For Thanksgving

You know what's worse than your own family? Someone else's family.

Even though both sides of my family are peppered with lunatics they are my lunatics. I've grown up with them. I get them. They get me. We're all on the same page. The problem with lunatics you're not related to is you haven't grown accustom to them.

I agreed to attend Thanksgiving dinner at the parent's house of my friend Shari. This was several years ago when I lived in Portland. Shari's parents lived out in toothless, OR--otherwise known as the town of Mollala. Prior to our journey to Middle Oregon I purchased a bottle of red wine to give to Shari's parents. We arrive. I present my bottle of wine, "Thanks for having me."
Shari's mom makes a face as if I've handed over a bottle of castor oil and says, "Oh. Well. We don't drink wine." She then tries to give me back the bottle of wine. I feel weird and attempt to be gracious and say, "No. Keep it. Maybe you can serve it to company." She gives me a look that says, "Uh we don't hang out with aliens." Now you're thinking that these people are crazy Christians who don't drink. No. These people love alcohol-- as long as it's not wine. In fact I'm offered a beer or whisky, which I decline--I had given up drinking the night before (Long story for another time.) Well, to quote Lloyd Bridges in Airplane "I chose the wrong week to give up drinking." Shari's parents seemed horrified that I didn't want to drink. If not horrified very offended. I might as well have said, "You're blue eyeshadow makes you look like you've been punched in both eyes." Which I didn't say.

We sat down to dinner. One of the two side dishes served they called, "Brocoli Surprise." It was a sort of hazmat looking yellow goop with a few specks of green drowning in it, served in a glass pan. I declined. I might have been rude not to even try it, but I was not ready to die in Mollala by a Thanksgiving side-dish. I discovered later that the yellow stuff was cheezwiz. Just gobs and gobs of cheeze wiz enveloping five pieces of brocoli. Americans descended from Nothern Europe love the stuff. They like to dip their Wonder bread right in it. But I was raised by Southern and Eastern European Americans and though all these European Americans are white there are subtle difference in our cultures. For example, my people don't eat cheese spelt with a "z" that comes in a jar. Thankfully dinner ended.

It was now time for Shari's uncle to come over and do Jello shots with the whole family. You know the traditional Thanksgiving Jello shots. You remember when the Indians made a feast and the Pilgrims wanted to contribute to the meal so they went back on the Mayflower and got out the the gin and mixed it with Jello? Shari's family had trays and trays of them in the refrigorator, well not the traditional pilgrim Jello shots. The Mollala family used vodka. Here's where 60 year old people began to pressure me into doing shots. "Come on. They're just Jello shots. It's not like it's real drinking." My health teacher in middle school, when I learned about drugs and alcohol, never told me there'd be a time when retirees would try to force alcohol down my throat. Nancy Reagan didn't understand that just saying, "No" isn't always the most socially gracefully way to avoid inebriation. At this point I was willing to drink. However, I don't like Jello. I know. I know. What kind of American am I? That's the thing I'm not a real American I'm from New Jersey.

I longed for my home land where my lunatics lived and celebrated. The people who argue incesantly about directions. It is very important to my family you travel over the correct bridge, and make great time to your destination. I yearned for the people who only want the smallest pieces of cake. A sliver of cake. "NO! Half that!" Who then eat 10 cookies. That I understand. OK I don't understand it but it's comfortable. Instead, I was trapped with drunken strangers who hated me. Yes trapped. I had no car. I had only one working ankle. I could have tried to make a hobble for it, but I didn't know my way back to Portland. I surely would have perished in the elements. So, figuring I was already hated I took a nap on the couch. And when I write I took a nap on the couch I mean I pretended to take a nap on the couch. I "awoke" just in time to be driven home.


Anonymous said…
um... you're pretty snotty.
ExAfrica said…


Hah. Anyone who doesn't drink wine, red wine, at Thanksgiving, really doesn't deserve to celebrate anything. What's a celebration without wine?

Oh, I suppose - they call it Jello Shots