Holiday Update: I Ruined Thanksgiving and My Dog Smells Like Cheese – California Seething [Best of FaN]
EDITOR’S NOTE: Just in case you think your Thanksgiving is going poorly, here’s a re-run of Eric Sim’s Thanksgiving 2011.
Our Thanksgiving dinner this year was supposed to be low maintenance and effortless which, as a card-carrying member of the flannel and apathy generation, I seriously appreciated, man. We decided not to cook anything from scratch but to buy and reheat prepared foods from Whole Foods instead. Mind you, we didn’t do this because I’m too lazy and incompetent to cook Thanksgiving dinner, no sir! We did it because I’m too lazy and incompetent to renovate our kitchen (which is much, much worse) and cooking Thanksgiving dinner in that tiny, dysfunctional kitchen would be like trying to have sex with a horse in an airplane bathroom – or, more to the point, it would be like cooking a full Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings in an absurdly small kitchen with an undersized oven and no counter space– which is the hardest fucking thing you could do so it doesn’t need any clever little metaphors to make it seem harder than it is. It’s so hard that, in fact, it makes a really good metaphor for other things that are really hard like- “Damn! Passing that softball sized kidney stone was like cooking Thanksgiving dinner in Eric’s absurdly small kitchen with its undersized oven and no counter space” or “Whew! Fucking that horse in that airplane bathroom sure was tough! As tough as cooking Thanksgiving dinner in Eric’s absurdly small kitchen with its undersized oven and no counter space. Isn’t that right Seabiscuit? Yeah, you like that, boy? That wasn’t no carrot I was feeding you in there, but you sure went to town on it when I dug the spurs in Yee-Haw!”
Right, so I think you get the point– cooking would be hard– and I’m not the sort of masochistic “because it’s there” blow-dried, Old-Spice commercial, mountain climbing kind of bloke who goes out of his way to do things just because they are hard. For me, “because it’s there” isn’t the reason to climb a mountain, it’s an excuse for being 20 minutes late because I had to go around one– maybe stopping for lunch along the way at a charming little explorer themed café and having some delicious reindeer steaks and sled dog stew (must…resist…tasteless…Korean…dog eating…joke.)
In fact, to make our holiday even more low maintenance and effortless we decided to pre-order the “Thanksgiving Dinner for 6” even though there were only 3 of us eating (Yay Gluttony! Best. Deadly Sin. Ever.) so we could guarantee that our partially cooked turkey and all of our Thanksgiving side dishes would be boxed up and waiting for us on Thanksgiving morning, all snug and cozy like fluffy kittens in a bag on the way to the river. That way, we wouldn’t have to run through the store like a couple of frantic mice whose cheese keeps getting moved (SPOILER ALERT: The 1% moved your cheese– and they’re not putting it back.) trying to scrounge up everything we need at the last minute to assemble a halfway decent dinner (like last year).
So with our food safely ensconced in plastic containers in the fridge and my ass safely ensconced on the couch, I hung out on Thanksgiving morning watching grotesquely inflated enormous characters lumbering along predictably (Lions game) feeling smug about the fact that I was doing absolutely nothing while so many other Americans were working their asses off (I haven’t felt that good since we last went to war.)
Around noon, I decided to unglue my boxer shorts from the sofa cushions and meander into the kitchen to start warming stuff up. It was at this point that my laziness went from being an amusing, Gen-X man-boy Ethan Hawke style quirk to genuine Shakespearean tragic flaw. (Actually, laziness probably would have kept a lot of Shakespeare’s tragic heroes out of trouble– “Dude, my dead dad’s ghost just totally asked me to avenge his murder. Can you believe that guy? I’m like, dude, just ‘cause somebody took your life doesn’t mean you get to take over mine. That’s sooo unfair. Plus, hello? Did you even think to ask if I had plans for tonight? Of course not, cause you’ve got to be mister big-shot-king-guy-dead-dad’s ghost looking for vengeance all the time and my stuff means nothing to you, just like when I made you that hand-turkey in preschool and you were too busy fighting wars with England to even notice. Whatevs, I’m playing Modern Warfare III with Rosencranz and Guildenstern online tonight, so I guess I can’t avenge your little murder thing. Man, I’m so awesome at that game– those guys are totally dead!”)
The instructions clearly said that the turkey was supposed to be reheated in a metal roasting pan but because I couldn’t find one, I plopped it in a Pyrex baking dish and lined with foil to make it seem all, uhm, metal-y instead. My wife questioned this decision and suggested that maybe I should try and track down a metal roasting pan, but I rebutted her argument with my typically cogent and well reasoned reply (“It’s fine. It’s fine. It’s FINE!”), shoved the turkey in the Pyrex dish into the oven and turned it to up 325. For our tragic hero, King Eric the Half-Assed, this was the point of no return (Peripeteia, bitchez! Where my theatre nerds at?)
Two hours later, as I prepared to warm up the sides, I opened the oven to discover the bird of my dreams heating up. It was golden brown, beautiful and aromatic- the kind of perfect turkey that Wile-E-Coyote sees when he looks at the Road Runner. I grabbed a big spoon and reached into the dish to scoop out some of the drippings to pour over the stuffing (THANKSIGIVNG COOKING TIP #1: Extra dry- Good for a martini, bad for stuffing.), and, the moment my spoon hit the Pyrex dish – KER-BLAMO! The dish exploded into a million little pieces like James Frey’s filthy lies. What was once a delicious turkey dinner was now a helpless little bird marooned on a life raft of aluminum foil in a steaming ocean of shattered glass and poultry sludge. Like a Top Gear challenge gone hopelessly wrong, my effortless, low maintenance Thanksgiving dinner was replaced in an instant by a desperate turkey salvage mission and arduous clean-up process. Ambitious but rubbish, indeed.
The real tragedy was that, since my mother-in-law was present, I had to edit my natural response to the situation and ended up sounding like Tony Soprano on A&E: “Gosh darn it all to heck! That cheap mother-loving, blood-sucking piece of spit blew up the second I flippin’ touched it with my freakin’ spoon ! Oh FIDDLESTICKS! This seriously grates my cheese.”
Anyhow, we pulled out the turkey using a combination of tongs, spatula and blind, dumb luck (Tebow wuld thank Jesus, but I don’t think he helped.) The turkey seemed to be warm enough, so we went ahead and ate it (THANKSGIVING COOKING TIP #2: The secret to eating an undercooked turkey is to blow up a Pyrex dish in the oven. You’ll be much too worried about choking on glass to worry about salmonella.) It would be another week before I got the oven clean enough to turn it on without seeing brackish black smoke pour out and hearing the festive sounds of popping chunks of glass (Like chestnuts roasting over an open fire that slice up your throat and kill you ) so I warmed the side dishes in the microwave and we choked down as much of the meal as we possibly could. I then shoved the rest in the fridge and we said good night by 6:45 PM so we could go to bed as quickly as possible and try to forget the whole horrible dinner ever happened.
Of course, we couldn’t forget about it, since we had enough left-over food for Thanksgiving dinners on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, Cyber Tuesday AND Cyber Wednesday (Come on already, guys. It’s a fine line between online retailer and needy ex-girlfriend. It’s like I’ve got Amazon.com drunk dialing me at 2 in the morning while listening to that stupid Adele song over and over again in the background. Hey, maybe if you guys made your stuff in America, people would actually have money to buy it) so our festive holiday meal turned into an extended culinary death march (the Trail of Turkey) and I was forced to remember my dismal failure everytime I fired up the mircowave and and shoved in another cornucopia of fucking Thanksgiving bounty. By the time we were done with all the food I was half narcoleptic from all the tryptophan in my blood and grateful only for the fact that I bought 4 cans of jellied cranberry sauce the week before the holiday.
Right, so in order to make sure this whole experience wasn’t just a giant waste of time (not to mention reading about it) I have to extract some valuable life lessons. Right, so, uhm, here we go- Valuable Life Lessons:
- Life is fragile– we’re always just one exploding Pyrex dish away from a totally ruined Thanksgiving– so, you know, hug each other and shit.
- My wife is a totally awesome person who doesn’t say “I told you so” even when she explicitely and in no uncertain terms, told me so.
- Just because I CAN do something in the kitchen doesn’t mean I SHOULD do something in the kitchen– though you would think I would have learned that lesson when I blew up an egg in the mircowave or clogged up the garbage disposal with that family sized jar of expired pickles while playing “let’s throw Lando the Sarlacc pit” as I laughed like Jabba the Hut.
- I should think about putting somewhere near the same amount of effort in at home as I do at work. Let’s face it, if I needed to track down a metal roasting pan on Thanksgiving to use as a prop in a show or if we were doing August: Osage County and we had to roast a Tofurky in the green room because the aging TV actress we cast in the show simply couldn’t eat the same dinner that everyone else is eating on stage, I would have dropped everything and located not one but three seprarate alternatives to choose from, delivered them personally, stayed to confirm that one was acceptable and followed up afterwards to make sure that everything worked out ok. This is because at work I’m a pro-active, get-it-done, can-do type of man and at home I’m a “I’ll take out the recycling when the pile collapses” kind of dude– as you can see from the case studies below:
Case Study #1:
Sat, 11 AM- Received report from Stage Manager of mild sewage smell throughout the theatre.
11:05 AM- Called Stage Door Attendant and instructed him to trouble-shoot immediately. Suggested several possible alternative odor sources for him to investigate.
11:20 AM- Stage Door Attendant called back, discussed findings and we identified the most likely cause of smell.
11:25 AM- Texted Facilty Assistant – asked him to call Stage Door Attendant and talk him through process of fixing the problem.
11:30 AM- Emailed House Manager– instructed her to open up all doors to lobby during matinee in order to air space out.
11:45 AM- Received text from Facility Assistant confirming coversation with Stage Door Attendant.
11:50 AM- Followed up with Stage Door Attendant to confirm that problem has been addressed.
12 PM- Emailed Stage Manager– report that issue is in process of being resolved.
2 PM- Followed up with Stage Door Attendant to confirm that smell is dissipating and that solution was successful.
Mon, 10 AM- Discussed issue with key colleagues. Type up instructions re treating this problem should it arise in future and circulating to necessary staff.
Case Study #2
Mon, 6:30 PM- returned home to discover overwhelming, foul rotten cheese aroma permeating our condo.
6:35 PM- Sniffed several sections of dog, attempting to locate odor-source. Smell seemed to be coming from right ear.
6:40 PM- Shrugged. Opened window. Watched Pawn Stars.
A few days later, 11 AM: Finally took dog to vet because the stench became overwhelming and we couldn’t get any sleep since the dog was up shaking his head all night and his collar kept tinkling like a bunch of fucking reindeer on the roof (sweet delicious reindeer.)
But maybe it doesn’t have to be this way. What if I renovated my kitchen so that I could actually cook Thanksgiving dinner from scratch? What if I cleaned up the landscaping in the backyard so I could actually see the lemon tree in the corner through the terrifying jungle of dog-shit and weeds ? What if I didn’t have to wonder everytime I stepped in the tub if today was the day it would finally collapse through the floor? What if I actually lived like a full-fledged, honest to goodness adult? How crazy would that be?
Then again, maybe it’s best that I don’t. When I first moved into this house, I attached a piece of wire to the latch at the back gate and ran it through a hole in the post so I could open the gate easily from the outside. Then, when the lid-switch on the washing machine stopped working, I cut a little piece off that wire and used it to by-pass the shut off mecahnism connected to the lid-switch so that the washing machine would run whether it was open or closed.
One week later, it was clear I had undone the only successful repair job I had ever completed by trying to fix something else that I had no business fixing since I couldn’t get the fucking latch on my back gate open to bring in the new washing machine and haul out the corpse of the one I destroyed.
So, maybe the real moral of this story is that I should never try and do anything myself, always keep a handy-man on speed-dial and that next year we should just fucking go out for Chinese food. At least we’ll get a better selection of leftovers.
Or maybe there’s no moral at all. I don’t know. All I know for sure is I’ve got to go give the dog ear-drops because that horrible cheese smell is making me crave Doritos and I’m much too lazy to go out and buy them. Damn it, I knew my slacker ways would bite me on the ass someday. I bet this would never have happened to Hamlet.
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