Two Stories

Two Stories

I think of that line Carrie Fisher says in When Harry Met Sally, when her character (Marie) is trying to persuade her boyfriend to get rid of his wagon wheel coffee table: “Everyone thinks they have good taste and a sense of humor. But not everyone can possibly have good taste and a sense of humor.”

My husband thinks I have shitty taste. I had to rescue the coasters with the New Orleans foods (Jambalaya, Snow Balls, Shrimp Etouffee, and the Cajun “Holy Trinity” of peppers, celery, and onions) from the trash, because he thinks they’re awful. I want to tell him, stop being so fucking ungrateful. He is impossible to get presents for, because he’s picky and unpredictable. When I saw those coasters, I was sure he would love them. I was sure that he’d feel recognized, which is what my husband always searches for in a present: to feel seen. He’s from Louisiana, he loves to cook. How can he NOT love these fucking coasters?

Sometimes I think he pretends to find them repellent, just to confound or injure me.

He maintains, like Carrie Fisher’s character, that there is such a thing as “objectively” good taste, and that certain objects I love, like those coasters, or like my light green sweater, are reflective of bad taste, and not, as I maintain, a matter of taste.

My light green sweater is unflattering, he said this morning. I pretended I wasn’t hurt.

On our way to the mall, my younger daughter tests me and her older sister about how picky we each are about food. It’s a survey Holly found on the web. She reads Adrienne and me a long list of foods, and we must choose between liking it (one point), neutral about it (zero points), or disliking it (minus one point). I am neutral about bananas, oranges, and blue cheese; I dislike papaya, liver, almond milk, and ketchup. Otherwise, I like everything. My score is 55 points; Adrienne’s (the pickiest) is minus 30. I feel proud, like I’ve won, but Holly wrinkles her nose. “Do you like everything? What’s the matter with you, Mom?”

I want to tell Holly, “Far from it, there are definitely things I object to.” I want to tell Adrienne to look up the word “discriminating,” and consider whether that’s a quality anyone should embrace. I want to ask her father, “If I have such shitty taste, why the hell did I pick you?”



For the following statements, select True or False

1. I do my share of the housework.

2. “My share” is not a subjective term; it means 50%.

3. When I cook, I use every pot.

4. When my partner cooks, I clean.

5. I don’t know how to run the dishwasher.

6. I stack plates haphazardly, when asked to do it, so my incompetence absolves me from being asked to do it.

7. When I am working from home, I don’t like to be interrupted.

8. When interrupted, I say “I’m working!” to communicate my current unavailability.

9. When I interrupt my partner who is also working, and she snaps at me, I think she’s being aggressive.

10. When I say “aggressive,” what I mean is “mean.”

11. I respect all the uncompensated labor women do.

12. I understand that this labor is real work, often done on top of their compensated work.

13. I want to do my share of childcare.

14. See #2: I understand “my share” to mean 50%.

15. Children, for biological reasons having to do with gestation and breastfeeding, at least in the early days, need their mothers more than their fathers.

16. By “early days,” I mean until they go to school.

17. My daughters are closer to their mother than to me.

18 I attribute this to the fact that my partner endlessly indulges them.

19. It’s hard to be the bad cop.

20. It’s hard to be misunderstood in my own house, especially given how hard I work.

21. My daughters are lesbians.


About the Author

Kim Magowan lives in San Francisco and teaches in the Department of Literatures and Languages at Mills College. She is the author of the short story collection How Far I've Come, forthcoming in 2022 from Gold Wake Press; the novel The Light Source (2019), published by 7.13 Books; and the short story collection Undoing (2018), which won the 2017 Moon City Press Fiction Award. Her fiction has been published in Booth, Colorado Review, Craft Literary, The Gettysburg Review, Smokelong Quarterly, Wigleaf, and many other journals. Her stories have been selected for Best Small Fictions and Wigleaf's Top 50. She is the Editor-in-Chief and Fiction Editor of Pithead Chapel.


Photo by Amy Shamblen on Unsplash