"Oh, honey. You don't need a ring to call me Mom."
So I guess it's fair that, on that nasty little note, Michelle wanders into my favorite part of the whole episode. She's just walking, you know, walking it off, walking it out, trying to stop being fuzzy and muzzy and confused long enough to think about putting her airbrushed fox-faced t-shirt back on and starting her third life, thinking about leaving Paradise, when an old man catches her eye.
Old Man: "You takin' a walk."
Michelle: "I guess."
Old Man: "You want to walk my dog?"
I don't know why, but that part made me tear up well more than anything else that happens. Just the open-handed sort of neighborly way it all goes down, like, in the middle of this awful day, with cobwebs all around, this random old guy asks her for a favor, and of course she does it without thinking... I don't know, there's a poetry there. This is one of my favorite lines in a book, and I think it applies (beyond the dog part, obviously) to why I loved that little moment so much. I am no closer to explaining myself, but here it is:
"A pockmarked boy with a scraggy ponytail and four tiny rings in his right ear leaned against the wall of the armory, holding his dog on a leash, a sign hanging from his neck: PLEASE FEEL FREE TO PET MY DOG. IT MAY MAKE YOU FEEL BETTER."
She's I guess the showgirl that is friends with Michelle that kept asking when they were going to get drunk? I assume. Showgirls look alike. That's kind of the whole point of them.
Michelle: "Well. We got here, I bought a dress, went to a party, fought with his mom, had sex, danced with his mom, he got in a car accident, and now he's dead."
In case you thought one character was capable of being anything less than tone deaf and glib about death, let me assure you that this quickly turns into a referendum on how Michelle has terrible taste in men, in this real Catskillsy jazz-hands way of like, "All the good ones are married, or gay, or dead." (Or in Hubbell's case, kind of all three.) Michelle hangs up on Talia, Talia calls back for take two, and it gets cool.
Michelle: "I'm... Lost."
Talia: "Oh, honey."
Michelle: "No, I'm genuinely lost. I have no idea where I am. I have nowhere to sit down, I have nowhere to sleep, I have no clothes to change into... Oh my God I have no key to the house, I don't even know if she'll let me in when I get back, if I get back... They won't let me do anything, they won't let me clean up or make phone calls, she's calling her Mom, and I'm ... walking an old guy's dog -- that's not a sexual euphemism -- and I don't even know when the memorial service is, and no one eats carbs anymore..."