(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Paul and his lover Neal prepare dinner for Paul’s grandmother in the suburban Connecticut home of Paul’s parents. Paul and Neal have moved out of their New York apartment for the summer in order to take care of Mrs. Andrews while Paul’s parents cruise around the world. They are interrupted in their work by a visit from a representative from Meals on Wheels—a woman whom Paul calls “Gloria Marsupial” because of his uncertainty about how to pronounce her name. The social services volunteer is disconcerted when Paul answers the door wielding a knife and when she sees the bare-chested, lacto-vegetarian Neal stirring mushroom curry in a wok. In order to make space in the refrigerator for the tray of meat loaf, green beans, and pudding that she has brought for Mrs. Andrews, she pushes aside the men’s beer.

The Marsupial woman asks if Mrs. Andrews wants her blood pressure taken, but Paul’s grandmother is more concerned about her unreliable memory. Her recollections are very selective. She can no longer identify lilacs and does not remember how many times she has been married, but she can vividly recall one girlhood summer that she spent on a farm. Her memories are triggered by such sensuous details as the sheer physical exuberance of running and the sight of a single mulberry blown into her bowl of mashed potatoes.

In this regard, Mrs. Andrews and Paul are alike. He, too, is engaged more by sensation than by interpretation, more by...

(The entire section is 560 words.)