Cal goes on a date with Julie. Julie is not ready to show him her artwork, but they go to dinner. When Julie tells a story about an ex-boyfriend, Cal worries she’ll expect him to talk about his exes and judge his lack of experience. However, she doesn’t continue the ex talk beyond the one story. Cal likes her but questions how to proceed.
Back in the past, after the repeal of prohibition, Lefty turns the Zebra Room into a bar and grill downtown. In the summer of 1944, Tessie Zizmo sits on her daybed, listening to Milton play her a song on his clarinet from his bedroom window across the yard. Milton is now a college student.Desdemona waits in the living room with another Greek couple and their daughter, Gaia. Desdemona has been worried about the attention Milton pays to Tessie, and has started matchmaking to try and avoid more intermarriage. They chat about how lucky it is that Milton has flat feet and won’t be recruited by the Army. Finally, Milton arrives. Gaia’s father comments on his Boy Scout badges. Milton would have been an Eagle Scout if he’d gotten his swimming badge. Desdemona gives Milton a cookie that Gaia made, but Milton declares that he doesn’t like it.
Milton’s not typically attractive, but he makes up for it with confidence. Tessie has all-American good looks. Because of her mother’s exuberance and penchant for scandal, Tessie has become quiet and proper. One day, Milton returns home to see Tessie painting her nails in his house. She’s watching the roast while Desdemona is out. Tessie asks him to play her a song. He places his clarinet against her knee and blows a note. Over the course of weeks, Milton plays the clarinet against different parts of Tessie’s body, increasing their erotic tension.
Desdemona tries to set Tessie up with Michael Antoniou, a seminary student. At Sunday dinners, Milton jealously claims that the church doesn’t want people to think. Michael argues that people need stories and that the church offers the greatest story ever told. Tessie looks on her two suitors as opposites. She thinks about how chaste Michael’s flirtation with her has been and starts rebuffing Milton’s advances. When Michael proposes, she accepts.Milton, angry, joins the Navy, and Lefty reminds him that he can’t swim.
Cal calls Julie up three days after their date and offers a dinner date. When he arrives at her studio, she lets him in to see her artwork, photographs of factories. They kiss.
Now stationed at a naval base in San Diego, Milton is out of his depth. Even training has been dangerous. Despite always wanting to be American, he doesn’t like his American peers, whose talk he considers “knuckleheaded.” During training one night, he overhears two recruits talking about some sort of test that will get them out of drills.