Thanksgiving, 2023

I was in impossibly good spirits on the long two-bus ride, even sending chipper text-messages to family members who'd be there, and to those who wouldn't. I was looking forward to Thanksgiving dinner with the family, at the buffet.

Saturday breakfasts with Mom are the only social events I've attended in months, and there were people coming to Thanksgiving that I like or love and haven't seen in ages. I was, of course, well aware that some of them get on my nerves, but I'd decided to have fun with it, and for the most part, I did.

Mom would be there, of course, and my sister Katrina, her forever boyfriend Max, and her friend Adelle, who's also sorta my friend. Katrina's son George would be there, with his wife Aubrey. My dead brother Ralph's widow Anna would be there, with her son Ernest. It's only a fraction of the family, but everyone else had their own Thanksgivings to attend on Thursday.

The bus and a short walk got me there about ten minutes early. Anna and Ernest were seated on a bench in front of the restaurant, and I waved as I approached, then said hi, and had a few minutes of pleasant conversation with Anna.

Ernest didn't say much, which is better than when he talks. When he talks, it's only about Republican politics, and where he's headed next as a short-haul truck driver (this time, Oregon).

Then Adelle arrived, and in another car at almost the same moment, Katrina with Max and my mom. Everyone in both cars waved at us, and after they'd parked we shared a few hugs. Then we went inside the restaurant to pay, take a table, and wait for the rest of our small crowd.

It was 'find your own table', with no assigned seating, so as we explored the place looking for enough seats together, I had a nice albeit brief conversation with my mother. She asked a few of the questions she usually asks, and I gave the answers I usually answer.

Just as our group had decided which table to take, George and Aubrey came in. I gave him a hug and her a howdy, and then made the mistake that defined the dinner: I sat down, without strategizing my seat.

And George immediately sat next to me. Whoops.

George is an extreme extrovert and non-stop talker, so he did the talking, and I did the listening. But I said a few paragraphs to him over the course of the meal, and it's always fun to hear who George is angry at and why.

He has two conversations in him — it's either sports, or his grudges against others in the family. Yesterday was all about the grudges, with a few sidebars about the Seahawks.

Some of George's grudges are justified, because a few folks in my family can be difficult, but most of his hurt feelings are in his marijuana-fueled paranoid imagination. Endlessly high for the last 40 years, he's convinced himself that most of the family doesn't like him, and there's truth to that, but it's mostly because he's endlessly high and complaining about how most of the family doesn't like him.

On my side of the table, it was me, George, Aubrey, Mom, and two empty chairs. On the other side of the table, Adelle was opposite me, then Katrina, Max, Anna, and Ernest.

On his first plate, George had a huge hunk of brisket. Gristle got stuck in his throat, he started coughing, and ended up horking a few ounces of gristle and barf onto his plate. For me, this was great entertainment, but across the table, Adelle lost her appetite and didn't eat much, even after someone came 'round and cleaned up the slight mess.

With only an aisle to my left and George to my right, George was 95% of my conversation through dinner. With George and Aubrey between us, Mom and I didn't have much further interaction (until the awkward ending).

The food was excellent, and I hit the triple-jackpot with my first plate — a marvelous mix of chicken and chunky vegetables, the same dish with beef and chunky vegetables, and a few breaded fish fillets. It was so good that when I returned for each of my four further helpings, I only got the same chicken, beef, veggies, and fish. Never even looked at the other 99 entrees available. Food-wise it was a contender for the best Thanksgiving ever (also until the awkward ending).

♦ ♦ ♦

When I got up for a third plate of food, I noticed someone had joined us, a stranger at the far end of the table. He was skinny, white, young, wearing a mask, and didn't have any food. There was an empty chair between him and my mom, and those two were talking, so I guessed he was a guest of hers.

Someone from her church who had no family, perhaps, so she'd invited him to our dinner? Well, that's nice, but I was glad he was out of talking distance for me, because I am (you might remember) the world's most introverted introvert.

I had not come to Thanksgiving dinner to make a new friend, and kinda hoped we wouldn't be introduced, but Mom was waving to get my attention. I pretended not to notice, sat down and ate that third plate of chicken, beef, and fish.

Yakkity yakkity, George is mad at my brother Dick. Yakkity yakkity, George is mad at one of my other nephews. Yakkity yakkity, George says the Seahawks shouldn't have lost last weekend, and on and on about why they shouldn't have lost. Yakkity yakkity, George says he's not very close with his mother, who's my sister Katrina, who's right across the table from him, so it's an awkward thing to say, but also it's true. 

I popped up for a fourth plate, and when I returned, Mom semi-hollered, "Doug!" and introduced me to her friend Raleigh, the skinny man in the mask who'd joined us for dinner but wasn't eating. I was in the process of sitting down, four chairs were between us, and he wasn't getting up, so I simply smiled and waved at him, and said something brilliant like, "Hello, Raleigh."

Then came more talking from George, until I arose again to walk across the buffet and fill my fifth plate. As I did, I glanced at Raleigh and noticed he was sitting with an odd body posture, a yard away from the table. He was slightly hunched over in his chair, with his legs crossed tightly but high in the air, knees at the same height as his face. And I noticed, he wasn't simply skinny, he was very thin and very pale, and he hadn't eaten anything, didn't have a plate or even a Coke.

Visually, he looked like Paul Reubens guest-starring on an episode of 30 Rock, playing a very brittle-boned and fragile prince. Plus, wearing a mask, and eating nothing.

With all the hope in me, I hoped my mother would stop trying to get me to make Raleigh's acquaintance. I was supposed to say something to him, and I know I should've but... 

Shoot me, I'm a recluse. Mom knows it, everyone knows it. A meal with nine people I already know was an effort. Adding an unexpected tenth who's a stranger? That's asking a lot.

When I came back to the table with more food, George and Aubrey were saying their goodbyes. They were the first to leave, and I was suddenly free to talk with the others on my end of the table — Adelle, and Katrina and Max. With two empty seats between me and Mom, she waved her arms to get my attention, and said, "You should come over here and sit between me and Raleigh."

Probably I should've and maybe I would've, but again — I'm me. I'm not Dale Carnegie, or whoever might want to sit between my mother and this guy Raleigh at Thanksgiving dinner.

Anyway, from an hour with George at my elbow, my talk-ability was on empty. What could I say to this rather odd-looking skinny masked white man who'd come to dinner but hadn't eaten anything? I shook my head slightly at Mom, and said something like, "I'm OK here."

As I ate, Mom kept trying to get my attention, but never to talk. What she wanted, all she wanted, was for me to talk to Raleigh.

I twice gave her my knock-it-off face, and when I stood up to walk to the dessert stand, I took an extra circuitous route that led me far from my mother and Raleigh's side of the table. It worked, and I returned with three pieces of pie, two pecan and one pumpkin.

Mom was waving at me again, telling me again, "Say something to Raleigh."

Being an ass, I said, "Something to Raleigh," and flashed him a smile because I didn't particularly want to be an ass to him.

But I wonder what Raleigh thought of this. He'd been invited to dinner with my mom and her family, but she wasn't much talking with him. Instead she urgently wanted him to talk to the fat guy at the other end of the table — me.

Soon I excused myself and waddled to the men's room, which had an unpleasant reek to it. Unidentified liquid was splashed on every horizontal surface, puddles on the tile, TP all over the floor, etc.

I needed to poop and there were three stalls to choose from — a wheelchair-size stall, a stall with someone in it, and a third stall where the toilet was at an impossibly diagonal angle, so I would've had to poop sidesaddle.

I took the disabled stall, and had to clean the poop-splattered seat first. There was no toilet paper, so after moving my bowels I wiped with a paper towel from my pocket. On the way out, toilet paper off the floor adhered to my shoe, which took twenty seconds of prying and scraping to remove. And I'm fat, and didn't enjoy the bending over.

The stink and filth of the men's room, in combination with my full stomach, made me mildly nauseous, but what the heck, I took another slice of pie on my way back.

At the table, though, my jacket was not on my chair. "Where's my jacket?" I announced to the room.

"I brought it over here, so you'd join us," my mother explained, and indeed, my jacket was draped over the empty chair between Mom and Raleigh. Apparently, I would be required to make a new friend. Except, that wasn't going to happen.

"I'm leaving," I said, probably in a voice too rude. "Give me my jacket please."

"But you have a piece of pie," Mom said logically.

"The pie is up for grabs," I said, clattering the small plate onto the table. "Give me my jacket please."

"I wanted you to get to know Raleigh," my mother said sadly, making no move to give me my jacket.

I didn't want to be a complete dick to this guy Raleigh, but also absolutely didn't want to be match-made with him by my mother. I walked toward them and snatched my stolen jacket, but forced a smile onto my face and said, "Sorry, Raleigh, maybe some other time."

Then I said my goodbyes to everyone, even Raleigh, and made my way out of the buffet. I was angry, but about to get angrier.

♦ ♦ ♦

My bus came and left when I was half a block from the stop, and I'm not someone who runs to catch a bus, so I'd be waiting fifteen minutes for the next one. Cranky from the Raleigh affair, I sat in a sticky seat at the shelter, and waited.

After a while Ernest drove up in his SUV, with his mother Anna in the passenger seat. Ernest, driving, stopped his car in the bus zone, and Anna rolled her window down and said to me, "Let us give you a lift!"

This led instantly to a memory from some months ago, so ≈ here's ≈ where ≈ the ≈ screen ≈ goes ≈ wavy ≈ for ≈ a ≈ flashback ≈ ...

I'd gone to a family function in the hills above Renton, and had as good a time as I'm allowed to have at family functions. Afterward, I'd walked to the bus stop across the street, for my bus to downtown Renton, where I'd transfer to a crosstown bus that would bring me home.

Ernest and Anna had left the event shortly after I had, and saw me at the bus stop, so they pulled over. Anna rolled her window down and said, "You shouldn't ride the bus, Doug. Let us give you a lift."

I explained to her as I'm always explaining, that I'm happy taking the bus, don't need a lift, thanks. Good manners prevented me from saying why: On the bus I don't have to talk to anyone, but in your car, talking is expected if not required.

Anna insisted, and her son said specifically, "We're going right past the bus station in downtown Renton." The bus I was waiting for comes only twice an hour, and a ride into Renton would take just a few minutes, so I said thanks and got into their car.

And as promised, Ernest drove right past the bus station in downtown Renton, but he didn't stop. He'd decided to give me a ride all the way home — about fifteen miles. I protested, I insisted, I re-protested, and Ernest said to me, "We're not taking no for an answer. You get a ride home." Exactly those words.

He meant it and Anna insisted too, and for almost anyone who's not me, a ride home would've been a kindness. For me it was a kidnapping.

I decided not to scream, not to punch the driver and fight my way out of a moving vehicle, but I said very nearly nothing for the entire drive, except telling Ernest where to turn to get to my house. When I got out I said, "That was a ride home," instead of "Thank you," but what I wanted to say was "Fuck you both."

So ≈ ≈ ≈ when Ernest and Anna pulled into the bus stop on Thanksgiving after dinner, and Anna rolled down her window and said, "Let us give you a lift," I said no rather loudly.

"No" is all I said, I said it three times, and still they were insisting, as my bus rounded the corner and their SUV was in the red-painted bus zone. So I sorta  screamed, "No means fucking no, and my bus is here and you're illegally in the way. Move it." I also waved to the bus driver, so he could see that I wanted aboard.

At the wave, the driver honked at Ernest's SUV, Anna shrugged, and they drove away. If they hadn't, I believe I would've kicked a dent into the fender.

It's a two-bus ride back to my house, takes about an hour and a half, so I had time to cool down, but I certainly hope Anna and Ernest were so deeply offended that they'll never offer me a ride again.

♦ ♦ ♦

At home, I pooped again, this time in a much cleaner toilet with tissue and everything, but I wasn't feeling right, well, or good. I chalked it up to overeating and too much human interaction, until after a while in my room, I felt the urge to return to the toilet and poop a third time. 

Usually in my recliner I wear a t-shirt and nothing else, but it's a shared house, so decorum requires at least shorts for the walk to the john. I grabbed a pair of underwear, lifted a leg to poke it through the leg-hole, and wow, liquefied poop shot out of my ass. As I lifted the other leg, more liquefied poop shot out. As I walked to the john, poop juice splashed out with every footstep.

Inside the john, the toilet seemed an unwise choice, because watery shit was pouring out of me, so I showered instead. As I took off my t-shirt, more shit shat out of me, and as I lifted first my right, then my left leg into the shower — still wearing my shorts — more liquid sprang from my ass-fountain. 

Turning on the spigot, I stood in cold water until it warmed up, all the while shitting into my shorts, no longer trying to hold anything back. And indeed, nothing was held back — a gallon of liquefied shit came out.

Nothing like this has ever happened to me before. It was either sudden onset rectal cancer, or I'd gotten food poisoning at the buffet.

When liquid with tiny pieces of vegetables and tinier bits of meat no longer flowed freely from my ass, I pushed and pushed until there wasn't another drop. Using the hand-held nozzle, I sprayed my brown off the shower walls, and down the drain. Then I wrung the shit out of my shorts in my hand.

I stepped out of the shower, and used the very wet but mostly shit-free shorts in my hand to wipe up the shit I'd sprayed onto the floor, onto the outside of the bathtub, and onto the bathmat.

Scrubbing the bathmat didn't help much, so I tossed it into the shower and hosed it thoroughly down. Then I wiped away all remaining evidence, wrung out my shorts again, and returned to my room, stopping to clean a few spurts I'd left on the kitchen floor in my rush to the john.

After the shit-storm, I was utterly exhausted. I used the wet shorts to dab at the shit on my bedroom carpet, but it mostly just pushed the poop further into the fibers. After a few minutes I gave up, and promised myself I'd mop the carpet sometime soon, but for now it's a big brown splotch.

I spread a garbage-bag over my recliner just in case, then sat down crinkling the plastic, tilted back, and slept for ten hours. At some point midway through the night I gently, carefully farted, and with great relief noticed that only the fart had escaped.

When I got up to pee, I took the garbage bag off the recliner, and then slept past dawn, very late for me.

♦ ♦ ♦

I'd invited any friends or family who couldn't make it to Thursday's dinner for a day-after-Thanksgiving meal at Mrs Rigby's Diner. Anyone who'd be there was supposed to let me know in advance, but nobody'd let me know, so it's time for that dinner right now, and I'm still in my recliner telling you about yesterday.

Whether it adds up to an interesting story is for you to decide, but for me, it was the very best Thanksgiving with the family since last year's. But I'm still exhausted.



  1. Holy shit storm, Capt Recliner!

  2. Your mother, Doug. What is the deal with her? How can she know you, and think you're going to be cool with meeting some new guy at a big family gathering?

    It's a hilarious story thogugh.

    1. It's a funny story, but what I see reading it is that you made Thanksgiving worse. If you had given Raleigh (probably Rollie?) just a few minutes conversation and let Anna and Ernest do you a kindness, you would have been uncomfortable for a few minutes but a stranger, and your mother, and your sister-in-law and nephew-in-law would have all had a happier holiday. Something to think about.

    2. I think about such things often. What's written here is only what happened, doesn't mean I'm proud of it.


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