"I had this great dollhouse furniture when I was little. Especially the bathroom set, I had this toilet with a little flusher that actually flushed. Oh my God, I even... I had a tiny little plunger. Oh, I knew I should have kept them, even though we never had a girl."
Back in the kitchen, the safest place in the house, working on snacks and putting it all together, to bring out the next round. They didn't plan it, but they are a team. She doesn't see what they have to talk about anyway, and he thinks the last few months have been erased. He offers to try again, for a girl this time. "We could try for one. Or just buy one!"
The little lumps, you never know where they're coming from. She can't have a daughter with him, or buy a daughter with him. Adam is all the children they're ever going to have. When she looks into Paul's eyes, she imagines, she can see -- actually see -- all the futures where he lives. Where they live, together, getting old and hilarious together. She can see every one of them burning, if she tells. Cathy Jamison changes the subject.
"How great was today, huh?" He loved last night even more, he says, with eyebrows at their lowest hubba hubba setting. She nods. "This house. Everything. It's our life." He likes this kind of talk, he tries to join in. He wants to show her respect, and trust, to show that she can trust him in return. The bathtub is heading down, down, down the road, and he thinks it's going one way --
"We've always been honest with each other, right? That's like, one of our things."
-- And she thinks it's going the other way: "So I have something I need to tell you, and I don't want you to worry, because it's gonna be fine. It's gonna be fine, because it has to be. And at least we have each other..."
Do you want to learn about history? Sometimes things are broken.
"I got a handjob!" blurts Paul Jamison.
"Handjob! I got one! Feels so much better just getting it out." From Tina, of course, the Rugby Slut. And now they can be together.
"Why ... Did you tell me that?"
Because Cathy and Paul Jamison are Cathy and Paul again. And his guilt was killing him, and he wanted back in the house, and the Drain Gang won the race. And he couldn't hold the pieces of all that together with the guilt coming in.
"So you told me so that... You could feel better and I could feel worse?"
Lenny's hands are gone right now, like they never happened. Paul was supposed to be better than this. Paul's selling point is that he is better than this. Not handjobs and marriage counseling, discussing the handjobs even further. Hearing Angela's take on the handjobs and how they're really Cathy's fault. That doesn't sound like a good time at all.
"I was past it when I didn't know about it, Paul!"
He backtracks -- "It wasn't even an official handjob, it was over my pants" -- but it's too much. This is the bunny. She thought it was the lump, the met, but it's this. Things beginning to duplicate, lies spreading like cancer, adultery metastasizing. This is what we talk about when we talk about karma, this spongy grey feeling inside: And now she can see it in him, too. Know yourself and know your enemy and you can win a million battles without a single loss. She doesn't want his hands to touch her.
Time for cake. Paul's turn to be the smiling one, the one that pretends everything's okay, because he loves his son. It's loud and it's hokey and it's fairly effective, but he's in the house of a master. He begs Cathy, silent and angry and terrified, to hide it all from Adam until they're done.
"What did you do?" Adam squeaks, and they don't even look at him.
Paul begins to apologize, another speech for another day, the virtue of honesty versus the unfairness of her expectations, and she nearly stabs him with the cake knife. But this is how you play pretend, not that manic wildman thing Paul does. Let a true WASP on the edge explain.
"Okay, you need to put a piece of cake into your piehole, and shut the fuck up."
Adam runs. And runs, until he's out of the house completely. Until he's found Andrea, sitting on a stoop, hating his mother for her own lies and smoking a cigarette she knows is going to kill her.
"This was supposed to be my big Win the Race Party, not a Fucked Up Mom Party."
And now, Paul will never come back. And it doesn't even make sense. "My mom used to be just a regular-crazy mom. Now she's a total batshit clinical-crazy mom. I mean, you hang out with her. Why don't you tell me what the fuck's up with her?"
Genes and environment. Do you want to learn about history? Andrea considers her options; for a moment, she masquerades as God. Different crack, same bathtub. She thinks it's about adultery, she has no way of knowing the truth. Andrea considers her advantage, and pressing it, but she steps back from the chaos, for the same reason his mother always does: Because she cares for him.
"I don't know, dude. People are just fucked up."
Waking up, woozy. Not dead. Dr. Mauer smiles down at her, like an angel. She thanks him for coming; she admits to feeling silly.
"For going under the knife, when I didn't have to."
Now that nobody's hands are exploring those skirts anymore. Now that she traded Lenny in for Paul, and got her hands burnt. Now that her vanity has been punished once again.
Dr. Mauer was looking forward to meeting him, big fast Paul. But he couldn't find him in the waiting room. There was a hitch, Cathy groans, and sits up. Rugby Sluts and lies and little tiny stars, dancing before her eyes.
Marlene watches them dance, the fish she bought herself, because she thought she'd learn to love them. Marlene wanders her house, which has gone strange, like it's another house masquerading. Like it's been duplicated.
"Oh, Marlene, where are you? You were supposed to pick me up. Please just call me and tell me you haven't dropped dead yet."
Too close. Too ugly, even if Dr. Mauer would have laughed. Even if Marlene would have laughed, and she would have: Too easy. Too tempting, for God. Inauthentic and unkind. Marlene is family. It's the kind of joke she likes, but Cathy can't be the one to tell them anymore. She doesn't want to be that woman either.
"If you have dropped dead I'm gonna feel really bad, that was... That was a joke."