The following is among the 16 essays, personal reflections and short stories from the recent collection, Outer Voices Inner Lives.
By Michael Craft
Amateur night—that’s what they called it back in college, back when he was learning to drink. New Year’s Eve—the night of resolutions and fresh beginnings. Now, though, in the last year of his fifties, there would be far less drinking, tepid interest in resolutions, and no chance whatever that he would be awake for the ritual flipping of the calendar.
Marson Miles, AIA, an architect at the height of his modestly esteemed career, stood in his dressing room, his sanctuary, in the house he had designed but hated. Were it not for his wife, their home would reflect the clean, disciplined aesthetic that had inspired his design of the local performing-arts complex. Questman Center had wowed critics and public alike at its dedication the prior spring and had been featured as a cover story in the autumn issue of ArchitecAmerica, the first such coup to be scored during the thirty-year practice of Miles & Norris LLP.
“Yes, Precious?” He turned from the framed magazine cover, which was not permitted to be displayed in the public areas of the house, and offered a feeble smile to his wife, who had banished the hard-won trophy to his closet.
“Zip me,” she said with a clumsy pirouette, showing him her back, from which sagged the glittery flaps of a too-tight cocktail dress.