It’s a male teenage fantasy – according to many lowbrow Hollywood movies, at least – to have access to the female locker room, which is presumably peopled entirely by leggy, toned cheerleaders in various states of undress. I’ve never seen a male locker room identified as a fantasy zone for heterosexual women. Wallace’s depiction of the environment, with its zit-picking and exhaustion and socks, digestive disorders and boils and Lemon Pledge, doesn’t attempt to undo that.
This isn’t just a nest of ghastly adolescent males, though. The ETA Big Buddy system seems to provide a pretty good family unit, in contrast with the dysfunctional Incandenzas; “Hal’s next-oldest brother Mario doesn’t seem to resemble much of anyone they know” is pretty poignant. The banter between the students feels pretty aimless, but I suspect we’ll come back at some point to sift through it for significance. There are too many speakers, too many voices for a start. One phrase leaps out, as the boys equate tiredness with drugs and yearn for a state of intellectual oblivion:
It’d be like a pleasant fatigue if I could just go up after dinner and hunker on down with the mind in neutral and watch something uncomplex.We still don’t know how the attaché’s getting on.
Also of note, maybe; a reference to “Interdependence Day”. What exactly is it that’s happened to North America?
I’ve got a horrible feeling that by the end of this chapter I’ll be taking it one line at a time.
On to Arizona...