I find it funny that my parents would often go to a place called a “party store”. They went nearly every day, and they did seem to try to make it into a party. Like they were trying to settle on exactly right supplies and then they could guarantee a good time.

My dad would cash his check (and pay a fee for the privilege), then get some beer, vodka, candy, lottery tickets, rolling papers, pork rinds and cigarettes. Maybe one of those sandwiches that looked weird and smashy under the plastic. Perhaps a Hustler or some aspirin. All the things that people really should live without. All bad habits located in the neon lighting of the hedonistic pleasure palace that doubled as a handy bank.

He would come out with a paper bag, jammed with “goodies” that could end a life a little faster. They would stash the stuff in the “end table”. How fitting. Right next to the place where they would be spending most of the day. Close to the remote. Next to a box of tissue, an ashtray, some cigarettes and a lighter, and other personal, usually destructive paraphernalia. They would dig in. Consume. Smoke and drink and bitch until bedtime.

I always wanted to ask the storeowner if he knew what went on when that paper bag made it back to our house. But of course he did. He always grinned when my dad came in. He always called him by name.

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