I was awakened this Thanksgiving to a hovering helicopter circling with a policeman yelling through a megaphone. “Beware of twenty year old bald male with a neck tattoo. Dark hair and dark jeans. Stabbing suspect. You know who you are. Surrender yourself immediately.” It’s not every day that I hear a vocal distribution from the sky waking all the holiday sleeper-inners while frightening us. That went on for about an hour into my thankfulness. It just fit in nicely with all the other startling suburban scares.
Then of course there was that power outage the night before, taking my part in global warming that affected my refrigerator. So along with the traditional holiday feast, I also served thawed fish, pork chops, ground beef, and melted ice cubes. I have not cooked a Thanksgiving dinner since the Kennedy administration. So I started around 5am to make sure the turkey was on the table no later than midnight. I was doing fine until I attempted some simple microwaving. I had a container in the freezer half full of leftover chicken broth. You know, those cardboard containers with the spout that substitutes the can. I needed to liquidize the broth for my stuffing, so I placed it in the microwave not realizing it was lined in foil. Next thing I see is sparks lighting up the kitchen like New Years Eve in Times Square. I lunged towards the electromagnetic device vehemently with the mobility of Road Runner, pulling out the flaming container. My daughter who was visiting said, “So how’s it going Betty Crocker? Burning the house down before we get a chance to taste the giblets?” She started to humor me by drowning out the sounds of the smoke alarms by playing the Talking Heads and picking the song “Burning Down the House.“
She would have helped me with my meat and five side dish multi-tasking, but she’s allergic to labor. So I put her on KP cleanup. Flaming anything coming from a kitchen does not have a desired welcoming effect. I’m such a compromiser though. I can substitute grape nuts for kitty litter in a pinch. I can also substitute chicken broth for water, or whiskey. Guess which one I chose. I only get upset on two occasions. When a tiny fly starts swimming in my shot glass, and when the house smells like charred packaged chicken broth. Oh yeah. And when samplers are standing in the kitchen the whole time I’m cooking. My perfect pumpkin pie was decorated with fork marks long before dessert was served.
I don’t know how Emeril does it. Restauranteur, television personality, chef extraordinaire, super sauté-er. Flies through the kitchen with the greatest of ease. Was even chosen by Nasa to improve their food supply. Generates a hundred and fifty million in revenue for cooking turkeys, when I have to do it for free. Not fair. Of course I didn’t work in a Portugese bakery as a teen where I mastered the art of pastry making. I was partying like a rock star. Luckily I’m still alive to talk about it.
We were all doing fine at our feastly dinner until we watched Reversal of Portion. I contracted something known as breastorexia. A condition in which no matter how full a person’s plate is, it’s never enough. You bet my sweet potatoes I went for seconds, and thirds. I had been looking for a way to pack on ten more pounds and I found it. They’ll make amazing progress in the field of dieting if they remove all fowl from the planet. But I began feeling sappy when I was eating the beautiful dead bird. I couldn’t have felt more saddened if someone had gunned down Kris Kringle.
I was ready to take that whiskey a little more seriously. The rest was a bit of a blur. All I know is that I started buttering my napkin instead of my bun. I either needed my glasses, or a confirmed Dementia diagnosis. I remember some of the stimulating conversation. The weather, work, our rights to bear arms, how the rain in Spain stays mainly in the low lying areas. Replaying all my yearly mistakes, my parenting mistakes, my gravy mistake. But as I always say, the deadline for all complaints was last week. Hopefully I said I was grateful for my guests. Sorry I took that quick nap during dessert. I just hope I thanked my Creator, and my yoga instructor. I know I was thankful for the Chatty Cathy doll I received for Christmas…. in 1958.
What normally takes fifteen minutes to clean the kitchen now takes six hours, and every Tupperware container in the house. I’m still doing dishes. And they will be completely finished when I get done doing the mambo and the mashed potato, and finishing the rest of the whiskey. Which by the way I forgot to add to the eggnog that’s still standing in the fridge. I just hope no bald twenty year old in dark hair and dark jeans interrupts me while I’m taking out five bags of trash, complicating my general Black Friday contemplation of all the things I can make with turkey, and eggnog. He just may leave me for dead, or force me to fork over my leftovers. But I must add, that this level of fearfullness does not require any threatening homo sapien riding around in a chopper, but rather two great big bullmastiffs. Maybe there’s a massive Black Friday sale at the pet store.
(P.S. Gratitude goes to my darling daughter Hannah for doing all the dishes without really being asked, and for my wonderful extended family Dianne and Peter for sharing the special day with us)