Today’s short story, Ann Beattie’s “Eric Clapton’s Lover,” first appeared in the Summer 1976 issue of the Virginia Quarterly Review. How it begins:
Franklin Fisher and his wife, Beth, were born on the same day of March, two years apart. Franklin was 39 years old, and Beth was 41. Beth liked chiles relenos, Bass ale, gazpacho; Franklin liked mild foods: soufflés, quiche, pea soup. How could she drink Bass ale? And it was beginning to show on her figure. It wasn’t just beginning to show—it was showing in more places, bulging actually, so that now she had big, fat hips and strongman arms. Her disposition had changed, too; as she got larger, she got more vehement, less willing to compromise. Now she cooked two dinners and ate spicy lamb shish-kebob, smacking her lips, shaking on more salt, while Franklin, across from her, lifted a forkful of unseasoned spinach soufflé.
Things got worse between Franklin and Beth after Franklin Junior (“Linny” to his mother) got married and moved to San Bernardino. Their son’s bride was “learning to drive a rig.” She demonstrated how to turn a truck wheel coming down an incline by leaning forward on their sofa, spreading her legs, and moving her arms in what seemed to be two separate circles. Neither Franklin nor Beth knew what to talk to her about. Franklin Junior said, “Yes, sir!” as his bride-to-be simulated steering the truck, She talked about her rig, drank a shot of scotch, declining water or an ice cube, and left after half an hour.