The longer, looser structure of “Wigtime” suggests the mounting complexity of Munro’s work. When Anita, now divorced, comes home to Walley to care for her dying mother, she reconnects with her friend Margot, whom she has not seen in thirty years. Both were once farm girls near Lake Huron, coming of age in the late 1940’s, and they recall high school life, wedding fantasies, and the cups of steaming coffee as they waited at Teresa Gault’s grocery for her husband Reuel, the school bus driver. Teresa, a French war bride, spoke to them bluntly, sometimes alarming Anita, who was uncomfortable yet fascinated by details of sex and miscarriage.
The two friends have not confessed the painful truths of their lives before. Margot used to make her life with an abusive father sound like a slapstick comedy, but while Anita was hospitalized with appendicitis, Margot began a relationship with Reuel and eventually married him, abandoning her dream of becoming a nurse. When she was warned that Reuel was unfaithful to her, as he had once been to Teresa, she disguised herself as a hippie to spy on him with their young baby-sitter. From her discovery of this affair, she has negotiated a new house and the comfortable life she presently enjoys. Both Anita and Margot have survived, as has Teresa in her own way, housed in the county home’s psychiatric wing. All have settled for their present lives, and Munro points out with characteristic restraint, “They are fairly happy.”