Last week on The Affair: two sexy married people met cute at an outdoor shower. This week, we have stories about jam, and JOSHUA JACKSON, nee Pacey on Dawson’s Creek, riding a goddamm horse in tight jeans and a cowboy hat looking like the fantasy stud of your dreams. But in whose memory is he that stupid hot? The answer is below!
Noah’s Story: She seemed like the loneliest girl in the world, he thought, that piece from the beach. But it wasn’t the time. He had to work on his second novel. [The detective: I bought it, Noah’s reply: Good for you, man.] Memories of that waitress came back to him in the corner of his mind through a Tilt Shift Instagram filter. Legs. Butt. Underwear. Laugh. Her naked body in the outdoor shower. Outdoor shower! It was enough for an onanistic reprieve from his empty life in the bougie shower owned by his father-in-law, until his wife Helen came inside and he went limp.
Down in the kitchen, Noah is a man drowning, lost. The kitchen was reorganized. He can’t find his preferred snacks. Teen daughter Whitney is mewling about cappuccino this, coffee that, macchiato. She discovered those fancy coffee words and became a stranger to him. Helen is volunteering the family for some Mrs. Dalloway grunt work at the farmer’s market. At least it will get him outside.
The car. Daughter number two squeals about “horsies.” What is it with girls and horses? Helen drones on about her days riding horses. Noah gets it. Helen, she had adventures once.
At the farmer’s market Noah spies something. Disaster ahead. That piece — Alison — in a sundress. She’s at a jam booth. She’s got her thumb in her mouth. It’s enough to make a man buy some $12 dollar homemade jam.
The Solloways take a detour to the Lockhart Ranch so tiny child can get her fill of horsies, prepping her for a lifetime of disappointment. A series of good-looking young men, all brothers, offer to give them a tour. Then the light shifts and the sun shines bright. The sound of hooves makes the ground tremble. The best-looking man comes riding up on a stallion, in a cowboy hat, tight jeans, and a khaki shirt. Shit. Noah’s son, the vaguely suicidal one, is like, oh, let me work for you, cool cowboy. Noah thought: that guy will teach my son to be a man over my dead body.
To cool down, Noah goes to the ocean to swim. Tilt-shift montage. He got married young. He’s writing his second novel. He’s bored. Helen’s a bit snippy. His sandwich is extra-delicious due to authentic local girl’s local jam. He thinks, creasing his face. It’s not quite a metaphor, is it?
The Butler family compound Dalloway party is upon Noah. He’s a penguin in a shiny blue suit. Teen daughter Whitney is conferring with her friend, dressed far too slutty for his tastes. Helen freaks out since her father’s former mistress is there. Noah hugs her, nuzzles her under his chin. Out of the corner of his eye, there’s a little sun. Alison! A devil in a black dress, working catering, looking like a dream.
At a table with his father-in-law, Bruce, and Bruce’s big-shot agent, the old man gives Noah a chance to talk up the second book, to sell it. It’s an empty gesture. There’s no book yet. Noah had nothing to say. Alison comes by with a whiskey like a savior. Bruce calls Alison a townie whore with a great ass. Noah had to run away.
Finding Alison smoking outside, Noah takes her to a second location. He hits the passcode — Helen’s birthday, he gets it right on the second try — and they go to the beach. Alison takes off her heels. She runs to the water, spinning around in the surf. “Join me!” she yells. She’s so goddamm free. She sits next to him. Noah wants her. He can feel it. But he has to do the right thing. “I’m married,” he says. “Marriage means different things to different people,” she retorts. She’s married? She walks away. “What the fuck was that?” Noah asks to the air.
[The detective, in his interrogation office, bored to death. Why do I keep having to listen to these blowhards tell me about their sex life, he wonders? Why do they keep me here, regaling me with mysteries about human connection when I just want to solve a murder? I need background on people who knew the guy. I need to see how they’re connected, and who had a motive to kill a “fella.” Oh, but Mr. Solloway thinks it was an “accident.” Whatever!]
Noah kisses Alison. Fireworks go off. It’s fucking magic! Like an outdoor shower!
Alison’s Story: It’s my day off, so I ride a bike. I go to the docks to get fresh fish. I got to the train station to maybe show some guy working there the fresh fish for some reason. He’s reading a book. Castle of Man by that old local crank Bruce Butler. I don’t know why everyone loves his work so much. He doesn’t know how to write anything but old men who are very, very, virile.
When the train comes in, I see the summer people pass by. They don’t see me. I’m a traffic light to them, a metaphor. I live here, this is my town, but it’s theirs once the sun comes out. I bike to the restaurant to get my check. Funny enough, there’s a party tonight at Bruce Butler’s. I could cater for it, but why would I do that? That creep who was obsessed with me is out there.
At the Lockhart ranch, Mary Kate is labeling our local jam so we can sell it at the farmer’s market. She’s talking about threesomes and au pairs and asking me what I’ve done sexually, whether I experimented at school. I mention the one attempt at buttsex. That’s it. I don’t really get the threesome thing. It always seems like someone will be ignored.
We sell jam together, but it’s hard to see because it’s like there’s a tilt-shift montage happening right in front of my eyes. Sometimes I’m dissociative. It’s because I’m very, very sad. I snap into something when I see the face of Noah, lover of outdoor showers, creep with a family. His daughter wants jam. He buys our whole line. Mary Kate, forever horny, is convinced Noah would do it with us but he’s “torn.” But I know the truth. He has a thing for me. He’s a summer person and he sees me. It’s disorienting.
I go back to the ranch again to nuzzle with Cole. This day. So much running around. Bike, bike, bike. We’re interrupted by nightmare screech of a very expensive car. Noah’s teen girl in her Lolita sunglasses, demanding to see her little brother. She’s asking questions about the ranch, saying “I’m a dancer so I’ve got really loose hips.” Cole’s dumb brother replies, “I’d really love to teach you how to ride.” Cole asks me about the pickup. He’s so passionate about fresh fish. There’s no way that it could be drug running, not when there’s fish and horses and all the good things in life. Like riding my bike, my bike!
Cole’s mother maroons me in the kitchen. She asks us to move home. She offers to help me with the next one, if there ever is a next one. Why would I ever put myself through that pain again? I bike, so sadly, home again. Sad sad sad. It’s enough to make me do something stupid, like volunteering to work at the Butler party that night.
The party is filled with swells. An old woman offers $1000 if I spill a drink on her philanderer husband. She remembered me from the newspaper article on the accident and my baby. She hopes I’m doing better. Old women keep telling me I’m brave. I go to the table to do it, full of purpose, and there’s fucking Noah, taking the drink out of my hand. His wife, looking like 60s-era Streisand in a black-and-white caftan, orders me around like I’m the help. I go back inside and Slutty Teen Daughter is about to take one of Cole’s brothers upstairs. Oh god. Noah sees it too and puts the kibosh on it. I’m about to yell. We get out of this stifling house. We escape to the beach.
I can’t swim. I’m not going in the water. I tell Noah I’m married. He tells me that married people don’t fuck like that. “Marriage means different things to different people,” I say. He starts babbling. Something about the butterfly effect, and time-travel, and being in two different lives, and something about loving his wife but not loving his life and it seems like, for a second there, he sees me. Who I am. So we kiss. [The detective: Alison had her doubts that anyone at that party ran him down. She went back to the city. Her life changed. So many clues this week!] I walk home from the party on the side of the road. The very same side of the road where someone in the future, quite possibly my sexy cowboy husband, will… die???