Thanksgiving Hamburger 2005

Friday, November 27, 2015

I am in Detroit. Having Thanksgiving with this same family. I still occasionally say "But the Baby wants a hot dog!"


A week has passed. There are no left overs of succulent roast turkey in my fridge- but then again that is not unusual. I don’t cook. In fact, what is in my fridge at the moment is a large-ish bottle of some vanilla soy smoothie stuff that Terrance has been tricking Emily into drinking and my large bottle of Japanese Plum wine. No milk for our child, but plenty of wine for the mommy.

So we went to New York and spent time with my in-laws. I love my in-laws. I am very, very lucky – I know. My mother in law, the namesake for our child, was a bad ass 60’s Black Panther mama- I have seen the gun toting motorcycle pictures to prove it. She raised two children in Detroit, and both are still alive and reasonably well-adjusted adults. She has been married four times. I have met all her ex-husbands. For, in some cultural phenomenon that seems to exist only with my husband’s family, all ex-spouses LIKE each other. They visit, and talk, and come to each other’s parties. I watched Terrance’s father (Husband #1, father of both children) sit and chat at length with husband number 3, while current Husband Number 4 brought them fresh drinks.

Alas, in my family, when a divorce or breakup occurs, the Ex’s are cast out, never to be seen again - like reenactment of Lucifer's breakup with God. We are not forgiving and jovial people. We are white. We are vengeful. We are bitter, bitter people.

So, I expected to enjoy my time with my mother in law. For, after all, she is the woman who took me aside before my marriage and said –“If he ever hits, you, I expect you to knock his ass out. If you have to kill him, I’ll understand. I’ll bail you out of jail, cause while he is my son and I love him , but he’s a man, honey. Women have to stick together”

Instant Love. Really.

So, imagine my surprise when my mother in law emerged in New York City, having taken on the personality of an elderly, embittered white woman.

While I will not detail every complaint, every sigh, every comment – for it is too exhausting for even me to relive – I will give you the vignette of what will henceforth be known as “Hamburger Thanksgiving 2005”

My Mother in law wanted to see the statue of Liberty. Not go out to the Island, just see it from Battery Park. OK. All right. We take a taxi from E80th to Battery Park – quite a long taxi ride – and spend 8 minutes standing against the silhouette of the Statue for photos- then back into a taxi to go to Times Square. Now, I am in the Taxi of the Sinus , garlic breathed, taxi driver. I am queasy from the stench. My eyes PLEAD with my husband. Open the window, open the window I send with my wifely mind ray. He ignores me.

We get to Times Square. My daughter says, “I want a hot dog”. My mother in law starts looking around for a street meat vendor to purchase requested hot dog. I GLARE at my husband. My wifely mind ray sends Our child can not eat a hot dog from one of those carts, The vomiting alone will cause me to divorce you. He picks this one up and says “No, Mom, No hot dogs- let’s find somewhere to eat”.

She suggests Applebees. I glare at my husband and send this thought I have not come to New York to eat at a god damn Applebees on Thanksgiving. I may have even muttered this statement into his arm.

He counter-suggests a brew pub nearby. Ah yes, grasshopper, very good. I smile at him.
We are seated. She picks up the menu and scans it. “Is there anything you want to eat here? Is there a hot dog for the baby?”

Frankly ( a hot dog joke!), I could care less about a hot dog for my child. I have the motherly view that we can find something on any menu that she can have. I refuse to live my total life by the presence of a “kiddie menu”, and my child has come to accept her fate. When I am very hungry, the few motherly instincts I possess go right out the damn window. It is all about my precipitously declining blood sugar and me.

My father-in-law returns from the bathroom and offers this Deal Breaking Statement:
“I just told the hostess that when I was in the bathroom a member of the restaurant came out of a stall – adjusted himself and walked out without washing his hands”.

Ok, yes. I concur. Gross. But I am SOOOOOO hungry and food is so close by. Maybe the dude was changing his pants… Maybe?

She leaps up and says, “We can’t eat here!”” and I give one last longing look at the menu as I get up and put my coat back on. We leave.

I have now fallen into near coma like levels of low blood sugar. I am sullen and silent. I don’t even glare at my husband. I shuffle along. I don’t even have the strength to argue.
But Terrance, my best beloved, spots another brewpub down the street – The Heartland. “Lets’ go there!!” he exclaims!

And while my mother in law mutters and mumbles, I take off in a dead run for the Heartland Brew Pub. We get in, we are seated!! Hurrah!!!

There is a plated Thanksgiving dinner – or the ala carte menu. It seems a simple choice. I will have the Thanksgiving dinner…..Right? Won’t I? Apparently not. My MIL wants to debate the overall business decision of offering only the two menu choices with the waiter. I catch the waiter’s eye.

“ I will have a pint of the “Spiced Pumpkin Ale”. My stare suggests that he would do well to get me this beverage quickly. He seems to understand completely and rushes away to get my beer – even before getting anyone else’s drink order. Ah, sir. I will tip you well!

We peruse the menu. There is no Hot dog. My MIL takes this up as a rally cry: ”Can the baby get a hot dog? Can the baby get a hot dog?”

No, No hot dogs. She will have a hamburger and judging from the look I am shooting her, she will LOVE this fucking hamburger. She will rejoice and dance and write poetry about the perfection of this hamburger. If she does not, this may go down as one of those future therapy moments where she starts off by telling her Therapist:

“That was the moment my mother lost her shit, punched my grandmother in the nose, jumped up and ran to hide behind the bar of the brew pub”

The waiter returns and I accept his pint of pumpkin ale tenderly, as if it is my second born child. I smile. I close my eyes and drink. Then I hear:

MIL: “I want a frozen Margarita”
Waiter: “We don’t make frozen drinks here, Ma’am”

I open my eyes and turn in time to see my MIL put her head down on the table, in defeat.
MIL: “just bring me a glass of Riesling”
Me: “I’ll have the hamburger – medium rare – and I’ll be ready for another pint by the time it’s ready”

I eat my Thanksgiving Hamburger and drink my tasty Thanksgiving Ale. Mmmmmmmm, Pumpkin Ale.

Fade into me

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Where am I?

Here, of course. Busy. Absorbed in the world of work, my students, my child, my pets.  Headed into the final weeks of the semester, managing student teachers and assignments and grant proposals, my time slips away into wisps of activity.

On the weekends, I clean the house. My bedroom often looks like a battle scene in tableau during the week. I choose the costume in which I will face the day then leave a swirling tempest of debris in my wake; shoes that didn't fit the outfit, or jewelry tried and rejected.

On the weekend, I attempt to restore order to the havoc.

This Sunday I woke from a dream that not only made me sad, it made me feel uneasy. Out of place. I am accustomed to the dreams of sadness, and when I have those I wake slowly and wait to open my eyes. Sometimes I address the sadness out loud so that it can fade. Today, however, I woke feeling pursued.  I made my way downstairs where Terrance was fully engaged in the day, coffee brewing, croissants made.  I stood before him, mute, until he moved towards me to hug me. He tries to soothe me, reminding me that dreams aren't real.

I know different.

Later, after a cup of coffee, I ponder these fleeting depths of unhappiness, as if sounding out the bottom.  What have I to feel discontent about? I have a job, in a field I love. I am using my degree.
I get to indulge in my obsessions, Perfume and shoes and dresses made in a vintage style.

I clean. I collect all the shoes and return them to their homes. I return necklaces to their hangers and the hair ornaments to their homes. Am I unhappy?

Not really. Melancholy on occasion, but I think that is my nature. I am Sylvia Plath under the fig tree, pondering the directions I could have taken, the people I could have loved and the person I might have become.

Those ghost lives can become overwhelming, crowding into my own life. I work hard to keep them contained in their boxes, but they slither out on occasion, finding their way into my waking and sleeping dreams.

I retrieve the vacuum after I clean all the litter boxes. Before I can begin, I search the carpet for the bobby pins that perpetually escape my hair. It is a joke at work. You can see my trail in the building by the pins left behind.  My hair rebuffs the attempted order that the pins impose and ejects them, leaving a trail of small metal implements in my wake.

Home is no better. I open the closet and find another three, laying there in the dark.

I vacuum, watching the eddy of feathers and rabbit fur in the belly of the machine.

I ponder the figs not eaten while I wash my makeup brushes, preparing for the performance of another week.  Would I have been happier with someone else, somewhere else? Is being busy and not actively unhappy enough? Have I have been bewitched by some eidolon of joy?

I don't know.

Mischa has discovered that I placed my cloak on the chair and quickly nestles into his spot, daring me to disturb him.

Another Sunday passes.

◄Design by Pocket