Back in the present, Lindsey tells Colin that the problem with his stories is that they don’t have morals, he can’t do a good girl voice, and he focuses too much on himself. Still, she can imagine Katherine XIX, and she thinks Colin likes her because she’s a little mean to him. Linsey won over TOC from Katrina by being mean, she says. She claims that it is easy to get people to like you. Colin says it isn’t easy for him, but Lindsey protests that she likes him, and she doesn’t like anyone. Lindsey looks at the damage Colin has done shooting trees and says he might be able to kill a pig, but Colin insists that he does not want to do so. He challenges Lindsey on her statement that she doesn’t like anyone: she seems to like the “oldsters.” She says that is because they never messed with her.
Lindsey’s criticism of Colin for being self-centered in his stories gives him a hint at how to stop being so self-centered in his relationships: tell stories that account for other perspectives. The idea that Colin has been manipulated into liking Katherine for her meanness has never occurred to Colin. Once the idea has been planted, it seems all the more significant that Lindsey professes to actually like him and is not mean to him. Notably, neither Lindsey nor Colin includes TOC in the short list of people Lindsey likes.
Lindsey leads Colin to a small, dark cave. She says she is bringing him there because he is the only guy skinny enough to fit. By the light of a flashlight, Colin sees that inside the cave are a blanket, sleeping bag, pillows, and a jar of moonshine Lindsey says she got from TOC. She told him she drank it, but she brought it here instead. Lindsey has Colin turn off the light, and it is “the kind of dark your eyes never adjust to.”
The cave is an intimate space that Lindsey is choosing to share with Colin even though it is her hideout from the rest of the world, including TOC. The intense darkness makes it difficult to focus on image, meaning that the cave might allow Lindsey to be her true self.
Lindsey says she found the cave when she was hiking around by herself in eighth grade. She has never been in here with someone else and says it is different being invisible with someone. Colin asks what she does here since it is too dark to read or do anything. Lindsey says she just sits here where no one can find her. The two are quiet for a moment (indicated by ellipses), and Lindsey offers Colin moonshine. Colin has never had alcohol and says moonshine can make you blind. Lindsey is unsurprised. By feel, they find the moonshine and each other, and they both try some moonshine. Colin says it’s like French-kissing a dragon, which Lindsey says is the funniest thing he’s ever said. Colin says he used to be funnier. The two grow quiet but keep bumping into one another’s body parts.
Lindsey’s use of the cave dates from eighth grade, the same time when she first had Hollis help her remake her image. The cave seems to represent for her a space where she does not have to worry about image but can think about the person she wants to be for herself. Being there with Colin is very intimate because not only are they isolated from the rest of the world, but they also do not have to worry about what they look like to each other physically. By offering Colin moonshine, Lindsey encourages him to make a rebellious choice based on what he wants instead of what he has been told to do (or not do).
Lindsey decides to tell Colin a story about herself. She says that in elementary school, she was friends with all the Gutshot kids (they went to school in Danville), but in third grade, TOC and his friends started saying she was a dog and calling her Lass, short for Lassie. She goes on to talk about how she gave everyone valentines in fourth grade but got none in return. She returned home feeling horrible and refusing to talk to Hollis about it. Out her bedroom window, she saw TOC run up to the door with a cardboard box covered in hearts and drop it off. She ran down to see what it was and found that it contained a can of Alpo dog food. From then on, it became her life’s goal to get him, kiss him, and marry him. She says he’s different now and is protective.
Lindsey’s story is an explanation of the “inside joke” Colin witnessed earlier on, when TOC referred to Lindsey as “Lass.” The story echoes Colin’s explanation of his inside joke with Hassan about the word “fug.” Whereas Colin’s explanation reminded him of why Hassan is important to him, Lindsey’s explanation of this joke requires her qualification as to why she is in a relationship with TOC. Given that he has been incredibly mean to her and continues to refer to her as “Lass,” it seems that Lindsey might be tweaking the fact in order to fit the narrative she wants to be true about her future with TOC.
After another moment of silence, Colin asks if Lindsey thinks people would like her more or less if they could see inside her. He feels like the Katherines always dump him right when they start to see inside him, except Katherine XIX. He doesn’t think anyone would love him if they saw him the way he sees himself. Lindsey says that in two years of dating, TOC has never said he loves her. She admires TOC because he doesn’t pretend to be anyone other than who he is. She says that by comparison, she is “full of shit.” She goes on to remark that “The thing about chameleoning your way through life is that it gets to where nothing is real.” She says that for Colin, at least he can get to the part where he doesn’t matter. She says that the only true sentence she can begin with “I” is “I’m full of shit.”
Lindsey and Colin feel equally adrift in their own lives. Colin feels that his relationship problems are due to over-intimacy. Lindsey contents herself with TOC’s indifference because she is sure that there is no real Lindsey beneath all the images she has created for herself. While Colin worries that people will see a version of himself that not even he can see, Lindsey worries that people will see that she has no true self. Despite these worries, Colin and Lindsey are proving that they have inner selves by revealing their deepest, most private feelings to one another.
After a longer silence, Colin says that he likes Lindsey, and that she doesn’t chameleon in front of him. For example, she bites her thumb in front of him and has brought him to her secret hiding place. Colin is mid-sentence when Lindsey says “hi.” Colin says “hi,” then Lindsey says, “We shouldn’t.” Colin says she started it, but Lindsey says that was just because she wanted to say “We shouldn’t” dramatically. She says they should leave it at their foreheads and noses touching and Colin’s hand on her leg. She bites her thumb again.
The narrator describes this entire interaction through dialogue and no description. This style of narration emphasizes that Lindsey and Colin are really listening to each other and not paying attention to external factors. The dialogue implies that they come close to kissing, which Lindsey initiates and then stops, perhaps feeling like she is cheating on TOC.
Colin and Lindsey return home after dark, talking about how it is just not meant to be. Anyway, Colin thinks, she’s a Lindsey. They walk in the house quietly and overhear Hollis on the phone, talking about leaving something out for the garbage men to pick up. Colin and Lindsey sneak back out the window then come back in the front door, loudly this time. Hollis asks if they had fun, and Lindsey, looking at Colin, says she’s rarely had so much fun in her life.
Colin and Lindsey decide to maintain their relationship as-is, not necessarily because they do not want to date each other but because to do so would be to upset the narratives they tell about themselves. For all Lindsey’s insistence that it is possible to decide one’s own fate, she remains attached to her life as-is for familiarity’s sake.
On the stairs, Lindsey and Colin conspire about Hollis’s phone call. It must have something to do with the warehouse, Colin says, because that’s where Hollis was today. Lindsey says they might need to take a road trip out there. Hassan appears and says he and Katrina, who he emphasizes is a college girl (Colin has always said he will need to go to college to date a college girl), are in. The date went well.
Lindsey’s commitment to finding out what Hollis is up to, with the hope of stopping her from selling the land, further shows that Lindsey is afraid of change. Hassan’s reappearance, and the news of his good date with Katrina, provide a contrasting example of how surprising turns of events can be positive.
Colin sneaks into Hassan’s room once Lindsey goes downstairs. They discuss how Hassan got to second base over the shirt, and how Hassan and Lindsey got very close to one another. Hassan wants to know if Colin likes her, and he says in the moment, he kind of did. Hassan encourages him to finish the Theorem so he can predict how it would go.
Sharing details about relationships is new to Colin and Hassan. The fact that they can bond over their love interests suggests that even if a romantic relationship turns out poorly, it could have a positive impact for Colin by giving him something to share with his friend.