Which do you think it is?
I had just wrapped up another pizza and wine evening with my then-girlfriend and wanted to take a nice long bath. Later these baths would be my solace from our continued arguing. This bath was to be an extended luxuriating after a day of extended sloth.
The autumn weather had just set in and the dust literally began to settle in the small Nebraskan town. I spent nearly an hour cleaning the bathroom the day before, with the knowledge that I would end the weekend soaking in a tub of bubbles.
The remainder of the evening went something like this:
Light a few candles.
Begin filling the tub.
Go back to the bedroom for a fresh towel and PJs.
Turn on the tunes.
Head back to the bathroom.
Slip into a tub of freezing water.
Not exactly what I had had in mind. More than a few expletives were heard coming from the bathroom that evening. Someone had apparently forgotten to pay the gas bill. The gas bill was responsible for the water heater. She attempted to boost her popularity in the house via a variety of methods, most of which made up for the shock of cold water.
On the eve of a coworker’s wedding, a group of us headed to a local pub. “Pub” might not exactly be the word for this hole-in-the-wall bar in Mid-Michigan. We knew enough not to drink from the water stained glasses hanging above the top-shelf liquors.
Several drinks into the night, I had loosened up a bit. The second shift was over and the group gained momentum. Something had to give. The bartenders were getting bored. We were the only ones left in the bar. The shuffleboard table was ours. The dartboards were ours. The jukebox was ours.
Christine’s soon-to-be brother-in-law was the first to realize this. As any good out-of-towner might, he decided to take control of the situation by exchanging quarters for the first Violent Femmes songs the walls had heard since who-knows-when.
Never mix a German girl with more than her share of 7&7s, a crowd of comfortable strangers and memorized lyrics. It wasn’t pretty. I started dancing. He started dancing. A few of the others started dancing. Remember the little dance thing that accompanies the “When I’m a walking’ I strut my stuff and I’m so strung out…” lyrics from Blister in the Sun? Where everyone continues to do this scrunchy-twist thing (Yes, that’s the technical term.) until everyone jumps up and sings the chorus a few more times.
When I jumped up, I managed to knock my head on one of the lamps hanging over the shuffleboard table. I also managed to knock this guy’s drink out of his hand and into the face of the best man.
One black eye and a swollen cheek later… I think I pretty much ruined the wedding. At the very least, I know I ruined the photos.
I don’t remember being angry. It might have been just a little burst of energy. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that I was tired of eating “little golden nuggets”/carrots. Maybe the devil made me do it.
In the finite window after meals and before arguing over who “gets” to do the dishes, there was conversation. Like clockwork, Dad would head to the living room to watch the last of the national news before the local news began. I suppose it has something to do with gossip. Maybe it had more to do with avoiding homework.
My two sisters, mom and I would sit at the table and talk. Usually it was about nothing in particular; sometimes about schedules or the approaching weekend. Or one of us would make a snide comment about a member of the extended family and we’d sit and laugh until it hurt.
The conversation was somewhere between the day’s events and the joke about having three dishwashers, when I did it. She hadn’t said anything to offend me. The fork flew out of my hand and pierced my younger sister’s lip. Not a sharp fork. Not a shrimp fork. Just a regular fork. Out of my hand and through her lip. It had to have hurt.
For a split second, she stared at me in disbelief, before she removed the fork and started laughing. Did I start crying before she started laughing? Like a bad movie, the fork stuck. A single prong pierced her lip, years before it became a trend. I’m thankful that it wasn’t something sharper.