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
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Arts and Entertainment
Serial suspect: the property heir charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst
TV review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Igarashi in her

Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression

Arts and Entertainment
Could Ed Sheeran conquer the Seven Kingdoms? He could easily pass for a Greyjoy like Alfie Allen's character (right)

tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros

Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce, Boris Johnson, Putin, Nigel Farage, Russell Brand and Andy Murray all get the Spitting Image treatment from Newzoids
tvReview: The sketches need to be very short and very sharp as puppets are not intrinsically funny
Arts and Entertainment
Despite the controversy it caused, Mile Cyrus' 'Wrecking Ball' video won multiple awards
musicPoll reveals over 70% of the British public believe sexually explicit music videos should get ratings
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister and Ian Beattie as Meryn Trant in the fifth season of Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment

book review
Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Far Right and Proud: Reggies Yates' Extreme Russia

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West was mobbed in Armenia after jumping into a lake

music
Arts and Entertainment
The show suffers from its own appeal, being so good as to create an appetite in its viewers that is difficult to sate in a ten episode series

Game of Thrones reviewFirst look at season five contains some spoilers
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench and Kevin Spacey on the Red Carpet for 2015's Olivier Awards

Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awards

Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Proving his metal: Ross Poldark (played by Aidan Turner in the BBC series) epitomises the risk-taking spirit of 18th-century mine owners

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne is reportedly favourite to play Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

film
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars in dystopian action thriller Mad Max: Fury Road

film
Arts and Entertainment
Josh, 22, made his first million from the game MinoMonsters

Grace Dent

Channel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
News
Disgraced Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson
people
Arts and Entertainment
Game face: Zoë Kravitz, Bruce Greenwood and Ethan Hawke in ‘Good Kill’

film review

Arts and Entertainment
Living like there’s no tomorrow: Jon Hamm as Don Draper in the final season of ‘Mad Men’

TV review

  • Get to the point
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.

    Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

    Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

    His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
    'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

    Open letter to David Cameron

    Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
    Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

    You don't say!

    Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
    Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

    So what is Mubi?

    Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
    The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

    The hardest job in theatre?

    How to follow Kevin Spacey
    Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

    Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

    To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
    Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

    'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

    The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
    Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

    This human tragedy has been brewing for years

    EU states can't say they were not warned
    Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

    Women's sportswear

    From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
    Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

    Clinton's clothes

    Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders