I stopped by Farmer Orville and Quilt Queen’s house this afternoon. The kitchen was full of great-grandkids, babies mostly. The ones that could walk were scarfing M&M’s. Orville held Jude, who suddenly turned red-faced and exploded out the rear, and Orville handed him off to a daughter in law.
“Oh,” a great-granddaughter-in- law exclaimed, “you are the writer who made Grandpa famous.”
It’s true. A hundred people I know have stopped by just to meet my banty-rooster of a friend. Orville is known in California (Linda baby, Dave baby,) Texas (miss you, Teddy), Washington DC (hi James!), Tennessee (Jake and Vicki—yo!), Florida (Don-boy, love you), Chicago (Kimster and kin with no parking, Toni and girls—heart!), elsewhere, not to mention here (Sheila S., s’up?). He now charges twenty dollars for his autograph.
The adult parents of all the babies were out seeking wi-fi, and though I volunteered Genehouse, I look like loopy Uncle Larry who might grab a feel, so no one came.
Quilt Queen was cooking a twenty-six-pound turkey, which in many countries would feed the masses. There were five pies: three pumpkin, an apple for some weirdo, and a blackberry from last summer’s crop, and I was given a choice as to what kind of pie I would take home. I chose the blackberry, sure proof that I am sane, and Orville cut me a slice narrower than the width of my hand: “We got twenty guests tomorrow.”
I went outside into the sun, the earth softening from the fifty-five-degree day, no sign of the six- inch snow from last week which lasted twenty minutes. Ruby Puppy and Bud (who should be dead: Orville dug a hole for the old hound, but he rallied nicely and now there is a grave awaiting a volunteer) made sure my face and hands were slick with dog slime.
I carried my piece of pie across the highway and sat on the stoop and watched the birdfeeder. In attendance were nuthatches, chickadees, blue jays, cardinals, tufted titmice, a redheaded woodpecker and some downy woodpeckers, juncos and finches. The nuthatches have tamed me now. If they think I’m not doing my job as the god of seeds, they perch upside down on the front of my sweatshirt and cluck at me.
There were Pilgrims, of course, but there was no first Thanksgiving back when. If the Pilgrims ate, it was eels and insects washed down with swill whiskey—you couldn’t drink the swamp water. After dinner, they slaughtered Indians for fun or got slaughtered back. There was no Monopoly or bingo to play, so violence—now we call it football—was the parlor game. They all had large families, which gave the fathers sexual choices girl-wise; the Little House On the Prairie was down the timeline a piece.
America is the biggest myth of them all, combining Norse and Dutch and German and African and Spanish and Indian and Asian myths all into our national glitter ball. But: you needn’t tell you kids that. They’re already high on Santy Claus and the Easter Bunny and White Jesus and the climate lie which will kill the babies—that’s enough sugar for one day.
Annie Hall—sorry, Ronan Farrow, actually, I’m not a bit sorry, you parlayed a fantasy into a seat on The New Yorker magazine—sends us all a la-di-da.
From Scout the Cat and loopy Uncle Larry Gene: Happy Thanksgiving.
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