The Big C
Taking Lumps

Episode Report Card
Jacob Clifton: A+ | Grade It Now!
Unhealthy Competition

Marlene wanders the house, in the silence, looking for the phone. In the refrigerator, on the top shelf, between the milk and the Fresca, lies one pink slipper. Like a fairytale with an unhappy ending. Marlene has secrets too. And history. Genes, and environment.

"But just call me when you get this," she says, and realizes that's not really what she means. She can't say Marlene is family, because she'll pull out that shotgun. But she can say what she's already said: "Just call me, anytime. Just call me."

Andrea shakes her can of black spray paint very carefully, pressing her advantage; enjoying the silence and the echoes in the hallway of the school. She's stared at the mural for the whole summer term, watching it grow. More colors every day. Here's another one: Fuck you. In girly, swirling letters, across every field and face, from beginning to the end, like a bruise crawling up the wall. She steps back, and she smiles.

That's what it felt like. That's what it feels like now. This is another art.

Cathy runs down the list; the list is short. Men she's hurt, men she's abandoned. Men who have abandoned her. Men who have abandoned the world. It got so small, and she never noticed. But that's not the kind of woman she is. She's the kind of woman with a husband who got a handjob from a Rugby Slut: Organized sports promote unhealthy competition.

Cathy Jamison is a woman now married to a man who can't be counted on to stay the same forever, a man who refused to stand there, posed the way she wanted. A man who needs his bunny boiled, just a little bit. But also, there is this:

If nothing is fair. If Cathy Jamison is assured she won't decrease her lifespan. If a million good deeds earned her nothing. If pizza pillows or lack of pizza pillows had no bearing on whether Marlene cared. If the bathtub race was just duct tape on an unwilling victim. If cutting off the lump was a silly, vain decision. If taking back her husband was a good deed that was punished. If the lion still stalks, and she'll never be repaid for even one of her good works, then what keeps you upright? What keeps you standing up at all?

Lenny leans her seat back for her, as she's woozy and unhappy and very much delighted to see him again.

"Okay, my love," he says, and smiles. Lenny's tone suggests to Cathy that he plans on being honorable, on following her lead. On letting her choose which woman she wants to be. The pose she wants to strike, for him to paint.

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The Big C




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