But you cannot talk people out of their stories. Especially the ones they store up, and burnish with their anger, their righteous victimhood. A slideshow of the facts, photographic evidence, a time machine to watch events unfold from the silent shadows, an epic retelling in iambic pentameter: It wouldn't matter. Not if the story gives them power. Victimhood or righteousness, or that particularly American conflation of the two.
And if, Cathy reasons, you cannot talk them out of their narratives -- if every word you say is just more proof, that you are mean and selfish and horrible and nasty and unable to see the truth, in which they're blameless -- then you're better off staying out of it. There is nothing to say. There is only the option to create more drama, which feeds the monster itself anyway. There is only left to shrug, and leave off the driving lesson for today.
Dr. Mauer is less than pleased to hear that Cathy's insurance company will heretofore only be paying for 70% of her scans. In fact it "sucks," he explains, with the obligatory apology for his nonmedical language. Perhaps, she suggests, she should only pay 70% of her premiums, in return. The dark cloud of socialism passes overhead -- the very idea, that paying for medical care should involve access to medical care coverage! -- and for a moment, Minneapolis shivers. Cathy's insurance company buys four hundred more tricorn hats for the latest group of morons, they imagine themselves to be taking part in the political process for the first time, the world lurches forward like a masturbating teen witch.
"Or we're going to have to save the scans for fancy occasions. You can't be passing those out like mints." Perhaps the next time her cancer is invited to dinner, invited to celebrate her husband's next promotion. "The insurance industry works great, if you never actually get sick," Mauer says, as if it's not a choice, and Cathy shrugs. "Well, that ship has sailed." She relents on the treatment option, asking if he's looked further into a certain clinical trial they've discussed; he'll let her know. "So when are you proposing to her?" asks Cathy, and he stares at her as though discovering she's actually Batman.
"There's an engagement ring on your laptop. So either you've just removed it from someone's colon, or you're popping the question. Or you're popping the question with a ring from someone's colon, but let's hope not." Dr. Todd admits he's been thinking about it. After five years, probably, it's time. Cathy titters, imagining them passing their brochures back and forth, folding laundry, and suddenly an egg timer goes off, somewhere in Amanda Montgomery's house, and Todd Mauer drops to one knee. "Honey," he says, in a doofy little voice she's invented for him, "It's time."