I have four items for my write-up today on Stephen King’s Needful Things:
1. Nettie Cobb is a woman who killed her abusive husband and spent time in an insane asylum afterwards. After her release, she worked at Polly Chalmer’s sewing shop as part of a program. Nettie is really jittery around people, even when they try to be extra friendly to her on account of her nervous disposition. But Leland Gaunt, the owner of the new store in town, manages to win her confidence through his soothing and charming personality, beginning with his compliment of her for a cake that she made. I can somewhat identify with Nettie, not because I am insane, but rather because I myself have had a nervous disposition in the past, especially around people. I’m glad when there are people who take that into consideration and are still friendly to me, but, often, me being nervous makes other people nervous, or they don’t know how to interact with me. But I will say that my nervousness has gone down over the past couple of years.
2. Hugh Priest is the town drunk. At one point in the book, he actually contemplates getting a fresh start in life: becoming part of AA, having “no more paydays spent in terror that he would find a pink slip in his envelope along with his check” (page 73), etc. But he quickly abandons that dream and concludes that he has no future, for he is fifty-one years old, and that is an age to run from the avalanche of one’s past, not to have dreams about the future. I found this part of the book to be intriguing, since I know (or know of) people who become sober late in life, and the twelve steps are considered to be a way both to have a good future and also to deal with the wreck of the past. Why would one ever be too old to get a fresh start and to pursue a quality of life, in whatever number of years one has left?
3. Sheriff Alan Pangborn gets into a slight argument with Reverend William Rose (who is played in the movie by Don S. David, of Stargate SG-1 fame). Rose wants Alan to put a stop to a Catholic raffle (or something like that), for he considers that to be gambling. But Alan says that the Catholic church is breaking no laws and that living in a democracy means that we sometimes have to put up with things that we don’t like, since people in a free society will do some things that rub us the wrong way. Rose then appealed to the example of Jesus, who drove out the moneychangers defiling the temple, implying that he was about to do something similar. But Alan responds, “Yes…but you’re not Him.” That’s how I feel about many Christians who appeal to Jesus driving out the moneychangers to justify their own douchiness: they’re not Jesus. In my opinion, they’re not even in the same ballpark as Jesus.
4. Alan is dating Polly, who is gushing about how Leland Gaunt is a dream-boat and will be attracting the women in Castle Rock. Alan jokingly remarks that his jealous muscle is starting to twitch! Alan may not feel that Leland Gaunt is serious competition, since Gaunt is rather old. But some dating gurus have suggested that we do what Alan did (though they don’t mention Alan) when a woman we like seems to be interested in someone else, or when someone else is interested in her: keep it cool, be light and funny, be easygoing, etc.