Summary: Chapter 17: Waxing Lyrical

In the fall of 1973, Callie starts growing a mustache, and one of the women at church, salon owner Sophie Sassoon, offers to help her remove it. No one is alarmed because many Greek women grow unwanted hair on their faces.Tessie takes Callie to Sophie’s salon, and from then on, Callie is initiated into the world of hair removal. Even though she can’t wear makeup to school, on the weekends, Callie goes over to a friend’s house and they apply eyeliner.

When Chapter Eleven returns home the summer after his freshman year of college, Callie feels like he has become a different person. Chapter Eleven confides that he’s been taking acid.

Over Christmas 1973, Chapter Eleven, now a sophomore, announces that instead of engineering, he will major in anthropology and conduct “fieldwork” while he’s home. He records everything the family says.Chapter Eleven’s girlfriend, Meg, visits. A Marxist political science major, she grills Milton over how much he pays his workers. She reveals that Chapter Eleven spends his time at college lifting the ceiling panel on dorm elevators and riding up and down in the dark.Meg gives Callie a copy of the classic puberty book, Our Bodies, Ourselves . Chapter Eleven asks her whether she masturbates. Callie feels extremely uncomfortable.

Milton decides to bring the family to Turkey over the summer so he can visit the village Desdemona and Lefty grew up in. Chapter Eleven refuses to go because he says tourism is a form of colonialism. He announces he no longer shares the family’s values.Cal, in retrospect, thinks the change in Chapter Eleven happened when he got his draft number and felt like everything was decided by lottery.

Summary: Chapter 18: The Obscure Object

Cal, looking at what he’s written so far, realizes that he hasn’t found writing to be as liberating as he thought it would be. He worries that maybe he isn’t part of the intersex movement because he’s afraid of it. He feels like the only kind of intimacy he can be comfortable with is that between writer and reader.

After Chapter Eleven leaves, Tessie and Milton fall into an angry silence.During spring semester, Callie takes an advanced English class with Mr. da Silva, who encourages her to embrace her Greek heritage. Callie adores The Iliad even though it’s too bloody for many of her classmates. One day, a new girl interrupts class because the other English teacher wanted her transferred. She has red hair and freckles, and Callie is immediately fascinated by her. The girl slouches through class and refuses to focus.Cal dubs this girl the “Obscure Object,” after a film that came out years after their relationship. He keeps her otherwise anonymous in his memoir for her protection.