Can you bring some sort of snack or chips and dip to aunt heather’s [sic] on thanksgiving? [sic] – Mom
My mother, who just turned seventy-years-old and apparently believes that I have neither manners nor an appreciation for grammatically correct communications, sent me this text message yesterday. I began to thumb an irritated and sarcastic reply, which is how I express my love to her, but then I realized that I actually hadn’t considered bringing anything to Aunt Heather’s for Thanksgiving. Furthermore, I think that I might have showed up empty-handed for the family TG-2013 Cele-ganza™. If I was going to a friend’s house, I would pick up a bottle of whiskey—I know all of their scotch, bourbon, and rye preferences—but for Irish immigrants, my family is comprised of lightweights and recovering alcoholics. In the case of the latter, I generally give them a pass. The point being that hard liquor was out.
I’m not bringing that. What the hell does Heather want? – Me
Crackers and spread or chips and dip. Whatever you think. – Mom
She wasn’t getting it and it was rubbing me raw. Now that I had been called out on my atrocious guestmanship, I wasn’t going to pop up with a sleeve of crackers or a can of Planter’s Peanuts™ or some other busy food to the biggest meal of the year. And there can be no debate on this point; when it comes to family feasts, Thanksgiving is the undisputed star.
I punched up my mother’s name (Mom) and let the phone do it’s ringing thing as I imagined the exaggerated, polite enthusiasm that I would experience walking into Heather’s with a bag of Fritos™ or whatever. “Oh, look it’s Michael (my real name), and he brought us all a snack! Everyone look at what Michael brought! Linda, Michael is here. With snacks! Let me find a bowl and put these right out for everyone to snack on while we’re waiting for the other food!” She would say “other food” as though my bag of salty crap was the equal of cranberry sauce or candied yams.
Someone would eventually feel awkward enough to amble over to the bowl and tentatively pick up one of the dusty artificial cheese flavored atrocities. “I love these, Michael,” he or she would lie through the crunching noises, orange matter in the cracks of the teeth. No, fuck that. This was not happening.
“Talk to me, Mom,” I snarl, “What does Heather really need? And none of this cheese and cracker bullshit. Give me a real dish goddamn it.”
“I think everything is covered. Just bring like a bag of chips.”
“No, mom, fuck the chips. This is not going down that way. I am a man, I make a good living, and I will be bringing a superior food or beverage to dinner. Do not test me on this, mom. Jesus.” My eyes may or may not have been filling with tears, but they were tears of fury and passion, and most definitely not sadness or pain. In any event, I was wearing sunglasses.
“Why do you have to be difficult? Just bring a bottle of wine, then.”
“I will bring several bottles of wine,” I tell my mother who has not had a drink in over three decades.
“Oh, I invited your ex-wife and two ex-girlfriends.” This is actually true. My mother will never let me all-the-way break up with anyone—a habit of hers that creates an understandable degree of friction between me and whoever I am currently dating.
“Well, what are they bringing?”