phinoise—when did I get to eat anything like that? I was disappointed to
be sent off before they cut the wedding cake, with its tiers of buttercream
flowers, and I considered (just for a second) having Phoebe wait in the
car; she could read a book. But we left together, and I said to my sister,
“Great party, have a great honeymoon.”
I was too drunk to drive and so was Phoebe (we knew that much),
and I parked two blocks away from the banquet hall and we slept in the
Beetle. I woke in the darkest hour of the night, too tall to be curled in
that seat, not happy with Phoebe. They weren’t her family, she had no
right. Though no one had made me bring her. I had a surge of disdain
for all of us at the wedding, the entire human cluster of us, muttering
and pretending and blaring our opinions; I thought the whole notion of
families was misguided and false.
I wouldn’t let Phoebe apologize either, when she woke up and felt bad.
“I could send them a letter,” she said. “Give me the address, I can write.”
“Leave it,” I said. “Don’t make it worse.”
I wasn’t going back. The whole episode, which had not been their
fault, made me want to stay away from the entire mess of it, as far as I
could. To keep on as I was, apart from them. But what did I think then—
that I could be a person without what are called ties of blood? I did think
that. And I could be, as it turned out; I made my way like that. It made
no sense in most parts of the world. No parents, no wife, no children?
People all over the planet were amazed.
On the way home with Phoebe, I said she’d been right to yell about how
no one cared how many children were starving in America. But then we
had an argument about the royal family of Britain. I made a crack about
an aunt of mine acting like the Duchess of Windsor, and Phoebe said the
duchess had been a Nazi, and I said, “I don’t think so.”
“You think I can’t ever, ever know anything,” Phoebe said.
What did I care? It was like the fights people have in bars, where
they get violent over half-known facts. We squabbled and sniped until
we stopped for coffee off the highway. “Look it up,” she said, and then
we ordered chocolate donuts and tried to remember that we liked each
other. In fact, we were never the same as a couple.
I had to go to the library a few days later to read in the Encyclopedia
Britannica that the duke and duchess had visited prewar Germany and