Before the questioning member of my self could agree, or perhaps disagree, with my judgment, the telephone again rang. I answered it and heard a young woman with a pleasant voice. She asked me if I was having “a nice day.” I responded in the affirmative, without, however, revealing the details of my yoga class, my unsuccessful attempt to engage in colloquy with its instructor, or my recent meditation concerning the proper headstone to cap a long and successful literary career. After an exchange of pleasantries concerning the outdoor temperature—how it compared to previous winters, etc.—she reminded me that it was the time of year when “the friends of Heartland College”—a category within which she clearly assumed I belonged—showed their support for that worthy institution by pledging a certain amount of their “hard-earned money.” This amount, she then informed me, was tax-deductible.
The following Monday the Budwiesers had an argument.
It wasn’t over the question of why he wasn’t spending more time looking for a job, or over the question of why he had resigned his old job without consulting her or why he not only didn’t want to talk about it, he didn’t even want to think about it, or over the question of the liquor bill, or even over the question of whether Molls and A Peculiar Passion were Classics or just plain trash. Because after the Winnebago incident she had gotten Ed to promise to quit drinking and stop the new subscription to Molls and spend at least four mornings a week on the job hunt.
No. The argument was over a silly little thing.
It was over a Betsy Bander.
That morning, ten days after their innocent telephone conversation on the subjects of vacuum cleaners and the relative merits of San Diego and Kirkland as places to live, Ed had received a follow-up letter from Ms. Bander. It dealt with the subject of vacuum cleaners, but she gave it a personal touch by enclosing an autographed photo of herself.