He had eaten in a restaurant that served polenta and shaved parmesan (five points). However, when Will stumbles onto a new scam for picking up women, by pretending to be a single father and frequenting a local support group for single parents (SPAT), he ends up getting involved in the life of a terribly awkward young boy, Marcus, a twelve year old with a suicidal mother.
He had never used a flavored condom (five points), he had sold his Bruce Springsteen albums (five points), and he had both grown a goatee (five points) and shaved it off again (five points). Will views Marcus as little more than a prop to abet his bedding of women, but Marcus has other ideas.
"Will Freeman" changes from someone who is quite happy to someone who is quite unhappy as the book nears it's end, and it's because he's letting someone in!
At the end, Will even thinks, for the first time, about committing suicide himself!
This makes him seem less preachy than he might be otherwise, but, because he's able to differentiate between the two, he's able to show us that to be merely cool is not, in fact, to be fully human and that a society that is so absorbed with coolness is necessarily anti-human.
Nick Hornby Links: -AUTHOR SITE: Nick (Penguin Books) -Nick Hornby (Wikipedia) -Nick Hornby (Contemporary Writers, British Arts Council) -Nick Hornby (The Guardian) -Fever Pitch (Wikipedia) -ESSAY: World Cup Soccer: England (Nick Hornby, June 2006, National Geographic) - - - -ESSAY: Why parents are angry about autism (Nick Hornby, February 10, 2002, The Observer) -PROFILE: Nick Hornby on Dave Eggers (Nick Hornby, February 16, 2003, The Observer) -INTERVIEW: Nick Hornby meets Tony Adams (Nick Hornby, September 3, 2000, The Observer) -NICK HORNBY (1958-) (The Guardian) -AUTHOR SITE: Nick Hornby (Penguin Books) -BBC - Books - Author Profile for Nick Hornby -Nick Hornby Home Page EXCERPT: from How to be Good by Nick Hornby -REVIEW: of BLOOD SONG A Silent Ballad.
At first, his increasing involvement with Marcus isn't too demanding, because the boy--whose hippie mother cuts his hair herself, dresses him in near rags, requires him to eat vegetarian, and has raised him on Joni Mitchell and Roberta Flack (circa "Killing Me Softly")--is being tormented by the other kids at school, and that's something he's actually competent to deal with: [W]ill saw the kind of help Marcus needed.
Fiona had given him the idea that Marcus was after a father figure, someone to guide him gently towards male adulthood, but that wasn't it at all: Marcus needed help to be a kid, not an adult.
He intended to vote Labour at the next general election (five points). Will didn't know how seriously you were supposed to take these questionnaire things, but he couldn't afford to think about it; being men's-magazine cool was as close as he had ever come to an achievement, and moments like this were to be treasured.
He earned more than forty thousand pounds a year (five points), and he didn't have to work very hard for it (five points, and he awarded himself an extra five points for not having to work at all for it). That's pretty pitiful; not only is his life centered around material self-gratification, but the sole measure of his life's achievements is the "pleasure" he's brought himself.