Thanksgiving

We are going to Marvin’s in-laws for Thanksgiving, my wife informed me.” Which ones are those?” I asked, trying not to let the disappointment show in my face, or my voice or in my body language.”You remember his brother’s wife’s aunt that makes those gelatin sculptures?”I grimaced and spoke slowly as the painful memory came back. “That old woman with no eyebrows who dyes her hair kind of red streaked-black?””Yes, yes, that’s her. At her sister’s house.””The one that thinks there’s still gold lost in the Red Sea?””Yes!” My wife sighed as she walked away, leaving me with my thoughts. I tried to think of different schemes to get out of going, but once again, I failed to come up with anything. In fact, like I tend to do with lots of distasteful ideas, I completely forgot about it.”How are you feeling this morning, dear?” My wife asked as I switched the TV on with the remote, sliding happily into my recliner.”Great! It’s a gorgeous day and there’s some football games on and when are we eating?”A few short minutes later I was glumly behind the wheel of the car, driving my wife and kids to some strange woman’s house that dyes her hair and makes gelatin sculptures. A couple hours later we pulled into the driveway and I carefully avoided about 20 some odd playing children. I’m sure not all of them were odd, but then I digress.I walked slowly behind my wife, carrying two perfectly good apple pies that were certainly never going to be eaten by me. I think a tear fell and hit the top of the Tupperware as I tripped going up the stairs to the porch.”Careful there, Paul.” Marvin called from inside. “There’s a loose board or two.” Marvin grimaced at my feet when I walked in. He looked a little uncomfortable sitting with the men in the living room. Most of them I could tell were enjoying the day. They were sleeping with their mouths wide open.”Thanks,” I sighed. I peered further into the room. A fireplace was sitting in one corner, blazing heat pouring out of it. On the coffee table there were piled about 15 video tapes. I looked up to see my wife’s cousin, Melinda. Her husband was a truck driver. She had calloused elbows from years of sitting at the table drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes.”We thought we’d get a few movies to watch today. She smiled. “I can get ’em for half price ’cause I work at the video store.” I noticed she still had that missing tooth.”Great.” I nodded. “What are you watching now?””Free Willy,” Melinda’s daughter answered without looking up from the screen. Her brother glanced my way and put his fingers to her lips. I looked towards the kitchen where I could hear lively shrieks and laughter coming from what sounded like many women. I wasn’t sure which way to go and I looked back at the front door.Mavin motioned at a wooden chair with a broken back. “Sit down, Paul.” Next to Marvin on the couch was Willy. Not the freed one. Willly was Melinda’s husband. He was the truck driver. His bloodshot eyes peered out from his unkempt hair. His flannel shirt wasn’t buttoned all the way down, letting a fairly hairy belly show way too much for my taste. It reminded me of a hair, flabby Britney Spears, if you can imagine.”I’ve been up since Tennessee.” Willy said with a proud grin. At least I think it was a proud grin. “Over 72 hours and no sleep whatsoever.” I gave him my full attention and at that same moment he seemed to lose consciousness. Either that or he started watching the movie.”Bring the pies in,” my wife’s sister said to me. I had forgotten I was holding them. On the dining room table stood a platter with a half-eaten turkey carcass. Also several pizza boxes were laid open. But none had any pizza in them. “We’re just about to serve dessert.””But we didn’t really eat yet.” I said, mostly to myself.”Paul, you remember Wilomena don’t you?” My wife’s sister said as she nodded at an elderly woman with no eyebrows, but tufts of black hair with streaks of red in it sticking out from underneath a scarf.”Uh, yeah. Hi, how are you?” I said holding the pies to my chest. My wife came by and pried them away from me.”Just fine. I saved you some salad and some of my turkey. The othern’s didn’t want to eat it. They said it had some kinda funky taste. You figure out where that gold in the Red Sea is yet? We could all be rich if you’d just go get it. Have something to eat!””Oh, that’s okay, I ate, uh, I mean, well I had a big breakfast.” I said, hoping she’d forget about the gold.”Oh don’t be silly,” Wilomena argued as she grabbed a plate. She brushed some crumbs off of it and piled it high with greasy turkey and some kind of jelly looking stuff. “You just sit yourself down here.” She ordered. “I had this in the shape of a turkey.” She laughed. “You know the Egyptians dropped that gold when they were chasing the Israelites. It’s in there.”Just then the door banged open and Melinda’s other daughter came running in. “Do you have a clean shirt for me, Mom? She hollered.”Why, what happened?””Well, we were giving the little kids turns at swinging round and round in the yard and I got throwed up on.”I caught the smell as the young girl slid between me and the plate Wilomena was holding out.”Say, Paul!” Marvin hollered. “Lets go out and help Willie unload some firewood. He needs some help.””Uh, sure.” I only had on dress clothes but I didn’t want to stay inside. It was awful hot, and I had lost my appetite. “But I only have these dress shoes with me.”Marvin looked at them and shrugged. “They’ll work.”Outside I alternately froze and warmed up as I pinched my fingers between chunks of firewood and stepped in snow that slid down in my dress shoes, soaking my socks. But still, I kept reminding myself, at least I was out of the house.On the way home my wife was humming as I drove quietly down the highway. My feet were wet and tired, my back hurt and I was hungry.”So did you have a good time?” She asked. “Aren’t you glad you went?””Sure.” I muttered, trying not to let the disappointment show in my face, or my voice or in my body language, or in….

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