I sleep late, get up after one, and am happy to see that Rob and Jessica have cleaned up for the most part. In fact, it’s Jessica’s vacuuming that wakes me up. I wander about, checking out the state of the house, and I’m impressed.The keg is ready to be returned, and 8 big green trash bags, filled to capacity are lined up against the garage wall. It’s a cold, gray day outside. I offer to bring the keg back, but Rob says he’s got it. After I shower and come to life, I grab a couple of slices of the pizza Rob ordered from Little A’s,along with a big glass of water and two aspirins, and go down to the rec room to eat and watch tv. I catch a ‘One Day At A Time’ rerun. Evidently Schneider- he of the tool-belt and giant, jangling keychain, accidentally breaks Barbara Cooper’s nose, by opening a door into her face. So now, because perfect, girl-next-door Barbara is rendered ‘fake ugly’- (on tv, a bandage on your nose renders you ugly, as well as glasses) it appears she will learn a lot of deep lessons about life, beauty and how ‘it’s what’s inside that counts’. This is Brady Bunch territory, and it begs to be mocked. If only someone was here to appreciate my hilarious wisecracks. About how Barbara survived being ‘fake ugly’ for thirty minutes. Trooper that she is.
About halfway through, I hear the doorbell (Mark Meyers, with a delirious hangover, pops open a Budweiser and calls the first ‘Cheers’ of the day) and the phone begins to ring as our comrades begin to wake. Rob yells downstairs that I have a call, and I pick up the receiver on the yellow rotary phone next to the couch.
“Hello?” I say, holding the phone under my chin while I light a Newport.
“If you don’t come and get me, we can’t get those imports!” Finn says, skipping the small talk. This shorthand is the way Finn deals with awkward situations, and we’ve certainly had ‘tiffs’ before. I have to decide how to play this in a split second. Should I act mad, or just let it go? I really do want to hear those new tapes, and wouldn’t mind getting out for awhile. Yesterday seems so long ago anyway.
“I’ll be there in like a half hour” I say, and taking a cue from Rob’s book I add, ‘so be ready”, and hang up the phone. I take a drag off my cigarette and listen to Bonnie Franklin eschew the virtues of ‘what’s inside’….If only life had a script and cheesy writers. (If anyone had told me then, that Barbara Cooper would soon be marrying Eddie Van Halen in real life! and that Victoria would be rooming with McKenzie Phillips in Hollywood- I would have fainted!) I realize I have a warm feeling in my heart, and it’s either heartburn from the pizza, or -more likely-the fact that Finn and I have ‘righted the boat’ so to speak, and all is well in our friendship. I blow a few smoke rings and smile.
A few minutes later,I go upstairs to tell Rob I’m going out, and that I’ll be back. He’s sitting at the kitchen table with Jessica and Mark. Since Jessica is facing away from me, at the head of the table,and my brother’s facing me, I give him a quick, wide-eyed ‘wtf was that?’ look, and just in case he doesn’t get it I mouth “What the fuck was that?” and hold my hands out sideways, like a waitress holding invisible plates. Rob shrugs his shoulders and puts his middle finger up to his lips for a second, and immediately acts like he’s scratching his upper lip. I can’t wait to get him alone because I’m going to go off, not just for me, but for womankind everywhere. (I really believe this)
Mark, ever the toastmaster, says ‘Sit down! Take a load off!’ and pulls out the chair next to him. “Ooookay….Whatever!” I sit, folding my hands on top of the table and sigh. We all laugh, and slowly begin to rehash some of the funnier moments from last night. I tell them about Darla’s sliding on the ice, Jessica talks about the indoor football game and the toppled lamp, Mark says he jumped off the upper deck into the snow, a story below (??!) and Rob says the dancing was pretty hysterical, and reminded him of Charlie Brown’s Christmas special. “Oh my God!” I laugh, ‘and then-on top of it all!- I’m dead asleep and Rah-” I almost tell the Rob/Darla story! To Jessica! My brain skids to a stop, luckily ahead of my mouth. Three sets of eyes are on me. “Well, it-it- was good to be asleep!” I stammer I’ve just told the most enthusiastic non-story in history, and two people in my audience are feeling let down, while one is extremely relieved.
“Welp! I’m off to Graff’s” I say, sliding my chair out and standing up..I grab my mix tapes from the off the top of the living room stereo, and toss them into my purse. “Sure you don’t want me to return that keg and tap?” I ask Rob at the kitchen doorway.
“Nah- I need to get my deposit and all of that. Plus I want to see Tom, and get more beer” he says. Of coarse you do.
“K-I’ll be back here later. I’ll make sure the room is perfect before I leave tomorrow, too” I say, referring to Faye and Dad’s boudoir. Rob nods. “Leave the key under the mat if your not going to be here?”
“Oh, I’ll be here!” Rob says. Jessica and Mark both say that they’ll be here as well. We’re all just like a big, happy family. Sort of. If only we could support ourselves-pay mortgages and light bills and grocery shop. Life would be like this 24/7. One big party.
After I bundle up, I walk out into the freezing air, get into the Caddy, and back out of the driveway. I rifle through my purse and spill my tapes onto the seat next to me. I slide one one into the deck, and am more than happy to hear AC/DC ‘Sin City’ already in progress. I push rewind, looking for the start of the song. It takes several tries- first I go too far back, then too far forward, but eventually I get it lined up. I’m ready to rock all the way over to Finns, and crank it to eleven. It’s all good.