Study Guide

Hard Love Chapter 4

By Ellen Wittlinger

Chapter 4

  • Even though John's dad usually sleeps in on Saturday mornings, John doesn't want to risk a run-in with the guy after their fight last night, so he slips out early to avoid him.
  • John heads over to where he'll meet Marisol in a couple hours, and reads her latest zine while he waits.
  • His favorite piece in it is called "Escape" and talks about when she came out to her parents. Her mom was super supportive, signing up for the Gay Pride parade and learning all there is to know about homosexuality before the weekend was up. Her dad? Not so much. He never mentions it or anything, but Marisol can tell how upset he is.
  • Marisol's appreciative of the support, but she wishes she could escape from her mom; she needs to figure herself out on her own.
  • John imagines what it would be like to come out to his parents. Not that they ever care about anything he does anyway.
  • He writes his own piece about escaping, but this time, it's more literal: He imagines escaping from his parents, and wonders how long it would take them to notice he was gone.
  • It turns out writing about how little your parents care about you is depressing, so John stops and starts reading another zine instead.
  • This one's from someone named Diana Tree, and called No Regrets. Her mom died when she was younger and she writes about how she feels now. She uses a lot of run-on sentences, all jumbled together—John's never seen anything like it, and he's intrigued.
  • It's already time to meet Marisol, so John stops reading and heads over to the meeting place. When he gets there, he's surprised to find a guy talking to her.
  • Marisol introduces him as Birdie, her trusted gay consultant. She wants to figure out if John is gay, but Birdie assures them that the guy isn't. He could tell right away.
  • John doesn't appreciate a complete stranger weighing in on his love life, especially since he tries to block himself off from all human emotion.
  • What's up with you, man? Birdie asks. Except he drops an f-bomb in there, which really grates on Marisol. She can't stand the word and think no one should ever use it because it doesn't say anything about love, sex, or anything.
  • Yeesh, John thinks, but he promises not to use it (at least in front of Marisol).
  • As they walk along, they run into Marisol's mom, Helen, who's out and about shopping, and just wanted to say hi—or so she says. Marisol knows she's really checking up on her daughter to see who Gio is.
  • When Helen leaves, Marisol gets annoyed that she came in the first place. Sometimes she needs more room to breathe and be herself.
  • The conversation turns back to whether or not John is gay. He doesn't get what the big deal is either way, but Marisol stops him and says if he doesn't find out, how can he expect someone else to?
  • Hmm… that would require someone else bothering to get to know him, John thinks.