Secret Pop

Nov 25, 2005

Thank Tank

It was a lovely dinner and a fine day. We watched movies and drank wine and drank bourbon and drank more wine and then dozed on the couch. And it was all very nice. My mother made the finest turkey you have ever seen. And I felt loutish for sitting still and watching her make it. I had Thanksgiving dinner at my home a few years ago. And back when my parents lived in Italy, I used to prepare Thanksgiving on my own nearly every year. I enjoyed it and hated it equally. I think the cleaning up was what I loathed. Especially when I was doing it on my own at 10 P.M. and everyone else was napping elsewhere. My mother managed to have everything cleaned up and leftovers in containers well before sundown, however. She is a miracle.

My mother found a method on the radio that seems to be working wonders in quelling Audrey's vicious outbursts. It involves putting twenty pennies in an empty soda pop can and taping the opening closed and then shaking that can whenever the doggie erupts into her barking cacophony. Amazingly, in just one day, Audrey is not barking at everyone who approaches me. Nor is she any longer puncturing parts of my family's hands and feet with sudden toothy lunges. My mother was ecstatic. She said, "I can't believe it. What good advice. It makes me think it's worth it to buy the radio." I love that. That is exactly how my mother's science works, and I love it.

We watched After the Fox, and Beulah and I probably annoyed everyone by saying every important line along in unison. Perhaps I should mount a stage production of that film with a Greek chorus made up of me and Beulah.

After people went home, my dad and I watched Farewell, My Concubine. It is one of his favorite movies. His favorite movies often seem to be epic Chinese tragedies. And I only think that is partly a ploy to charm my mother. He really gets down with the dark shit. I admire that about him. He is half slapstick and half Brecht. And he can watch movies that don't have a word of English in them and still enjoy them. Even when there aren't any subtitles. When we lived in Japan, he looked forward to the New Year's twenty-four-hour broadcast of samurai movies. We recorded them one year. Tape after tape after tape. And there wasn't any translation, nor were there subtitles. But he loved to watch those movies. And I love things that bring pleasure to those I love. It makes things easy for me.

My father has a problem with his eye. For the past few weeks, he has been wearing a black eye patch a la buccaneer. He was experiencing double vision and was only able to see clearly -- albeit without proper depth -- when he covered his left eye. We did not know what could cause such a thing. I shuddered when our amateur diagnostics turned up words like "stroke." But it doesn't appear to have been a stroke. They think it is ocular myasthenia. Not that autoimmune diseases are anything to feel particularly relieved about. The patch doesn't seem to be hindering him much. I sang in church last weekend, and it made my dad cry. Eye patch and all. And then a little old lady came up to me after the service to thank me for singing and she mentioned that she had told my dad the patch was sexy. Her words.

I felt good and tipsy by evening, this Thanksgiving. Beulah and I had just gotten back from a luxurious visit to Las Vegas where I never got a buzz on once. (A tragedy for me.) Nor did I do nearly as well in my gambling pursuits as I did the last time I visited. Nor did I have much in the way of cash to play with. There's always next time, I suppose.

We were about to go around the table and say something we were thankful for. My mother started by saying she was thankful for my dad. Everyone acted as if she was being sarcastic. And then somehow we got sidetracked. Because we never resumed the recitations. I don't even know what I would have said, had it ever come to my turn. This year has been extraordinarily challenging and disappointing for me. So much so that it's difficult to even rely on old adages about looking forward. Year after year, I keep finding myself wishing I had just not bothered. But I can find things to be thankful for if I just narrow the spread of my vision a little. It wasn't the best year ever. But there were nice things. New friends I adore. A lovely little dog who might not bite my friends anymore. Parties I will remember with great fondness. Performances I don't hate. My super family. And I am thankful for how good things are in the lives of others I love. And I am thankful that there is a James Bond marathon on. It's the little things in the end.

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