While Paul continues to drink his weight, the other star of the night gets all the attention. Nick and his partner Andy got a loft in St. Paul, in the Lowry Building. And then, he announces, Andy and Nick got married in Iowa. "Who would have thought there'd be a shining example of tolerance, like, just 200 miles away?" They laugh and they toast. Paul thinks about it for awhile, before he speaks.
"You know what I don't get about gay marriage? Two things. First of all, ass sex. Support it! Support it, don't get it. But what I really don't understand is... Why the fuck would you want to get married in the first place?" Nick barfs up some boilerplate and Paul shakes his head. The same rights and privileges, yes, but also the pain, and the heartache. As regular people.
"Say you're just living together, and things go south. You wake up one day, and you go, You know, this guy's had bad breath all the time, but today his breath is so bad, I'm gonna end the relationship. You just walk, you know, but: If you committed a lifetime to each other and somebody walks, it's like open-fucking-heart surgery without the anesthesia."
It's how it feels, and they understand this finally, and when they point out that he is drunk he gives a mighty "Ding, ding, ding, ding!" But he knows this much is true: "Marriage is a suffocating death trap, and monogamy is a fucking myth. You know what marriage needs? To be punched in the balls. That's what marriage needs. Swift kick in the nuts."
It is at this point that Paul -- who has, over the years, carved out a pretty wide berth as far as his outbursts -- really loses it, kicking the table in the balls, clinking all the glasses. Paul's boss Simon tells him that he has said quite enough, and that clearly the issues with Cathy are on his mind tonight, but whatever he wants to say then is undercut by Paul losing it even more: "Fuck you, Simon. You tell me that's enough when you find your wife fucking a black guy."
They're so shocked Simon's that's enough finger goes limp; Paul sighs like a satisfied child, and then thinks of one more outrage: "FYI, if you do ever decide to do that, Danielle? Please have the courtesy to not do it in your own fucking backyard." Presumably fired, Paul downs another drink and heads out of the restaurant, dropping his napkin anywhere. Although honestly, he added enough colorful details it's possible he hasn't lost his job after all. A sort of "shoot the moon" approach.
Adam finds Andrea getting ready to leave, and tries to apologize for everybody else. Not the right approach. "And what's your excuse, asshole?" Still not thinking clearly, he points out the problem, which is that those guys thought they were together, "or something." "So what? I'm not good enough for your scrawny virgin ass? That's fucked up." Any further attempts to calm him down are met with resentment of his entire family, about which Adam cannot know and thus Andrea will not explain.
Left all alone with his virginity, Adam calls his mom like a hundred times, but she's down in the pool hall, fucking on the old couch so intensely she can't even hear the phone ring. Paul's free, though, so he shows up totally drunk: "You did the right thing," he slurs. "Those kids are plastered."
Paul has Adam in the driver's seat, and for a second he's like, "My punishment is driving myself home?" No, in fact it's a cost/benefit analysis based on whether a fourteen-year-old terrified virgin is a scarier or less scary driver than a man who has just had five glasses of thirty-year scotch ("That's like 150 years of drinks!"), and Paul's impaired judgment, for better or worse, has decided this is down to Adam: "Just don't go over fifteen miles per hour, don't make any left turns, and stop at anything red. It's okay, buddy. I'm right here."
Fast-forward to about a minute later, when Adam has crashed his drunk father's car into a tree and they're both at the hospital. Cathy wakes from her slumber at the bottom of her pool, notices that Adam has called eleven times which is eleven times more than usual, and then listens to just a voicemail asking her to pick him up before she's off. Lenny offers to come with, but she's like, "To pick up my son?"
Somewhere in the middle of this -- the latest punishment for her attempts to be irrational, of course; an ongoing theme that speaks to how far her guilt goes for everything -- she realizes that she needs to at least break up with Lenny because her life is totally out of control. The lies take on their own life, and what was for protection becomes a newer weapon. "I'm a mom, and I need to act like one. I can't do this."
Paul finally answers Adam's phone, and tells her about the car and tree. She can't believe his story; the truth has such gorier details, but she doesn't need to know them now.
At the hospital, Paul drunkenly tries to be sneaky: "Where were you, honey? He tried to call you..." Still pantsless, Cathy admits she couldn't hear the phone. "Is that because it was up your vagina?" he hisses. "Oh sorry, that was the big black guy's penis." Cathy goes past horror and right into guilt, grabbing her purse and taking off to find Adam. He stares blankly at the floor. "I saw you. In our own fucking house!"
While Cathy apologizes to her son, and Adam apologizes to his mother, Dr. Todd Mauer runs into Paul Jamison, at the desk. He assures Cathy's husband that it's a good hospital and then, as he's turning to go, he realizes he can't keep quiet. As a man, he says, he can't accept the choices Paul has made: How Cathy told him everything, how he moved out of the house, how she needs him and he abandoned her. From inside his story, Paul can't hear the urgency in his voice, the hints at who's to blame. From inside his story, Paul only hears she's been lying once again.
"I have no idea what the fuck is going on with her," shouts Paul, and when Dr. Mauer finds his patient, he is still shocked. She said he knew. He's disappointed. When she speaks, it's to a friend she hurt. Not a doctor, not a man, not Julie's fiancé or Amanda Montgomery's husband: Just the sad-eyed man who knows her best.
"I just want to live a little longer without everything being about my being sick. I just want to be happy just a little longer. Telling Paul I have cancer will not make me happy." No words. Just existing. But he asks the question she never thought to ask: "How do you know?"
And he's right. Because it's not just words, it's the truth. It's taking something wrong, and twisted, and turning it right again. Turning it inside out. Not an alibi or an excuse, but the whole story, all at once. Like when he admitted to the handjob, and asked her to love him anyway. How do you know it won't make you happy? How can he make any decisions, without the information? How can he possibly understand her story, without hearing it? Without being invited in. Things certainly can't get worse.
Things have a way of getting worse. Cathy Jamison joins her husband in the waiting room, and opens her mouth to speak. And then shuts it again, when Paul asks her for a divorce.