Lorraine begins this chapter by noting that going to the Pigman’s house becomes a habit everyday after school. There, they have a glass of wine and good conversation. When she comes home, she always receives the third degree from her mother about being in cars with boys and locking the house at night when her mother goes to work. Lorraine understands that her mother is really saying, “Beware of men!” She also recognizes that her mother has this feeling, because, even though Lorraine’s father is dead, she can never forgive him for what he did to her. He had been cheating on her mother when she was pregnant with Lorraine and in addition, he had contracted a venereal disease which Lorraine’s mother had to worry about developing as well as maybe passing on to her unborn baby. Lorraine likes to think of them in the one picture she has seen of them together: he is wearing a football uniform and has his arm around her mother; they are both smiling and look very happy. Lorraine gives her mother the stockings that Mr. Pignati had bought for her and lies about how she was able to pay for them. She doesn’t dare explain about the Pigman.
So, leaving home and going to Mr. Pignati’s house is a wonderful escape for her. To stop taking advantage of this man they have come to like so much, John breaks down and buys his own six pack of beer each time they go there and Lorraine buys chips and pretzels and other snacks. One night in January, during a snowstorm, they find the Pigman in a very depressed state of mind and looking sick. His friend, Bobo, the baboon at the zoo, is refusing to eat and Mr. Pignati knows he has grown very old and ill. Lorraine then decides that they have to tell Mr. Pignati that they had lied to him about who they really are. They confess that they have continued to come to his house, because they like him better than anyone they’ve ever met. They receive little response from him at first; he just continues to look sad and worn out. Then, he sadly admits that Conchetta, his wife, has not gone to California, but has died and he sobs while explaining that he had purchased an anniversary cake for her with a bride and groom on top and then she had died. Lorraine observes that unlike either her mother or John’s parents, Mr. Pignati knows something about sharing love. They comfort him and finally get a laugh out of him when John runs to throw up in the sink after eating some of the chocolate covered ants Lorraine had bought at Beekman’s.
The two teens work very hard from this point to entertain Mr. Pignati and make him laugh. What one doesn’t do to show off, they other does and then, Mr. Pignati plays psychological games with them, including one that determines the things they like most in life. John’s choice indicates his priorities are magic, sex, money, fun, and love while Lorraine’s priorities are magic, love, fun, sex, and money. She Notes to herself that the order they each chose was very accurate. They also begin roller skating all over the house, playing Tag. When John leaps on his skates up each of the steps to the second floor, Mr. Pignati forgets his age and tries to follow him. Suddenly, he begins to gasp for air and falls to the bottom of the steps.
Both Lorraine and John are now in the habit of comparing and contrasting their own parents with Mr. Pignati. Obviously, their home lives are found wanting in both of their eyes. He never judges them as their own families do and he’s not afraid to allow his inner child to come out. He enjoys jokes and games and even though he has moments of sadness, he allows himself to be brought back to the present where life goes on. These three are very good for each other at this point as well, because Mr. Pignati receives as much benefit from John and Lorraine as they do from him.
Lorraine continues to be very astute in her ability to analyze people. She sees her mother’s shortcomings in a sympathetic light once again, understanding how difficult her father’s infidelity must be for her to forgive. However, her love of the picture where her parents are together, young and happy, shows how much she misses never having known them that way.
Mr. Pignati’s depression over Bobo’s refusal to eat is both symbolic and an example of foreshadowing at the same time. Mr. Pignati is Bobo, growing old, becoming sick, and seeing those they love die around them. It prepares us for the impact that Bobo’s death will have on the old man and will underline how he is just as fragile in the end as this zoo animal he loves. This is even further emphasized when Mr. Pignati collapses from an apparent heart attack.