From "Wenlock Edge" in Alice Munro's new collection, Too Much Happiness, just out today...
My mother had a bachelor cousin a good deal younger than her, who used to visit us on the farm every summer. He brought along his mother, Aunt Nell Botts. His own name was Ernie Botts. He was a tall, florid man with a good-natured expression, a big square face, and fair curly hair springing straight up from his forehead. His hands, his fingernails were as clean as soap itself; his hips were a little plump. My name for him--when he was not around--was Earnest Bottom. I had a mean tongue.
But I meant no harm. Or hardly any harm.
After Aunt Nell Botts died Ernie did not come to visit anymore, but he always sent a Christmas card.
When I started college in the city where he lived, he began a custom of taking me out to dinner every other Sunday evening. He did this because I was a relative--it's unlikely that he even considered whether we were suited to spending time together. He always took me to the same place, a restaurant called the Old Chelsea, which was on the second floor of a building, looking down on Dundas Street. It had velvet curtains, white tablecloths, little rose-shaded lamps on the tables. It probably cost more, strictly speaking, than he could afford, but I did not think of that, having a country girl's notion that all men who lived in the city, wore a suit every day, and sported such clean fingernails had reached a level of prosperity where indulgences like this were a matter of course.
I always ordered the most exotic offering on the menu--chicken vol au vent or duck a l'orange --while he always ate roast beef. Desserts were wheeled up to the table on a dinner wagon: a tall coconut cake, custard tarts topped with strawberries, even out of season, chocolate-coated pastry horns full of whipped cream. I took a long time choosing, like a five-year-old trying to decide between flavors of ice cream, and then on Monday I had to fast all day, to make up for such gorging.