T-Bone threw a roundhouse kick which I partially blocked, but the force of which sent me crashing into my book shelves. I laid there sprawled among the cinderblocks, two-by-fours, and paperbacks. Marko stood by and gave a polite golf clap. “Dude!” I yelled over to him, “Check the bird, it probably needs basting.” Marko went to the kitchen, and T-Bone helped me up. “Thanks bitch,” I said, then snapped a karate chop across his collar-bone. His knees buckled a bit, but he managed to grab me and swing me into my other set of book shelves. There was a full beer on them. I hit my head on the wall, but saved the beer. I held it up victoriously. T-Bone laughed.
We had been going at it like that for hours. Our Thanksgiving cage-match had become an epic tale of survival. We were really mixing it up. Sometimes we took turns beating on each other, other times we ganged up two on one. Most of the time it was just every man for himself, but we always took time out to care for the wounded, get refills, and check on the turkey. When we finally sat down to our traditional meal at 10:30 that night, I was holding a bag of frozen peas over my eye, T-Bone had toilet paper stuffed into a nostril, and Marko was going in and out of consciousness, his eyes rolled back to all white. It was not exactly a Norman Rockwell image, but as homey as these homies were going to get.
My Thanksgivings have traditionally been untraditional. There was the untraditional tradition of The Turkey Neck Dance. It started out as an obscene improvisation, but turned into a much beloved and anticipated holiday rite. I was never able to graft that old favorite onto the few normal people’s Thanksgivings I had the misfortune of attending. Try as I might.
Then there was the tradition of not eating until 10:30 pm. Eating turkey too early is a major buzz-kill, and a drain on the beer budget. Besides, every good host knows that hungry guests appreciate the food more. Starving and reeling drunks will eat anything you serve. Overdone and dry, or undercooked and deadly, it doesn’t matter when they’re clawing at the bird carcass with their fingers. They’re grateful, and isn’t that what this Puritan Hoe-Down Harvest Festival supposed to be all about?
I wouldn’t say I was ungrateful during those drunken Thanksgivings Past- I just had more to feel bad about. I was grateful for the extra day off, and the football, and the slack that comes with a loafy holiday. Holidays in general were nice because it was easier to blend my style of drinking into the agenda of the day. Except for Easter. Didn’t have too many rockin’ Easters. They always seemed to land on Sunday. Sundays were always hard.
Now my Thanksgivings are pretty low-key. These days I try to be grateful for more than one day a year. It’s a survival issue at this point, not a cutesy sentiment. If I get too pissy for too long, I might wind up pissy drunk, and that would be bad… for everyone. So I try to see the glass half-full, which any alcoholic can see is not only half-empty, but an alarm bell for an emergency booze run. The weird thing is, the more I try to see the glass half-full, the more it seems to fill up, and that there is a no-bullshit Thanksgiving miracle.