Diana escaped slowly from a night of nightmares; dreadful dreams, strange and confused, of pornography and playboy bunnies, and herself in the middle, shameful and hateful. She was a commodity, bartered to the highest bidder, forced to perform on beds surrounded by drooling mailmen and beardless adolescents who criticized her looks. She shook her head to rid it of the last dregs of the dream, and jumped out of the site of her imaginary degradation.
The kitchen with its familiar, laughing faces was a relief. Adam and Matt had come up from Eugene for the weekend, making Amazon House reminiscent of years gone by. The group cohesion was remarkable for the last quarter of the twentieth century. It wasn't quite ten years after Animal House, but back then Matt and Myrine weren't together at all, and Lily and Adam were even more intermittent than they were with Lily in Portland and Adam in Eugene. And here they were making waffles in the kitchen together. The self-proclaimed dirty-dozen was quite an incestuous circle, resembling a best-friend identity cluster without the dogma. They weren't required to sleep with each other, they just did, some of them hitting a lot of bases over the years. In the Age of AIDS, it was very convenient; you knew all the people the other person had slept with long before you fell into bed with him yourself.
Things were not always rosy for the women of Amazon House and their significant others. Lily and Adam were repeatedly breaking up, a major tragedy every time. But perhaps all the theatricals were the secret of their success; their love stayed fresh because they were constantly starting over again. And Myrine and Matt -- that was little more than a convenient arrangement. They'd had the same circle of friends for almost a decade, and then somehow or another they had drifted together. Sooner or later they would drift apart.
"Mercy's coming over with the boys for brunch," Myrine announced as Diana entered the kitchen. "She called last night. She seems depressed."
"I would be too, with that husband," Diana said mercilessly.
Lily looked up from the waffle iron and inspected Diana. "But you're not doing so hot either, even without the husband. Why? Band?" Diana nodded.
"Diana's suffering from pre-minstrel syndrome," Myrine joked.
"More like post-minstrel," Matt added.
Diana grimaced. "Both, I guess."
"Some people have depressions," Adam complained. "I have theoretical physics!"
Diana got along better with Adam than with Matt, although she didn't always approve of the way he treated Lily. But while Matt frequently seemed not quite all there, Adam obviously was. His intense grey eyes drilled you rather than drifting off into the clouds. And even when he did drift off, he was obviously still on the ground, a muscular bundle of practical energy. Adam was quick and compact and opinionated. It was no wonder he and Lily had so many battles.
"Okay, okay!" Diana said, sitting down at the round table. "I'll try to put a more pleasant face on it. But I had such awful dreams last night, and all because of that stupid band."
Myrine brought the coffee over and sat down too, leaving the waffle batter to its own devices. "I know Reilly is a sleazeball, but that never gave you bad dreams before," she said.
"Not my old band, a different one, one I was checking out."
"What happened?" Matt asked.
"You guys are not going to believe this, but the second one had playboy bunnies plastered all over the walls of the practice room."
"Oh, brother," Myrine said, her voice dripping with disgust. "I hope you let them know what you thought of them."
"No, I didn't," Diana admitted.
Adam just let out his bellowing laugh.
"Come on, gimme a break," Diana pleaded. "I don't know what was the matter with me. I felt lamed. And then those nightmares, as if I were a porno queen."
"So now what?" Adam asked.
"I don't feel like going to any more bands for a while."
"Well, it's not as if the same thing will happen to you everywhere you go," Matt pointed out.
"Once is enough," Diana replied.
"Why don't you start your own band?" Lily asked.
"I doubt if Reilly would let me use the old practice room."
"You can practice in the garage," Myrine suggested.
"Are you guys sure you wouldn't mind?" Diana asked.
"If we do, we'll let you know," Myrine assured her.
"It would be a step down," Diana mused. "Back to garage bands. But it's an idea."
"Why don't you start and all-girl band?" Adam suggested. "At least then you'd be assured of not having to deal with any male chauvinist pigs."
Diana looked at him, her expression clearing. "Hey, you know, that's not a bad idea at all!"