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Talking Turkey

I’m looking forward to Thanksgiving this year. I have no obligations and am largely guilt-free as I’ll be returning home some weeks later for Christmas, New Year, and my dad’s birthday. It’s rare that one gets such a pass in life – the opportunity to skip out on a burdensome holiday requirement without feeling the necessity to beat himself up over it.

Not that recent Thanksgivings have been particularly trying. Last year the parents visited New York and, with Mom’s help, I prepared a Fairway Market turkey. Despite being the smallest bird Fairway offers, there was more than enough to feed two adults and one small Scottish woman. I finished my last leftover turkey sandwich for my birthday dinner in July. The two Thanksgivings prior to this were prepared by my sister-in-law. While she does a fine job, my brother’s condo is on the ninth floor of a highrise building and his small deck is really more an outdoor extension of his living room. You have to take an elevator down and have two social exchanges with the doorman if you want to escape the scene for a breath of fresh air. I think that an easily accessed backyard should be a minimum requirement for anybody hosting Thanksgiving.  Even the most loving uncle needs the occasional break from swan dives from the elevated glass coffee table and Pokemon cartoons.

One of the better Thanksgivings in recent memory came when I first moved to New York in ’03.  As is the case this year, I was at loose ends and planning on returning to California for Christmas.  I was also writing a column for a website with a total readership of perhaps twelve, and one of those readers happened to be the tall, pretty girl from whom I’d sublet my first apartment. She’d read some sad sack piece I’d done on being all alone for the holiday and invited me over to her place to share Thanksgiving. Being a vegetarian, she prepared a “sides only” meal consisting of defrosted Birds Eye vegetables, cranberry and stuffing. I brought two different pies, but we each had only small portions. It was easy to see how she maintained her lithe, trim figure. We watched a few movies on her laptop and talked politics. It was like reliving a college experience that I never had in the first place, having made the mistake of choosing USC and finishing up at a state school. It was a nice night and one that stands out among the myriad of turkey days passed. After, I took a cold, brisk walk to the former Roxy on Smith Street for a nightcap, and shared the remains of the largely intact pumpkin and blueberry pies with fellow refugees. A truly authentic experience.

I’m not sure what the plan will be this year, but right now I’m pondering the possibility of a restaurant meal and follow-up snort at some welcoming tavern. Although having written this, I anticipate the experience will be a let down. Despite its status as the most formidable American city, New York still hasn’t figured out the hot alcoholic beverage the way San Francisco has. This said, I’m holding out hope for my possibilities. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my mounting years and gathered experience, nothing elicits sympathy like the lone Thanksgiving diner.

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