He was torn between admitting that he once ripped out a photo of a woman in one of the fashion magazines she used to subscribe to or saying that he really hadn’t lost the sweater-vest she bought him for their third wedding anniversary but had exchanged it for cash at Filene’s.
The vest depressed him. “My wife gave me a sweater-vest for our anniversary,” he complained to the bartender, his head heavy with cognac. “What do you expect?” the bartender had replied. “You’re married.”
He told Shoba about the sweater on the third night, the picture on the fourth. She said nothing as he spoke, expressed no protest or reproach.
She simply listened, and then she took his hand, pressing it as she had before. On the third night, she told him that once after a lecture they’d attended, she let him speak to the chairman of his department without telling him that he had a dab of pâté on his chin.
She’d been irritated with him for some reason, and so she’d let him go on and on, about securing his fellowship for the following semester, without putting a finger to her own chin as a signal.
The fourth night, she said that she never liked the one poem he’d ever published in his life, in a literary magazine in Utah.