From the story Angelfish
Beth actually came to enjoy recounting how Marjorie’s first marriage was so tenuous that it broke up over popcorn. His name was Robert and the two of them departed Whitman College, just three days into their sophomore year, to go make lots of money at a fish factory in Alaska.
Beth told the story to illustrate Marjorie’s misguided impulses and as a broader example of the unresolved mysteries of youth.
“Spontaneous combustion of the brain,” was actually her favored description.
Beth recalled how Marjorie had sprung from the cab of Robert’s weathered, orange pickup truck, accosted her in the lushness of her garden, explained the situation in less than a minute, then bent the brim of Beth’s sunhat back in order to kiss her hard on both cheeks.
“This was goodbye,” Beth said dryly.
Marjorie was in for gutting fish for about six months. Robert had two years “max” in mind. Marjorie was in the kitchen reading a book on the Dutch Masters when Robert, smelling heavily of tobacco and halibut, began hollering about her inattentiveness to the popcorn she was supposed to be tending on the range. His advice to “turn it down and shake it” was not all that important in the larger scheme of things.
“In an acrid smog of Jiffy-Pop,” Beth explained, “a marriage built upon fish money hit the rocks and sank into the icy waters of Norton Sound.”
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