It is the early 1980's, the holiday season and I am living in San Francisco. At the first of the year I will become a victim of downsizing, although that term was not coined at that time. Due to a merger our department had become "superfluous" and had been "deleted". My roommate at the time, and dear friend to this day, is going to visit his family in Ludlow, Kentucky. It's a small town just across the river from Cincinnati. Since, depending on the job I may eventually land, it could be some time before I have another opportunity to take a paid vacation, and I would have a free place to stay, I decide to join him for the week leading up to Christmas. I plan to return Christmas Eve to spend the holiday with my family in the sprawling suburbs of the East Bay.
My roommate's sister and brother in law, who will be flying out a couple of days later, drive us to the airport. This Christmas trip is something of a pilgrimage for them. My roommate's father is quite ill and in a steep decline.
We arrive at the airport, check our bags and stop at one of the restaurants there for a celebratory dinner of crab and white wine. We then make our way to the gate and arrive at the plane...three minutes after they have closed the door. After pulling out our diva personas; long before the slang term "diva" was coined; at the desk we are booked on the next flight out. This will have us arriving quite early in the morning. We go to a bar and get drunk waiting for our replacement flight.
Thankfully, between the late hour and the alcohol, I sleep through the majority of the flight and have most of my wits about me as we land. My roommate's mother picks us up and drives us the short distance to her home giving me my first look at the Cincinnati skyline across the river.
Her home is well kept and modest, as is the town of Ludlow. The town's one claim to fame is that Adrian Belew, a somewhat noted new wave musician, lived there and attended the same high school as my roommate and his sister. As soon as we are inside she insists on doing our laundry. Being a very fastidious traveler, my clothes are all fresh washed and pressed. My roommate is somewhat less fussy. He opens his suitcase and hands her everything therein. To pack for this trip he had opened a suitcase on his bed, picked up all the clothes and shoes that were strewn about his room and dumped them in it. This resulted in the tangled mess he presented to his mother that morning. That he did not end up in Ohio with mismatched socks or shoes is still a wonder to me. I point out that the only thing I have with me that is "dirty" are the jeans I wore on the plane, which I still have on. "Give them to her or she will never shut up" advises my roommate. I changed my pants and handed over the jeans.