Thanksgiving is ticking down, two days and counting. Tick, tock, cluck. Today, hoards of bird killer are stocking up on canned stock peppered with MSG, friendly feathered-foul, root vegetables that resembled old sticks, little pearl onions no one will eat and cranberries the size of cat testicles.
Last night, Dave and I meandered around the house planning and reading recipes and thinking and cleaning and organizing and legally downloading mood music and getting hungrier and hungrier by the three-minute interval like Maria Callas after the tapeworm but before the break up. I love this holiday as much as Orville loved Redenbacher. Serious buttered popcorn love.
After finishing the to-do list I put Otto down with a kiss, a cuddle and a noogie, Dave and I split a balls-to-the-walls grilled cheese sandwich on Casper white, white bread fried on a cast iron pan my mother rescued and seasoned for us fifteen years ago, a blackened demi-god that makes everything taste better and bigger and greasier than a donut atop a Devil’s Food Cake.
We turned on the TV and watched the last half of About A Boy with Hugh Grant but as I wrote this sentence later on, my fingers wanted to spell out Hugh Hefner but my brain knew better. Hugh Hefner does not have Huge Grant’s charm, functioning body mass or regular heartbeat and in a game of Druthers, I would always choose the street walker-loving Grant over a wrinkled, sleepwear-slathered Hefner. No contest.
When Hugh was done being a boy, a slim, 1983 Bill Cosby came on the boob tube (I want that TV term resuscitated) and I was thoroughly entranced by his squeaky clean, easy stand-up. His comedy made me laugh real ha ha’s as I heard familiar-isms about parenthood and the exasperation of children’s demands and illogical logic and ugly-faced yelling. It was brilliant babbling without a single four-letter penis reference and a filthy fecal term floating passed his lips. He was, and still is, so, so good and so Cosby. But then Bill got all fuzzy in my brain and I realized that I couldn’t stop thinking of my unloved, untamed cuticles.
The realization comes as I looked down at my sturdy, farmer hands where not a nail can grow nor a diamond can shine. Okay, maybe a slight exaggeration but a hand model I am not. Nor am I a person who would be hired to seductively advertise soap, cheap jewelry or dangerously dull cutlery. I might be paid a few sheckles to carry jugs of water long distances using nothing more that an index finger and a palm but that is where the usefulness of my handsome hands would stop.
I have lots of ways of describing my two little workers paws. Catchers mitts, door stops, fly swatters, squash rackets and back scratchers to name a few. Those terms usually pop up when I see my mittens resting on the steering wheel or reaching for the remote. I also see generations of sturdy, facially fierce women folk that came before me with knuckle muscles doing pinky push-ups after kneading ten loaves of bread and making two quilts simultaneously before punching their children into bed for the night. My family tree has a very thick and thorough trunk and very tough and twisted branches
Just when I am sharing a thought bubble with a collection of ladies that could easily be mistaken for a reckless rugby scrum my mind wandered back to Bill and a memory took its place and I realized that years ago I actually tried and failed at turning my dumpy dukes into two things of artificially sculpted beauty.
My sophomore year of college I searched inside the lining of my distressed leather bomber jacket and my boxer shorts I wore as casual resort wear for a direction in life but found nothing. After I stopped volunteering at the university hospital because it was bad for my naturally depressive, super sensitive soul and then quit the Save The Rain Forest Coalition because the bumper sticker was too large for the front of my moped and the hippies made fun of my wrestling shoes and shoulder pads, I decided that spending my last $20 a month on professionally applied acrylic nails would finally fix all my problems. Having long, luxurious nails the color of a Maraschino Cherry floating in a watered-down Manhattan would finally make me cool, calculating and crazy happy.
Every four weeks I would sit across from Bill Cosby’s former personal secretary, a nice, middle-aged lady with a name like Gladys or Cherice or Shirl and listen to her tell me G-rated stories about Hollywood and Las Vegas and night clubs and Milton Berle’s breath all the while coating my natural nails with a substance as toxic and tough as Three Mile Island bathroom tiles under the left reactor’s executive urinal. The more she talked of show business and the good old days the more my nail beds morphed from mangled meat hooks into the fantastic fists of Krystal Carrington. It may have been the deathly fumes, that have since been proven to cause irreversible brain damage and bad taste, or the hot desert temperatures of Tucson, but I always left dizzy with delight and dripping in dreams of one day being an unstoppable Mahjong master with long, perfectly painted claws clicking on the tiles of my fallen victims.
Four months after I mutilated both my metacarpi into a matching set of female phalanges I ripped the fake nails off in a chemical-induced hysteria and went back to the world of manly handshakes and puffy pointer fingers. I had to stop trying my co-ed best to be girly and giggly and get back to the sexually ambiguous psychology major that my hands wanted me to be. Watching Bill Cosby wax poetic about the complexities of fatherhood made me remember my Alamo of bad fashion choices and dark days of depressive decision-making. That and just how lucky I am today, right now, right here.
So this Thanksgiving as we all go around to give thanks at the huge, lovely table we’ve been invited to sit at, littered with the dearest of friends who are truly family, I will shout out my thanks to the people who stuck by me in the many months of my manic manicures and the subsequent years of my restless wandering and wondering. I know deep in my heart that if I can count on one withered wing five people who love me no matter what, than I am richer than rich. And yes, I may even be richer than that.