Her son and his future wife took Suzanne out to lunch and asked her to do the wedding invitations. Not so long ago, she had been a successful graphic designer. Her own boss. They were anxious to make her feel useful. When the food arrived, it was vegetables sliced in long, nearly see-through strips, a pile of ribbons in orange and green and red.

Suzanne saw her son’s ulterior motive clearly. Being unemployed, she had told several friends, was sharpening her perception. But Spencer took pride in being subtle—probably someone had led him to believe this was the same as being adult. 

Suzanne’s aesthetic was elegant and inoffensive. Occasionally a little too austere.

“As you may recall,” she told the future wife, piling carrot shavings onto her fork, “I didn’t lose my job because of bad taste.”

The future wife was named Allegra. She reminded Suzanne of a well-bred dog—a whippet, maybe. She had very clear skin and managed to look dressed-up in jeans. Her purse had many small pockets inside; she could always find what she was looking for.

“Oh,” Allegra said, a little taken aback. “We like your taste.”

When the plates had been cleared, Spencer smiled placidly and signaled the waiter for the check. This gesture disgusted Suzanne. His finger raised almost imperceptibly, the quickest flash of a smirk. If only she had told him how disgusting it was when she had the chance, when he was still young enough to acquire aversions. 

“Children are so puritanical,” Suzanne said wistfully.

They gave her a few sample invitations for inspiration. Cy and Julep, Booker and Tolu—all the names looked fake. When they stood up from the table, she resented them for masking their relief.