Helen and Whitney are touring a campus and Whitney is putting her mother's profile up on Tinder. Helen keeps remembering her time on campus there. How her dad used to work in the restaurant and she and Uncle Max would go in and have him give them meat balls. Whitney says she wishes she'd stop calling him "Uncle Max." Helen wants to know why and Whitney just gives her a look, letting Helen know that she knows they slept together.
Whitney says Helen only has 5 good years left and she wants to see her with someone. It's sad and telling to hear her talk, Whitney says, because she only looks back on the good times she had with Noah on that campus and is living in the past, rather than the present. She tries to get her to flirt with a man who is passing by with his student son and says that Helen doesn't look half bad, she is already getting Tinder pings. Helen is embarrassed. When they go to eat Whitney tells her that she is not going to college. She will be a model. She met a photographer, an older man. Helen is beside herself. She shouldn't waste her life. Whitney says she probably won't get into school. Yes, she will, both her parents went and that shouldn't matter but it does. Also, Whitney inherited her father's insane charm (um?) and that will win them over in admissions. But Whitney doesn't want to go. She doesn't even want to spend a night on campus. She says she'll probably get bedbugs and it's a waste of time. As they exit the restaurant, they see Noah across the street with Eden, his publicist. They are all surprised to see each other, except Eden who knew that Whitney and Helen were touring the campus that weekend, but didn't bother to tell Noah, because she doesn't think his personal life has any importance. He will be going to a book signing on campus. Now, I guess people don't sign books 2 nights in a row, but it seems to me that he and Helen had two different evenings, not variations on the same one. So, I would prefer to think she attended two different book signings of his, but that's not the way Treem works. She doesn't want to tell different parts of the same night. She doesn't want to tell different nights. She wants to tell the same night, with the people who shared an evening together remembering absolutely nothing in common. She wants to alienate her audience with what she thinks is cleverness.
Whitney asks Noah if she can stay in his suite, because she doesn't want to spend the night in a dorm room. Noah doesn't blame her. He says they can both get a room in his hotel. Eden can arrange it. Helen tells him that she needs his support, especially since Whitney thinks he can do no wrong, no matter what and is always mad at Helen, on the other hand.. She needs him to back her up on this. He backs down and says he will. But before they can settle where Whitney will sleep that night, she is walking away chatting animatedly to a campus guide that she had been trying to avoid before. Helen and Noah agree that neither of them understand him.
Noah asks Helen if she wants to attend his book signing. She says no and turns away and he walks away in the other direction.
Still, Helen finds herself at the book signing store and can't believe that all of those people are there to see him. She is impressed. She looks up at him on the balcony and he smiles, glad she is there and gestures as if to say, "can you believe this crowd?" She sits in the audience while he reads. It's a passage about her. He recalls what a beautiful, wild girl she was. When they got together they had no money and he was happy, but when she got pregnant, he couldn't stand to see her worried because they were living in near poverty and that's when he finally agreed to take the loan from her parents (but why is he agreeing to take the loan from first Max, $50,000, and then Allison now? He is not threatened with poverty anymore).
He wonders when Helen changed, in the passage he reads and Helen listens thoughtfully, seeing things from his perspective and wondering what happened to her -- instead of just being sure she married a jerk.
He can't believe she hasn't talked to her mother in months. She says she through her out of the house. She sent an email a few weeks ago but her mother never answered.
She tells Noah that Whitney wants to model. He is not happy that the photographer is an older man, but he thinks it's good for Whitney to take some time off between high school and college. It would be a learning experience. And why is it impossible for her to be a model. She's beautiful. She's too short Helen says and she is too smart to be a model (oh, so that sounds like a dig towards Diane Kruger). She says that Whitney needs to be reined in. Noah asks if she remembers herself at that age. She wanted to go to exotic places. She was a rebel, a protestor. Zany. Maybe she was Helen says, but she never did go away. NO she didn't and does she remember why, he prods. it comes back to her slowly. Because her parents didn't let her. She starts banging her head on the table, realizing what a hypocrite she's been. how she's become her mother. How she is pushing Whitney away by doing so and stifling her daughter's dreams like she did NOah's and her own. She just keeps banging her head and, rather than telling her to stop or not to beat herself up, NOah just seems glad he made his point.
Hearing about that side of Helen makes it seem not so crazy that she took that pot candy and got incredibly loopy at the hairdressers. Maybe it wasn't out of character so much as it was out of repression.
Afterwards they are walking together. He asks if she wants his hat and she says no, she's fine. he says she's not. She is freezing. He gives her his hat. She says it will be too big for her. He says it looks charming. She asks if he is hungry and he says he is starving. They go to an old place they visited as college students (all of my college haunts are surely gone from Ann Arbor) and she tells the waitress about something she used to order there. He tells her that was 25 years ago. She tells the waitress how to make it and says to order him one too.
She tells him she's sorry that she wasn't understanding about his book and made him move into the brownstone to support their family. She says that she was glad when his first book failed, not because she didn't think it was great, because she did, but because she thought he'd finally give up his dream of writing and spend more time with her and the children and just be happy with what he had. She didn't realize what giving up his writing meant to him as a person. Now she does and she is happy for his success. She's proud of him.
He looks modest. When they leave he asks if she wants to come to his hotel. She can sleep on the sofa. NO, he'll sleep on the sofa and he'll give her his bed. She says no. He says he'll have Eden call her a taxi. He motions to her and it's like he is gesturing for her to come closer for a kiss, but then he says "my hat" and the mood is broken. I think it's kind of crummy that he asks her for his hat back. I mean, he's not going to die without it and it's not the last time he'll ever see her. He can get it back later. but it's not played as a tacky move on his part. Just an ending to this bonding they'd been doing that looked like they were realizing why they'd loved each other back when they were college students themselves. She says that she has changed her mind. She'll walk back after all. Again, I'm thinking that he could have walked her himself, but I guess all in all it's a tender scene.
In the present, Helen is telling the lawyer that she will do anything to save Noah, the father of her children. She is at a game with him watching Martin play and he has the baby in the stroller. When he gets up to go to Martin, the baby drops its pacifier and Helen picks it up. She takes it to the lawyer, but she doesn't want to give it to him, even when she is reminded that Allison is the woman who stole her husband (no, your husband jumped into her purse. She didn't have to shoplift).
Noah and Eden are reveling in his book's success. Eden reads the good reviews to him. There is only one bad one and it is written by some college student for the school paper. It still makes Noah mad. How dare the man say that his book is a cheap romance and not literary fiction. Eden tells him that nothing is ever going to be perfect and is annoyed that he is kvetching over that insignificant review when he got so many great ones. He hopes to win a book award. He is in the lobby looking at a pretty woman who is reading a book. When he sees the cover, he's mad that it's not his book she was reading.
He does a skype call with Allison. He is not there for her 5th month check up. He is telling her about his book. He got a glowing review from the New Yorker and Allison says that even she knows who they are. It's annoying that they are again telling us she's not a reader and doesn't know anything about that world. She tries to seem interested in his book, but can't wait until he finishes talking about it so she can show him the nursery. Ooooh. He says, politely. Now, he should have known she was skyping from his office all along. It's not like they have an unlimited amount of rooms in the joint. but it's not until she shows him the crib that he says, "Is that my office?" Y-yes Allison stammers. Where's his desk? It's in the hall. Well, where'd he expect the baby to sleep, I'd like to know. He takes a call, trying to see what is happening with that award he hopes to win. he knows he is on the shortlist and wants an update. Allison can see he's clearly distracted. She's as wimpy in this story as she usually is in her own POV.
Noah goes to the book signing (I guess this is the only one and he and Helen did not share two nights together). He begins to read a steamy passage about Allison from his novel, but then sees Helen in the audience in big hoop earrings and gets shy, as she looks angry. He reads the passage about her instead. Now, I don't think Helen would forget that he started to read about Allison (if he did). I think that prick to her ego would resonate in her memory longer than the fact that he eventually read a passage about her. The hurt would last longer than the salvage move, in her mind. When Treem makes these memories different, they aren't different in ways that are in character or real to what the person is going through. They're just different for the sake of being divergent and surprising.
Noah takes questions afterwards. One is from the writer who panned his book. Noah is bristling, but holds it in check. The writer tells him he did not win the award he was hoping for. Noah masks his disappointment and says the writer who won deserved it. Someone asks him whether love can last and he says that it takes trust and when you betray that trust, the love begins to fail. You have to have faith in the other person and when you break it, the whole thing falls apart. That's why they call infidelity being "unfaithful". His words make it seem like he is taking the blame for destroying Helen's trust and she seems to appreciate them.
Later when he is signing books, a pretty woman gives her his number and he pockets it.
He and Helen go out afterwards and she tries to be understanding about his losing the award. he is angry at the critic and she says why, he's just an undergraduate. He is explaining and she is trying to listen and then she says. Wait this isn't my job anymore. I don't have to be nice. That's Allison's job. Then she says she will do Allison a favor and tells him to give her that phone number that he took from the woman. He takes it out of his pocket. She reminds him that he has a pregnant fiancé at home.
He says he should apologize to her. For what? He says does she remember the fight they had in that booth back there. She smiles, self-consciously and nods that she does remember. He says that he's sorry he asked her to do it, especially now that he sees how beautiful the other four are. She says she knows. He says he still thinks about that. she is surprised to hear it. But she is touched.
When they are ready to leave, the undergraduate critic comes in and Noah wants to confront him, but she says she is doing him another favor and pulls him away. He follows her out, but when she drives off in a taxi, he enters the place again and starts a fight with the writer, who tells NOah he is drunk. Noah persists and punches him. A brawl breaks out. he goes to his hotel room and Eden knocks on the door. "Where were you all night?" Um, why is it her business. But actually they have set this up, that she and he are more the couple than he and Allison are. Eden and Noah's interests are aligned and Allison's pregnancy is not his priority. Eden made him late for Thanksgiving. "We" (he and NOah) forgot the turkey. Eden is his partner (but also his errand girl). And he is more involved in her offerings than he is with Allison, Helen or Whitney. Although Helen and Whitney seem to take priority over Allison too. Eden wonders if he has seen the news. The fight is already on YouTube. he wants to kick himself, but she says it is ok. She will spin it and say he is the bad boy writer. It will be good for his reputation. But since Hemingway died, do we really care about the reputation of writers and whether they are bad boys or not. I mean, who cares whether Dan Brown gets into bar fights? Writers are prized for their product, but they don't make the celebrity gossip pages. I've seen stories on P.K. Rowling, but she doesn't sell tabloids.
He and Eden start to make out in the hall. He doesn't pull away at all. They take it inside and she is straddling him on the bed when she is the one who pulls away and says she doesn't mix business "with this kind of pleasure." Well, what took her so long to remember that stance? Was Noah that irresistible that she had a delay before coming to her senses, she was so overcome with passion? Hard to believe. So, although he was drunk with Eden, we've pretty squarely been told that NOah would have no qualms about cheating on Allison. Is it because he loves her less than he loved Helen? Maybe doesn't love her at all? Or just because this new fame of his makes him want to explore all of his new options. Would he have acted the same way if he was still with Helen when his book made such a splash?