Seeing Other People 4 (Pages 122-270)


I feel so sorry for Joe!

Whether it is a dream or reality, the thing is that cheating on Penny was not right at all. Yet, the point is that he doesn’t even know or remember how she got to sleep with Bella. It was just one off, which she later regretted bitterly, and not because his wife had discovered it, but because he knew that he wasn’t a cheating husband. He loves Penny, and I think that because he is an honest person, he eventually told Penny. I agree with her that what he did was terrible, and considering that Penny had a history of a father who cheated on her mother constantly, it is understandable for her to be hurt and unforgiving at first. Yet, the way things went from then on shows that it is unfair to punish Joe for just one single mistake.

At first, it seems that Penny is trying to do her best to work on their marriage. They go to counselling, and Penny is open to talk to Joe. They even kiss on Jack’s birthday, which she later says is a mistake. And she even tries to spend time with Joe alone. They even have a good time, seeing a concert of Van, one of the divorce club dads, and they even are close to making love. But Penny stops things as she tells him that she doesn’t think she can trust him again, and she admits she wants a divorce. I liked Penny until this moment, but this change from wanting to work things out with Joe to wanting a divorce is such a huge backward step!!! Why couldn’t she keep trying counselling and having more nights out? I think she isn’t fair here, and from this point onwards, things go from bad to worse.

First, Joe is served his divorce papers. Naturally, things are frosty between her and Penny. And then she tells him that she is seeing someone else, Scott, her ex-boyfriend. It is at this point that Joe realises he has lost his wife. So one day while leafing through a newspaper, he sees Bella’s photograph in an article, so he feels the need to see her and apologise. When Bella sees him, she is defensive and cold, but when they talk, they relax and spend the whole evening together. Actually, they end up kissing and she takes her to her house, but at the last moment Joe can’t take the last step as he realises that he only wants Pnny. Fiona keeps appearing, and this is one of the moments she does, and she tells her she is proud of him. By this point Joe doesn’t know what to believe, whether Fiona is a ghost or a figment of his imagination, whether what he is living is real or he is actually lying cold on the ground. What he knows is that he is miserable and missing his wife and boys terribly.

After Penny announces that he is seeing someone, Joe hardly talks to her, only when he picks up the children. Then one day she asks him if he gives her permission to introduce Scott to the children. He refuses, but some days or weeks later Joe takes Jack to a play date with a new friend. Joe meets the boy’s mother, and they start talking about their respective marital problems and separations. Talking to this woman makes Joe understand Penny better. What the woman tells him is that she would like her husband to respect her and tell her he loves her. So the next thing he does is to let Penny introduce Scott to the children.

Joe is jealous as the children keep mentioning Scott and how nice he is. The divorce club dads tell him that he shouldn’t be upset as the novelty will soon wear off. Yet, he can’t help but feel miserable. He still loves Penny, and he knows he is losing her forever. Then one day Rosie calls him, telling him that her mum is crying after she and Scott had a terrible row on the phone. Joe goes to the house, takes the children to Penny’s mum’s, and he tries to talk to her. Penny simply says that it is over between her and Scott. From that moment he turns up at home almost every day, and he and Penny seem to get on better and better. He even entertains the idea of telling her how he still feels, but then one day Scott opens the door, and Penny tells him that they are back together. Poor Joe!!! Does he mean so little to Penny after so many years that she can’t see he is more important than a single indiscretion? We don’t know what happened  between Scott and Penny, but if she was so miserable, the man must have done something to her. So why forgive Scott and not Joe? I don’t like Penny very much right now. I feel she hasn’t done enough to save her marriage. We don’t know much about Scott, and we can’t blame him for anything. Yet, I think that Penny got together with this guy too soon. Doesn’t she realise that Joe hasn’t even looked at a woman in  months?

After his disappointment, Joe focuses on helping his new friends. First, he,Stewart, and Paul go with Van to the hospital as he is getting his tests after the treatment for cancer. Van is terrified, but thankfully, he comes out with a big smile. He is clean and healthy. Then he and the others accompany Paul and his children to his ex’s wedding, to give him support. As Joe sees Paul’s ex and her new husband, he fears that this will be him watching Penny marry someone else. And finally, Paul goes to the airport with Stewart as after eighteen months his children are coming to see him, and he is there with his new friend to witness this happy encounter. I love these parts about Joe. He is really a good guy, and I’m sorry that his wife can’t see the reality. I think Penny is so damaged by what happened with her father that she is ruining her marriage and can’t even see that nobody is perfect and people make mistakes. Well, I know that it is easy to judge from a safe position, and I can understand that thinking that your husband went out to find another woman and be intimate with her is something huge to overcome, but I think that if Penny had tried a bit more, things would have been different. And I think she was wrong to start a relationship with another person without solving the issues with her husband.

Then the last blow for Joe is to get a letter announcing that the divorce is final, and he and Penny are not married any longer. Poor, poor Joe!!! I feel so sorry for him. I guess that this is what Fiona wanted him to see. So what does he have to do to wake up and return to the reality? Does he have to win Penny back? But how? The woman is not open to be won back as she is still with someone else and doesn’t see her ex-husband as a possible partner.


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