Our mother always loved an audience when she conducted her auditions for the Maniac of the Year. She usually did not throw fits of rage unless there was more than one person present. Whether it was my sister as the audience or me, or a small group of friends of ours, or just a bunch of strangers at a public place, her behavior seemed to escalate in relation to the number of people in the audience. The bigger the crowd, the bigger the fit.
Sometimes she would fly into a rage at the grocery store in front of a crowd, sometimes it would be in a downtown store, and sometimes even on the streets. It was not a pretty sight and always caused quite a scene.
Maybe she was waiting to be offered a job in Hollywood as Cruella DeVille or Joan Crawford in Mommie Dearest. However, those roles had been taken. Her alcohol-fueled psychotic rages were always a scene and one that you did not want repeated.
Abby and I would cringe as she got wound up for her routine. We were the target and so could not escape as she released the poison arrows.
After one of these fits, Mother was so exhausted that she needed to rest, starting with a cigarette and a drink or two. Back home we would head so she could get her fix. Abby and I found the more drinking she did, she either slept (passed out, in reality) or became morose. The worst was when she began her out of control sobbing and blubbering. She could cry you a river and a sea! With tears flowing, she would try to apologize to Abby and me.
We had witnessed this behavior so often and knew it was not sincere and so after several such performances we usually just said something like, “Whatever.” Mother continued this behavior until her final days and we knew that though not sincere, she was simply caught in a downward spiral of bad habits and bad booze.