Thursday, November 23, 2006

A Set Piece Without Much Variation

For years, my Thanksgivings were punctuated with an unconventional group of my parents' friends, most notably two ex-communicated Jehovah Witnesses, Donna and Richard, a mother-son pair worthy of a Flannery O'Connor story. We'd start in on the turkey, and everything would be a-okay -- I don't remember much alcohol being consumed except for the sip of terrible vinegary wine saved for festive times (my parents didn't, for the most part, drink) so booze was not to blame for the strange turn things would take by dessert -- Richard weeping into the boxed pumpkin pie and telling us the story of how he got kicked out of the Witnesses. It was a set piece for many years without much variation; he'd told the elders of the church about having "bad" feelings for men and that he sometimes indulged in pornography (no secret to us as our house was right next to the huge Triple XXX Superstore on the highway and we'd drive by it several times a week, my dad frequently noting, There's Richard's truck!) The elders kicked him out, some kind of religious version of the tribe has spoken and soon Richard was sobbing even harder and my dad would try and comfort him by saying, It's okay, Richard, really, it's just fine.

I'm not sure what purpose this yearly confession served Richard, but I didn't mind it. It drew attention away from my single status and the battery of lame questions -- Still dating that schoolteacher who won't commit? (the use of the word schoolteacher always struck me as very Laura Ingalls and sent me into a fit of giggles), or Whatever happened to your old high school boyfriend? Said boyfriend's name, ironically, was Richard, and I'd report that he went the way of our Richard, but without the sturm and drang of the religious outing -- he'd merely dyed a blonde streak into his hair and starting listening to the same Berlin album over and over again. I'd leave the table and smile at how things could be both odd and predictable at the same time, the more things change, the more they stay the same feeling, and I was always very thankful.

Michelle's Spell of the Day

"Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep." Romans 12:15

Cocktail Hour

Drinking movie suggestion: Dog Day Afternoon

Benedictions and Maledictions

Happy Thanksgiving! I'm thankful for all those out there reading, for new and old friends, and for my nearest and dearest, too many to name. Alas, you know who you are! Without all of you, there'd be no making it through this or any of life's dreary and not so dreary hours.


Laura said...

Great Story. Hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving this year.

Pythia3 said...

I guess my being on Thanksgiving morning must mean:

a) I'm a serious writer/blogger
b) I fell asleep at my pc last night
c) I am single and it's my sister's turn to prepare the feast
d) I couldn't wait to see if you were on too! (Romans 12:15)
e) I am single and most of the above.

I loved this post (I love reading everything you write!)
. . . things being both odd and predictable . . . how true.

Years back, I went to Saugatuck and came across a store called "The Artist." The artist himself had a name, James Brandess, and he was the local scenic and portrait artist and Saugatuck's claim to fame (even though he had transplanted himself there from Chicago). He was able to capture one or two of the most intimate and almost invisible aspects of his subject's spirit. Not through exaggeration by painting a bigger nose, or wider set eyes - but rather by painting the years of family pride that held the nose up or the restlessness of the one whose eyes are so wide apart they see different realities.

Anyway, you brought this to mind because you are that kind of portrait artist. You are able to capture the subtle goings on below the surface: the seedlings that don't sprout towards the sun, but rather coil over on themselves like little snakes.

Thanks for sharing you thoughts, feelings and observations without a prejudice or judgment attached. I am still learning how to do that . . . how to, for example, call a banana clip a banana clip. Period. (That's a huge accomplishment for a stylist, you know!)



The Walking Man said...

I wonder if it was the boxed pumpkin pie that set the first Richard off? Because if that was it, that is a rather peculiar fetish. If it had been warm apple pie then I might get it but pumpkin well...I'd want to be excommunicated for that. Which by the way some priest in 1976 did do to me, the robes, the latin the holy water (i think he thought i'd melt) and told me i was excommunicated on the orders of the cardinal. Personally I think it a rather foolish things to take orders from a bird and one worthy of a trip in an ambulance but I am doing fine in that state of unholy matrimony with evil and I hope both of your Richards are doing as well.

Thanksgiving...I think I'll just keep it to a box of Ritz crackers forensic shows on TV (nothing to cheer one up better than death and dying diet pepsiand a handful of drugs (for which I AM thankful). At least with my mom gone I won't have to see any of my wonderful (see sarcasm romans 39:14) siblings until christmas.

The old lady just left with the dog that killed a black bear in virginia to go to her moms and finally i have something to be really thankful for; an empty house where I could, if the wife would allow the thermostat above 60 walk around nude and think of more stressful thanksgivings, when the bizaar started with "I get the leg" and ended with 3 boy children and 1 adult male walking around in their underwear because the pants were temporarily to tight in the waist.My Mom and sisters either ate less or because they were the oldest had to keep thier clothes on...whatever i was young so it was their problem and not mine.

And what in the hell is that cranberry sauce shit about? Do people actually eat that blood jelly? And on what and if it's so good why not have it around all year instead of shaking the shit out of a can once a year to get it out, you do know they put the ridges in the can to hold it in tighter right?

I could go on forever about the stupid traditions that have evolved from the truth of but why bother instead of a happy thanksgiving ya'll just have a good day off unless you work at a retailers or a gas station then you are fucked and have no day off so steal something nice for yourself and then report yourself to the JoHo's they will be happy to take you in and excommunicate you.

Tim said...

Hey Michelle,
Hope you're having a nice Thanksgiving way up north!
Just want to take this time to thank you for sharing your thoughts on here for us to read. You are so very gifted and it's always a pleasure to come and see what you have to say each day.
Happy Thanksgiving!

katherine gavrilo said...

hey Dr. Brooks! Thanks to google, I stumbled upon your blog the other night whilst telling my husband what a great teacher you are. ("I bet she has a blog" I said.)
-katherine (formaly) G-the rest very long.

Wichita-Lineman said...

Hope you have a happy thanksgiving. I love the thaksgiving dinner flashback. The "There's Richards Truck" part is very funny.

Anonymous said...

Someone was actually listening to Belin over and over again?


Seriously? ;)


Anonymous said...

Great photo! ;)

Anonymous said...

Nice story. Have a nice thanksgiving Michelle!!!