As the play begins, Jerry announces that "every once in awhile I like to talk to somebody, really talk; like to get to know somebody, know all about him." He is eager to identify with someone, anyone really. However, his inquiries have the opposite effect than the one he desires. Instead, Peter is put off by his curiosity. He tells Jerry, "'I don't mean to seem . . . ah . . . it's just that you don't really carry on a conversation; you just ask questions. and I'm . . . I'm normally . . . uh . . . reticent'" (741). Already it is evident that give-and-take is integral in true communication. The use of language works only for two, or more, individuals; one cannot communicate with himself.
Albee goes on to demonstrate the role comfort plays in conversing. Jerry, on the one hand, is free with his thoughts and feelings. He tells about "the colored queen," his late mother's problem with alcohol, his sex life, and finally his pack of pornographic playing cards. The latter topic riles Peter. He says, "'I'd rather not talk about these things'" (744). Jerry is more than willing to put forth various issues, but again his bench mate must also be willing to discuss them.
Peter does not want to discuss certain things though, perhaps he cannot. His world is too safe, too secure to be disturbed by unpleasantness. He cannot imagine life outside of his sphere. He tells Jerry, "'I find it hard to believe that people such as that really are.'" Jerry agrees sarcastically with him, "'And fact is better left to fiction'" (744). These two men come from hugely different walks of life. One can barely identify with the other, if at all.