I had gone back home to Baltimore with my boyfriend. It was Christmas, or Thanksgiving, and my boyfriend was allergic to dogs. So, as my mother had two dogs at the time, we stayed with my mother's friend, this woman with the loudest voice you have ever heard, a woman I had never liked, and will never like, ever since the time she loudly mimicked our Chinese waiter at the Golden Dragon on Liberty Road when we were all there celebrating someone's birthday or graduation or whatever. What's more is her husband drank his soup instead of using his spoon, and my mother's friend screamed out, You were not raised in a barn, and then my brother threw up on the table from the MSG, and that, thankfully, was the end of that night.
On the way home, my brother lying across the back seat clutching his head, I told my mother that I couldn't stand her friend, and I called her a racist, but my mother convinced me that though, yes, her friend was, in fact, a bit of a racist, she was also a damn good friend who was there for her after the divorce, etc., and she reminded me of this, again, when I was visiting twenty or so years later with my boyfriend, when I bitched about having to stay with her friend, and my mother called me ungrateful and said her friend had even gone out of her way to stock her refrigerator with vegetarian things for me and my pain-in-the-ass allergic boyfriend. So be good, she said. Well, the vegetarian things, I must say, at the risk of sounding ungrateful, turned out to be, like, not even vegetarian. Like, there were these hotdogs made of chicken or something, which, in my opinion, was still meat. Anyway, it didn't matter, because it felt weird to be walking around the kitchen at night, in a strange house, when everyone else was asleep, and we could hear her husband snoring, and it was impossible not to laugh.
We were staying in the basement, and it was really cold down there, and, as it snowed that week and hard, we spent most of our time in that freezing basement, where there was, thank God, cable TV, and this hideous couch on which I slept. My boyfriend, much taller than I, slept on the floor. Anyway, what's important is that the basement was starting to depress us, all those crooked framed photos of their blank-faced kids, some yellowed diplomas, half a set of the encyclopedia Britannica, and so our last night there, we sneaked down a bottle of peppermint Schnapps from the makeshift liquor cabinet in the kitchen and drank nearly the whole damn thing, and my boyfriend fell asleep almost immediately. I was drunk, but not tired, and watched TV, and I managed, somehow, to find some porn, and I watched it from that pathetic couch. I could hear my boyfriend breathing, and this woman was on the TV having sex with two guys at once, and what's more important is I was sitting there, like any dumb pervert, like any old fuckup, a drink in my hand, the TV flashing on my face, sitting on this hideous couch in a hideous basement in the hideous Baltimore suburbs, feeling a type of power I had never, before this, felt.