Chapter 28 Summary
Dolores is now thirty-four. Panic about AIDS has become wide-spread and irrational. Mr. Pucci's HIV positive status becomes a case of full-blown AIDS. When he goes in for testing and procedures, a nurse recognizes him as one of her son's teachers. She reports his status to the school board, an act that gets her fired but also causes Mr. Pucci to lose his job. He is too weak to fight for it. He decides to sell the home he had long shared with Gary. AIDS has affected his eyesight; he is going blind and can no longer tend to the household.
Dolores has a great deal to be concerned about these days. Not only does she worry about Mr. Pucci's and Roberta's declining health, she and Thayer are also trying to get pregnant. On their fourth attempt, Thayer once again tries to get Dolores to forget about raising their baby on her own and marry him. He acknowledges reservations because of her experience being married to Dante, but he assures her, both verbally and through his actions, that he is nothing like D.D. (his nickname for Dante, “Dante the Dork").
Thayer cannot fully understand why Dolores is so fearful of becoming his wife. She says it is not just Dante, but also her father's treatment of her mother, and watching her close friend, Mr. Pucci, go on without the man he loves. She thinks “happily-ever-after” is “a crock.” Thayer is both dejected and frustrated. He tells Dolores that he cannot go on doing what they do.
For two weeks, Dolores and Thayer do not see each other. During this time, Mr. Pucci takes a turn for the worse. Dolores knows he does not have much longer to live. When she goes to see him in the hospital, Mr. Pucci takes his final opportunity to give his “pal” a final piece of advice. He tells Dolores to marry Thayer. He tells her that in his lifetime, he has watched people treat each other poorly and come to regret it, himself included. Mr. Pucci does not want Dolores to waste time and miss out on real love.
Mr. Pucci dies. He leaves Dolores the jukebox she had admired so long ago. Dolores searches for some old records to put inside of it. As she is looking in her closet, she finds the Etch-a-Sketch she had created years ago for the psychic, who had asked her to draw the thing that would make her the most happy. Dolores looks at it again: a large man, with curly hair, and wire-rimmed glasses. It is Thayer.
The discovery is the final push Dolores needs to be convinced. She asks Thayer to marry her. He joyfully accepts.