Helen's having lunch at a pleasant little diner with Father Ken Mallory, the priest from the DMV parking lot. He's wearing regular clothes, not his vestments. She thanks him for seeing her, explaining that she's not a practicing Catholic... "or any religion." Father Mallory assures her that it's fine, and that it's a priest's job to serve all people: "And, you know -- fundraising." She explains that she was bugging him in the parking lot because of Kevin and all the concerns she had about the situation: "I'm not really crazy." He knows. Helen: "You look different in your clothes." Ha! That got a big laugh out of both Frink and me. There's a comment he probably doesn't hear much. Mary Steenburgen delivers her lines so naturally that you buy everything she says, from the goofy to the grave. She laughs, embarrassed, and tries to explain herself. Father Mallory: "It's okay. Priests scare people. You're worried that I'm seeing into your soul or gossiping about you with God." Helen: "Oh no, no. Priests -- priests make me feel like I'm going to hell." He asks her why that is. She sighs, saying she doesn't know: "I'm just rambling." She think she needs to talk to someone. She admits, "I've been doing this perpetually optimistic, 'everything's gonna work out' thing, and it's not going so well. I've been crying a lot more than I used to." She says all this smiling and nodding. She sure has piled a lot of socially acceptable expressions on top of her pain. Father Mallory asks if she is familiar with Elisabeth Kübler-Ross's theory of the five stages of grief. I'm kind of surprised to find that Helen doesn't seem to have really heard of the theory. It's been common fodder on talk shows and in popular culture for such a long time that I thought practically everyone had heard of it. Anyway, he suggests that Helen read Kübler-Ross's On Death and Dying. Helen smiles, and says, "But my son didn't die. And I know I should just stop complaining and be grateful." Father Mallory points out that while Kevin didn't actually die, "all of you experienced a kind of death -- of the life you imagined for him." Helen stops smiling and looks more troubled than she acknowledges. The priest says, "The philosopher Kierkegaard -- he said that the most painful state of being is remembering the future...particularly one you can never have." Fo' shizzle my nizzle. It's all a little too much for Helen, and she seems a little upset as she fishes some money out of her purse and says she only gets half an hour for lunch. She thanks him.
Joan and Adam are riding the bus somewhere. Adam seems more distracted and morose than usual as he stares out the window while Joan reads something from her chemistry notes: "'Sublimation is the process of conversion from solid state to gaseous state, while bypassing the liquid state.' Does this make any sense to you?" Adam explains, "CO2 solid becomes CO2 gas." Joan asks, "What does that even mean?" A little shirtier than normal, Adam says, "I told you, I don't know. I just memorize things." Joan looks slightly irritated and says, "Rove...you plus cranky becomes a real pain in the ass." Adam says, "I've explained my situation, Jane." Joan's suddenly distracted by the sound of a woman sobbing a few seats ahead of them. She's young, maybe in her late twenties or early thirties, with long blonde hair and wearing a jean jacket. Joan mutters, "Oh, God." She figures this must be her assignment. She gets up and moves to a seat nearby, and asks if she's okay. The woman doesn't say much at first, but eventually blurts out that her ex-husband met a woman, ran off the Mexico with her, and stopped sending child support payments. She's waiting tables and trying to support her eight-year-old son on that income. In addition, one of her co-irkers (tm somebody on Hissyfit whose name I can't remember) is "such a pain in the ass." Joan thinks that all sounds pretty bad. The woman adds, "It gets worse. My babysitter quit and moved to Hawaii!" She says this in that fake light-hearted way, and then struggles and sobs as she explains that she's trying to go to night school in order to become a legal assistant, but if she can't find a babysitter soon, she'll have to quit: "You know what? I'm just going to quit. I'll be a waitress for the rest of my life!" Nothing gets past Joan: "So, you need help." The woman asks, "Were you listening, or what? You know, because...yeah." Joan asks if she needs a babysitter. The woman says she needs a cheap babysitter who's not a psycho. Joan says she can do it, and claims she's not a psycho. The woman explains that her kid, Rocky, is a great kid who mostly entertains himself: "And you're really not a psycho?" Joan claims she's totally normal, and says, "You can even ask my friend." She turns to look at Adam, who's rhythmically banging his head against the window as he stares out. The woman looks doubtfully in Adam's direction, and Joan says, "Um...maybe you should just take my word for it." The woman smiles at Joan.