He is the excitable one. The risky one. Maybe it would be easier to see him this way, see the truth in this about both of them, if he weren't so stuck in the middle of the story. It's thoughtful, though, she thinks. The real surprise is that he thought of it.
A woman in tight and beautiful shoes speaks out, as the crowd leaves them alone: "Um, you're out of toilet paper in the bathroom. Do you have any napkins I could use?"
For a moment Cathy's horrified -- Someone Paul invited? A new Slut for another Sport? -- but then she looks closer at the woman's face: Her college roommate, Rebecca. The joke clicks into focus.
"Paul, you remember I told you how Rebecca and I, we'd... Instead of buying toilet paper, we'd go to the ice cream store below our apartment, and steal the napkins." Paul can't help but imagine it, and squirm. "That's a rough way to wipe."
Cathy Jamison wants to take her whole life, and try to tell it as a story: The shortest story, the most meaningful passages highlighted, so that it will mean something they will understand. This is your life. Any college roommate means it's your duty to do the same. The highlights. Rebecca is still in Chicago; she isn't in town by chance but was brought here by Paul: "She's your birthday present!"
A relic, a forgotten piece of the past Cathy's outrunning. A strange gift but one that highlights Paul's favorite parts of their history, when everything was romantic and nothing was really real. The place where he lives. Rebecca is a bucket of sand and an umbrella.
"I was thinking about how much I'd gotten out of the hours I spent talking to Angela -- my therapist -- and it made me think about the hours that you two used to spend gabbing away." Cathy tries to imagine Paul and Angela, gabbing. It's not hard. Angela could never speak a word and he'd still come away convinced that he was growing.
The words fall away to nothing -- "Wow," they say, and "It's great to see you," and "It's surreal" -- before they realize they must come to account. Those years that passed. Cathy's story is about capturing the future, not recapturing the past; she's nearly outrun them all. It's nice to see Rebecca but not essential: Another gift that becomes a burden. Surprise!
Rebecca accounts for herself, asks for acquittal, assumes their falling out was her fault, assumes that a few white lies are par for the course, because they are. Painting over the tape without leaving a mess behind. Cathy reminds her: "You didn't come to my wedding. You met that guy three days before, and went camping."