You come home from your clandestine dalliance with your vapid yet voluptuous coworker to find your girlfriend, Dawn, and four of her friends sitting in lawn chairs in the front yard. Their chairs form a semi-circle around a tall pile of your belongings: your clothes, your furniture, your electronics. Tossed to the side of the pile is an open bottle of lighter fluid. You correctly assume it is empty.
You hop down from the cab of your pickup and make your way across the yard under the scornful gaze of Dawn’s friends. Dawn herself simply stares pensively at the pile of your stuff in front of her. You stand at the opposite end of the pile from Dawn, and you can’t help but feel you are being judged by some vengeful Amazonian council.
“What’s all this?” you ask her.
Dawn looks up at you but does not speak. Maintaining her silence, she produces a pack of cigarettes and a lighter from her blouse pocket. She removes a single cigarette from the box, holds it between her lips, and lights it. She takes a long, slow drag from the cigarette and exhales the smoke in your general direction.
“When did you start smoking again?” you inquire accusingly.
“Brad, Brad, Brad.” Dawn repeats the mantra of your name, breaking her silence. “You know what your problem is? Well, one of your many problems? You’re too concerned with when and if people do things, instead of why people do things.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Well, Brad, I’m talking about you cavorting with that little girl you work with, who I would call a slut, only I’m sure she has no idea that you have a girlfriend.”
“No, no, Brad,” Dawn interrupts, waving a hand at you in protest, “you’ll have to let me finish, I insist. I’ve just put too much work into this to let you ruin it like you’ve ruined our relationship. Now, where was I? Oh yes, you aren’t concerned with why people do things. For example, why is Tameka,” she pauses, gesturing at the friend seated to her far left, “holding a bag of marshmallows? Why is Joan,” Dawn sweeps her hand to the friend at her immediate right, “currently straightening five coat-hangers? Why does Allie have a lap full of hot dogs?”
You stare at Dawn in silence. You break into a cold sweat.
“The answer to all these questions is obvious, Brad, and the sweat coming off your forehead shows you’ve puzzled out the answer to your original question. I still think your second question, ‘when did I start smoking again’ was the wrong one. I want you to ask the right question, Brad. I want you to ask why.”
“Uhh-“ you mumble.
“Use your words, Brad,” Dawn says in her best condescending teacher voice.
You roll your eyes and bite your lower lip, but eventually you relent. “Dawn, why did you start smoking again?”
“For dramatic effect,” she says, and flicks the lit cigarette onto the pile of your possessions. Instantly, almost everything you own is engulfed in flame. “Welcome to my barbeque, motherfucker.”