Growing up next them was a strange experience and I was glad when they were gone.
The mother was a born-again Christian who preached the Bible at every turn and saw the devil in everyone and everything. It was hard to be near her. The father was a closet porn addict. He kept VHS videos in the ceiling tiles until he was discovered. When they were still using dial up internet the phone line would ring busy. His kids would call our house asking us to knock on the door, ask us to remind him that they needed to be picked up. No one in that house ever questioned what he was doing. He was a terrifying presence. He was terrifying right up until his porn was discovered. Then the mother went really crazy, then she became the terrifying presence. Pretty soon he was attending church on Sunday and Bible study on Wednesday nights. They moved to a gorgeous new house and the computer was on the main floor in the new house.
The son was a mystery. He had begun smoking crack in the ninth grade and the person he might have been was never seen again. He was lost in the wilderness of his own mind. He became involved in Rasta culture and believed so many different things it was hard to keep track. I would get collect calls sometimes when he was incarcerated. He never made any sense. Usually he spent the 20 minutes in silence with me until the guard who was listening disconnected the call. He was in and out of jail a lot, always just shy of making it to the penitentiary. There is a kind of genius there, a criminal art. He had 4 children the last I heard, with a woman as lost as he was, who hated his father as much as he did.
When the three of them moved to the new house, the daughter and I lost contact. Then it was regained, but I forget how. I figure she knew her boyfriend was going to propose and so it was not a big surprise that she asked me to be the maid of honour. She needed me to host the bridal shower. It was very important to her mother that I host it at their new house. She didn't mind paying for it but she wanted to see me work. I decided to do a pink tea party style that her mother agreed with. I hand wrote all the invitations and got an ice cream cake with a scanned image on the top.
The mother wanted decorations, but nothing that would ruin her paint. She wanted an invitation sent to the bride but when it arrived she ripped the envelope it came in and asked for another. She told family members that she had to leave church early to clean the house, she said "I am not the maid of honour but I have to do all the work". Those words hurt me. There were 3 other bridesmaids but I guess all of them were too busy to help because they never returned my calls.
At the shower, the mother of the groom sat quietly in the corner drinking water. We played games and gave out prizes. We served lasagna and cut the cake and took pictures and opened presents. The father sat upstairs in the bedroom eating, watching television and got drunk. Halfway through he got lonely and came down to visit. At the end, the groom came and took the bride away. I remember one of the bridesmaids walked up to me at the end and suggested that we throw another bridal shower. I think I just stared at her. She seemed so young and vacant that I briefly wondered if she was on valium. When I mentioned this to the bride, she just laughed.
It was deep summer when the couple broke off the engagement. The groom had a separate life with a separate girlfriend and in this new life, he smoked. Shortly after that, the bride called me and told me that she didn't think that we could be friends anymore. She didn't think we had anything in common.