Chapter 2 Summary
Lorraine narrates this chapter, and she begins by describing John, who is six feet tall with “longish brown hair and blue eyes.” John’s eyes, which are “gigantic” and seem to look right through people, are his best feature. He is the kind of guy who “will do just about anything to stir up some excitement,” and he gets away with a lot of things just because he is “extremely handsome.” John drinks and smokes in excess, and Lorraine, who is a psychology buff, believes he does these things “to assert his independence.” Lorraine has tried to get John to quit smoking by attempting to convince him of the dangers of the habit, but to no avail.
Lorraine says that the big difference between her and John is their level of compassion. Lorraine prides herself on her compassionate nature, while John “pretends he doesn’t care about anything in the world.” Despite his apathetic demeanor, Lorraine believes that John really is a very caring person deep down inside. The fact that he is her best friend is proof to Lorraine that John is, indeed, a sensitive individual.
Lorraine has a low opinion of herself as a result of being the focus of constant criticism from her unhappy and bitter mother. She moved into John’s neighborhood two years previously, at the start of their freshman year in high school. She was lonely because no one spoke to her at all for the first few weeks. She noticed John at school right away because of his “fantastic eyes.” She thought from the very beginning that “he had to be something special.”
John and Lorraine met under bizarre circumstances. One day on the school bus, he sat next to her because all the other seats were taken. Inexplicably, John started laughing “right out loud” for no apparent reason. Lorraine was sure he was laughing at her and was “so embarrassed [she] wanted to cry.” After her initial reaction of discomfiture, Lorraine became angry and asked John to stop laughing so that people would not think she was “sitting with a lunatic.” John, who actually seemed surprised to see Lorraine there, apologized; shortly thereafter he commented to himself, “I am a lunatic.” After managing to remain silent for a short while, John began laughing again, and Lorraine, at a loss as to how to respond, started to laugh too. The two of them, playing off each other, began to laugh louder and louder, and soon “the whole bus thought [they] were out of [their] minds.”