Cover

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Frontmatter

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Contents

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It Couldn’t Be More Beautiful

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pp. 1-18

It is Thanksgiving, the great day of dinner, of Dockers and dress shirts and marshmallow-sweetened squash. This year we are forgoing our standard slow graze on the home front to spend the day with my sister and her boyfriend’s family meeting them for the first time—on this, a National Holiday...

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Bike New York!

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pp. 19-33

The ride was forty-two miles, covered fi ve boroughs, and twenty-eight thousand people were expected to participate. The Bike New York! brochure said nothing about beer, but because he was getting married at the end of the month, lately everything Derek did with his buddies involved beer. Beer...

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The Marrying Kind

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pp. 34-45

I’m wearing beige. It has taken months to come to this conclusion: to go neutral, to come to no conclusion at all. I feared black was bitter, and green was envious, and yellow might connote my own reluctance to get hitched. Red, of course, was out of the question, and I figured I’d let Laura have white to herself...

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The Dumpling King

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pp. 46-57

Caleb had made no plans for his thirty-first birthday, nonevent that it was. Who needed the involved beach outings of his teens or the raucous barbecues of his twenties? Who needed the multikeg spectacle of his big three-0? But when he awoke on the summer Saturday marking his birth, the prospect of spending...

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And Then You Stand Up

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pp. 58-72

It was spring break. Francie’s students were off to Daytona Beach on the annual Pilgrimage to Paradise, the product of tireless fund-raising and a Web-savvy search for a cheap group rate. Francie, by contrast, would be spending the week in Boston, riding out the tail end of winter with her best friend and...

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Our Little Lone Star

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pp. 73-91

The radio announcer recited tornado warnings for the following counties: Travis, Washington, Gonzales, Gillespie. Terrific—except Audrey had no idea where in Texas she was. Was outside Houston a county? All she knew was that she was sixty-two years old, driving alone from New Jersey to...

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Such a Big Mr. England

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pp. 92-105

It’s almost too much for Alfred to handle in one weekend—the death of Princess Diana and a visit from his first grandchild—but he’s doing the best he can. At breakfast this morning he took pictures of the baby as she spittled and cooed before ducking into the bedroom to catch the latest on CNBC...

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Here Beneath Low-Flying Planes

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pp. 106-124

Janie has always been blonde—or not always, but long enough to get used to it. In high school, she sprayed Sun-In from the pump and alternated blow-dryers as they overheated and cooled down, overheated and cooled down, her long brown hair streaking a buttery yellow. In college, she switched...