Up and down the rows, all but one below 80, and then in the middle -- and to her credit she doesn't shy from it, or drop her voice, or anything -- you get a glorious, ringing "Johnson, 99." You can't even think, for a moment, how long it'll take before they accuse them of being in the same coven. And the boys don't, either; they ask her to join their study group while the scores are still being read, and by the time DePaul's finished, they've asked Virginia to lead them.
Essie: "Oh, she passed out hours ago, during Perry Mason. You know, he's supposed to be so incorruptible, but in this one he doctored a ballistics test! Now what are you supposed think of him?"
Masters: "I mean, it's not like he claimed he could cure homosexuality or anything."
Essie: "Want some of my deadly turkey tetrazzini?"
Masters: "Shit no. I ate at work."
She does a heartbreaking, gay pantomime, hands on thighs, almost baby-talking, and when he doesn't remember their routine and she needs him to remember: He'd come home from school -- terrified, exhausted -- and she'd say, "What did you eat for lunch?" It was always the same, because it was Billy Masters and Billy Masters liked macaroni and cheese, so he'd spend his nickel on mac and cheese and when he got home she'd ask, like she didn't know already, and he'd say, "Aww, Ma!"
Masters: "I never called you 'Ma.'"
Essie: "That part does sound like poetic license, you're not wrong. But I don't want to fight. I think you work so hard, I wish you could bring your work home. Even just paperwork, just to be here. With us."
Masters: "It's not just paperwork, it's after-hours subject matter."
Essie: "Oh. Because the ladies have to wait for their husbands to drive them in?"
Essie: "I'm interested. I'm not playing the interested game, I am honestly fascinated by how completely this work absorbs you. I want to understand what you do."
"The fact that you said the one thing I am desperate to hear makes me angry for some reason. So angry that I will answer you, in fact. I am not studying pregnancy, I am studying sex. I watch people fornicate and masturbate, I stick cameras up them and wires to them and I write their histories and fantasies down and I compile all of that into science. Still interested? Ma?"