Sunday, November 29, 2009

My Actual Thanksgiving

Second verse, same as the first (what actually happened this Thanksgiving, in the same format as the previous entry):

- I'm sure many families hosted relatives they hadn't seen in a year or more. Most likely the relative they greeted was different from the one they knew from last time. New experiences, health problems, love problems, higher taxes, forced to drive less, whatever it might be. But also, it's likely that outside of inviting those relatives to come for Thanksgiving, they hadn't talked that much to that particular relative until that point. They had their own matters to attend to, and those relatives are important, but more in the background, as someone or some people they have in their history that drives them, that defines them. It may not be apparent, but there may be a part of them that's there, in the wink of an eye, in the mindset of a spouse, in a method of dance.

Greenberg Turkeys is the same way to me. I don't think about them during the year, and only after we've ordered our turkey from them, which I think was in late October, and it was delivered on November 20th. When I thought about their turkey again, I couldn't remember how last year's turkey was. Mom said it was better last year. And therein lies the news from a once-a-year guest: Greenberg Turkeys is no doubt having financial problems because of the economy. They sure smoked the turkey, as evidenced when we opened the box to the white foil-lined bag the turkey was in and the scent was heavy, but maybe there was something in their method they had to leave out. The spices were carelessly placed, with certain sections of the turkey bearing a mound of them, rather than the spices being spread throughout the turkey. The white meat didn't require any condiments, which is sometimes the case with white meat, but the dark meat was a rather unpleasant experience. It looked gray. I imagine that's something to expect from a smoked turkey, but the gray of Charles Dickens' London? The gray of the gruel in the workhouse in Oliver Twist? It didn't taste any better either. It wasn't a problem in cooking, as the turkey was already cooked. We only had to heat it. Mom said we won't order a turkey from them next year. Every year we ordered from them, there was one year where it was great, one year middling, one year great, and so on. Not a crapshoot to try again. If we make it to Las Vegas (we will, but I guarantee it will be more stressful than I had hoped), we won't need to order turkeys. There's the buffets on the holiday, too, besides the turkeys to be found at Smith's and other stores.

- The sides were perfect, however. I don't partake much in the green beans with french-fried onions on top, but I made my plate heavy with the Stove Top stuffing and the candied yams. This year, Dad put Craisins in the stuffing and that worked well. I didn't have any of that big chocolate chip cookie, though. Too full.

- On Thanksgiving, my parents did not fire one sharp word at each other. My Dad made everything there was to eat on Thanksgiving, so I suspect that's one reason, but also the other in that he had made a genuine effort to pay attention to her. That didn't last long. On Friday, they, and Meridith, went to the Wal-Mart Supercenter and a few other places. Dad wandered away with his cellphone, Mom got ticked and just stood there until he came back, and she sarcastically asked him, "Having fun?" It came to a vicious head yesterday morning. Combine the screeching of chalk on a chalkboard with a cruise ship's horn, and the screeching of truck brakes, and you have what I heard. I fell asleep a little before 7 a.m., and I didn't even look at what time it was when I was yanked out of my sleep by the latest fight. This time, Dad had bounced a check. But he defended himself to Mom, saying that the payroll from the William S. Hart Union School District had not reached his bank account yet, and before the check would have bounced, the money came in. He called someone he knew at our local bank, who said he'd take care of it so it doesn't reflect on his bank statements, even though the next bank statement he gets will list that check as an "overdraft," though that guy at the bank assures him that there won't actually be an overdraft. That's as far as I got. Mom has every right to question him because their wedding money was used to pay off bills he racked up and he's never managed money well. For necessary bills now, of course, and he's big on coupons at the supermarket, but Mom will forever remain suspicious. But jesus, what a hard fight. She went at him about his delay in all of us moving to Las Vegas, questioning him about whether he had sent his application to the Department of Defense to teach in their online school (he did), as well as the Clark County application. I don't say anything more during these fights. There's nothing I could say that would offer insight on something they hadn't considered. I've seen every fight for 23 years of their 26 years of marriage. There's nothing I could say that would reverse what has happened all this time, nothing that would cause him to suddenly be attentive. It's obvious he does not want to change, as much as he tries to pin some of the blame on her. My sister chimed in while she was sitting on the couch in the living room, unsuccessfully trying to watch TV, but I won't tell her that it's useless. Let her try. She should understand that there's nothing we can say to stem this red tide. I think she'll eventually find out.

- Tigger and Kitty inhaled their Thanksgiving plates of turkey, stuffing, green beans, and cranberry sauce. Tigger really does eat faster than I do.

- It was a relief not to have to work on those newsletters for a few days, but nothing got done. Boredom set in again. I did receive a reply from Michael Airington, who plays Paul Lynde in a one-man show, and he agreed to help me with information for my Lynde essay. I sent him another message early Saturday morning asking if he'd consider letting me profile his show. That way, the hard facts about Paul Lynde in that part of the essay are presented in a more interesting manner. In another work-related matter, I'm nearly done with Donald Spoto's James Dean biography. Very well-researched, successfully refuting wrong-headed "facts" from years and decades ago. He's dedicated to thorough research in each of his books.

- I got restless with reading. I wanted to, but Deepak Chopra's "Reinventing the Body, Resurrecting the Soul: How to Create a New You," didn't capture my attention like I hoped it would, though it did have a section on not letting time control you. I need to work on that. I haven't started anything new since. Not yet.

- I couldn't watch that version of 12 Angry Men. Tony Danza, William Petersen, Jack Lemmon, Edward James Olmos, James Gandolfini, all fine actors (yes, even Danza, in Taxi), but a distraction in the drama. The original benefited from stark black-and-white cinematography and a smaller jury room to heighten the tension. I think this version also had the misfortune of heading into my VCR less than a week after I watched the original on channel 5. No full movies after that. Surprisingly, nothing I could think of watching. Just episodes of Scrubs from the first season and the eighth season, ahead of Tuesday's double-episode premiere of the new, retooled season on ABC.

So, the one peaceful day, Thanksgiving. Dad also managed to fight with Mom ahead of his birthday on December 1st (the same fight, yesterday's fight), and she loudly regretted having gotten him a few gifts for the day. If the cold weather hadn't let me know already, this fight shows that winter is indeed coming. Thank god for books, and movies, and the much quieter moments I get for myself in these peaceful nighttime hours, where I can be sure the war has stopped for now.