By JEFF PICKELL
It was, indeed, a very barfy Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving, or THANKSgiving as it is pronounced in the south and elsewhere in the midwest, is probably my favorite holiday. I know, you’d never expect the guy who writes 50 percent of his columns about food to favor above all others the holiday where people get together to gorge themselves, but it’s true—turkeys have nightmares about me.
This was probably the worst Thanksgiving ever. I’ve been fighting a stomach bug for about two weeks now. It’s nothing major, so long as I stick to what my mom calls bland foods—lightly buttered toast, soup broth, salad, and cups of noodles. Pretty much anything heavier sends me bolting for the bathroom before long.
I spent the three or so days leading up to T-day (turkey day) in training, nibbling on this and that, relying on my plentiful fat stores to stave off collapse. I wanted to be better so I could go after that turkey with a passion, to teach it who’s boss with salvoes of mashed potato body slams, dinner roll pile drivers, and green bean casserole haymakers.
But during the two hour drive from Highland to Sturgis, echoes of wooziness still bounced around my belly. I ignored them, and when we arrived at Aunt Julie’s, went straight for the hors d’oeuvres, plying my empty food bag with fancy cheese and crackers and cauliflower with vegetable dip, delightedly washing them down with can after can of Diet Coke.
Big mistake. When dinner time came, I got about halfway through my first plate before something down there went awry. I excused myself to quell this uneasy feeling with a few laps around the house (this should be read as “I dashed out the back door to a nearby pile of leaves and emptied my stomach”).
My Thanksgiving was effectively over, but Darla the dog’s feast was just beginning. As much as she may hate it, Darla is a dog of weak gastro-intestinal fortitude. She may want to eat things like paper, deer turds, and jalapeno poppers, but she just can’t keep them down. Add to this list large quantities of turkey grease.
Just as we were leaving, my Uncle Don opened the garage, where the left over grease was stored. Darla swiftly struck at this target of opportunity and was snout-deep in it before Dad found out and shooed her away. It was too late. She was dry-heaving before we made it out of Sturgis.
An hour later, as the sun dipped into the west and the sky took on a tint of purple and orange, she barfed all over Mom. Were anything left in my stomach, the sickening smell of the Darla barf would’ve led me to follow suit. I hiccuped and swallowed spittle for the remainder of the trip.
The next day, it was back to soups, salads and fruits for me. I exercised with my dad, mom and Darla at the park and felt pretty good afterward, but took it easy and watched reruns of “Third Rock from the Sun” all afternoon and into the night, ignoring my friends’ calls for me to leave the basement.
Saturday was much the same. I ran some errands and envyingly munched a Greek salad while my friends Tony and Evan enjoyed kielbasa and macaroni and cheese and fried cod and french fries, respectively.
Sunday was once again soup, salad and napping all day, right until mom woke me up for dinner, after which I crankily remarked “Why don’t you turn down the heater? It’s burning up in here.”
“What are you talking about?” said Dad. “It’s cold.”
“John, check to see if he has a fever,” said Mom.
“I’m fine, I’m fine,” I insisted. “What’s for dinner?”
“Corned beef casserole,” said Mom.
“I’m in,” I said.
Shortly afterward, I departed for Morenci, making it precisely three quarters of the way down my road before barfing all over myself, my car interior, and my work clothes. Then I sobbed.
Back home, mom forbid me from leaving the house, even after the laundry was redone. This was a good maneuver, because my night was filled with more barfing, feverish half-sleep and nightmares involving a talking, teleporting washing machine and, wouldn’t you know it, turkeys.
Again, it’s a good thing my stomach was empty when I set out for Morenci in the morning, because the smell in my car—I’ll be eating blandly until I devise a way to get rid of it.
I will, however, live to eat again.- Nov. 30, 2006