After two years with Thanksgiving "Adventures" - and a lifetime of strangeness to precede - it is with mixed feelings that I tell about a Thanksgiving that was nearly downright NORMAL!
Mixed feelings? Why? Well, let me tell you. There's something extremely satisfying about having a "perfect moment", a moment that (for a moment) seems to clarify everything, bring everything into relief. (Right about now, I'm in need of relief!) Last year, I had it crashing a funeral. The year before that it happened when I tried to commit suicide. (These recent ones seem to be surrounded by death. Go figure.) Normality, with its slow, easy lack of neurosis-inspiring events, is far less dramatic than that moment of clarity, when the answers explode before you.
I guess you could say I got used to it. This is not to say I cannot get used to this new way of life. In fact, this new way of life is really fun.
Thanksgiving started for me very early… too early, in fact. I awoke much earlier than I needed to and sat around playing video games for a while. But the morning came quickly and Vicky and I were both getting ready shortly. We got up early because we were heading out to Lancaster, which is a bit of a drive from Garden Grove. (About 99 miles, if you'd like to know.)
Before heading out that way, though, we stopped by the Claim Jumper catering offices. We were picking up a complete Thanksgiving dinner to bring along with us. The reasoning was that, with Vicky's mom owning her own restaurant and cooking 364 days a year, we didn't want her mom to have to cook on her day off. The dinner came in two enormous boxes, one hot and one cold, and a platter of biscuits that I had a hard time not reaching into - it all looked very good! I wish I could remember the entire menu (or find the website) but will you believe me when I tell you it was thorough (very large!) without bringing up memories of Thanksgiving leftovers just yet? Thank you.
Once on the road, I popped in Ken 3.7. Vicky had yet to hear it and we had agreed to listen to it that day, with 3.8 to follow on the way home. For those of you who don't remember, Ken 3.7 was one of last year's Holiday CDs and it covered: the Happy Landings monologue, a fast food bit, totaling my car, the emotional trauma of losing my car, the first Thanksgiving Adventure, and endless moaning about Rosa. It went on and on and on. Crap. I sat there, mentally begging my recorded voice to shut the hell up about how I'd never love another and how I would always love Rosa, knowing how false that turned out, and tried not to show too much self-loathing, just hoping Vicky would get some of the jokes. Of course, she didn't. She didn't so much as crack a smile. She might love me but she definitely wouldn't pay to see me at the Improv.
Once in Lancaster, we dropped off the food at the restaurant. Vicky's mom was already in there… cooking! Cooking! What about the whole "save her from cooking" idea? That was shot to hell.
We had plenty of time before we ate - which sucked because we hadn't had breakfast and my stomach was singing "Feed Me Seymour" - so we took off (to get away from the food) and went somewhere less likely to make us hungry. We went to visit her grandmother in the convalescent hospital. I'd only met this woman once before. It was the day when I was going to ask Vicky to marry me and she had taken my hand and said, "I want you to know we approve of you." So, I already had a soft spot for her. This time, I don't know what happened to me, perhaps it was because my emotional walls had already been broken down by weeks of escrow and thoughts of taking Rosa to court, but I was totally connected with this old woman. We found her in the hall outside her room in a wheelchair and I wheeled her over to where we could all sit and talk and we did and I noticed her name was Audrey and remembered how Vicky and once said she wanted to name her daughter "Audrey" and thought about how it was also my mom's name, and my sister's, and thought "That might not be too bad" and thought "Oh, my god. We might just have a name for our daughter" and thought "Our daughter? Our daughter?" and thought "WE'RE GONNA HAVE A BABY!" and then spent the rest of the time there convincing myself not to cry.
I've been going through a lot, emotionally. I'm a bit raw.
Now, Vicky isn't pregnant, for those of you wondering, and won't be for a while. But the idea that I've been able to find someone to love and who I want to marry and with whom I want to have kids, when only a year ago I was sure it would never happen, is devastating to any emotional decorum I might have. It makes me enormously happy and is probably why I spend so much time looking at Vicky. In fact, I'd poke her to see if she's real but she's not the kind of person who likes to be stared at, let alone poked!
We were back at the restaurant a while later, picking at food as we waited for the real meal to be served, greeting people as they arrived. Her mom and dad were already there. Her mom gave me smiles but, then, I'm very flattering. Her dad, Steve, and I got along very well as always. Her brother came in and - I don't know what Vicky's previous boyfriends were like but Mike (her brother) likes me so I'm guessing (and who cares if I'm proved wrong) he likes me best. Her aunt and uncle, Reyna and John - no, Vicky, you don't have to correct my spelling - and her grandfather (who everyone seems to call "Grandpa" so why should I be any different) were also there. Reyna was very nice. We spoke quite a bit. John did what he always did. "You're still with this one," he asked Vicky over and over about me. Nice guy but I wanna smack him. (She doesn't need any encouragement from you, John!) Then, new faces. (This list is not in order of arrival, by the way. It's a few days late for that.) Her cousin Walter and his wife, Cindy, and their son, Andrew, were there along with family friends, Tom and wife Trudy and kids. So, there were a few people. And all of them were saying, "So, you're the guy. I've heard so much about you. Vicky seems so happy. When's the date?"
I felt important. I felt like I would be missed if I wasn't there. Maybe you'll be surprised by this, and maybe not, but I never felt like that around Rosa's family. I could do this every year. To hell with that, let's make Indian Killing Day a monthly event!
Anyway, back to the food. Things were brought, Vicky's mom (Noriko, if I'm getting the spelling right) cooked, and there was the feast Vicky and I brought. Here's a short list - and, remember, I'm leaving things out:
A 16-18 pound turkey
A big roast
A medium-sized ham (so, I didn't weigh them!)
Corn on the cob
Green beans w/almonds
Chunky mashed potatoes
Creamy mashed potatoes
A sliced potato with green beans and cheese and other stuff kinda dish
Two kinds of stuffing
Salad (Oh My God. This spinach salad, from Claim Jumper, was to die for!)
And a couple gravies…
(Vicky's going to tell me everything I forgot… )
And we had about four pies and a cheesecake. And wines and beers.
It was huge. Everybody talked. People laughed. Nobody fought. (And if you knew my family, you'd understand how amazing that is!)
Can I go back in time and be adopted? (According to the Marsha/Greg rule, we could still have sex since we wouldn't be blood relatives. See? You DO learn things from TV!)
After dinner, Noriko (if I'm misspelling her name, I'm really going to get it) went around handing out Cuban cigars. "Do you smoke?" she asked me.
Only when I'm on fire? Nope. Not the time for a line like that.
I took one and "the guys" all went out to smoke them. We tried to light them in the wind, Tom, Walter, Mike, and myself, and passed the time smoking and talking and relighting when the wind blow out our stogies. It was pretty neat.
Except that I found out that I hate Cuban cigars. They're not for men like me. They're made for the same men who drink rotgut for the taste and eat buffalo to prove they're at the top of the food chain, for men who fight cause they like the feel of it, and drive gas-guzzling cars because they can. They're not for men with brains. They taste like crap… but I smoked it anyway. Then, Walter and I smoked a cigarette later. He told me how happy he was for Vicky and I, which was really nice because it came without be asked for, as I asked him about living in Ventura (in a city whose name I couldn't spell if I tried).
Eventually, though, it was over and people trickled out. Soon, the only ones left were Vicky, Mike, Steve, Noriko, and myself. I helped them clean up and then we sat around, wrapping up. Mike talked to his mom about how she shouldn't speed. Vicky talked about how her office was moving. Noriko talked about how she couldn't take the day after Thanksgiving off because, when she did last year, one of her competitors had a really huge day. Steve did dishes - boy, he loves his wife. I just kind of sat back and enjoyed it.
Then, we drove home, listening to Ken 3.8… well, a rough cut of it. I had to fix a couple things once we got home.
And, that was it. No adventure. No perfect moments. Just a nice day - one I will always remember fondly.