Matter of Laugh or Death
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
REASON TO GIVE THANKS
I had a bizarre dream the other night.
It was Thanksgiving Day and three generations of Dunns gathered at my mother’s house, as we’ve done each year for longer than I can remember. My family arrived at the same time as my brother and his family, and we exchanged greetings in the front hallway.
Suddenly, my wife and my sister-in-law tossed their coats onto the floor and headed for the living room, where my mother, my sister, and another sister-in-law were already lounging on the couch, drinking Budweiser from the cans, and eating potato chips straight out of the bag.
My mom tossed a can toward my wife. “Here, hon, have a brewski!” she said with a smile. Meanwhile, my sister-in-law flopped into the reclining chair and said, “Where’s the clicker? I wanna check out the pre-game show.” My sister flung the remote control across the room to her and a furious round of channel surfing commenced.
I stood in the doorway next to my brother, my mouth agape. My mom glanced over at us and said, “You boys give us a holler when dinner’s ready, OK?” She gave a shooing motion with her hand as she spoke.
My brother grabbed my arm and led me away. As we started to leave, my mom added, “And try to time it so we eat during half-time this year, would ya?”
We went into the kitchen and found my father, wearing an apron, and my other brother and brother-in-law, all looking terribly befuddled. The place was a mess, with food and plates scattered about and smoke beginning to seep out of the oven.
“What’s going on?!” I demanded.
“Didn’t you hear?” my father asked. “The girls insisted on a role reversal this year. Said it was the only way they’d have Thanksgiving at all. Guess they want us to experience what they go through every year.”
“Oh, this is great,” I moaned. “The next thing you know, they’ll be wanting us to change diapers!”
Before I finished speaking, we heard my sister yell, “Hey, Honey! Little Sweetie’s stinkin’ up the joint out here! The diaper bag is in mom’s bedroom!”
“Yes, dear,” my brother-in-law said as he got up and walked out of the kitchen.
“Whoa, whoa, time out,” I yelled. “This is a joke, right?”
“No joke,” my dad said. “I guess Joyce didn’t want to tell you about it until the last minute. She must have wanted to minimize the pain and humiliation.”
He pulled open the oven door and waved away the smoke. “Oh my, I hope the turkey’s not over-cooked,” he said.
I sat down at the table as my brother hurriedly laid out place settings. We heard an excited yell from the living room, and then my sister-in-law’s voice: “What a catch! Didja ever see such a great catch?! I gotta see the replay!” It sounded like the ladies were high-fiving each other.
“This is totally unfair,” I muttered. “When are we gonna do our traditional Thanksgiving stuff, you know, watch the ballgames, drink beer, smoke cigars?”
“Maybe we’ll get a chance after dinner,” my father said. “Well, actually,” he added, “maybe we’ll get a chance after all the pots and pans and plates are washed and dried.”
“Oh man,” I moaned. “This ain’t a holiday—it’s like going to work!”
“Welcome to my world,” my mother said as she came into the kitchen to grab another six-pack from the fridge. She looked at my father and asked, “How’s the bird coming, dear?”
“Fine,” he said. “We should be ready to eat shortly.”
“Good. Half-time will be in about ten minutes,” she said. Then she took her six-pack, gave us all a friendly wave, and headed back to the living room.
My brother handed me a bowl of steaming potatoes. “Here, cut these up and then mash them,” he said.
“You gotta be kidding me,” I said with disgust.
I slammed the bowl onto the table and paced across the room. “What’s the matter with you guys?” I pleaded. “How could you let them do this to you?”
No one said a word.
“I just don’t get it,” I continued. “How did they force you into this? Did they use that age-old female tactic, threaten to withhold sex?”
My brother looked up from his yams and shook his head. “No, it’s worse than that,” he said. “They threatened that if we don’t do this at Thanksgiving, they’ll make us do ALL the Christmas shopping next month.”
“Nooooooo!” I screamed, as the horror of that scenario flashed across my mind. “Gimme a knife! Where’s those potatoes?!”
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