far too much writing, far too many photos

[continued from previous entry]

I didn’t experience a strange Thanksgiving until living off-campus during college, one year that I chose to stay put for the weekend instead of going back to visit the ‘rents. Stayed in my squat, slept in, partied with the few students I knew who’d also decided to hang around. Found myself at a kind of impromptu holiday dinner in a friend’s flat, a nondescript unit in an apartment complex, the place completely white, featureless, a cookie-cutter kind of living space, furnishings cheap and basic. Four of us in attendance, the dinner served at a small table in the small kitchen. Everyone drinking. Vodka, gin — no wine, no pretense of gentility. The meal: basic, no-frills, in no way memorable apart from being a first attempt at a holiday feast thrown by young, impoverished whackos. The booze flowed freely, too freely — became or had been from the start, I realized at some point, the real focus of the occasion for my companions. Until I found myself standing in the living room, looking at the others sprawled out on chairs and small sofa, shitfaced and passed out, the event feeling seedy and sad, me resolving to never again spend a similar Thanksgiving.

And I never did — have, in fact, chosen to spend some Thanksgivings solo instead of in a situation that felt like it had the potential to be uncomfortable, sad, not so wonderful. And some of those solo Thanksgivings have been perfect — quiet, relaxed, punctuated by phone calls with friends spread out across the map.

On the other hand, there was one Thanksgiving dinner at my brother’s home that I will always be grateful I experienced. Me and my brother’s family (brother, sister-in-law, niece, nephew) around the table in the small dining room of their comfortable home. With two more diners showing up late — my sister-in-law’s aunt and uncle. One of the more unforgettable couples I’ve ever known. The aunt a local realtor, a well-known individual in that town, tall, skinny, with a strong, almost ferocious personality — opinionated, smart, very conservative and right up front about it. They materialized after the meal had begun, two chairs were found for them, they slipped into spots around the small circular table, began working on plates of Thanksgiving chow, taking part in conversation.

And at some point, someone at the table let go with a fart. Clear, distinct, impossible not to note. No one owned up. I looked around, saw that everyone else was opting to pretend that no one had cut the cheese.

I resumed eating, a second fart ripped out — again, loud, impossible to ignore. The kind that would bring a smile to any schoolboy’s face. I looked around again, saw that everyone in attendance was adhering to the nothing happened pretense. I glanced at my sister-in-law, then my nephew — they both met my gaze briefly, neither acknowledged in any way the outbreak of dinner music. And from there the farts just kept rolling out: fraps and poots, complicated melodies, straight-out window-rattlers. All, it turned out, coming from my sister-in-law’s aunt, who continued eating, smiling and chatting, giving no indication that she was the source of the gathering poison gasses.

I said nothing, managed not to spew food/drink from my nose while stifling giggles, silently gave thanks for having witnessed the event.

Sometime later, I brought the dinner up to my sister-in-law, mentioned her aunt’s spectacular performance, confessed the joy the occasion had given me, and found myself alone in that joy. She and the rest of them apparently just didn’t want to go there in any way.

Ah, well. Wish I had some of it on tape. What a scene.

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Cherry-colored evening — northern Vermont, 12/4/08:

EspaƱa, te echo de menos

2 Responses to “thanksgiving, before and after — part III”

  1. Kevin

    Great picture!

  2. rws

    Thanks, Kevin. :)

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