I really need to put him together. He’s a cool guy, and Isabel needs her twin brother/best friend.
In one of my trades that has yielded an extensive wardrobe designed for fat bodies such as Isabel’s [and Carter’s], I got a button-up, collared shirt with blue dictionary text on white background. This strikes me as very Carterish: formal, but also offbeat and nerdy. I wonder if I still have a tie?
I’m seeing Carter as more conservative [not politically!] and quiet than Isabel, which cracks me up because, when he went to college, he was a radical dyke with multiple piercings and various hair colors who went bare-breasted in marches. It also cracks me up because he works as a tattooist at Champlain Valley Body Art, and employees of tattoo/piercing parlors frequently have lots of tattoos, piercings and other body mods. However, Carter eschews these.
Now that I think about it, Carter values stability, routine and peace. In pursuit of these goals, he strives to be unremarkable. He just wants to be a normal guy with his normal girlfriend. He really wants to marry Novella and have kids and be a normal dad. Normal normal normal, which neither he nor anyone around him really is.
As I mentioned, he has a past of radical activism, which he has set aside. He characterizes his time in college as a "selfish period," during which he was "wrapped up in identity politics." His break from activism coincided with his graduation, move to Vermont, realization that he was trans and anti-trans experience with some former friends, fellow Smith alums, who started crabbing about "butch flight." He no longer wished to be part of an acrimonious community; to him, they seemed jejune and puerile in their attacks, so he removed himself from those particular people, as well as the activism associated with them.
Frankly, he also started caring less about "women power rah rah rah" [his words] when he was trying to figure out how to become the man he had always wanted to be. He thought of his and Isabel’s dad as a model for masculinity, a dude who was a stay-at-home father for the first 7 years’ of the twins’ lives and who always said that the measure of a man was not in his toughness or his strength, but in his respect, loyalty and love to those around him. He wanted to be like his dad, who thought that being a father was his most important job ever. He wanted to settle down with the right woman and have a family, which seemed to him incompatible with "running around and protesting shit all the time" [his words].
Carter’s desire to be a good man is also strongly affected by pop cultural conceptions of masculinity. This mostly manifests in his long-running preoccupation with exactly how to marry Novella. He is currently hung up on what type of engagement ring to get for her and how to propose to her.
Novella and Carter have known each other for about 5 years and been living together for about 3. They have cats together. They co-own their condo and their car. They have joint bank accounts, and they have set up their wills, health care proxies and powers of attorney to default to each other. Everyone who knows them treats them as a pair, and friends and extended family have been bugging them about the possibility of having kids. In other words, they’re pretty damn committed. They also obviously love each other and demonstrate it frequently, so they don’t have the "Does he/she even love me???" question.
The thing is that both Carter and Novella are pretty shy and kinda passive. I mean, they didn’t officially call themselves a couple until after their friends kept assuming that they were one, which led to the following conversation:
"Hey, Carter, are we dating?"
"Everyone thinks we’re together."
"Well, we DO hang out a lot." [Understatement: At this point, Carter was spending 5 nights a week at Novella’s.]
"And like each other a lot."
"Yeah, and have lots of sex."
"Isn’t that dating?"
This is what happens when you have two socially awkward people who find it difficult to talk about their feelings. :p
Novella currently has the exact same obsession as Carter: how to marry him, starting with what kind of engagement ring to get him and how to propose to him. Carter and Novella do not know that they share preoccupations, but Isabel does, since she is close to both. This secrecy is integral to the subplot, its climax and its fallout.
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