Sean nearly cries, frustrated and bored and beautiful in agony, but she tries to have a conversation with him. A smart, successful businesswoman speaking to her boyfriend, her whatever-this-is-friend, about the things we talk about.
"I think iPhones are the new diamonds. Guys give women electronics now for romantic occasions, and it's kind of a shame." It's like talking to a tiger, or a caveman, or however Sean is feeling today: "Gift-giving in general is kind of a shame. Can we at least talk about this with our pants off?"
The Jackson house is beautiful, confusing; it is a bright French blue. Her mother's name is Dorothy, a healthy woman with a ready smile and a twinkle in her eyes when Cathy introduces herself. Her daughter's favorite person in the world. Her father's name is Donovan; in a crisp folk-art apron he's preparing steak. A beautiful upright in the living room, a wall full of graduates, knickknacks, a floorplan not unlike Cathy's own. "So you're her stepdad?" Cathy asks, despite all evidence, and he shrugs, confused.
Andrea goes on and on, Dorothy says, about Cathy. "Well, she exaggerates," Cathy says, looking around their beautiful home, affectionate and mordant and a little embarrassed it was so easy. A little bit for Andrea, too, needing to hurt her so much she'd sink to such a cliché and demean them both. Dorothy says she hated summer school at first -- "Called it retard school," Dorothy says, laughing at her daughter's crudity -- but that Cathy has changed everything. Everything.
She's the baby of the family, the sixth child and the first one with any school problems. Their academic challenge, the Jacksons nod. You can't love them smart, Dorothy says, with love. They talk about her beautiful voice, and send Cathy down the street to choir practice.
Confession: Rugby's career as a slut began when she was eighteen, and gave a stranger a blowjob on an international flight. Confession: Paul chose the south of France for their honeymoon because he knew it was the last time he'd ever see another woman's breasts. Tina likes Paulie's stories. They feel good. "I actually only have about fifteen of them. You've got me for another half hour, and then I get boring." Confession. Like laying your burdens down at the river side, like saying goodbye to war. Like going forth into a garden, after sickness; like a home you nearly forgot, after years as a captive.