A humor series on navigating this difficult time
I’m sharing another installment of a humor series from my friend Pam Goldman, centering on a woman named Ramona, who tries to help… in her own way. If you’re new to this series: Here’s the previous installment.
I have cooked many 20 pound turkeys in my life, from scratch. K. traditionally takes the big bird out of the fridge around 7 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning, carries it awkwardly to the kitchen sink, which he has already scrubbed, along with his hands until his knuckles are raw and pink, so as to decrease the possibility of transmitting latent but lethal bacteria either from the bird to him or the other way around. I forget which. Everything must be as sterile as an operating room. We do not want lawsuits from our guests.
He removes the innards with his germ-free hands and rinses the cavity thoroughly with cold water, going in one orifice and out the other. He then grabs a bunch of paper towels and pats dry the helpless pink thing. He feels these tasks entitle him to bragging rights at the dinner table. “I just helped cook the turkey,” he later announces in a self-effacing manner to friends and family.
I come downstairs in my bathrobe, half-asleep, not quite yet with it, to preheat the oven to 350 degrees. I look for the stick of butter I instructed K. to remove from the fridge the minute he entered the kitchen, so it will soften. I find it still in the fridge, hard as a rock and the opposite of softened. I use bad language, fall asleep sitting on a kitchen stool, awakened shortly by my own snoring.
The butter from the tundra is now in a softened state. I smash it with the back of a soup spoon in a small glass bowl, mix it with salt, pepper, paprika and crushed garlic until it makes a paste which I schmear all over the turkey with my fingers. (Schmearing is a hands-on culinary art passed on by my Hungarian ancestors, executed after washing your hands till they bleed). I cut a lemon in half and put both pieces in the hollow cavity. Same with a head of garlic and a sweet onion. Roast for 4-5 hours (depending on your oven), let cool, carve and we’re talkin’ turkey.
We did none of that this Thanksgiving. We slept in till about 10 a.m. All was quiet in the morning. K. and I got up, had breakfast, read the paper. K. left at noon with his mask to pick up (curb-side) two prepared turkey dinners from The Pantry, a favorite local restaurant. I set the table for two. We ate at 2 pm., sitting at opposite ends of the dining table which seats 10. The conversation went like this:
K: Is the turkey hot enough?
R: It’s lukewarm.
K: Should I microwave it?
R: You mind it lukewarm?
K: Not if you don’t.
R: Don’t what?
K: Like it lukewarm.
R: Maybe nuke it if it’s lukewarm.
K: 10 seconds?
R: Maybe 15 seconds.
K: I’ll nuke it 13 seconds.
R: Can we change the subject? What are you thankful for?
K: The microwave.
K: Our health?
R: Of course. And our kids’ health.
K: Let’s eat. What time’s the ZOOM?
R: Three o’clock.
K: What time is it now?
K: S….t. Can you pass the salt?
We ZOOMED with the kids and grandkids at 3 p.m., chatting, toasting and laughing flatly on my laptop screen. At least we saw their beautiful, smiling faces and we were grateful for that. We said our goodbyes and ‘Happy Thanksgivings’ and clicked “End meeting.” They disappeared and the screen went black.
I thought of all the past Thanksgivings when children slept in the house while we prepared the annual feast. It hasn’t been that way for a very long time. They grew up, went to college, graduated and are living their independent adult lives which they are, of course, entitled to. I’m just wondering for how long. Grrrrrumph.
Children who grow up on the east coast seem to find life fascinating on the West Coast in L.A. and San Francisco once they are emancipated. And children who grow up on the West Coast seem only to want to live on the East Coast, mostly now in….get this…Brooklyn!
To these young adults I say what harm could living next door to your parents cause? Think of the money you would save. No more babysitters, house watchers, dog walkers. All could be replaced with a shout out across the fence to mom and dad, who don’t have lives. And we parents would never interfere when you had friends over for dinner parties except maybe to serve the drinks and hors d’ oeuvres.
But we are happy when our children are happy. Right?! No matter what makes them happy. Right?! Even if they find happiness living in Tierra del Fuego, Argentina. Right?! (Thank goodness my kids don’t live there).
Or maybe they do. Hmmmmm. Hard to tell on Zoom. Oy!
Hope you had a bacteria-free, safe and delicious Thanksgiving!