As I performed my task I thought of my mother. To this day when I stay at my folks’ I am roused by the clattering sound of her emptying the dishwasher and moving about the kitchen on the opposite end of the house from my old bedroom/now guestroom, accompanied by the gurgle of the ancient yellowed Mr. Coffee slowly dribbling out black gold, tentacles of fumes slithering under the closed door to tickle me awake. No notions of cat burglars for her. These days she sounds more like an old bear shuffling around with abandon.
My first hangover I woke to those same sounds. I was in high school, about this time of year, and there was a kegger in a huge barn, ironically right across the street from the Navy base. Kids I knew from school were strewn about the place, hay, beer, and hormones everywhere. There was a bathroom in the house a short walk from the barn where two or three adults, maybe grandparents by the looks of them, watched TV in a darkened room and assessed me with polite indifference as I asked for the bathroom. It was a bit surreal for me. I didn’t realize I was actually drunk until I was walking, with perfect posture, down the hall, my hand on a wall beneath framed family photos to steady myself.
I repeated this in my own hallway the next morning, barely making it to the golden velour couch in our living room after the Summons of the Dishes that signaled the house it was time to get up. I lay like death while the claxon sounds of my mother pulling pans out assaulted me. Next came a fleet of nauseating smells: the fat-popping of bacon cooking, followed by hissing eggs sliding into the pan. My parents knew I was hung-over, though our family dynamics were never such that they actually asked, nor did I offer. They just carried on like the Cunninghams on Happy Days, torturing me by bringing me a plate of glistening bacon and slick eggs and a sad looking piece of toast with flavorless margarine.