Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving - Part one

After nearly five days of cooking, cleaning, decorating, shopping, working, parenting, and socializing...I’m absolutely exhausted. I can’t remember ever being that busy during a Thanksgiving weekend before. Probably because the older I get, the more responsibility gets heaped upon my head. What I sometimes wouldn’t give to be a chubby 10 year old, sneaking pieces of ham out of the kitchen before dinner and stuffing them in my face behind the cover of Gone with the Wind, which was the only book large enough to sufficiently cover my indiscretions. There was, apparently, more than one reason that I read that sucker fifteen times.


Wednesday night I spent alone in the kitchen, awake till nearly midnight, perfecting my Italian Crème Cake. Mom was having another one of her strange vomiting episodes and had locked herself in the bedroom, Ray was out hunting, and my daughter and sister were spending the night in the city at The Grandmother’s. It should have, by all accounts, been a relaxing night, but I think my trip to the grocery store started it off on a sour note.

I used to hate going to the grocery store, but I realized that the reason for that wasn’t necessarily the place, but the person I went there with. My mom is a terrible shopper. She’ll spend hours upon hours wandering up and down every single aisle, sometimes more than once, even though she has a list of very specific items. We call it “scratching and sniffing” – she has to examine everything. Not only that, but like a willful toddler, the minute you turn your back she’s disappeared down another aisle and you’re left hunting for her until it’s time to check out.

Now I love going to the grocery store – provided I’m alone. But Wednesday night was another matter entirely. I’d been at the makeup store finalizing my jewelry party business and decided to pop over to the local Publix as I heard they had good sales on some of the things on my list. (Yes, I just typed that sentence. Alert the media: I’m a loser.) It was the night before Thanksgiving so of course I knew it would be busy, but I’d been up since 4:30 that morning and I simply wasn’t prepared for the adrenaline fueled Mario Kart experience.

Feeling rather lucky because I’d swiped a front row parking space, I sauntered through the sliding glass doors. There were only two carts left in the rack and after a stare down worthy of an old Clint Eastwood film, I ended up pushing the token noisy cart toward the bakery while a Mrs. Doubtfire look-a-like whooshed away to the opposite end with the coveted, silent Lincoln Town Car of grocery carts. Mine was completely lopsided and the wheels were all at funny angles. I walked slowly and it went “BANG, clack, BANG, clack, BANG, clack”. Then I walked faster just in case it made a difference. “BANG CLACK BANG CLACK BANG CLACK”. It didn’t – slow, it sounded like a metallic rocking chair; fast, it sounded like a moderately impressive fireworks display.

Despite the fact that the entire store could hear me coming long before they saw me, I still had to shove and shoulder my way through every aisle. What, at any other time, would have been a 10 minute trip turned into a 45 minute bloodbath. By the time I was down to the last item on my list I’d made three circles of the entire store because I wasn’t very familiar with its layout, shouted at four people, had my foot rolled over twice, and bumped the heels of an unsuspecting, yet entirely deserving, Mrs. Doubtfire.

I was looking for the blocks of Velveeta, but couldn’t find them anywhere. I’d been up and down every aisle and asked two employees - one directed me to aisle 10 and the other was either very dim or didn’t understand English. Finally, on the verge of a near meltdown, I saw a boy of about 16 coming out of the back with a cart of boxes. “You”, I shouted as I hurtled toward him in my busted cart. BANG CLACK BANG CLACK BANG CLACK. He looked like he might be about to piss himself, no doubt I looked crazed. “For the love of Christ, please TAKE me to the motherfucking Velveeta! If one more person sends me to aisle 10 again and I come up empty handed, I’m going to have a conniption!”

He edged his hip against his trolley of boxes, nudging it out of the aisle. “Y-yes ma’am”, he muttered and took off with his head down, with me hot on his heels. BANG CLACK BANG CLACK BANG CLACK. We were back on aisle 10 again and I could feel my neck turning red. Coming to a halt in front of the tiniest display of cheese known to man, on the very top shelf, he looked at me and said, “Here you go ma’am. What kind did you need?”

I glared at him, told him what I needed, he handed it over, and with a parting “thank you”, I began to walk away. “You’re welcome ma’a”, he started to call, but stopped when I whipped around and said, “STOP calling me that!” He went scurrying in the opposite direction and I, completely worn out and irritated with myself for behaving like a shrew, shuffled to the checkout.

While I was unloading my 20 or so items onto the conveyor belt, another teen came rocketing around the corner and started helping me, tossing my things toward the checker like it was a marathon race. They really want me out of here, I thought without amusement. As soon as the girl handed me the receipt, the blonde, floppy haired teenager took off with my cart. Bewildered, I hurried after him. BLANG CLACK BANG CLACK BANG CLACK. “Where are you going with my cart”, I shouted at him.

“I’m helping you to your car”, he shouted back over the din.

Irritated once again, I caught up and yanked the cart to a stop. “I don’t need help out! I only have five bags!”

“Are you sure”, he asked suspiciously, seeming reluctant to let go of the handle. What the hell is the problem here, I wondered. Do I look old and incapable? Have I a sign on my back that says “secret shopper – don’t piss me off"?

“I’m 25, not 50. I think I can handle it, thank you.”

He shrugged as if to say, Fine, have it your way, grouchy old lady, and with a wave and a sarcastic “have a Happy Thanksgiving ma’am!” he was gone. I ground my teeth together and stalked out the door. BANG CLACK BANG CLACK BANG CLACK. I hate being called ma’am by anyone over the age of seven, unless it’s done so in a funny sort of way.

Arriving home 45 minutes later, I immediately attacked the kitchen. Flour, powdered sugar, and dripping utensils littered every surface and the electric mixer was whirling, like my hips, to Shakira and other random “hot hits”. The mixer is one of those giant ones with a spinning bottom that requires nothing more than an occasional push when things get a little heavy and a swish round the edges. The longer I worked – separating eggs, measuring, hip shaking – the more exhausted I became. I blame that, and not the fact that I’m an occasional idiot, for the wooden spoon incident.

One minute I was running it along the edges, knocking the sugar and such back into the batter, and the next I let go of the handle, thinking, for some reason, that it wouldn’t get caught in the insanely fast moving mixing blades. But, of course, it did. With a huge bang and a lot of grinding it got sucked in and stopped the mixer. I screamed, tugging on the handle and trying to dislodge it, but the grinding only got louder. Then our mastiff puppy, Tank, started to howl because I was screaming. Being a complete genius, it took me another 20 seconds of tugging, screaming, and shouting at the dog to “fuck off” before I thought to unplug the damn thing.

The rest of the night was spent cleaning up huge piles of dishes, attempting to bang the kinks out of the bent mixer parts, and digging powered sugar out of my nostrils from my messy attempt at cream cheese frosting. It was not one of my best days, yet against all odds, the cake turned out brilliant. Sans sugary boogers, of course.

Thursday morning was a whirlwind – packing things to take to the city, getting ready, and finally arriving at 11am to find The Grandmother bitching about the amount of work Thanksgiving meant for her. I rolled up my sleeves and dove into the kitchen, ignoring her as much as possible and sneaking pieces of food off the platters. I was not feeling at all thankful by the time we sat down to dinner two and a half hours later.

Dinner at The Grandmother’s is a great deal more formal than at my Papa’s, which we had to be at by 5:30 that evening. At TG’s the good china and silver get laid out, there are flowers on the table, and everyone has an assigned place. Over the years I’ve managed to bully my way into having a seat at either the head or the foot of the table, mostly by complaints of being left handed. That means that I not only have more elbow room that everyone else, but I can also get out quickly and to the last of the dressing before anyone else, which is crucial.

Though the atmosphere tends to be more staid and the conversation tends to lean more toward the political, I can usually point it in a cruder direction. But with my Aunt Donna bursting into tears because she’s off her meds again, my Uncle Bruce lecturing my 18 year old sister on decorum, mom still suffering from her night of stress induced vomiting, and my Aunt Christie off to New York with her boy wonder, there was no one to laugh with me and I just didn’t feel up to it. I didn’t even say the word “vagina” once, which is simply unheard of.

Unusual too, there was only one shouting match. Everyone was eating dessert, except for me because I was stuffed to the gills with dressing, when mom said, “Do you want to go help The Grandmother clean up the kitchen or do you want me to do it?”

She laid out the bait and waited to see if I’d take it. Rather than go for the whole bite, I just nibbled a bit. “Well, I know what you’d like me to say”, I replied sleepily, stretching out further on the couch.

While everyone else laughed she glared at me, then shoved herself out of the chair and stalked to the kitchen. Even though I knew I’d likely pay for it later, I was so tired from cooking and cleaning already that I couldn’t bear to get up.

Unfortunately a short time later she conveniently forgot our previous conversation and came stomping back in, appearing to address the room at large, but most definitely directing it toward me. “Are any of you going to come in here and help her wash these dishes”, she shouted. The men looked at each other, confused. Surely she wasn't speaking to them? Aunt Donna stared off into space and my sister and I stared at each other, both urging the other to go without a word.

Mom started shouting some more and, grumbling, I shoved myself off the couch and plodded to the kitchen. “Isn’t fucking fair, I’ve been slaving away all last night and this morning and what have you done. Shit, that’s what.”

Not really addressing her, but definitely getting the point across that I was grumbling about her, mom started shouting even louder. We yelled at each other across the kitchen while The Grandmother flapped her towel in the air and tried to outdo us with cries of, “Honestly!” And, “You shoo on out of here! Girls! Girls!”

In the end I washed all 70 million of the dishes, stubbornly refusing to put a single fork in the dishwasher and relishing every muscle ache, sighing loudly every few minutes in martyrdom. I barked orders at my sister and once all was finished, The Grandmother praised my help but not my temper. “Patience is golden”, she said to me, as she always does.

“I’m more of a rusty bronze”, I replied, as I usually do.

But the day wasn’t yet over. I still had one more family and one more dinner to attend to. I was relatively sure, however, that there wouldn’t be any cleaning involved and for that I was infinitely grateful.

Still, a family gathering of alcoholics, foreigners, drug addicts fresh out of rehab, and shamed whore cousins was bound to turn up some kind of drama. Surely?


The Vegetable Assassin said...

Thanksgiving could be not be boring with you around. It's impossible! Glad you had a fun and productive one. And that you weren't the most outrageous one there. :)

Bouncin' Barb said...

I am a brand new follower and loved this story. You had me laughing outloud so much that my boyfriend just looked at me and said "what the hell is so funny". Thanks for the laugh. Looking forward to reading more of your blog.

Simple Dude said...

That is great stuff. Family can be so damn frustratingly funny.


Rusty Hoe said...

Gotta love a family gathering. Thank god we don't do Thanksgiving here. Christmas is bad enough. Every year I think I'd rather mediate the peace talks in the Middle East than deal with the ridiculous adult tantrums that have become traditional. Maybe I can amuse myself by dropping 'vagina' into every conversation. I'm sure my husbands ultra conservative, religious nutter grandmother will love that. :)

theTsaritsa said...

Your holidays are always so eventful! Getting called ma'am is no fun, especially from a teenager.

who said...

Yes, of course
most definitely but I have several side note suggestion notes listed for you underneath as opposed to spatially appearing to either east or west, north or south, northwest or southeast, southwest or northeastern side (depending on which way the display screen is facing)of your story with written words.

"You tahkin ta mee?"

"you TOCKING ta ME?"



OR are you just extra sensory transmitting a message to the cosmos for anybody who speaks (implying in addition to speaking said person also understands ESP'd messages)transmitting that message with nobody in particular in mind or the message directed at?

cause if you are transmitting to me it spelled Shirley (not surely) only my name is dusty and even if I was in drag i might answer to dustine but NOT correctly transmitted shirley


while we all know what the actual sounds are
the onomatopoeia'd EAP poem the cart was trying to imitate that you are regaling the reader with went

BLAM clip BLAM clip BLAM clip

accelerating or decelerating cadence according to the instantaneous velocity of THE cart at any given moment

in time
and space

commoncents said...


I like your homepage here....
Link Exchange??

Common Cents

Eric said...

'Rusty bronze' isn't so bad.
Mom left me some apple pie, it is so going to be dinner...

Anonymous said...

Ahhh...the drama. I can identify with your chaotic family life!

Justlittlecajunme said...

Not sure whether to say that I am glad you had a great Thanksgiving or HUG you! LOL! I so can relate to the grocery cart banging and clacking! said...

One word... Hilarious!

Hence72 said...

I love this blog keep up the excellent work

Ms. Ryterski said...

I really enjoyed reading your blog. Would like to follow you if that's alright. Feel free to check out mine. I'm fairly new to this.

Nick Hansen said...

sports blog


Jane said...

Not had a chance yet to read this post. I'm saving it for later with a cup of tea by the fire.
Just wanted to stop by and say congratulations on BON.
Thoroughly well deserved!

teenage gypsy said...

nyc blog

Penny Dreadful said...

Sounds totally hideous. You have just made me thankful... to be spending Christmas with Mr D only and no family.

Olga said...

I love your post. Your ability for describing things and telling stories is absolutely amazing.

Bird Shit and Baby Caca said...

MMM sneaking ham...I'm so hungry right now

Melissa said...

You are flippin' hilarious and a very talented story teller. Love your sense of humor!

Sally-Sal said...

Aly, you're famous, yo!

I can say I knew you back in the day, when you were giving UPS men boners by running nekkid (after leaving your robe caught in the door). Btw, that will always be my favorite story.

Anyway, I just wanted to say congrats on the Blogger of Note thing. It's well deserved.
I've read your blog for a long time, and no matter what the story, your words are always captivating. You keep me reading, and when I get to the end, I'm always a little sad that it's over, but happy that I got to come along for the ride.

P.S. How's that Coach bag treatin' ya? ;)

Headstrong said...

Um, hilarious! I'll be back! Congrats on being freshly pressed!

JUST ME said...

I went to Whole Foods the day before with my PARENTS.

I almost spontaneously combusted from stress.

Tay Talk said...

Well freak! What a great holiday you had! [funny]

And really what's with people calling young people like us ma'm [however you even spell it]???

This guy at work calls me "kid". "Alright, thanks kid." And I seriously want to body slam him when he says it. DO I LOOK 8?!

Mr Lonely said...

nice blog... have a view of my blog when free.. .. do leave me some comment / guide if can.. if interested can follow my blog...

Politics of Love Chick said...

I'm back!!!!
Thank God you're still here!

Perdita said...

Just found this...mwahahaha! I feel bad laughing at what was evidently a stressful event... but not that bad. freakin' hilarious! ;)

Dee in N.H. said...

ROTFLMAO! Holy crap (see..I was polite and didn't say holy shit!) you are a riot! Loved it! Just wish it didn't sound so damned familiar.....

summerbunnei said...

I can identify with your "ma'am" comments. I am going to school working on a masters degree, and one of the students, who is probably fresh from highschool says to me, "did you want me to call you Miss Amber?" I tried to hide the look of horror on my face. "of course not! I'm only 31 for the love of god!" jesus christ! I immediately asked if I needed botox or something!

Shopgirl said...

I hate being called "ma'am". I usually say: "Oh now I feel a thousand years old!" and sometimes it works but mostly it doesn't.

Maybe we need a "Dont call me ma'am' t-shirt"...

Cayjen said...

Thanks! I need a good laugh after a long day!

chen'blog information said...

thanks for your sharing

LIFE said...

Ditto to EXACTLY what Bouncin' Barb said. By the time I got to the bit about Velveeta I was laughing so hard that my boyfriend asked me to read it aloud. Big mistake but only because I spent the next few minutes trying to speak without cracking up. I am a new, but already big, fan of your writing.

jensrants said...

I'm a new blogger and this had me laughing alot this morning. One problem though. You said, "“You”, I shouted as I hurtled toward him in my busted cart. BANG CLACK BANG CLACK BANG CLACK. He looked like he might be about to piss himself, no doubt I looked crazed. “For the love of Christ, please TAKE me to the motherfucking Velveeta! If one more person sends me to aisle 10 again and I come up empty handed, I’m going to have a conniption!”

Don't drink coffee and read this blog!! You will laugh so hard that hot coffee will come out of your nose. Practice safe blogging and drinking! Can't wait to read more of your stuff!

mike fox said...

very fun site. glad to have found it.

Clare (Martineau) Dunn said...

"Blogger of Note" might very well be an understatement in this case.

You are delightful! (and, I believe, my long-lost twin).

Looking forward to reading more..
xoxoxo, cd

Anonymous said...

Most entertaining Thanksgiving post I've read this year!

Read Aloud Dad

Anonymous said...

Totally cracking me up, aren't the holiday's grand? Definitely had me intrigued within the first few sentences, you should write a sitcom. =)

BugginWord said...

There's velveta in an italian creme cake?

If it makes you feel any better, I once melted a blender. True story.

Heather Michelle said...

Awesome blog! I love the way you write :-)

Lash Chronicles said...

That's too funny, I used to work as a manager and I would never call any of the women I spoke with ma'am. It's the surest way to get on someone's bad side. I can't wait to hear what happened next! You are an amazing storyteller

otherworldlyone said...

Veg Ass: It’s criminal that I wasn’t the one causing the issues. Criminal.

Bouncin’ Barb: Thanks! I hope you told him his face was funny.

Rusty Hoe: Do it! Do it! Do it!

Who: You’re an original, aren’t you? Shirley.

Eric: I’ve got your apple pie.

Jane: Thank you very much.

Sally: You popped my comment cherry. (Or close enough.) Thank you. And the Coach bag is treating me extremely well. I’m such a label whore.

LIFE: Thanks and welcome. :)

Clare: What a lovely compliment, thank you.

BugginWord: Psssh, no silly! There’s Velveeta in The Dip. There’s BOOGERS in the Italian Crème Cake.

Last Chronicles: Are you trying to get in my pants?