She was in the liquor store a block away from my Aunt Martha’s Denver apartment. My boyfriend and I had gone to get some emergency thing for dinner. It was the evening after the Colorado State Final Forensics Tournament and I’d won second place in Original Oratory. It was a really big day for me. The woman was short and her bleached blond hair was permed but not combed. She was built like a little barrel. Her eyes were rimmed in red and watery blue. She was buying two half-gallons of vodka. We walked home with her, and my boyfriend (generally a pretty icky guy, or so I was to learn) helped her inside.
“What took you so long?” asked my mom.
“We met some lady in the liquor store who needed some help.”
“Some lush, probably,” said my aunt Martha. “This town is filled with widow-women who have plenty of money and nothing to do.” One of the main arguments my aunt used to inspire my mom to go back to teaching or, at least, get a job.
“Lush?” I thought. “That’s how my mom described Hawaii.”