MINNEAPOLISArea couple Gene Hayter and Amy Peterman spent most of Sunday tenderly helping each other nurse massive hangovers, unaware that they broke up in a bitter, alcohol-fueled rage during the night.
"Man, we must've really tore it up, that's all I can say," Hayter said, his voice raw from Jack Daniel's, cigarettes, and, unbeknownst to him, shrieked accusations of infidelity. "I woke up on Amy's couch, of all places, with a beer bottle in my hand and this terrible feeling, like I wanted to cry myself to death. To top things off, when I pulled myself up to go crawl into bed with Amy, I stepped in broken glass."
Hayter said that either he or Peterman, whom he started dating in August 2001, must have drunkenly knocked a framed photo of the couple off the coffee table and smashed it all over the bedroom floor.
"It's too bad, too, because Ames and I have always considered that particular photo symbolic of our relationship," Hayter said. "I tell you, I must've had a great time last night. I just hope it was worth hosting this fucking hammer party in my skull."
Peterman did not remember anything of the breakup, either. Carefully stepping around the piles of debris in the apartment, she attended to her nausea and rubbed an abrasion on her finger where she had yanked off her promise ring in anger.
"Oh, my poor head," Peterman said. "I would've liked to have slept off my hangover, but my friend Nora called me at the crack of dawn. She wanted to know if I was 'okay,' and if I knew where Gene was. She kept asking me if I needed to talk. I was, like, 'No, I don't want to talk. My head is killing me.'"
"She was kinda weirding me out, actually," Peterman added. "Gene says she was probably still drunk."
The couple spent the morning staggering around the apartment, surveying the damage.
"Why are all of Gene's clothes piled in the middle of the room like that, and what's that smell?" Peterman asked, unaware that she had heaped his clothes on the floor and doused them in lighter fluid. "Did he spill vodka on them or something? God, I feel like shit."
Patting each other tenderly and engaging in other forms of non-verbal communication that revealed years of familiarity, the affectionate couple was nothing like the screaming drunks who had spent an hour the night before hashing out their sexual-incompatibility issues in front of a group of mutual friends at their neighborhood bar.
"I stopped by expecting to find Amy distraught over the breakup," Peterman's childhood friend Mary Swaney said. "But I walked in and found her and Gene cuddling under a blanket and watching Law & Order. Gene didn't seem to even realize that he had a black eye, let alone who gave it to him."
"Gene called to say they wouldn't be meeting the gang for brunch, and I was thinking, 'No duh,'" said Hayter's best friend Jack McVeigh, who had spent 90 minutes the previous night talking Hayter out of heading to the airport and boarding a plane to the mountains. "But when he said he and 'Ames' were just going to eat cinnamon toast and listen to records, I realized they wanted to spend the day making up."
"I don't know how to tell him I have his Swiss Army knife," McVeigh added. "I took it off his key ring last night, because I wasn't 100 percent sure he could be trusted with it."
As of press time, neither Hayter nor Peterman exhibited the slightest recollection of the emotional content of the drinking binge.
"I'm glad I have you, Amy," Hayter said, cuddling closer to Peterman underneath the very blanket he had used to deflect her blows the night before. "I just want to hide from the loud, demanding world and snuggle for the rest of the day."
"Me, too," Peterman said, as she bemusedly extracted a letter opener from between the couch cushions. "We can check and see what those 14 answering-machine messages are all about after we're feeling better."