The bag was passed around and we all took our pinches. It turned out the cheese was also a pretty good match for both the port and the burgundy. Soon, the pinches grew to handfuls, the sips turned into gulps, and, as the candles burned down, the gossip became philosophical discussion.
I have seen David drunk three times in as many years. Every person has a drunk personality, that behavior which surfaces when his inhibitions are stripped away. I have watched alcohol transform people into belligerent assholes, weepy depressives, bawdy sluts, and incapable two-year-olds.
David happens to be one of the few, much cherished, "adorable drunks" in my life -- when all liquored up, he is smily, giggly, and gregarious. I hadn't yet realized that this was the drunkest I had ever seen him. After all, he was hardly slurring his words; I remembered one night in particular when he had tried to express his frustration at the lack of cooperation he was getting from his lips. Hearing him mutter messy words about slurring had me laughing, and then, when he reacted with a pout, I only laughed harder.
Jennifer and Ollie left before midnight, and it wasn't long before both David and I were snoring. I was jerked awake by a frightening sound at 4 a.m. Had a dog been hit by a car? Had construction on the building next door started early? There it was again, a guttural wail, and I followed the noise to the bathroom, where I found David on hands and knees before the toilet.
He looked up at me, confusion on his face, like a sick child unsure of what he did to deserve such agony. He had ripped the toilet-paper holder from the wall as he tried to balance himself; this was probably the first sound that had stirred me from my drunken slumber.
"I don't feel so good," he said in a pathetic whimper. Never in my life have I experienced the overwhelming maternal instinct that came over me then. I dropped to my knees on the shaggy bathroom rug and wrapped my arms around David's naked torso. Stroking his smoothly shaven head over and over, I whispered in his ear, "I know, baby, shhhh, I know." I wanted to do anything I could to take his pain away.
I maneuver my pillow again to block the sunlight's advance across the bed. Though David is still hurting today, my own pain distracts me. This morning, after David shared that he hadn't vomited in over ten years, I got up to get us some water. I hesitated to go downstairs, holding onto the hope that maybe everything after the bar had been a dream; that David had not busted into his burgundy just to find it had gone bad, that he had not wallowed in the depravity of over-processed shredded cheese in a bag.
But, as I reached the last step, all hope vanished. There, by the door, so far from where we had sat, was one small, dried-out cheese shred. I grabbed two bottles of water and, trying to avoid the additional cheese piles, empty bottles, and dirty wine glasses, I ran back upstairs and dove under the covers.