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Wednesday: More on Ray, and on Beef, and on Ray and Beef.

Continuing today's Achewood conversation in IM:

Eric: You know...
Eric: The comments to your "No dude..." piece make me rethink America, just a touch. They mistake Ray's mother having a natural sense of noblesse oblige with wealth. Because in America, wealth equals status. But the Southern tradition she's from is a very European tradition. Status comes from breeding, and Mrs. Smuckles has exceptional breeding. And Ray... er, doesn't. He fakes it. ;)
Weds: Exactly. Ray doesn't have breeding, he has bloodline. One wonders what went wrong there.
Eric: Hm. His father clearly Got Things Done, but in a real way. Not because it was his destiny, but because they needed doing. His mother clearly Did The Appropriate Things, because of her breeding and station.
Weds: Covering for Ray to some extent as a result.
Eric: Yup. And the two converge in Ray. He Gets Things Done because he's supposed to. He's Ray Smuckles! But it's an act.
Weds: Yep. It's not so much that he gets things done as that he does some things, as and when they catch his fancy, and things get done, mostly because he's covered for by the absurd convergence of good fortune and, say, people like Beef...
Eric: Hm. You know which dying man Ray has never abandoned?
Weds: Which?
Eric: Beef. Beef gets shot, Ray offers one of his own lungs. Or kills an Aibo to provide beef with Cyberlungs. Something bad happens when they're kids, and he tries to distract Beef. Beef's the one guy Ray is real about.
Weds: It's true. But, on the other hand, Beef has never been after the same goal as Ray. Not, at least, at the same time.
Eric: Which Ray has never understood. Beef went to Hell to get Ray.
Weds: Went to hell, tucked his pepper into a paper tube, saw his stew.
Eric: And buried his soiled sheets.
Weds: And there've been those odd fits where Ray wants to do well by Beef, so imposes his idea of "well."
Eric: Yup.
Weds: The makeover.
Eric: The television show.
Weds: So, for all that Ray is real and clearly does care, there's always that little bit of a disconnect. And much of that is plainly entrenched in upbringing; it shows even in how Mrs. Smuckles relates to Beef. She worries that he's so thin, so gives him money for a sandwich. On the other hand, she remembers Beef from a time not long after he wore breadbags and electrical cords.
Eric: Yup. And knows that Beef is a Good Boy of Low Parentage.
Weds: Exactly. He can be helped, but not saved.
Eric: And what does one do in such cases? One gives the good boy money.
Weds: Not enough to escape and rise above it, but enough to get by. A sandwich. An AIBO lung.
Weds: How much death has Beef now seen, just on his own, and been carried through physically? And what kind of help has he received -- felt able to receive -- for all the stuff bound up in his depression? Ray will give Beef and Molly a place to stay in the pool shed, but is never going to help Beef find a way to sort out his head so that he can, eventually, get a place of his own.
Eric: Beef doesn't feel worthy to wear a nice black shirt.
Weds: And Ray is never going to help him with that.
Eric: How much of that do you think comes from Mrs. Smuckles and Ray?
Weds: A not inconsiderable amount, I'd wager, although I wouldn't pin it all on them.
Eric: No, not all. But they'd be the ones he was thinking would think he was putting on airs, right?
Weds: Yep. And Pat.
Eric: And Pat. Pat, of course, would think that.
Weds: Pat twisted the other way.
Eric: And Ray and Mrs. Smuckles would be all, "Oh, man. Now that is a nice shirt. It's good to see you trying to take care of yourself, Man. Here, have five bucks."
Weds: And that feels horrible. "Wow. They can tell I'm trying too hard."
Eric: I'd be tempted to bury the shirt, too.
Weds: Likewise.
Eric: Man. Molly had no clue what she was getting into, was she?
Weds: None whatsoever. She thought she was just moving on in the same vein as Heaven.

Posted by Wednesday Burns-White at February 6, 2006 6:57 PM


Comment from: Jon G posted at February 6, 2006 7:37 PM

Beef seems to understand how he is though. He even says that there are only two kinds of men "They either want to be a hero or be with a hero." Isn't tagging along with Ray just Beef wanting to be with a hero? Or what he believes is a hero. I don't really know what it is, but that line got to me as being what goes on with Ray and Beef.

Comment from: larksilver posted at February 6, 2006 8:15 PM

I totally don't get the allure of Achewood, despite trying...

but that conversation? It makes me think I get it. Does that make sense?

Comment from: The Matt Who Is posted at February 6, 2006 8:37 PM

I think you have a point, Jon, that this is as much about Ray and Beef as it is about Big Fights.

However, it looks like Roast Beef is also enrolled in the Great Outdoor Fight. Maybe he's tired of following someone who is patently bad at hero-ing, and is striking out on his own. Neither one of them are people I'd admit to having lost a fight to, but Beef does know a lot about the Fight itself...

Comment from: Tim Tylor posted at February 6, 2006 9:13 PM

Eric: Man. Molly had no clue what she was getting into, was she? Weds: None whatsoever. She thought she was just moving on in the same vein as Heaven.

Molly had just been burned to life and thrown back to a world she'd not been in for absolutely ages. After all that anyone could use a friend, not to mention lodgings, and Beef was pretty likely the only living person she'd know. So it was probably as much need as romance that had her seeking him out.

Comment from: Shaenon posted at February 6, 2006 9:33 PM

The observation that Americans equate wealth with status (not to mention class, etiquette, etc.) is pretty accurate. I thought of this while watching the latest movie version of "Pride and Prejudice." There's a point where the Bennetts, landed gentry, need a large sum of money, and they have to borrow it from their middle-class merchant relatives. Afterwards, I had to explain to my husband that this was because the Bennetts have titles and breeding and status and acres of land, but they don't actually have much *money.*

I admit the link between Jane Austen and the Orangina at Ray's Little League game may seem tenuous at best, but it all fits together. I swear.

Roast Beef burying the shirt is one of my all-time favorite Achewood strips, mostly because I understand the logic behind it *perfectly.*

Comment from: MagnoliaPearl posted at February 8, 2006 11:22 PM

My dearest hope is that Achewood will go down in history as one of the finest pieces of literature of our time, as it more than deserves to.

Comment from: MagnoliaPearl posted at February 8, 2006 11:31 PM

I also wanted to say how scared I am of Beef in this storyline.
He's behaving much differently than normal. He's got a kind of cold confidence going on. We've seen him with confidence - drunk in heaven, after the Yahoo hack. Those times were different.
Plus its disconcerting to see his eyes obstructed. In my experience readin' comics that is never, EVER a good sign.
The first thing it made me think of was that the last time he wore glasses (besides, like, the Weezer/iMac makeover) was his childhood.
The second thing was, it makes him a little more like Ray.

Or maybe I'm just reading into this too much.

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