How I Met My Husband Summary

In "How I Met My Husband," Edie recalls a youthful affair she had with a young pilot.

  • Edie works for the Peebles. One day, a young pilot lands his plane across the road from the Peebles' house, and Edie becomes infatuated with him.

  • Chris' fiancé Alice shows up unexpectedly, ruining Edie's chances with Chris. Edie bakes him a cake for what she doesn't at first realize is his going away party.

  • Before Chris leaves, he and Edie kiss, which she mistakes for "being intimate." He leaves Alice behind, promising to write to Edie. He never does, and Edie marries the mailman.

Summary

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 269

Alice Munro published “How I Met My Husband” in her book Something I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You (1974). Told from the first-person point of view, the story layers the voice of the fifteen-year-old Edie, working as a “hired girl” in the house of the comparatively wealthy Peebles family, with that of the adult Edie, now happily married and wiser than she was as a teenager. Edie’s voice is colloquial and friendly, keenly aware of its audience. In this way, the story celebrates the art of storytelling, suggesting that by using memories to tell stories people arrive at a greater understanding of who they are. Storytelling also enables women who live on the margins of society—such as Edie, who has little education, money, or status—to speak when they might otherwise be silenced. And Edie is quite a storyteller; even as a teenager, she has a quick wit and healthy sense of identity even though she also seeks greater fulfillment in life. She thinks it might come in the form of a pilot who lands his airplane in the fairgrounds across from her employers’ house, for whose letter she patiently waits. However, she finally understands that waiting will not give her happiness. She learns that there are women all over “waiting by mailboxes for one letter or another” and determines that she “was never made to go on like that.” By telling her own story and seizing opportunities to make life good for herself, Edie refuses to deceive herself that life is other than what it is, which is something joyful if lived with vitality and honesty.

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Extended Summary

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 813

When an airplane flies overhead at noon, Edie and Dr. and Mrs. Peebles run outside, afraid it will crash near their house. But, no, the pilot was landing the plane in the fairgrounds across the street. Loretta Bird, the noisy and nosy neighbor, stops by to gossip about the event, for in this area, about five miles outside the city, not much happens, and a plane landing across the street is worth talking about. The next day, Mrs. Peebles takes her children into town to get haircuts, and while she is gone, Edie, after cleaning the kitchen so that it is sparkling clean, goes into Mrs. Peebles’s bedroom just to look around and snoops into her closet as well. She sees a beautiful satin gown hanging in the back that she cannot resist trying on. It fits beautifully, so Edie puts on a bit of makeup too. While she is in the kitchen getting a glass of ginger ale, a man appears at the door and introduces himself as Chris Watters, the pilot of the plane that landed the day before. He asks if he could use the pump for water. He at first mistakes her for the lady of the house, but he remains friendly after she tells him she is merely “the hired girl.” Regardless, he tells her she looks beautiful. Although alarmed that someone caught her in Mrs. Peebles’s dress, Edie is nevertheless flattered by his compliments.

Edie tells Dr. and Mrs. Peebles about Chris Watters later that day, but she realizes that if he were to visit and mention the satin dress, she would be embarrassed and perhaps in trouble with her employers. After the children are in bed, she runs over to ask Chris to please say nothing about the dress. He is quick to agree and puts her at ease; even more, he gives her a cigarette, lights it, and talks with her. Edie is again flattered because, after all, this is an older man and she is but fifteen. Remembering the children in bed, she runs back home.

Chris had landed his plane at the fairgrounds to start a business selling rides for a dollar. He is moderately successful but soon his fiancée, Alice Kelling, arrives. She explains to everyone that she met Watters before the war as his nurse when he was in the hospital for appendicitis. Mr. Peebles invites her to stay at their house so she can be close to her fiancé while she visits him. Chris comes for dinner that night, too, and later he and Alice take a ride in his car. Edie notices from her bedroom window that they merely walk away from each other when they return.

Rather than spend the next day with her fiancé, Alice goes into town with Mrs. Peebles. Bringing some cake that she made just for him, Edie goes to tell Chris that Alice will be home later. As they visit, he implies he has no interest in Alice. He then kisses Edie; in fact, they get quite passionate, but Watters splashes water on himself and Edie to cool them off. Before she goes home, he tells her he will write and tell her where he goes. “You wait,” he tells her. Edie is smitten and can only dream of the pleasures this night promises.

The next day Chris is gone. Mrs. Peebles, Alice, and Loretta grill Edie for information. Did he say where he was going or when he’d be back? She lies for him because she knows he left to get away from his fiancée. Questions continue, and eventually Edie is accused of being intimate with him. Thinking that kissing and a promise to write constitutes intimacy, she confesses she had been and then cries out of embarrassment and shame. Eventually the truth comes out, and Alice and Loretta leave. Mrs. Peebles reprimands Edie, but all then returns to normal—except for the fact that Edie goes to the mailbox every day hoping for a letter from Chris Watters.

“It never crossed my mind...a letter might not come,” Edie recalls in hindsight. One day she finally realizes the futility of her wait, but meanwhile, during all these months of waiting, she has seen the very nice mailman every day, with whom she has become very friendly. When she stops meeting him every day and waiting for the letter that never arrives, he calls her, tells her he has missed her, and asks her to a movie. Edie sums up their entire relationship in the last two sentences of the story, saying they dated for two years and then married. Although they met because she was hoping for a letter from another man, her husband tells their children that she “went after him” by waiting for him every day at the mailbox, and she enjoys his story.

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