beverages-bottles-cocktail-alcohol-drinks-bottles-cocktail-alkohol I couldn’t tell if the explosive thuds were things being thrown around the room or body parts stumbling and bumping into the wall between us. The plaster was as thin as onion skin, and prone to revealing things better left hidden. This was one of those things.

Gina was in the next room of our apartment suite, a petite, well-toned athlete who balanced classes with a grueling soccer practice schedule and an ever-marinating social life.  Her boyfriend was Skip, a charismatic, funny guy who exuded an air of casual affluence and dressed like he had just hopped off a hammock at the Kennedy compound. They were adorable together, all puffy hair and perky conversation, compatible all the way down to their shared penchant for drinking themselves into a stupor.

They were together when I first met Gina a year ago, which by college standards was a long-term relationship.  I had seen them at the bars, stooped together with half-mast eyes and drooling, slurring lips. These were boozy, dizzy times, I myself was no stranger to intoxication and the embarrassing visuals that accompany it, but they seemed to spend more time towards the unconsciousness end of the spectrum than the rest of us.  They could often be found in the corner at last call, leaning on each other like a pair of cartoon hobos sharing a can of beans.

The darker side of their codependent romance was not apparent to me until I shared a house with four other girls and Gina was living next door. Through the wall played the soundtrack of their mumbled, spitting anger deep into the night and early morning.  They yelled and slapped and called each other names, remarkably enthusiastic for a couple teetering on the brink of alcohol poisoning, until they finally passed out.

“Fa nu!” Gina shrieked, “You shannna sarta marty coma don ma.” There was a silent pause, then a smash as something, probably a Scooby-Doo jelly jar glass, shattered against the floor.
“Nu treed go horo” Skip shouted in weary rage. The ground shook as a series of vibrations reported under my feet, and it was hard to tell if he was stomping or crumbling to the ground.
“FA NUUU!” she croaked back, her voice strained from a night that should have been over hours ago.

It went against every after-school special I had ever seen to simply lie there, listening and cringing but otherwise doing nothing, but the last time I had gotten involved I had gotten a lecture from my other roommate who seemed anxious to tell me it was none of my business and enjoy an opportunity to be judgmental.

“Gina’s really upset you did that” Shiela stated succinctly, “you need to apologize.”
“I just closed the door,” I defended.  That wasn’t entirely true.  I had been trying to sleep off my own liquor-fueled shenanigan-filled night and stormed over to Gina’s room after listening to them brawl until my brain begged for death. When I got to the doorway they were clutching each other by the shoulders like awkward sixth graders during a slow dance, each screaming simultaneously in the others face. Both had their eyes closed entirely and swayed back and forth, a shaky production of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf performed during an earthquake.

“Keep it down, you guys” I had grumbled, annoyed, just as Gina shoved Skip backwards. He fell onto her end table, upsetting the lamp which smashed and broke against the desk next to it.  A butterfly could have tipped his rum-soaked wobbly legs over, Gina hadn’t used much force, but he seemed shocked to find himself suddenly on the ground.  He looked dazed at me as I slammed the door closed and went back to bed, the strangeness of the scene playing in my mind. The violence, though sloppily enacted in slow-motion, was unsettling in it’s raw, ugly hostility, and the feeling stayed with me as I willed myself to sleep.

“I shouldn’t have busted in” I explained to Gina the next day, less apologizing than appeasing Shiela-the-enabling-she-wolf who became more anxious each minute I didn’t address how wrong I was to point out the war in the corner room.

“I get nervous when you guys get like that, I’m worried he could hurt you.”
“Yeah, it’s no big deal” Gina dismissed, “I don’t really remember it. If anything, we would kill each other” she laughed, as if that evened everything out, and as if her memory loss extended to everyone within earshot.

The angry noises next door suddenly jumped a decibel, and I put my pillow over my head to shut out the sound.  I hoped the tequila shots would soon do their job and render the lovers paralyzed so I could get some sleep before tomorrow’s Happy Hour, when it would all begin again.

 

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