I start planning Thanksgiving dinner about 4-6 weeks out. Menu…check, that’s pretty much been set since 1978; why mess with a good thing? The who and how many, though, that’s always a crap shoot that can change right up to the morning of Thanksgiving, as I have a tendency to bringing home strays. So it wasn’t too surprising when I realized around 3PM that the 15 lb. gobbler staring dolefully down at me, all set to slide into the oven, just wouldn’t stretch for the dozen hungry faces looking expectantly at me. Dilemma… what to do? Our local supermarket had closed at 2PM and I was short about four portions of protein. Hum…gave the freezer a glance. No to fish sticks, calves liver, King crab legs, and all of the Weight Watchers Smart Ones frozen entrees (remember children, I’m on a strict concentration camp diet these days!). None of those items would do, but wait, what to my hungry eyes should appear but Pooter and Booger, dozing peacefully in the afternoon sun.
It would be a bold move indeed, but as a proper Southern hostess, did I really have a choice? But which of the two of them to choose? Pooter is quite big and furry, so there would be enough to go around, but she’s also quite old, therefore probably quite chewy. Lord knows there was no time for marinating and tenderizing so…looks like it’s roasted Booger time. Wonder if Boxer makes a tasty gravy?
He’s a truly agreeable puppy who is pretty much game for anything, so after I explained in detail the plan and what was required of him, he gamely jumped into the roaster, where I promptly buttered and seasoned him to taste. Let me just conclude by saying that all the guests had at least two heaping plates of turkey, sage stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, cranberry/fig relish, roasted Brussels sprouts, green beans amandine, rolls, pumpkin cheesecake with pecan praline topping, and of course, all the Booger they could eat. Dinner was a whooping success. Thanks Booger; you were a wonderful dog!
I don’t really have the clearest recall of the Thanksgiving holidays 1974, though they were probably spent with Marion and the Prancing Sheilas, as almost any occasion was a cause for a party. “Hey, I got a bill in the mail today; let’s have a party!” “But wait, I cleaned the oven yesterday; break out the good crystal and pull on your party panties. Let’s celebrate!”
There was absolutely no chance of traveling back home for the holidays, as just meeting the rent every month was an ongoing challenge. My parents loathed Boy, so there was also no chance of their coming to visit us. Part of Boy’s appeal back in Texas had been the very fact that they did hate his guts. A little teenage rebellion on my part that would come back to haunt me when they were later proved right. On two occasions my Dad ran him off our property with a shotgun. If I had possessed a crystal ball to look into the future, I would have loaded that darn gun for him! Boy had a unique talent for riling people up. He’d made me so smoking mad over the years that I’d once thrown a full glass pitcher of orange juice at his head. Not only did I miss, but scrubbing dried orange juice pulp off of lacquered kitchen walls is no day at the beach. Another time he provoked me so badly I pushed him off a really tall ladder, but he was skinny and agile, and sadly, he once again survived. Another time, after seeing “The Poseiden Adventure”, I pushed him down two flights of stairs at the cinema, which only resulted in a trip to the ER and a few measly stitches. If ‘Kill Bill’ had been released back then, Uma Thurman could have helped me improve my assassin skills. Lord, I do hope the statute of limitations on attempted murder has run out.
While my parents could easily have afforded to provide a financial safety net, they chose not to, as they were rooting for Boy to fail and for the two of us to come running back home to Texas, away from The Big Bad Apple. Little did any of us know that fate had something else waiting in the wings, and that things were going to improve immeasurably in the spring of 1975.