They were sitting on the floral, drinking after-dinner Baileys, watching a TV show featuring a woman with a big ass. Stephanie said, Honey? Do you think I have a big ass? Fred paused. She had asked him this many times before. Before, he’d always said something like, No, you’re beautiful, or No, I love your body, or, Honey, don’t be silly. The reasons for this were many, but chief among them was Fred’s desire for peace in the house, as well as his belief that his informing her that her ass was big would not have any serious long-term impact on the size of her ass. Tonight he said, Well, I don’t know.
What do you mean, she said, you don’t know?
Well, he said, I haven’t looked at your ass lately.
You haven’t? Stephanie was surprised. In her mind Fred looked often at her ass.
No, he said, I haven’t. Why don’t you stand up so I can see it, and then I’ll answer your question.
Okay. Now Stephanie regretted that she’d asked. She stood up slowly. Well?
Why don’t you turn around a couple times, he gestured, so I can see it.
She did, turning slowly. The TV went to commercials. She did not look at him.
It’s hard to tell, he said, with your pants on. He flipped a few deliberate channels. Why don’t you just lower them a minute and turn around that way.
Stephanie unbuckled her belt and unzipped her pants. She pulled her pants down to her ankles.
Underwear, too. Fred was looking out the window. He could see a few stars. He was trying hard to recognize that hunter constellation.
She bent and pulled down her good florals.
Now turn, he said.
She did. She turned slowly. She saw the butternut trim he’d refinished for her, the anniversary grandfather with the hand-painted moon. Well? she said.
You have a big ass. Fred flipped back to the show. He felt sort of very bad and sort of very good, both at once.