Philip Hassey Writer's Workshop - Zoller - 11/20/00 Fat Turkey - the writing of a story I told once before ...

        I loaf a lot on Sundays, because once a pastor gave a very convincing message on the subject. "If your spiritual lives aren't doing good, it is because you are breaking the Sabbath!" A commandment that encourages an existing habit must be given utmost attention.
        He also talked about the importance of Sunday devotions. He also said, "Take a nap, for it is the Sabbath!" Only having so much time, I took a nap.
        But not all Sunday, because naps get boring after a while, so I marched into the kitchen and ate food. See, one of the great Jewish traditions is feasting. They feasted once every seven years, which I think is a cultural thing. As Americans we feast a good six times a day.
        However Sunday was my day of rest, so I did not go swimming, I sat down at the table and gnawed on some cheese and candy with milk. Suddenly outside I saw a flash of color. I turned my head and saw a wild turkey strutting about in the back lot.
        "Weeeee!" I squealed as I watched it strut around as I was trying to get my clothes on to go outside and stare more.
        From all my rumpus of getting shoes on, by the time I stuck my head out the door, the turkey had figured out that I was trying to watch it, or kill it. It gave me one last stare and shook its head at me and began to walk away. Its walk away turned into a thumping jog that gradually turned into a take-off run. A second later I saw that big three-hundred pound turkey soaring through the air.
        It was ridiculous looking. Big turkeys belong on plates.
        My belief that big turkeys belong on plates was established many years ago, when I was a small child. I never saw live turkeys roaming my back yard in Massachusetts. But at Thanksgiving and even Christmas, I always saw them on plates. Usually dead.
        Thanksgiving was always a large festival in the Hassey household. My parents invited everyone. Everyone being all the relatives, including the ones we didn't know or like. Everyone being the Cloutier family, including all their relatives, and the ones of those that we didn't know or like.
        That was a lot of people. I there must have been a dozen or more grandma's present, and having that many old women wrestling about with a large turkey in the kitchen was always entertaining until we got shoved out of it for being under foot.
        So Dan and I would have to obediently sit about and look soulful. Every now and then someone's aunt would come up to us and kiss our cheeks because aunts with lipstick like to do that. They leave unpleasant red marks on our faces. And since they aren't our Sunday school teachers, we can't just run away. We had to suffer in silence. Actually, worse, we had to suffer out loud in a positive manner.
        "Oh Thank you, Aunt Bergetha." And then we were required to give them a angelic smile. Our parents had been working on us for the last few weeks to get us to be able to do that right.
        "Pretty soon it'll be time for the meal," I said to Dan, with a sort of upbeat feeling in my heart.
        "Pretty soon," said Dan, as he sat there, sulkily. He was loosing his soulful look and just being sulky now. "Hey Phil," he said suddenly, "I've got an idea."
        I was open to ideas. He told me his idea.
        The turkey was almost ready, and as we well knew, behind those great folding doors, the dining room lay. The mothers and grandmothers were almost done and were likely setting the large turkey down on a plate in the center of the table. The doors would be closed until the diner was finally presented to everyone after the prayer.
        "We're finished," said my grandmother, smiling. Everyone's eyes grew gargantuanly. The smell of turkey and stuffing and potatoes and gravy in the air was getting pretty thick. Looking around the room everyone was very hungry looking. Even the dog, Josephine. Josephine was drooling a bit. I looked around at everyone, my grandpa, my aunt, then I looked at my Uncle, he was drooling a bit.
        "First," said my father, "The Thanksgiving Prayer."
        This was the moment we had been waiting for. Father always did long thanksgiving prayers. He'd thank all his thanks, then he'd go on to thank for everyone being here, and be thankful for at least one or two thinks about each of them. All that thanks would add up over time.
        We slunk downstairs, amid the "pre-prayer-shuffling and squirming" session that always came before such prayers.
        We went out the basement door into the back yard and then we went up to the kitchen door and we stole into the kitchen. From the kitchen we moved silently into the dining room. We could here my father continue on and on throughout his thankful prayer. We looked at the turkey, and almost giggled out loud.
        The turkey must have weighted a hundred pounds, and it took all our effort for the two of us to hoist it into the air, and then side it under the table. Then we took our positions on either side of the sliding doors, so that when they were opened, people would pour in and not see us against the walls.
        "Amen," my dad said finally.
        Then came the stampede as everyone barged in through the shutter doors and around the table.
        Everyone sat down expectantly, but some people were asking where the turkey was.
        Then Dan's grandma found it.
        "Oh, how nice!" she said, in her wonderfully melodious old voice.
        "What's nice?" my mother asked.
        "The way you have the floor heated in here now, it feels wonderful," she said.
        Soon the turkey was discovered. Grandma had slipped her feet into the turkey rather comfortably. Her stockings were greasy, and they had to throw out some of the stuffing because it was weird now.
        But all in all it was a great turkey.
Galcon   Watermelons   Dynamite   The Hairy Chestival
All content of imitation pickles (c) 1999-2008 - Phil Hassey  "we care"