Lovefool 06.27.11 | Gothic Surprise

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Unpredictability is key to a good romance, and few romances come more unpredictable than Serena Valentino’s GloomCookie.

 
I think that unpredictability is key to a good romance. Unpredictability, I think, is what's kept me and the mister together this long. Because, sometimes, he does or says something that I would've never expected and I'm blindsided for a brief time. Sometimes it's a good blindsiding and I'm amazed, once again, by this fabulous, stunning creature that I've invited into my life. “Oh, right,” I say to myself, “this is what we're doing here.” Sometimes it's not a good surprise and I have to swallow further remarks and walk away. These are the tiny things that lead us further on through life, though, the amazement and the occasional dismay, I think. Mister Jameson excels at the occasional surprise in a life that can sometimes seem fairly filled with days that are the same. However, as we all know, surprises can be good or bad. But they keep us going. What's going to happen today or the next or later this month?
 
I have a limit, though. So many surprises and I start to get a little weird, a little twitchy. The content of the surprises can push me right over the edge, too, but that's rare. I can't really handle a soap opera life, a statement I'm sure a lot of people who knew me in my early twenties are quietly laughing at, but I like to read about them. Of course, I also enjoy touristing in lifestyles that I'd never actually be able to espouse due to my complete cynicism about everything. So where does this all intersect? Where, my nerdlings, am I going with this?
 
Serena Valentino's GloomCookie, that's where. GloomCookie is a story about both a clique of Goth kids and a mysterious and totally freaky Carnival. (It's called the Carnival Macabre. I don't think I'd eat the cotton candy there. Just sayin'.) It's both satirical, but in a loving way, and supernatural. It begins by introducing us to the world around the lovely and black pixielike Lex, an occasionally literal but usually not goth princess, and her friends and lovers and stalkers. Lex lives a fairly fabulous existence, working in a novelty shop that doesn't have a dress code during the day and clubbing her nights away, stepping out for coffee with her friends between the two. She always has a guy around, be it the indecisive and elusive Max or the stalkery Vermilion or, eventually, the sadly cursed Damion. She's got loads of friends to go on those coffee dates with her. Lex lives a fairly charmed life, just to suck us in, and then things get complicated. The complications seem to come because she's also friends with the strange Sebastian, who is completely (and rightfully) worried that he might have created everything around him. He certainly created his girlfriend, Chrys, who was an honest-to-gosh maneater for a while but started life as a doll. No, really. 
 
Sebastian, for me, was almost the real star of the show. Goth pixie Lex and Damion, both winged and not, are pretty interesting but Sebastian can manipulate the world around him into whatever he wants it to be. And does, sometimes entirely by accident and...well, sometimes he does it completely on purpose. He fell in a love with a wax figure from his father's carnival and brought her to life, and she's come into his world and eaten the monster under his bed. I mean, I take the spiders outside for Mister Jameson but Chrys is a girl who is able to devour the monster under the bed, keeping it at bay for a while. She only becomes it a little, though. It could hardly be avoided. Staring, abyss, et cetera. And Sebastian, trying to do the right thing most of the time, occasionally slips up and uses this power for evil, but you can hardly blame him. And eventually, in a Spider-Man-esque moment, he learns that with his power comes choices.
 
Obviously, making his girlfriend wasn't exactly not abusing his power, and then creating an alternate universe so he could hook up with Lex for a while was totally, absolutely, abusing his power. He shifts reality at will and, being a young man, uses it to get some. Which is cool, I suppose. I can't help but think, though, where's the challenge in that? Not that Chrys isn't plenty challenging (there was some 'splainin to do about hooking up with alternate-reality Lex), but Sebastian brought her to life and has the ability to manipulate reality. And, sure, he'll have to learn to keep that down but he'll always kind of know, even if he doesn't want to, that Chrys is his creation. Not that Lex doesn't have her own problems. What do you do when you discover you have a fated, cursed love and break the curse only to find that the guy's a jerk? Because Damion's got some issues. But but but! They're fated! It's true love, through the ages. For fuck's sake, she's finally not gonna die on him and they can find out what happens after they defeat the evil witch!
 
And therein lies the heart of GloomCookie's romantic appeal. Sure, it seems fairly unlikely that any of you nerdlings have died and been brought back to life by your reality-shifting friend who may or may not be in love with you. But how many of you have kept dating someone just because that was the thing that you did? Because you loved them (once, you're fairly sure) and it was true love and it would work out, somehow, magically, even if your favorite Cure album was Disintegration and theirs was Wild Mood Swings? I mean, yeah, Wild Mood Swings does have “Jupiter Crash” but, c'mon, really? Again, it seems pretty unlikely that any of you have actually ended up whipping yourself up a lover after lunch and before your Sunday nap, but how many of you have dated someone long enough for them to start to change into something a little more like you thought you wanted them to be? Eventually, though, you discover you didn't really want them that way. You wanted them the way they were, really, could they possibly go back? How do you even have that conversation? You don't. You slowly back away until, eventually, you've backed yourself right out of there. Or have you ever had a long-standing argument end, only to find that you didn't want it your way, after all? There's that old cliché about being careful what you wish for, after all, and everyone can relate to that. Love, in black or neon, is complicated. | Erin Jameson
 
To learn more about Gloomcookie, visit serenavalentino.com/gloomcookie.
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