Waltham Weekly 10
Save the Turkeys!
30 November 1998
For those of you I didn't get an opportunity to wish directly (which is most of you), Happy Thanksgiving. I hope yours was as enjoyable as my most interesting jaunt back to Philadelphia... this time (fortunately) not as a representative of the nation of Libya. It was a good weekend to lose track of time (literally--I lost my watch), sit back, kick back, & watch the world get bushwacked [note: not my original words]. It's been a coupla weeks since I last informed "y'all" (that's all for you, Jaque) what's been up in this neck of the woods, so I'll proceed to fill in missing details... forgive me if you know them already (esp. you, Kate). Truth be told, I haven't been in this neck of the proverbial woods much lately to begin with, so I suppose the point is moot.
Last weekend was the Brown Debate Tournament, resulting in a less-than-satisfying finish as 4th place novice team for Kraig and I. We debated 5 rounds against both novices & non-novices, then proceeded to novice break rounds, losing semifinals on a 2-1 decision to a snotty Princeton (am I being redundant?) team. So it goes. The trip as a whole was fun, however... instead of staying at Brown, we drove back all the way from Providence, Rhode Island (all of 45-60 minutes from Brandeis) on Friday night, then returned to Brown early on Saturday morning to complete debate. Most of the rest of the team remained at Brown, got drunk at the official frat-sponsored debate party, & went to sleep on various dorm room floors in the middle of Rhode Island. (This, of course, assumes which Rhode Island, approximately the size of my closet, has a "middle", which would indicate that it is large enough to have regions which can be distinguished from each other. This assumption is far too great for me to endorse). It seems the Eastern perspective often feels that even 45 minutes of driving is far too vast a distance to be covered when there's floors to be slept on. As it was, I was happy with our "alternative" decision.
Upon arriving "home" (never thought you'd consider college home, did you... anyone? anyone? Well, it's crept into my vocab, better of worse), I was confronted with the fact that the "Screw Your Roomate" (see WW9 for details) was to commence in about 5 minutes. Against my better judgment, I decided to go, stag, just to see what was up. I ended up being confronted with a typical dance, circa freshman year of HIGH SCHOOL. There were more refreshments than I recall from Academy dances, & after stuffing dinnerless self with about 20 M&M sugar cookies, I wandered out onto a dance floor alone & bored. Andy & Stina showed up a while later, having a far better time than expected, & I eventually departed because dances alone are just darn depressing. Even if they did play "You Can Call Me Al" shortly before I left.... the one redeeming aspect of the whole dance. They even played the accompanying video on the lifesize screen which Brandeis Student Events paid $XXXXX to put up in front of the dance floor. Nothing like a little Paul Simon & Chevy Chase action to make you forget your aloneness, if only briefly.
But the following week was short & relatively painless... everyone went into classes Monday with an attitude of Thursday & while Tuesday can never quite feel like Friday, it was better than usual. Janna & Leslie, two frosh from Model UN, convinced me to ditch IR with them & we went to lunch & talked about leaving school behind for 5 days & all was well. By Tuesday night, it felt like a graveyard 'round here, but said desertion often has ramifications to the positive as well, when one is fed up with their regular environment. I slept not on that night, so as to be prepared to catch the early train outta here the following morning, missed that train by a handful of minutes, caught the next one & found that I missed nothing by missing the first train, save for 2 unnecessary hours of waiting. Then I caught the real train to Philly... 6+ hours of enjoyable cruising through the northern half of the Eastern Metropolis, which runs all the way from here to DC. There's virtually no end to the buildings from the entire trip, stopping in Providence, throughout Connecticut, NYC, Newark, & eventually Philly... nothing but "civilization" out the window for the whole stretch. Crazy stuff, I tell ya.
Then it was time for Thanksgiving at the Myers' house... a fun time to be had by all, for sure, but certainly with unexpected circumstanes thrown in. Revolving mostly, admittedly, around Kate's previously unmet (by me) 3 younger siblings, checking in at ages 15, 8, & 6. As an only child, this was all very well & cute, but also a bit like entering a foreign nation. I was (both unfortunately & fortunately) welcomed & accepted by Kate's 8-year-old brother & 6-year-old sister, which meant never being left alone during their high-energy periods, which ran pretty much throughout the daylight hours. They're fun kids & I had a couple vaguely interesting conversations with them, involving all things ranging from the trouble of locked diaries & losing the key or the diary or both, whether my long hair made me look like a girl or not, & of course the eternal quandry: "Psychic powers or marked deck?". I'll tell you this much... speaking of how much some things really do change - I hadn't seen a set of Magic cards in about 3 full years till I saw the 8-year-old's. I'd also never seen the six-year-old's tongue before, but apparently sticking it out is a preferred greeting to shaking hands. I admittedly don't remember this period of my life well enough... probably a matter of convenience & the survivors revising the history books for their own sanity.
No Thanksgiving Day would be complete without the parade on TV. However, how often do we forget that making it possible for millions of people to fall outta bed at 9 in the morning, yawn, stretch, & turn the tube to a bunch of floats & balloons marching down the street also requires hundreds or thousands of people rising at 4:45 in the morning to get into the center of the city, in costume, & ready to march down the street? Too often, I tell you, as a recently inducted member of the latter class of people. Philadelphia's 6ABC Boscov's [insert 18 bazillion of your favorite commercial sponsors here] Thanksgiving Day Parade is no NYC Macy's, but it was quite a production. The Ziggy balloon is actually an aspect of commercial Thanksgiving that, unlike stereotypical presentations of "Indians" & dead presentations of turkeys, I don't have objections to... so I was part of a 15-20 person crew holding down the helium-filled rendition of everyone's shortest cartoon character. The parade was broadcast throughout Pennsylvania & surrounding regions & maybe even elsewhere (though Boston evidently chose Detroit this year instead of Philly), taped by the Myers family, & broadcast an hour before dinner in their living room. "When I look at the television, I wanna see me, staring right back at me." Well I'm no Adam Duritz & the camera showed us for about 5-15 seconds before cutting to a commercial, because the parade name obviously didn't have enough sponsors to pay for the gambit to begin with. But what would a distinctly American holiday be without commercials? &, as Kate's grandfather reminded us shortly after witnessing the parade video, once the commercials are over, "It's time for football! What's Thanksgiving without football!?" His 6-year-old granddaughter then had to show him how to properly use the remote so as to find the blessed sports broadcast.
But eventually we, consisting of the 6 people at the core of the Myers family, Kate's 2 maternal grandparents, & myself, sat down to the typical Thanksgiving tradition... gorge like mad. But evidently even the 9 of us weren't mad enough gorgers to satisfy Kate's mother, who had read up on the holiday & discovered that someone (I suspect, an agent of Enemies of Live Turkeys International [ELTI]) recommended 1.25 pounds of turkey per person. So, two turkeys were cooked & served, leaving 1.75 turkeys at the end of the meal.... Kate's 15-year-old sister isn't a big fan of poultry, the 8-year-old bro was boycotting dinner on behalf of a mood swing, I'm a vegetarian (a fact revealed all of 3 minutes before we said grace - !!), & Kate's recovering from mono, leaving her with an appetite the size of, well, Rhode Island. No wonder Kate's brother inquired after the meal if the family was "saving the rest for next year". The only one who seemed to be into the whole eating concept was the 6-year-old, who, when plowing through seconds, pointed to the gravy in a measuring cup & asked her mother to "please pass the Pyrex". She oughta be in commercials.
Despite the inherent difficulty found in keeping a straight face during the meal, I enjoyed it immensely & the family was very generous the whole weekend... allowing me to stay for four nights of some of the laziest time I've spent since my late August venture to the East Coast to begin with. I hung out with Kate & her friends, played phone tag with Zach, & managed to receive a call from my parents, who kindly informed me (in rainy cold Philly) that it was 72 degrees in Albuquerque that afternoon. Even the color-coded weather map on the back of USA Today described Albuquerque's weather as "delightful". Still, it also described Boston as undergoing a "polar arctic blast"... so perhaps Philly was a good compromise. It was great to catch up with Kate & get to know some of her friends, & even drive her car. Fish & Gris, I think Kate, Angela (Kate's best friend), & I managed to break our old record of consecutive minutes in a Blockbuster Video being indecisive. 75 minutes. I'm not sure if that beats the night we rented "The 5th Element" or not. Methinks somehow it does.
For all of you who ate turkey this weekend, I wouldn't ever consider giving you a guilt trip for it, of any sort. For example, I won't ask you the turkey's name or describe to you the process of turkey slaughtering, or their lifestyle on commercial farms before they're slaughtered, or anything like that. Wouldn't dream of it. But to the frequently voiced argument that "turkeys are stupid; they deserve to die", I must admit that this sounds compelling briefly. But we don't execute Dan Quayle or Ryan Slade or Nicole Conboy (no, non-Albuquerque people, you shouldn't know those last 2 people) every November & serve them on a platter, do we?
All politics aside, I do hope everyone had a fantastic holiday. For those of you who went home to Albuquerque, I envy you in some ways... though I hope it'll be made that much sweeter by not going back till the 23rd of December. I can't wait to see you all then...
Kate, thanks so much for everything... be sure to thank your family on my behalf as well. I hope I wasn't too much of a burden... that was probably a year's supply of dinner rolls, after all...
Jaque, Fish, & Shan, if I don't send you personal e-mails in the next 24 hours, you have permission to make me eat turkey.
Gris, I always toldya your faith in humanity was too lofty. Good thinking, though, not pulling out your wallet on a mugging. I'll try to send you personal stuff too.
John, Kunx, & Eliaii (& anyone else who went home to Abq.), how was home? We'll have to have Thanksgiving at the Frontier one of these days!
Lisha, your last message to me read <
Mesco, how was NJ & all the fam?
Mom & Dad, hope you had a fun Thanksgiving back in NM... 72 degrees... hmmph.
Well, that just about wraps it all up. No'much more to report for now. It's the home stretch out here in collegeland, as one of the quickest semesters in world history draws towards finals & the eventual close. Sometimes I feel so disconnected from everything that I have to give thanks for all my friends & for this blasted technology which does have the benefit of making messages like these possible. I look forward to seeing you all in the near-as-possible future, whenever that may be... whether it be the 23rd of December or thereabouts, or this coming February (Harvard Debate Tourney), or any time before or after. Seeing Kate this weekend reminded me how essential old friends are to life. I miss you all.
Peace & Love,
the Past has come and gone
the Future's far away
but Now only lasts for one second
[Quotes thanks to Hootie]