The fifth night in Gutshot, Colin refuses Hassan, Lindsey, and even Hollis‘s attempts to get him to go out driving around with Hassan and Lindsey. Colin is reading about how to cure a racoon hide when Hassan returns from the outing and tells Colin that he drank half a beer. Colin, who knows that drinking is haram (forbidden by Islam), teases Hassan about his religious commitment. Hassan tells his friend not to make him feel guilty because he didn’t get drunk, and he had fun with Lindsey, TOC, JATT, SOCT, and Katrina. Hassan tries to convince Colin to go out shooting pigs with the group. Colin proposes camping instead, but Hassan insists. Colin feels as though he is being dumped by Hassan. He asks if Hassan wants to kiss Lindsey, and Hassan says he doesn’t want to date anyone because he’s seen what it has done to Colin.
Despite Colin’s strides toward making friends, he remains uncomfortable in many social activities, and feels left behind when Hassan participates in the social activities anyway. His feeling of abandonment shows that for all Colin’s determination that he be “special,” he still craves company. In particular, Colin feels that a key part of his friendship with Hassan is that Hassan also does not have a lot of friends. Colin also betrays a hint of jealousy over Lindsey by asking if Hassan wants to kiss her.
In a section called “The Middle (of the Middle),” the narrator explains that a psychologist named Lewis Terman chose seven thousand gifted children (whose IQs, granted, were all lower than Colin’s) and followed them into adulthood. They were largely successful, but “almost none of them turned out to be real geniuses.” One, George Hodel, became remarkable not because of any great achievement but because he was likely the serial killer implicated in the infamous “Black Dahlia” case. Colin’s father, a sociologist, decided to give Colin an intensive education in the hopes of transforming him from a child prodigy into an adult genius. Colin’s lack of friends, his father argued, would not matter once all of his peers envied his great success.
This section suggests that Colin was aware of the study while growing up because his father was determined to prove Colin an exception to the rule of relatively unremarkable child prodigies. The notion that Colin is up against either mediocrity or the gruesome fate of becoming a serial killer adds outrageous stakes to the matter of Colin’s future. In the name of excellence, his father has encouraged the kind of isolation from friends that Colin now feels. By isolating Colin socially, Colin’s father has in some sense given Colin common ground with a sociopath. This notion makes Colin’s seeming friendlessness feel all the more catastrophic.
Colin’s great success arrived at the end of his junior year, when he won a $10,000 prize on an obscure television show called KranialKidz. Colin allowed the network to give him a makeover. Notably, they had him wear a t-shirt that said “slacker.” His new look attracted the attention of Marie Caravolli, the hottest girl in school. He was about to break his Katherine streak by going out with Marie, but he came home from school that day to find Katherine I on his doorstep, asking him for tutoring in French. Colin thought about how even if Marie ended up really liking him, he and Hassan would probably make fools of themselves among the cool kids at their parties. He called Marie and faked a family emergency to cancel their date. He tutored Katherine, and within a month, they were sneaking out of the house for coffee at Café Sel Marie.
The fact that Colin has already attained some level of fame but still does not feel like he matters demonstrates that being famous will not make him feel fulfilled. This passage reveals that Katherine XIX, with whom Colin went to Café Sel Marie for their first three dates, is actually Katherine I many years later. Colin’s desertion of Marie in order to spend time with Katherine I shows that his relationship with Katherine XIX was built on a desire to return to some previous version of himself, when he was simply an admirable child prodigy who had never been dumped.