He considered his wife beautiful - even after 11
years of marriage, that is he still consideredher beautiful except on those social occasions
when she decided lipstick was called for.
The amount of lipstick she used
struck him (the verb none too strong) as so
entirely excessive and the effect of this excess
as so obviously garish that he wondered how
she could ever fail to see how unattractive
her efforts made her look and how completely
her lack of discretion in front of the mirror
destroyed her beauty.
He said nothing, because he did not
want to hurt her feelings, and he knew
beyond a doubt that he could hurt
her quite effectively if he expressed
exactly his thoughts.
* * *
One night when he had drunk enough to
have honest thoughts, but before his
mind and sensibility had been clouded into
a comfortable insensitivity, his wife excused
herself from the table during a riveting
table wide discussion at an important dinner
party and went into the bathroom.
She took the opportunity to refresh her make up
and lipstick, and as she came out of the bathroom,
he hardly recognized the gaudy stranger walking
towards him. He touched his bow tie and
for the first time reflected that he could never
really know the sort of person who could
make such a gross mistake. Not only her beauty
was suddenly called into question, but the whole
basis of their marriage. He could no longer say
with confidence he was capable of loving her.
He felt sorry for their children.