Daddy invites Mrs. Barker to sit; Mommy offers her a cigarette, a drink, and the opportunity to cross her legs. Being a professional woman, Mrs. Barker only opts for the latter. Grandma asks if "they" are still here. Mrs. Barker comments cordially on their unattractive apartment. As she was listening outside—"they" must keep track of everything in their work—she knows of their maintenance problems.
Mommy and Daddy ask what Mrs. Barker does. She responds that she chairs Mommy's woman's club. After some hesitation, Mommy recognizes her, remarking that she wears a hat like the one she purchased yesterday. Mrs. Barker replies that hers is cream. Mommy invites her to remove her dress; she readily follows. "I just blushed and giggled and went sticky wet" chuckles Daddy. Mommy notes that Daddy is a "caution".
Mrs. Barker offers to smoke if that will help the situation, but Mommy violently forbids her. She asks why Mrs. Barker has come. As Mommy walks through the boxes, Grandma warns her against stepping on them: "The boxes the boxes" she murmurs. Daddy asks if Grandma means Mrs. Barker has come over the boxes; Grandma does not know, though that is not what she thought she meant. Mrs. Barker asks if "they" can assume Mommy and Daddy have invited them over the boxes. Mommy asks she "they" are in the habit of receiving boxes. Mrs. Barker replies that it depends on the reason why "they" have come. One of her activities involves the receipt of baskets, though "more in a literary sense than really". They might receive boxes in special circumstances.
Her answer does not help. Daddy asks if it might help if he shares that he feels misgiving and definite qualms—right around where his stitches were. He had an operation: the doctors removed and inserted something. Mommy remarks that all his life he wanted to be a Senator but will now spend the rest wanting to become Governor—it would be closer to the apartment. Praising ambition, Mrs. Barker tells of her brother who runs The Village Idiot—indeed, he is the Village Idiot. He insists that everyone know he is married; he is the country's chief exponent of Woman Love.
Grandma begins to speak, and Mommy abruptly silences her. Miming Grandma's epigrams, she declares that old people have nothing to say; if they did, nobody would listen to them. Grandma admits that she has the rhythm but lacks the quality. Besides, Mommy is middle-aged. To illustrate, she intones: middle-aged people think they can do anything but cannot as well as they used to. They believe themselves special because they are like everybody else. "We live in an age of deformity". Daddy wishes that he were not surrounded by women.
Finally, Grandma says her piece: the boxes have nothing to do with Mrs. Barker's visit. She offers to explain the boxes' presence, but Daddy asks what that has to do with "what's-her-name"'s visit. Mommy responds that "they" are here because they asked them. Grandma offers to explain the boxes again but Mommy silences her.
Take a Study Break
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QUIZ: Are You a Hero, a Villain, or an Anti-Hero?
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