What happened is not the problem; there is no problem with Paul, who is just fine. The problem is that Paul is just fine. He begs his wife Cathy to have dinner, at least; all he knows to tell their son Adam Jamison is that his mom's a "meanie," which is not a story that really hangs together -- or it wouldn't be, if her husband didn't talk that way all the time. Less for this reason than for the fact that her appointment is important, imminent, she agrees to dinner with her childlike husband.
Paul thinks they are working it out, that they only have yet to begin working it out, Paul thinks that mysteries have opened up in her soul and that if he tries very hard or applies pressure in a very specific way he has only to strike upon, their life will go back to normal, which is to say: The way that it was. The knot in his back will go away. For Paul Jamison this is a possibility, a process, that could take as long as a week. Beyond that, things get hazy.
"We didn't have a lot of money growing up, but we did have a pool in our backyard. My brother and I, we would spend all summer in it making up dives. My signature was the Banana Split & Dive." Cathy's in a hospital gown speaking to her doctor, who is not a dermatologist; she spreads her wings as she describes things. Her brother Sean liked to hold her underwater, and fart in her face; her breast has been peeking through the gown throughout the story. "Oh! Hello, breast. How long has that been happening?" She pretends to be offended that the doctor didn't notice. She is offended that the doctor didn't notice.
Cathy Jamison likes to change the subject but she also likes to change it back. She's not interested in chemotherapy, she tells her oncologist -- a very young, attractive fellow -- because she loves her hair too much. It isn't vanity, it's her body. "I cry every time I get it cut," she says, but then allows that she would be interested in chemotherapy if it meant her nose was in trouble instead of her hair. The doctor gives her brochures about alternative treatment: "Well, crap. Thought it was a cure."
The doctor can't quite believe that Cathy Jamison hasn't yet told her husband Paul about the cancer she has, which is Stage IV melanoma. Maybe a year. She laughs and flirts about how normally, she's a private person, but with the doctor she can't quite shut up. "I was going to tell him. And then when I got home, there were 15 men in my house playing video games. Paul was drunk and peeing in the front yard. I found myself saying, I think I need to be alone for a while." She wasn't offended, she was in love. Fiercely. On the one day she was brave enough to tell. Dr. Miller offers her more brochures.