"Are you making lots of new friends? Meeting lots of people?"
"Well, good good good. Good good good. It's nice of you to call, Joey. I mean, I know you don't have to, so it's nice that you did. You have some real fans here back at home."
A herd of male first-years burst out of the dorm and onto the lawn, their voices amplified by beer. "Jo-eeee, Jo-eeee," they lowed affectionately. He nodded to them in cool acknowledgement.
"Sounds like you've got some fans there, too," his mother said.
"My popular boy."
This sort of seems like a set-up. Know what we mean? As in, it's kind of hard to believe that these things would happen simultaneously. So why does Franzen set it up like this? Is it to align Patty with a bunch of drunk college guys? Or to emphasize how effortlessly Joey manages to endear himself to people? One thing it definitely does is reinforce Patty's loneliness on the far end of the telephone, while Joey is here on the front end, surrounded by people chanting his name.