By Reyna Gillet
I was at Lee’s Launderette on a Saturday night, watching my red panties swirl around in the dryer. My plans that night had fizzled. I was struck dumb by the glow of the Launderette’s florescent lighting and past issues of Mademoiselle and Good Housekeeping. The featured article in Good Housekeeping was an account of how to maintain that story book romance as well as prepare a delicious Thanksgiving meal. I salivated over the delectables pictured. Mashed potatoes glistened with melted butter. Sliced honey-glazed-spiral ham jumped off the page, and oven-baked sweet potatoes were garnished with a few miniature marshmallows (watch the calories, ladies). The pièce de résistance was the turkey. It was a headless mound of golden meat. It rested its weary legs on a silver platter in the middle the dining table spread. It was waiting to be sliced, served and dished to starving cousins, nephews, nieces, and aunts. With bright delight the turkey gets gobbled up, smothered with mom’s grand gravy. The Waldorf salad slides merrily down everyone’s gullets, with intent and gluttony. Aunt Flo helps clean up the dishes afterwards and stores away leftovers for turkey sandwiches. The menfolk gather around the big screen and watch the game, and before long, Grandpa Ted snores graciously, tummy bulging beyond capacity, in his favorite easy chair. That’s the way Good Housekeeping told it anyway.
I remember Thanksgiving differently.
Last year’s Thanksgiving at my house went like this: I left the crumpled post-it on the dining room table with Ollie’s home number on it. He wasn’t the only one in town who still used a landline, yet he was never home. I kept trying the number over and over, but Ollie wasn’t going to answer, because Ollie was dead. Ollie had wrestled with that turkey for five hours before the turkey finally got the better of him. Heart attack and just like that, Ollie was gone.
It was only noon, but I had already had it with this damn Thanksgiving. I needed to get out of the house. “I’ll be back in a couple hours to fix the green bean casserole and finish the laundry!” I yelled to the kin around the TV set. As I entered the carport, I soon realized I was standing in a pool of water. The washer had busted a hose. I hurried and ran to the Launderette to get the good table cloth clean and dried for dinner. “Shit shit shit!” I yelled as I rushed away in my Corolla.
Mom and Dad were going to beat me back to the house. I could picture Dad in the recliner with an opened can of Milwaukee’s Best in hand just minutes after walking in my house. And Mom will be there, bringing her famous rolls, quickly taking to scouring the inserts on the stove with steel wool. I can hear her now, “I taught Arlene how to clean better than this.” Oh my my. Why the hell do I want to go back there? And why the hell does every Thanksgiving end up with someone dead?