Debbie Goss is laughing about the small storm she stirred at her sister's baby shower in February, when, newly wed to contractor Chip Goss and three months pregnant, she had four gin and tonics in about an hour and started loudly referring to herself as Debbie Schmidt, her maiden name. Startled friends and relatives feared her marriage might be falling apart. "Either that or she'd become one of them feminist type-a women who don't shave their armpits," explains Chesley Turner, a longtime family friend of the Gosses. "But that old girl sure can handle her liquor, I'll tell you what. Puts the rest of us to shame."

Family members worried that she was shucking her proud identity as a married woman.

"I spent goddamn near my life's savings on that wedding," says her father George Schmidt, a retired electrician. "I'll be damned if I'm gonna sit back and watch all those hard-earned dollars go to shit just 'cause Debbie's too goddamn stubborn to live with a man. Real nice fella, too. Hard-workin'. And just a real nice guy."

But Debbie knew exactly what she was doing. "I did it so them fools'd wake up and smell the shit hittin' the fan. That sorry-ass husband of mine hasn't been around here in weeks. Daddy says he's such a hard worker - well he's working somebody pretty hard right about now, as far as I can tell." She chuckles bitterly and scrapes at the stain her whiskey and Coke is making on her cedar chest that doubles as a coffee table.

What this 23-year-old housewife lacks in height - she's barely 5 feet tall - she makes up for in sheer force of will. "I was a real bitch before I got married," she says. "When I was growing up, Kinston was mine. I owned it. Everybody knew that if they crossed me, they'd be one sore-ass, black-and-blue motherfucker."

Her inherent sense of style stood her in good stead when she and Chip purchased their 1,000-square-foot bungalow, set on a weed-covered acre down I-40 just past Goldsboro. "I like having things in my house that make people go, 'What in the fuck is this?'" She picks up an ashtray shaped like a pair of breasts. "Chip jokes that there's nothing he likes better than puttin' his fire out between some titties." Debbie's smile dissolves into a look of outright scorn. "That sorry son of a bitch likes it better than comin' home to his pregnant wife, as it turns out."

Next ... Debbie's unique sense of design on display!

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