Things You Might Overhear at My Family’s Thanksgiving Celebration

Few moments in my life are funnier than the comments bubbling up during meals spent with my crazy family and equally crazy friends (who are like chosen family.). Since my cousin Jeff and I can basically mind meld, all it takes is a quick exchange of glances to kick off some of these running dialogues during Thanksgiving dinner. Here’s my Top Five List of Oddball Things Said During Meals Together (family and friends edition), with a (T) behind those you might overhear at my family’s Thanksgiving.

screenshot-2016-11-23-11-27-05

  1. “I have a torn labia.” One of my guy friends said this when I asked him what kind of shoulder surgery he was recovering from. He meant to say “labrum,” but somehow, labia is what came out. I was in hysterics for a good half an hour afterwards. I felt guilty laughing because he looked so pained and embarrassed, but that only made me laugh harder. I choked on my coffee this morning, just remembering this one all over again.
  2. “No man can refuse this p***y!” A certain uber-tall cousin of mine grabbed his right ankle and lifted his long leg over his head, uttering these words in the middle of a Sizzler Restaurant during lunch one day, mimicking Grace Jones in the Eddie Murphy movie, Boomerang.  Unbeknownst to him, as he was sitting in front of a column, there was an entire table of people behind him, whom I was facing, who did not appreciate his Grace Jones imitation, making this even funnier. I waved my hands wildly about in the “stop” motion, but he misinterpreted my gesturing as “Stop making me laugh!” I couldn’t stop hyperventilating in giggles long enough to warn him to stop.
  3. “Fifteen is my limit on schnitzengruben!” (T)This line from Blazing Saddles is uttered every time someone tries to push food on us at Thanksgiving, when we’re already way too stuffed.
  4. “It’s only wafer thin…” (T) –– This alludes to the epically disgusting, never-ending puke scene in Monty Python’s Meaning of Life. John Cleese offers up a wafer-thin mint to an obese man who has eaten so much, he explodes. In the end, all that remains is a beating heart, dangling, encased inside of a rib cage.
  5. “Go make yourself a danged quesadilla!” (T) — To say this correctly, you have to make quesadilla rhyme with Sarah Palin’s hometown, Wasilla. This line, from Napoleon Dynamite, is typically said later in the day, when dinner has settled and someone interrupts our Euchre game long enough to announce they have a taste for a turkey/stuffing/cranberry sauce sandwich. I also say this to Jack, pretty much every day we’re home together and he asks me to make his lunch.

This year, Jack and I are celebrating Thanksgiving with my extended family over the weekend, so tomorrow will be a quiet day at home, watching “Holes” and Napoleon Dynamite, wishing the pilgrims had kicked off this holiday with Beef Wellington rather than turkey. And what are your plans? Need ideas for side dishes, cocktails, main course recipes, cooking time, gravy techniques, family games or table decor tips? Check out my freshly curated Pinterest Holiday Entertainment board. Consider this your new go-to resource filled with infographic goodness and everything you’d need to know for holiday entertaining. Also, I learned a great trick on Saturday with my baked brie — using apple butter instead of apricot preserves gives it this apple pie flavor that is simply amazing. Give it a whirl!

screenshot-2016-11-23-11-26-26

The Short-Lived Laughter Moratorium

Throughout my life, I’ve been told by many that my laugh is infectious…and memorable. To witness, I was riding in this crowded Chicago parking garage elevator with my BFF Marovich after comedienne Kathy Griffin’s concert when Marovich–no surprise–made me laugh. A woman’s voice in the way back section of this crowded freight elevator declared, “I’d know that laugh anywhere!” I whipped around, and there was my kindergarten friend Linda, whom I’ve rarely spent time with in our teen or adult lives (I hope to correct this soon), but my laugh lived on in her memory. At my 20-year class reunion, the most frequent comment I got was, “I really miss your laugh.”

I love to laugh more than anything in the world. Well…there’s maybe one other thing, but I digress…

One of the greatest contributors to my expansive sense of humor is my closest cousin, Jeff. His dad and my dad were brothers, both gone now. His dad died in a tragic ultralight crash. We leaned on each other through that, and more recently, my dad’s death. But we’ve shared so many more good times than bad, attending the same high school together, spending our birthdays, holidays, and vacations together. At one point in our careers, we even worked on the same floor of the same company (and WTF were they thinking, hiring the two of us?!?). Prank phone calls, 90-minute lunches, and hijinks ensued. By the time I left there, quotes from Airplane, Blazing Saddles, The Simpsons, and Throw Momma from the Train were viral vernacular, confusing elderly secretaries everywhere.

My cousin Jeff, who makes me laugh to the point of pain.

My beloved cousin Jeff, who makes me laugh to the point of pain, even without surgery.

About once a week, I’ll get that 312 area code call on my mobile phone, and anyone who knows me well can read my face and realize who’s calling. I’m beaming before I even answer the phone. A low voice says, “DeDe…”–my family’s nickname for me–and then I fasten my seat belt and pray for an empty bladder. I know I’m in for some gut-buster travel story, life observation, or David Sedaris book passage.

An obscure quote from Jeff's & my 2nd favorite movie...

An obscure quote from Jeff’s & my 2nd favorite movie…

 

So I somehow forgot to forewarn Jeff, of all people, that my Wednesday surgery meant a moratorium on the comedy for at least 48 hours. I’d gotten word to BFF Marovich and the Sister Wives, but Jeff missed becoming a line item on my black list. Thursday afternoon I saw that 312 area code pop up on the phone, and I braced myself. I couldn’t even cough at that point without some pain. I had refused all pain killers. This was going to be a rough ride.

Since Jeff holds a prestigious corporate job, I won’t divulge here what he said, but it was worth every ounce of post-surgical pain. In fact, I’m still giggling about it. I would never wish surgery on Jeff, but if he has, say, an appendectomy, I’ve got him on speed dial. And I’ve already lined up a very special, belly jiggling David Sedaris quote.

 

Merry Christmas!

I hope all of you reading this (who celebrate) are having a Christmas filled with family, laughs, good health, and prosperity.

This is the 2nd year for our unorthodox Christmas tree made of books, but it suits us, and so far, Jonesy (our new hairless alien cat) hasn’t attempted to climb it:

Our Christmas Tree Made Solely of Books

Our 2nd Bibliophile Christmas Tree, Topped with “The Nightmare Before Christmas” lamp (out of shot). Foreground: Jack with Jonesy the Hairless Cat

Dave’s favorite gifts this year–which he bought for himself–were two limited edition books: Walt Simonson’s Man Hunter: Artist’s Edition, and Mark Schultz Xenozoic Tales, Artist’s Edition. The Tee Fury tees I bought him–guaranteed for Xmas delivery–still haven’t arrived.

Jack and I will be making our pilgrimage to invade Strongsville, Ohio tomorrow in a 3-car caravan with my first cousins to visit my cousin Greg & his family; Greg’s an Illinois ex-pat and my go-to person for plays and concerts (it seems that bizarre and unsettling incidents occur whenever I go with anyone besides Greg. I mean, who but me gets kicked out of The House of Blues during a Pat Benatar concert for wearing someone else’s beer and not fighting back?!?).

This Ohio trip means four days of playing Euchre and poker until the sun comes up, the incessant beat of ’80s music blasting in the background, Greg’s gourmet cooking, disses we only tolerate from fellow McDonalds, and lots of laughs. My cray-cray cousins are some of my favorite humans in this whole wide, wide world of sports (and they even share my reverence for Blazing Saddles, a script we recite in unison, verbatim).

To the three sets of aunts and uncles who spoiled Jack rotten this Christmas, we can’t thank you enough. I am proud of the fact that the cheapest gift Jack received–from me–made one of the biggest impressions on him:

Jack's favorite Xmas gift from me: The Sound F/X Machine

Jack’s favorite Xmas gift from me: The Sound F/X Machine

I felt it was any 10-year-old’s rite of passage to deploy a sound f/x machine, which is sure to be a big hit with the cousins in Ohio…and sure to be confiscated by the 4th Grade teacher in less than a month. (I guess I’d better buy that back-up version.)