Thursday Nov 25, 2010
Well, here we are: Turkey Day 2010. Whoda thunk it? -
It is a cold and rainy day, here in Central Ohio. The Perfect day for grabbing a hot toddy, or some Cocoa (you know you love the mini-marshmallows) and snuggling on the couch with your loved ones. It's a great day for sharing the feast, cooking together, throwing mashed potatoes around the kitchen for sport.
I can fondly remember those times, when we were all getting ready to sit down to the huge turkey. We were salivating at the stuffing, the cranberry sauce and the poached shrimp. The spread was laid out; we had to get into the extra stash of plates because so many people were there. Great Uncle Lenny had gotten the extra table leaves out and then expanded it to its maximum 18 foot length. Yeah, we had to use two sets of table cloths.
Anyway, the men were in their traditional roles, drinking beer, lounging around, checking the set of the pudding, stirring the gravy just so, and adding the cinnamon, pecans and marshmallows to the sweet potato casserole. And of course checking that little white plastic thingy on the 30 lb turkey in the fryer.
The Women were normally out back, smoking, watching the game and shooting the bull. If we (the kids) were lucky, we would get to hang out on the floor and play board games and the like. I can still fondly remember, every once in a while we would hear... "Belch!" "Hey! Get me another beer!" Next thing you'd see one of the dads shuffle by mumbling, "Yes dear," in the most masculine tone he could manage.
I remember my favorite Thanksgiving, when Aunt Mildred went nuts. It was sure a sight to see. There had been a little bit of tension between Uncle Pete, and Mama Leone. Barbs, jabs and an occasional right cross had passed between them. It began to escalate a little; after all - why watch pay-per-view when the royal rumble was much more live and in your face?
Soon, the majority of the family was circled around the two combatants. All of a sudden, Aunt Mildred bellowed, "Why can't we all just get along?" We looked at her wild eyed, glare; the foam flicked set of her lip line. Then she turned and stormed out. Unfortunately, it was right through the brand new screen porch door. She was picking up steam when we lost sight of her around the side of the house.
The laughability of it all set us to rights. We decided to take a break on the hostilities and feast. We all took our places, and sat down. My cousin Shmeckle (it’s an old family name) stood to say grace. He beamed for a moment, the Broadway actor in him coming out a bit, and he began speaking in tongues. He had gotten through several tortuous sentences, when suddenly the front door burst open!
There, in all her lurid psychotic glory, was Aunt Mildred; and she was holding a three foot long 2x4. (Apparently she had gone shopping in the back of Great Grandpa Toot’s pickup.) But we could certainly see that she had totally lost it. Her eyes were rolling around in their sockets, and she looked for all the world like a grown up version of Linda Blair from The Exorcist.
With a heinous, inhuman scream, she waded in; swinging the 2x4 like Casey at bat. We weaved and bobbed to get out of the way of that wild wood. Nothing was safe from her attack; people, food, furniture, pets, and the occasional houseplant. It’s was the Thanksgiving Family version of “When animals attack.”
The kids scattered, and everyone else was either running for cover or attempting to subdue her. She got in one last home run, then Jack and Frankie finally got her safely wrestled to the ground. When the dust cleared? I looked around and could see the carnage. The walls were sprayed with over two pounds of cranberry sauce, almost all of the lumpy turkey gravy and (unfortunately) the good stuffing - you know, the stuffing from inside the bird. She had also laid low cousin Shmeckle, Aunt Jason, my half-sister Buffy and most tragically, the turkey.
We grabbed all the Saran wrap in the house. While Aunt Mildred was wailing like a banshee, we wrapped her up like a Christmas gift. We had used three of the 75 foot rolls (you know the ones in Holiday colors with the snowflakes?) We were starting on a fourth, when the guys with the White coats showed up. They looked at the chaos, and conferred in hushed tones with the grownups for a moment; and then loaded her up on the stretcher. We could still hear her siren like screams as the ambulance rolled out into the night. A month later or so, we heard she had pulled a fast one at the funny farm, blew an intern and was on the lamb.
So now every time Thanksgiving rolls around again, I still hearken back and listen for her wail. I know she is still out there; serving up the sweet and salty vengeance of Thanksgiving gone wrong. I am always sure that someone, somewhere, is having an Aunt Mildred encounter. Hopefully? It’s not your turn…
Barak & Sheba