Julian and Caroline are driving to the Country Club when they see Al Grecco ahead of them in Ed Charney’s Cadillac. Julian signals with his horn, but Al doesn’t hear it. Caroline wants to know who Al is. Julian explains that Al works for Ed and that Ed is someone to be afraid of. They joke about the conversation between Julian’s parents around the verb “to masticate” and a potential sexual innuendo that, while not explicit in the text, could refer to the verb “to masturbate.” Caroline refuses to answer Julian’s question about whether or not she “masticates.” Julian asks when they are going to have a baby, and they agree that the end of “The Five Year Plan” is approaching. Caroline brings up Chuck and Jeanie, a young married couple with a child. Chuck is having an affair, and Barbara Schultz, one of the women in Caroline’s circle, blames it on Jeanie not keeping herself attractive. Barbara’s view makes Caroline mad. One of the crosslinks in Julian’s Cadillac breaks, and Julian says that he might as well fix it while he’s still sober. This upsets Caroline and prompts her to plead with Julian that he will not get drunk that evening. In exchange, she offers to come out with him to the car at intermission, as they used to do before they got married. At the club Julian watches the moonlit snow and breathes the cold air, feeling “very much like a healthy, clean-living person for so doing.” In the locker room he doesn’t feel he has any enemies until Bobby Herrmann comes in and starts provoking him. Bobby demands that Julian pay for an extra subscription to the dance to make up for the fact that Harry is absent. Julian defends his own actions and attacks Bobby by saying that he “doesn’t mind Jews or Negroes” because they “have souls,” whereas he despises reptiles and insects. The two men continue to argue, and Bobby says that while he was fighting in World War I, men like Julian were attending college and the “Saturday Afternoon Tea Club.” The quarrel ends with Bobby saying that Harry is thinking about buying a new Lincoln to replace his Cadillac. Out in the smoking room, Julian recounts the argument to Caroline, who replies that one of the women also referred to the incident and said it was bad to have Harry as an enemy. Julian suggests that they join their best friends, Jean and Froggy Ogden.
Mill Ammermann’s dinner party is about to end. At these dinners, certain men are often paired with women who are known as “sad birds” for being unpopular or unattractive, while other younger or more attractive men are only paired with attractive...
(The entire section is 1186 words.)