much because Betsy’s untimely death was traumatizing when it wasn’t hilarious she got hit by an Aztek, and Marc moved in three months ago. So Betsy, just herself, outgrew a three bedroom “cottage.” God, it must be nice to be so fucking rich and so fucking richly ignorant.

Jessica votes they fumigate the house and sell it for cheap, and subtly bashes the suburb of Apple Valley while doing so. She says it doesn’t even have a real downtown, and Betsy calls her a big-city snot and claims she likes that “if I wanted to go to the grocery store and the movie theater and get a haircut and have a pancake breakfast and grab the latest J.D. Robb, I could do it all within the same half-mile…most of it in the same strip mall.”

Anyway, Jessica thinks she can get $150,000 for it, easy, and use that as a down payment for a place where all three of them can reside. It is discussed that they’ve had daytime meetings wherein they’ve been discussing such plans. Jessica tells Betsy not to worry about a thing, as they will take care of it all including the house-hunting. Betsy ignores their pointed stares for a minute so she can say, “What, you want my approval? I’m just the figurehead.” And that brings up another weird issue I have with this series, and a lot of serieses in general…why do the periphery characters always seemingly acknowledge that their friend is the “main character,” even of their own lives? I’ve had friendships with people more enigmatic than me, sure, but I never once thought ah, they are the star of the show, I just live to support them and their needs, no matter how charming they may be.

But in series like this, that’s totally a thing. Why on earth would Betsy be Jessica’s “figurehead”? Like a 29 year old philanthropist billionaire with a tragic backstory and a penchant for crime-fighting wouldn’t be interesting enough without a vampire queen involved…oh, wait, we have that series, and it is the much more popular Batman franchise! Jessica is a black female fucking Batman, and even she actively showcases that her existence is only to further the story of Betsy fuckin’ Taylor. Yeah, okay!

Anyway, the scene ends, and the next scene honestly, legitimately begins with Betsy throwing a confused fit because she woke to a world of sky blue and has no idea where she is or what could have possibly happened…it’s a Post-It note. Marc stuck a blue Post-It note to her forehead and she’s seriously, actively written as dumb enough to have a blind panic confusion about it. Wow. Just…ugh.

The note says, Supervamp: We accepted the offer on the house, and Jessica’s found us a new place. Meet us at 607 Summit Avenue at 10:00pm to check out the new digs. It was honestly that fast–”a few nights later,” and they managed to I suppose fumigate and definitely sell a home and purchase a mansion.

Oh yes, a mansion. Betsy is all upset because she recognizes Summit Avenue as the richest neighborhood in Minneapolis–she claims that the governor’s mansion is across the street, although MJD actually felt the need to include an author’s note informing us that she changed the exact location of his mansion and as far as she knows vampires aren’t his neighbors, because she seriously thinks we’re so fucking drop-dead stupid she has to explain every little thing to us, including how fiction works.

She trips over the empty boxes that they were so helpful to provide while getting ready for work, but before she can get out the door Tina shows up, “dressed like a crime about to happen” in a pleated red miniskirt, short-sleeved white sweater (what is the POINT of a short-sleeve sweater, is that even a THING?), black tights and matching flats with silver buckles, and a red headband. Which I only took the time to describe because she’s seriously obsessed with using schoolgirl imagery to hypersexualize Tina (that dressed like a crime about to happen quote ain’t mine!) and it’s just fucking gross. Can we just stop sexualizing teenagers? Can we, as a society, just knock it the fuck off? Thanks.

Anyway, Betsy bitch, bitch, bitches about how Tina “sicced” Sinclair on her, while Tina plays dumb. Another amazing-gorgeous-beautiful blonde (vampire) woman comes up, with the hilariously fake name “Monique Silver” that we are just supposed to take at face value. She’s 78 but doesn’t look a day over 22, which is at least better than how two sentences ago she described Tina as looking not quite sixteen and HOTHOTHOT!!

Anyway, she then bitch, bitch, bitches about their timing, bitch, bitch, bitches some more about the idea of moving to the rich(er) neighborhood, is handed a memo and then bitch, bitch, bitches how long it is, and then finally invites Tina and Monique along to see the new mansion, impressing Monique with the fact she doesn’t need to eat first.

I don’t actually know how they always know when she hasn’t fed yet. Yeah, sure, she’s opening the door to leave the house in this case, but like…she COULD have gone out earlier and come back. Y’know? It happens so often. Betsy doesn’t feed, random character can just TELL she hasn’t and is thoroughly impressed. Rinse, repeat.

Anyway, this is just such an obvious setup. I mean, I already knew what was coming up by reading this, and even without reading the actual pages I imagine many of you do, too, as I trust in your intelligence more than MJD does, anyway. So yeah. Sinclair’s house has burnt down. Betsy and friends are deciding to move. They are also way too invested in Betsy entering what is an obviously abusive relationship, because they’re bad friends I guess. Jessica buys a mansion. GEE, I WONDER IF THEY’LL ALL LIVE TOGE–yeah, they all live together before the end of the fuckin’ book, even.

Chapter 6 ends with Betsy inviting Tina and Monique to come see, and go to see they do!

COMING UP: We also go see. See?

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