Monday, November 28, 2005

Trains, planes and automobiles: Redeux

I took the train south last Wednesday where Tess picked me up to head for the airport. There was wasn't any fog at Sea-Tac Airport, but Boise was socked in. Instead of catching a 9:30 p.m. plane to Boise and arriving about 11:30 p.m. Mountain Standard Time, we left Seattle around 12:30 a.m. and arrived in Boise after 2:30 a.m. This was after one aborted attempt at landing and then a last minute dive that got us onto the ground. Other than the near death landing, the flight was uneventful. Oh, there was the shower of water that soaked Tess from the overhead bin because some idiot left a water bottle in his bag and placed it overhead. The flight attendant gave us a coupon good for 1000 free frequent flyer miles, so it turned out okay.

We headed to the rental counter around 2:20 a.m. To my relieve, I wasn't asked if I wanted to upgrade to a larger gas guzzler for a few dollars more and avoid the embarrassment of driving around Boise in a Hyundai (although they did indeed have Hummer's for rent). Instead I was told that, since I was in so late, I'd have to drive a two-door, red Chevy Monty Carlo or something like that. It had a sunroof (a necessity in the snow).

We drove the Chevy to a hotel near Boise's airport that I booked online -- Inn America. The hotel room had a pastel print of flowers on the wall, no microwave and yes, exactly three plastic wrapped cups. I flipped on the 19-inch television and did indeed surf through 34 channels of religious programming, shopping networks and Dukes of Hazzard reruns until I reached the cooking channel. We watched a program on making the perfect turkey stuffing and went to sleep.

At about noon, we called my brother and asked him what time we should be at his house for Thanksgiving. He said dinner would be at exactly 2:30 p.m. but we could come over earlier if we wanted. We then called my 80-year old mother and offered to drive her to my brother's house for Thanksgiving, but she declined saying that she will likely want to leave early to get home and let Dutchess, her 200-pount mutt out to go to the bathroom and kill squirrels.

We'll drove to my brother's house. I had stopped at one of the open grocery stores earlier to pick up a bottle of red wine that I knew my brother wouldn't like to drink. We parked the Chevy on the street, wishing we'd rented a Hummer to impress him.

We knocked on the door and my almost grown nephew answered the door with Wiley, his shepard mix dog. Wiley looked embarrassed but didn't pee on the floor. My almost grown, nearly unrecognizable niece was no where in sight. My brother popped up. Tess and I hugged both of them and I asked my nephew to pull me finger. Tess and I then greeted my sister-in-law and Dan's mother-in-law.

Tess and my sister in law and her mother started talking about teacher stuff (all of them are elementary school teachers). I tried to help out and was handed a bowl of little smokey snack sized sausages to put on the coffee table.

My mother arrived. I hugged her and marveled that she is 80 years old and still looks better than I do. We sat down at the table next to Thanksgiving themed nametag holders Tess and I sent them a week ago. Althought I was sure my nametag would be in the turkey nametag holder, it was not. I had one of the pilgrims. This was because my sister-in-law put the tags out since my 13-year-old niece, who never made an appearance, was in her room too "sick" to come out and say hi.

My brother said grace and we all held hands. I felt awkward because I don't have a religious bone in my heathen body. Food was passed. I passed gas and blamed the dog. We told a few stories about our childhood and my nephew rolled his eyes. Half way through dinner the phone rang. It was my niece calling from her room on her cell phone asking her mother to bring her in a plate of food.

We finished dinner and I helped clear the table.

We retired to the family room where my nephew and I played electronic darts. I won and pretended it was skill.

My mother left early to go home and let the dog out. Dan's mother in law was right behind her.

Everyone else gathered in the family room to play, not Pictionary, but a new game called "Apples to Apples." It involved being given seven cards with the names of famous people and things on them. One person draws a card with a single word on it like, "Dirty." Everyone else throws down a card from their hand that they think represents that word. The closest one wins that round.

During each game, I demonstrated how verbally clever I am.
Tess and I said goodnight at 8:30 p.m. and drove back to the hotel, INN AMERICA. It finally dawns on me that "Inn America" is a play on words. Ha, Ha. Anticipating that we would be hungry and nothing would be open in Boise, I bought a bag of 50 percent less fat chips and fully-fat cheese dip that morning. We watch a rerun of the Blue Collar Comics on the Comedy Channel and go to bed.

Friday morning I woke up early longing for that continental breakfast they were serving downstairs off from the lobby. I pulled on sweats and went to fill two plates full of nasty grocery store bagels. I serve Tess breakfast in bed.

Once we showered and dressed, we drove to my mom's house and wrestled with Dutchess, her 200-pound mutt to get through the door. My mother told us about the latest squirrels Dutchess has killed. She apologized for how messy the meticulously clean house was. She offered us reheated Folgar's coffee made from powder and we politely declined since we stopped at a Starbucks on the way there. I wandered around the house I grew up in, scrutinizing faded high school prom photos of my brothers and I tacked to the walls. Tess politely talked to my mother about what tree she has trimmed in the backyard.

We took my mother to lunch at a Red Robin and instead of talking about her latest trip to the dentist, I asked her about her relatives (I'm into this genealogy thing and no, I am not a Mormon). She talked about growing up and I once again gained new respect for her. She was one of 13 kids and spent much of her childhood dodging her father's anger and living with the embarrassment of a two-bedroom shack as a home. We take my mom home and head to the cemetary to track down some of my relatives graves in the rain (another blog at another time).

We called my brother and see what time they want to go out to dinner (I always take them out for dinner the day after Thanksgiving to thank them for hosting Thanksgiving). My brother's family are like old people. They freak if they haven't eaten by 6 p.m. Tess and I drive to their house and discover my niece has made a remarkable recovery and is ready to go out to dinner with the rest of us.

We went to an Italian restaurant and discovered what food phase my niece and nephew are going through now that they are teenagers. I entertained everyone with my witty banter. I paid the check and we said our goodbyes in the parking lot.

Instead of going back to the hotel near the airport, I suprised Tess with a room at a place called the Anniversary Inn. It has themed rooms. So far we've stayed in the Mammoth Ice Cave Room and the Sultan's Palace. This time we stayed in the Mysteries of Egypt Room. There is nothing that says Romance like an Egyptian tomb.

The shower head was hidden in a cobra's mouth.

Saturday morning we flew back to Seattle.

Another Thanksgiving for the record books.


Naughti Biscotti said...

This was great. I loved the two versions here. Not much different. Sounds like a wonderful Thanksgiving.
I'm dying to know though... did your nephew fall for the "pull my finger" gag?

Time said...

Thanks Shandi, It was an experiment in precognition. Other than my unpredictable niece, things were pretty consistent with every year.

As for the "pull my finger" tradition, I've never been able to be flatulent on demand. But I did give him this County Fartula figure that farts every time you pull it's finger and says stuff like, "There's the wind beneath my wings" or "Somebody open up the coffin." He seemed to like that.

R. said...

How is it that our family is so boring and predictable? Is it because it is so small?

Time said...

Dogs in Idaho, particularily mixed breeds, are bred to fart prodigeously in order to take the blame for flatulent guests. When my oldest brother would visit, Dan's dog would actually begin howling because he knew he was in for a very long long day.

Glad you liked the Egyptian room. I was going to call the photo series, "Me and my Pharoh."


Our family has long sought some sense of normalacy, particularily for holidays. Dad, being an only child, had no experience with social gatherings and didn't feel comfortable around lots of people. Mom, although from a large family, always carried the lower class stigma of not fitting in anywhere with her into all social occasions. So, it has been our tradition to try and create an artificial environmental that closely resembles what we think a family Thanksgiving should be. I applaud Dan for trying. I'm also glad you have K's family now to give you a taste of what belonging to a family feels like.

Alex Pendragon said...

It was almost spooky how close the before and after stories were. I do like how you mix it up with the theme hotels.......what's on the agenda next year, the "Conan the Barbarian" room? lol

Time said...

the Michael:

Imagine how spooky it is to me.

Glad you like the Anniversary Inn. I'm not sure what our next choice will be. They have a Harley Room, Sports Central, the Hayloft, Lighthouse, Cinderella's Castle and the Swiss Family Treehouse. So many rooms, so little time.

Anonymous said...

Funny, I saw a picture of your brother's dog and he looks like a purebred Border Collie. Don't leave your day job and try to become a Veterinarian. If you can't tell the difference between a purebred border Collie and a mixed breed no telling where your finger might end up if you're trying to insert it into what you think is its mouth.

As to R's comment about your family being boring, I often felt that it's not the size of the family that matters it is the smallness (psychologically) of the individuals within the family that makes it small.

Time said...


You saw a photo of my brother's dog? Hmmm...sounds suspicious to me. Anyway, there is nothing purebred in Boise except for cousins. But I stand corrected.

I don't think R intended his comment as an insult. He was responding to the satirical essay I'd written about traveling to Boise. And I think all satire stems from affection for the topic.

Anonymous said...

" I'm also glad you have K's family now to give you a taste of what belonging to a family feels like."

You've met my family. Clearly you didn't hang out with them long enough. (ha) Although, check out the Flickr page for Thanksgiving fun-ness.