Lois says that she's heard all about Norbert and then turns to a visitor and says, while slipping Jack a dollar, "I think he's just beautiful." The two then leave for Lois' apartment, where she and Jack will argue over why she will not circulate his cards and documents at her office. Jack will also have dinner there: hamburgers and an after-dinner drink of Thunderbird wine.
The scene and the cuisine seldom vary, nor does the work following dinner. While Lois plays solitaire and listens to country music ("Never ever have a nickel in my jeans") Jack furiously scribbles his notes. He is, you see, the greatest note writer since Joe Gould, the late Greenwich Village wraith who spent a year measuring the heads of Indians in North Dakota and during his life filled hundreds of notebooks with a delusion called An Oral History of Our Time. Jack, who has been scribbling for a dozen years, does not wish to be compared with Joe Gould. "I have all my teeth," he says.
If an analogy must be made, Jack prefers his relationship with Norbert to be set beside that of Zola and Dreyfus, Darrow and Scopes. Put in other ways, he expresses his task as Katchmar defending the values of Greek civilization, Katchmar attacking the diminishment of real excellence and the human spirit. "Hell, Jack," says Lois, "nobody's listenin'." Lois places another card on the table, and Jack says she is the dumbest broad he has ever seen. He has his dollar.
Still, Jack is not totally dependent on Lois" subsidy. He receives a disability pension from the Government, and Norbert often says that Jack could not even get shot right he was wounded in the back in the Battle of the Bulge. Jack uses his pension to pay the rent on the "gym" in Detroit where Norbert trains, and the rest of the money goes for pencils, paper, magazines and a meal when Lois suddenly decides she is not so dumb. But it is Lois' dollars that put Jack in motion and enable him to circulate his treatise against a society of thin values that he feels has stomped all over Norbert—and Jack Katchmar.
The lobby of a hotel in Detroit. Sargent Shriver has just finished speaking and is walking with his aides toward the door. Suddenly Jack is by Shriver's side, and nobody knows who he is. But he looks, maybe, like he belongs there. He does appear a bit seedy, but you can never tell about these eccentric scholars. Jack (clearing his throat, and then in an official voice): Do you, Mr. Shriver, believe in excellence? (Shriver appears stunned, looks at Jack.)
Shriver (thinking Jack is a dumb reporter): Why, of course.
Jack (in D.A. style): Do you believe that excellence, the kind of excellence that makes the world know we are, well, made up of more than just Elvis Presleys, should be rewarded? (The procession through the lobby stops.)
Aide (curiously): May I ask what paper you represent?
Jack (ignoring aide, whips card plus elaborate presentation to Shriver): Have you ever heard of Norbert Schemansky?
Shriver: Who? (Starts reading section of presentation.)