Flawed Heroes II: Rick Whittaker

I’m disappointed that so few of you took a stab at Tuesday’s “Questions for Readers.”  In fact, there’s been exactly two comment since Sunday.  What’s up with that?  Summer’s here so your minds are on vacation?  SusanH has been out of town and you’re lost without her?

To refresh your memories, the Questions were:

  1. What are Rick’s flaws?
  2. Do you like him because of or despite his flaws?

Ginny wins the prize with the best (and only) answer:

Actually in the next chapter Tatum puts it pretty well: he’s a “snake with the morals of a tom cat” & “an unenlightened Norman”.  Without his flaws he wouldn’t be any fun.

I’m totally with her on second half of that: without his flaws Rick wouldn’t be much fun.  But I’m not sure I agree with the first half.  Let’s examine.

First, what is a “snake?”  Checking the first 4 on-line dictionaries, they all agree–definition one is the reptile we know and love, and definition two is, “A deceitful or treacherous person.  Also called snake in the grass.”  Of course, we all know the evolution of that definition: the beloved Garden of Eden story.  Snake = Satan = deceitful or treacherous (or even downright evil).  On top of that, cold-blooded, with only a reptilian brain with no mammalian impulses to temper them.  A lawyer, in other words.

Whoa, did I say that out loud?  Sorry.  I have at least one good friend who’s a lawyer.  It’s just the 99% that give that other 1% a bad reputation.

So is Rick deceitful and/or treacherous?  Tatum calls him a snake because he left her with more responsibilities at her job.  But isn’t that true pretty much any time somebody leaves?  Did Rick’s departure from the newspaper equate to treachery?  I’m going to go out on a limb here and vote No (however, since I worked at the same company for 32 years, my opinion counts for squat here).

Is Rick a “Norman?”  You don’t know what that means yet, but I’ll give you a sneak preview of Chapter 17.  This is Rick’s first meeting with Chai Fox, the witch that Tatum is referring to in the chapter you just read.

“You, on the other hand,” she patted my hand, “being an unenlightened Norman–although open-minded, I must admit–didn’t feel a thing.”

I hated to admit that made sense, but couldn’t find any fault with the argument.

“What exactly is a Norman?”

Chai laughed.  “It’s a word we use to mean, like a barbarian.  The Normans under William the Conqueror brought all their fancy French words and governing practices and Papal bulls to Britain, but they had not a drop of respect for the old ways.  Thought they were demonic.  Of course, the druids had long since disappeared from England by 1066.  But there were still a few surviving out in the wilds of Wales.  However, the Normans were nothing if they weren’t thorough.  Thoroughly Norman, in a word.  By the turn of the century, the old religion was totally dead.”

“Until revived by you and yours in the 20th Century.”

Chai made a small bow.  “New Agers at your service, world.”

So perhaps we can summarize the definition of a “Norman” as someone closed-minded about New Age, New Thought, or unconventional spiritual or religious practices.  Certainly, his quick summary of Tatum’s quirks, as well as his dismissal of the explanation from the book about what really happened to Avalon, might lead you–and her–to apply the label.  But is he really?  As soon as he reads how the Sacred Wheel works, he heads right out and tries it.  OK, he’s still a Norman.  But as Chai admits, at least open minded.

So now, the $64,000 question: does he have the morals of a tom cat?

Since we know absolutely nothing about Rick’s dating history, although he obviously doesn’t have a girlfriend at the start of the book, I guess how you answer that question is pretty much based on two things:  1) “Mr. Lust’s” reaction to Adeline, and 2) Rick sleeping with Missy Pierson.

If you’ve spent your life without the wackiness of possessing a Y chromosome, I’ll share a secret: guys all have a Mr. Lust in their heads.  Some are more vocal than others, some are bawdier than others, some men pay more attention to their Mr. Lust than others.  But we all have one.  It’s hardwired, been there for a million years or so.  Love him or hate him, the species survived in its current form because of him.

So now it comes down to: was sleeping with Missy Pierson an immoral act?  The answer to that, of course, depends on your own world view, beliefs about religion and morality, etc.  There’s no right answer.

What are some of Rick’s other faults?

First, he seems to be pretty self-centered.  Of course, as a 32-year-old single guy, he doesn’t really have anybody not to be self-centered about.  We don’t know for sure that he wasn’t an avid Big Brother or spent his free weekends working on Habitat for Humanity, but you’d suspect probably not.

Second, he seems to be without a huge amount of drive.  He’s been working in the newspaper business for 10 years without a whole lot to show for it, although as an investigative reporter, he was at least making a name for himself.  Some people regard lack of drive as a huge character flaw.  Others see it as a lifestyle choice.  But it’s definitely at least a feature.

Relationship issues?  At 32, is he between relationships or not capable of being in a serious one?  That whole self-centered thing?  Or has he just not met the right woman yet?

Sarcasm?  Is that a character flaw?  If so, buddy, I’m a seriously flawed person.

Regardless, he appears to have a lot of growth areas.



5 thoughts on “Flawed Heroes II: Rick Whittaker

  1. As the lawyer referenced, I have to admit that I am honored to be in the 1 percent. Of course, the work that I do as a plaintiff’s civil rights lawyer does generally help people as opposed to sucking the life out the economy (although, most of the defendant corporations, government entities, and individuals that end up as defendants in my cases would likely not agree — but hey, discriminate and retaliate at your own risk). I thank the esteemed author of the post. (I have to admit that I am assuming that I am the “lawyer” he references). And, can say that I am pleased as punch to be given this accolade.
    That having been said, I am the first to admit that I am WAAAAY behind in making comments and reading. Of course, I have been seriously busy in the last month or so (two trips to San Antonio, One trip to give a speech, the other to participate in an arbitration where an individual had been wrongly accused, one trip to Atlanta to speak, two trials, and numerous motions, filings, hearings, etc. — you get the idea). But, that is no excuse. I am taking time off this weekend and will catch up (with comments, so be sure to check older posts, Rusty). Mostly because I am so proud that you have finally gotten where you want to be and I love reading your writing. There, enough gushing over you. We need to get together and fire some (cardboard) soldiers, tanks, and guns, at each other. Cheers, my brother!

  2. (I’m baa-ack!)

    As the mom of a 1% guy who happens to be a lawyer, I have to insist that you know “at least two” in the 1%! But to the main points.

    Wow. There’s a lot to process here.

    No problem with Mr. Lust–certainly not a flaw in my world view–in fact, with the exception of Missy Pierson, so far Rick seems to handle him (pun very much intended) quite well. It’s a line of humor that I’m enjoying.

    Was sleeping (really?) with Missy Pierson an immoral act? This is a tough one. A resounding NO if she had been 29 and sober. Nineteen and drinking when Rick is 32? Skates pretty close to some creepy edge. And it is WAY over the immature, irresponsible, doesn’t-he-know-that-actions-have-consequences edge.

    So according to Susan’s world view . . .
    1. What are Rick’s flaws? Immature, self-absorbed, irresponsible, e.g., not accepting the consequences of his own actions, leaving his job without giving notice.
    2. Do I like him because of or in spite of these flaws. A definite “in spite of” here, trusting that the author will let us watch him grow and change–part of the fun.
    3. What are simply Rick’s quirks/traits? His lack of ambition/drive? Lifestyle choice for me and one I enjoy reading about.
    4. His sarcasm? Love it. As long as it never slips into Early Letterman Style, making fun of the “little people.” Since it seems more self-directed than outer, it is probably one of the main reasons that I keep him in the Like category at this point. Especially when you throw in his curiosity and general niceness to people he meets..
    4. I really NEED that t-shirt! I’m just sayin’.

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