Five-Minute Memoir: Andrew Kaufman recalls the day a friendship went wrong

 

The trip wasn't about celebrating Cinco de Mayo. I wasn't even sure what Cinco de Mayo was. Few people in south-western Ontario, the industrial heartland of Canada, did. All I knew for sure was that it was both American and Mexican, which seemed like an odd combination, interesting but potentially volatile.

The real reason Debbie and I'd borrowed a car, spent what should have been rent money in the off-licence, then drove three and a half hours from Toronto to London, Ontario, wasn't because she'd heard that David Montgomery was having a Cinco de Mayo party – it was because Debbie hadn't seen David in about four years and I hadn't even talked to him in about nine. And we both missed him like crazy.

It's easier to explain Debbie's relationship to David than mine. They met at secondary school. They'd hitchhiked across Canada and then down through the American South. In 1987, when I moved from the small nowhere town of Wingham, Ontario, to go to university in the small nowhere city of Kitchener, I met Debbie in an English class. She took me home. Her and David were already living together. They were the first couple I'd ever met who were living unwed. This seemed radical at the time. Not that they were doing it – everybody was doing it – but that they were so open about it. Their parents knew. One of them didn't keep some stuff in a room on the other side of town just to keep up appearances. They had a pet rabbit, a hookah, and an ability to score great seats to the best shows. They took me to see the Pixies, Jane's Addiction, the Grateful Dead. The first time I ever got high was in their living room. The first time I ever felt cool was when I realised that I'd become their friend.

I was 21 when they broke up. We'd gone to Debbie's cottage. They'd started arguing about who'd forgotten the potatoes. They were arguing a lot. This argument was different, cruel. Debbie stormed away. David didn't go outside to comfort her. So I did.

The break-up was hard on him. He slept on a sequence of our couches for a while. Then I lost track of him. As we drove through the outskirts of London, I was four months from turning 30.

We parked in front of the address Debbie had got from the same guy who'd told her about the party. Giggling, we gathered up our booze and headed for the door. The party was raging. David didn't know we were coming, but once inside, it was us who got the surprise. The place was a dump, filled with secondhand furniture. Now we all lived in dumps, filled with secondhand furniture, but this was different. The floor was dirty. The armchairs lacked arms. This wasn't like David. He had never needed money to make his surroundings beautiful. These surroundings were not beautiful. Neither were the guests. Like the furniture, they were worn, dirty, and seemingly broken.

We met David in the middle of the living room. He was very thin. For a long time he just stood and stared. Then he hugged us, held us tight, as if he were making sure we were real. The conversation was hard at first. And then, just as we were all starting to relax, one of his buddies came up and tapped him on the shoulder. David, without excusing himself, turned and followed him downstairs to the basement.

They were gone for a long time. We decided to go down, too. Perhaps they were smoking marijuana, and if they were, I wouldn't say no. When we got to the bottom of the stairs the first thing I saw were the glass pipes. Then the butane lighters. Then my nose filled with the sharp acidic smell of crack-cocaine.

David waved us over. He offered me the pipe. This was the same man who'd turned me on to David Bowie, Kurt Vonnegut and magic mushrooms. What made me say no were his pupils. So large that they blocked out almost all the colour in his eyes, nothing but two ink-black full moons staring at me, asking me if I wanted to smoke some crack.

We were too drunk to go home. We slept on the living-room floor. In the morning, David and his buddies were still in the basement. I didn't say goodbye. I got into the car and I wept. This was the moment that the future turned into the present. What we were going to do with our lives had always been a decade away. But that wasn't true anymore. We were no longer en route, we'd arrived, and where David had landed was lonely and depressing and dark. It was so sad that it had happened, of all people, to David. What was even sadder was that I was willing to leave him behind.

'Born Weird' by Andrew Kaufman (The Friday Project) is available now in hardback. His novella, 'The Tiny Wife', is available now in paperback

Arts and Entertainment
The new Fondation Louis Vuitton in the Jardin d'Acclimatation in Paris
architecture

Arts and Entertainment
Richard E Grant as Simon Bricker and Elizabeth McGovern as Cora, Countess of Grantham
Downton

Arts and Entertainment
Lynda Bellingham stars in her last Oxo advert with on-screen husband Michael Redfern

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman

film
Arts and Entertainment
Clara takes the lead in 'Flatline' while the Doctor remains in the Tardis
tvReview: The 'Impossible Girl' earns some companion stripes... but she’s still annoying in 'Dr Who, Flatline'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Sean Harris in 'The Goob' film photocall, at the Venice International Film Festival 2014
filmThe Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Streisand is his true inspiration
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor contestant Fleur East
tvReview: Some lacklustre performances - but the usual frontrunners continue to excel
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Tuttle's installation in the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern
artAs two major London galleries put textiles in the spotlight, the poor relation of the creative world is getting recognition it deserves
Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman
film
Arts and Entertainment
On top of the world: Actress Cate Blanchett and author Richard Flanagan
artsRichard Flanagan's Man Booker win has put paid to the myth that antipodean artists lack culture
Arts and Entertainment
The Everyman, revamped by Haworth Tompkins
architectureIt beats strong shortlist that included the Shard, the Library of Birmingham, and the London Aquatics Centre
Arts and Entertainment
Justice is served: Robert Downey Jr, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jeremy Strong and Robert Duvall in ‘The Judge’

Film

Arts and Entertainment
Clive Owen (centre) in 'The Knick'

TV

Arts and Entertainment
J.K. Simmons , left, and Miles Teller in a scene from

Film

Arts and Entertainment
Team Tenacity pitch their fetching solar powered, mobile phone charging, heated, flashy jacket
tvReview: No one was safe as Lord Sugar shook things up
News
Owen said he finds films boring but Tom Hanks managed to hold his attention in Forrest Gump
arts
Arts and Entertainment
Bono and Apple CEO Tim Cook announced U2's surprise new album at the iPhone 6 launch
Music Album is set to enter UK top 40 at lowest chart position in 30 years
Arts and Entertainment
The Michael McIntyre Chat Show airs its first episode on Monday 10 March 2014
Comedy
Arts and Entertainment

Review

These heroes in a half shell should have been left in hibernation
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Flanagan with his novel, The Narrow Road to the Deep North
books'The Narrow Road to the Deep North' sees the writer become the third Australian to win the accolade
Arts and Entertainment
New diva of drama: Kristin Scott Thomas as Electra
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Daenerys Targaryen, played by Emilia Clarke, faces new problems

Sek, k'athjilari! (That’s “yes, definitely” to non-native speakers).

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Polly Morgan

art
Arts and Entertainment
The kid: (from left) Oona, Geraldine, Charlie and Eugene Chaplin

film
Arts and Entertainment
The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised

art
Arts and Entertainment

Review: Series 5, episode 4 Downton Abbey
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

    Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

    Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
    British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

    British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

    Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
    Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

    Salisbury ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities

    The city is home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, along with the world’s oldest mechanical clock
    Let's talk about loss

    We need to talk about loss

    Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
    Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

    Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

    Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
    Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

    'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

    If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
    James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
    Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

    Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

    Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
    Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

    Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

    Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
    How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

    How to dress with authority

    Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
    New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

    New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

    'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
    Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

    Tim Minchin interview

    For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
    Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
    Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

    Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

    Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album