In the morning, Colin wakes to the sound of the rooster and Hassan’s morning prayers. Colin goes to ask Hassan to be quieter, and Hassan says he is going to call in sick because it has been twelve days since he watched Judge Judy, the love of his life. Colin tells him to at least have his mother send in a deposit to Loyola. Hassan pleads “Dingleberries.”
Colin’s annoyance with the sound of Hassan’s prayers demonstrates that Colin does not appreciate the significance of the things that are important to Hassan. He wants his friend to go to college because college is what he envisions for his own future. However, he does demonstrate interest in Hassan’s wellbeing, showing that he values their friendship.
Downstairs, Hollis is dressed in a pink pantsuit because she is going to the factory to check on things and then to the warehouse in Memphis. She evades Colin’s question about why the warehouse is in Memphis. She tells Colin that she is sending him and the others to interview the old factory retirees. They should ask the same four questions but stay a little longer to be polite. Between sighs, Hollis says that Lindsey used to visit these people before she started dating “that boy.” She yells up at Lindsey to get out of bed. Lindsey yells back that she is getting in the shower. Hollis tells Colin she will be out late but will have her cell phone.
Again, Lindsey demonstrates to Colin that it is possible to defy a parent’s wishes and still maintain a loving relationship with that parent. Following Colin’s assertion to Hassan that college is the only possible path to a future, Lindsey’s defiance begs the question of whether Colin has ever considered alternative options or if he simply assumes college is in the future because that is what his parents have always told him.
When Lindsey comes downstairs, Hassan is watching TV. “Sorry Linds,” he says, “I called in sick.” Colin notes that he has never called Lindsey “Linds.” On the way out to the Hearse, Colin vents about how “fugging” frustrated he is that Hassan gets to call in sick when he was also up late. Lindsey asks why he and Hassan say “fug” all the time. Colin tells her that he was reading Norman Mailer’s The Naked and the Dead when he and Hassan met, and that the book uses “fug” constantly because the publishers in 1948 told Mailer he could not include actual “F-bombs” in his book. Hassan started saying “fug” as an homage to Mailer and as a way to swear in class without getting in trouble. Lindsey remarks that even though there is no moral, romance, or adventure, this is a good story.
Colin’s frustration with Hassan for calling in sick seems in part due to jealousy over Hassan’s informality with Lindsey. However, Colin also seems to be jealous that it occurs to Hassan to simply do as he pleases when it only ever occurs to Colin to do as he is told. By asking Colin about an inside joke he shares with Hassan, Lindsey reminds Colin of Hassan’s importance to him. She emphasizes that Colin’s explanation of the inside joke is a “good story,” meaning that Colin has found his way back to appreciation of his friend by telling a story about their friendship.
They come up on Chase’s car. Lindsey has Colin slow down and roll down his window. TOC is driving and calls out, “Hey Lass.” Lindsey says, “not funny,” while Chase laughs. TOC invites Lindsey to go out that evening, but she declines and tells Colin to go. She says that the exchange was an inside joke. She turns the conversation to his Theorem and tells Colin she wants to contribute to it so that she might “matter a little.” While she can’t fix it, it occurs to her that there are more variables to relationships than Colin has been accounting for, such as age, attractiveness, and fetishes. Colin agrees, proposing that a guy who only likes girls with thirteen toes would dump a pretty girl who only has ten toes and only likes “skinny guys with glasses and Jew-fros.” Lindsey adds, “And really green eyes,” telling Colin she is complimenting him.
Whereas the inside joke Colin has just told helps him remember why he is friends with Hassan, Lindsey’s inside joke is upsetting to her and makes her unhappy with TOC. Like Colin, she makes recourse to the Theorem to distract from the actual issues she is facing in her romantic relationship. She, too, seems to feel the need to distinguish herself in some way, and her desire to do so is heightened by the interaction with TOC. Lindsey’s compliment suggests that although she is in a relationship with TOC, she finds Colin attractive.
By the time they reach the nursing home where they are to conduct their interviews, Colin and Lindsey have settled on five variables: age, popularity differential, attractiveness differential, Dumper/Dumpee differential, and introvert/extrovert differential. Still, as they sit in the car with the windows down, Colin has trouble getting the graphs of the various Katherines to look right relative to one another. He tries to think of the formula “not as math, which he hated, but as language, which he loved.” The formula gets more and more complicated as he thinks of it as an attempt to communicate. Finally, he gets something that he thinks is close. Lindsey says she doesn’t understand it at all, so he is probably right. They go inside to talk to the “oldsters.”
Colin makes more progress on the formula than he has made in a while when he is working with Lindsey, demonstrating that doing something to distinguish himself might not necessarily mean completing that task without help. Colin’s desire to think of the formula as language rather than math demonstrates that he is attempting to communicate through the Theorem. This desire demonstrates Colin’s newfound understanding of his Theorem as a way to tell stories about his romantic past.
Colin has only been to a nursing home once, to visit a relative in a coma, so he is pleasantly surprised by how chatty everyone is inside. Lindsey has to correct some of the interviewees who assume he is her boyfriend. The “oldsters” seem to have great affection for Hollis, and Lindsey seems to be “some kind of rock star” among them. He learns from one of the interviewees that Lindsey used to come here at least once a week and used to sneak in a beer for him every Saturday. Colin and this man go over to where Lindsey is interviewing a woman named Jolene. Colin hears Lindsey find out from Jolene that Hollis is selling two hundred acres of land to her son, Marcus. Shortly thereafter, Lindsey grabs Colin and says they should leave.
Speaking to the people in the nursing home allows Colin to change the story he tells himself about nursing homes. Their stories also further flesh out his understanding of Lindsey as a person. Whereas Lindsey has stated that she wants to “matter,” it seems that in the nursing home, she already does. In this light, it is even more clear that Hollis’s previous comment to Colin, about how Lindsey spends less time at the nursing home than she used to before dating TOC, means that Lindsey has not been acting herself.
In the Hearse, Lindsey is perplexed by why Hollis would sell land. She is sure they are not hurting for money and says her great-grandfather, Dr. Fred N. Dinzanfar, built the factory. She then changes the subject to the “oldsters” and reminisces about going from one of their houses to the next in the “pre-friend days.” She teases Colin about how they kept talking about his good looks and that he could get a whole new demographic of Katherines in the over-eighty market. Colin says it was funny how they thought he and Lindsey were dating. Lindsey asks how that’s funny and gives him a slight smile. All he can say is “um.”
Ironically, given that Lindsey has refashioned herself so many times, she seems very invested in tradition and the history of Gutshot. Lindsey calls the days when she spent more time with the elderly people the “pre-friend days,” but it seems that her relationships with the elderly people were more satisfying and affirming for Lindsey than her current friendships with her peers. It seems that the story she is telling herself about her life is just as mixed up as some of Colin’s stories.