Thanksgivings I have known
| "Top of the morning to you, King Fahd! What is Your Excellency doing staring at me out of yesterday's newspaper as part of an advertisement for Saudi Arabia? Do you have a low mileage, pre-owned car for sale?" They used to be called 'used cars,' but WORD* would not permit my to type that phrase.
"Oh, I see. You want to hedge your bets, get some money down on the probable winning side in this war. Clever of you, but you could have gotten 5-1 odds last week; they've shrunk now to 3-5." In my mind I mean to ask him, 'are those really your teeth?' I can't tell him what I really think of him: a hedger, trimmer, or an Eff word, 'front-runner,' perhaps proceeded by another Eff word that I never use.
Or did I use it on the phone the other night with Pamela? I recall her telling me that she had never heard me swear. I remember my surprise when she imitated a longshoreman when describing her landlord a couple of weeks ago, and I appreciated her all the more for being so blunt. It wasn't lady-like, but that particular phrase was in the back of both of our heads when she told me of his negotiating ploys.
She was cleaning her closet when she called me. How one can stand on a sofa, pulling objects off the top shelf, and talk on the phone is a mystery to me. The goddess Shiva with her many arms comes to mind. Then again, I walk the dog with my phone in my pocket listening on my earphones while talking into a mouthpiece. Talking on a phone while walking a dog could be more dangerous than standing on a couch and doing same. Research will have to be done, but in the meantime New York State should probably ban both activities.
We are not only our best friends, but Pam is also a talented storyteller. While finding objects thought lost in her closet, she tells me a funny story of her granddaughter receiving a week of detention for a school yard prank. The punch line that Pam hid in the middle of the tale is that the child is in first grade. Having no stories of grandchildren to tell in response, our conversation segues to confirming the date of Thanksgiving. It is next week.
Thanksgivings past loom in my memory the next day as I stretch out on the couch. Three years ago we were getting ready to leave Pennsylvania. The memories are hazy, but more than likely the homebody that was Morgan and the turkey hating David were conspiring to escape a visit to her mother's house for dinner. I would always let her take the lead; she knew how to fight off her mother's guilt-inducing talk better than I did.
1999 brought her mother and stepfather here for lunch on Thanksgiving. It was their first visit to the house. We then drove to Belchertown, near Springfield, for dinner with her brother and parents. Her first visit to the hospital had been earlier that month. We toted along a tank of oxygen and didn't stay that long. It really was her last real Thanksgiving.
Last year was a homecoming. She had been hospitalized since mid-September and was released two days before the Holiday. I can only remember the drive from the psychiatric unit in Troy. Once on the interstate, she was frightened by speed, but then she relaxed as I told her that I had driven this one hill on I90 so many times that I knew it measured 1.2 miles. We passed a field and spotted llamas grazing. I sang the song from Sesame Street, 'Me and My Llama.' She smiled and remembered. It is hard to recall our meal but an earlier writing tells me that I cooked shrimp, tomatoes, and basil with Feta cheese for our feast.
I told Pam I plan the same meal this year, with a side order of chicken breast for the animals. As I listened to Pam talk of her extended family, I rued that my parents seemed to believe that a family was a collection of free agents. When I was young, Turkey Day involved the base family unit, and no one else. After we children moved out, getting the unit together proved to be an insoluble task best left to the arrival of a lunar eclipse.
"Do you have this same problem, Your Excellency? You have how many score of children and grandchildren? Do you call them on the phone and invite them over for dinner? Or do Kings command?
"I'm not familiar with your dietary laws. Do you eat turkey? I was wondering if there was enough white meat for the whole family. Oh, I see, there are no turkeys in that part of the world.
"And you give each of your children a few billion to go off and not bother you or overthrow you. They become free agents, huh? I understand, I have been there. Well if you aren't doing anything Thursday, pop over. I am sure I will have plenty left over. And we can talk about that low mileage Hummer you want to unload."