Ah Thanksgiving – what a worthless holiday. Well, all right, not worthless – there is drinking. Thanksgiving has never proven successful at either thanks being given or sanity being maintained. In addition to a month’s worth of food, try and digest one of my favorite miserable stories:
Naomi’s Nightmare of Thanks
The year was 1894. Albert and my marriage had already proved itself a farce. He had invited his wicked sister and her dipsomaniacal husband for dinner; their offspring were already carving a life of villainy for themselves. And then there was the Grand Dame that Albert insisted on trotting out at every holiday to ensure every ounce of enjoyment would be sucked from it like a starving calf on a teat. Marisol was the flatulent, ill-tempered, hoary matriarch of the Grieg family who resembled a dehydrated chicken carcass in both appearance and odor. She was transferred from her Haunted Mansion on the hill to scare children as she paraded along the boulevard in her open topped car and planted in my seat at the dining table to pass judgment on all she saw before her; I was about as excited for this annual punishment as I am of a root canal.
So I took it upon myself to invite a few others to our stuffy home to make things more exciting. I invited Sylvia Grayton from the garden club who was as deep as an envelope and also as open. I invited the tennis instructor from the club so at least I would have something pretty to look at. I invited the Italian immigrants from down the street since they had never celebrated Thanksgiving and Albert, being the miserable, ignorant bastard he was, positively detested them. Simply for good measure, I extended an invitation to Albert’s girlfriend that he thought I still thought was his secretary. What possibly go wrong?
The perpetually nervous cook we had recently hired had, apparently, never cooked for more than 4 people at a time. The sheer number of those attending worked on her nerves from the moment I announced it. She bought a tonnage of food and promptly forgot how to cook it. Marisol was an hour late due to an aggravated discussion that transpired between she and the milk cart. Normally, I have no issue with Marisol’s absence but Albert insists we withhold from drink until Marisol deigns to arrive; you can imagine my very sober mood when she finally did.
Apparently I was the only one forced to refrain as Sylvia and her husband had found our liquor cabinet and they were imbibing out of a sugar spoon behind the sofa. When Marisol was placed beside him, Sylvia’s husband planted a kiss right on her lips and declared her “for Poughkeepsie!” Marisol demanded a tipple of sherry for her nerves but the cook had emptied the bottle into one of the side dishes. Hoping for a positive outcome, I gave her a thimbleful of brandy to make her more pleasant; I shot two fingers of bourbon to make her more pleasant as well.
Somewhere between their house and ours, Albert’s wicked sister Beatrice began caterwauling at her husband, something we could hear from three towns over. Their barrage of high decibel brawling continued until they were hauled out after dinner in separate cars and we were issued two citations for disrupting the peace. Boyd, the tennis instructor and Penelope, the secretary (oh pul-eeeze just call me Penny. Berty does!) arrived with cheap wine and pathetic flowers respectively. I fed the wine to Moufette, stuffed the flowers in the bin and told everyone to sit down for dinner. I took another belt of bourbon in the kitchen. The cook looked ready to collapse and she hadn’t even pulled the bird from the oven.
The soup course went fine, other than Beatrice’s children playing kick the can with the dinner rolls and Sylvia’s husband choking on a chestnut that was supposed to have been pureed in the soup. The bourbon was gone so I instructed our butler Mr. Davis to fill my water glass with gin. By the salad course, Marisol’s brandy had taken affect and she was arguing with the centerpiece, Albert was listing the reasons Italy was “backwards” to the Lucianettis who understood as much English and he did Italian; I am fairly certain the Signor Lucianetti believed he was discussing proper bread-making technique. Penny started whispering in Albert’s ear and Boyd became overly fond of Moufette.
It was the knock at the door during the fish course when things spiraled out of control. Mr. Davis, much to my surprise, ushered in my latest lover, a rake I had met on a walk along the lake a few weeks back; he bought me an ice cream and I suggested from where I should lick it. Gerald, the rake, was soused and, according to him, my cousin. Since Albert cared about my family as much as he did the trash hill in the South end of town, he bought it. Another chair was placed at the table and another place set. As Gerald made moony eyes at me, Marisol tried to convince Signora Lucianetti that it was she mispronouncing her name, not Marisol, Penny had moved her chair closer to Boyd, Sylvia was started to lose consciousness and her husband and Beatrice’s children were missing.
We waited for the turkey with a table wide argument over who should have hosted the last world’s fair. Signor Lucianetti thought we were discussing the last Italian civil war and started slamming the table with each point; I liked the drama of it all, but my wedding china was being sent to the floor one plate at a time. Sylvia had passed out and was lying like a door jam behind my chair, which in essence, held me captive at the table. Gerald took the opportunity to occupy Sylvia’s vacant seat and profess his love to me in breath that must have been 150 proof. I signaled to Mr. Davis for more “water.”
And still we waited. I was beginning to feel like a lover whose fiancé was returning from Roanke.
After what seemed an eternity, I pushed poor Sylvia into the hearth with my chair and stormed into the kitchen to threaten the cook’s tenuous grasp on stability if she didn’t get that bird on the table immediately. Cook was cowering in the corner as Sylvia’s husband was dancing on the pastry counter wearing my drapes as a toga for Beatrice’s children who had their grimy, fat hands in the gateaux planned for dessert. I wailed like a banshee that somebody had best place dinner on the table or I would start looking at them to serve as the entree. Gerald raced in thinking for some ridiculous reason I had called for him and slipped on some fallen cake, rendering himself unconscious with a blow to the center island on his way down. I opened a stone cold oven to see a turkey twelve degrees from begging for its pardon.
I realized I had to take matters into my own hands if I were to salvage any of this disastrous evening; I grabbed my stole and the Lucianettis and high-tailed it out the back door. We ate gnocchi and antipasti off their card table and I passed out in their bathtub. I believe they made me their canary’s godmother.
Following that night, Sylvia found out she was pregnant, which may or may not have been my chair’s doing.
My point is, darlings, Thanksgiving is for the birds.