wanted?) Thanksgiving guest and shares her mother's stuffing recipe.
In a small rental car due back the next day at the same time, we sped toward Morenci, Arizona. It was Thanksgiving Day and my new girlfriend (who looked like a cross between Roma Downey and a real angel) held my hand as it rested gently on the emergency break.
Within the first few minutes of hitting the road she said, "Tania, it smells like gasoline. Do you smell it?" I didn't smell anything except for new love and my mother's chestnut-sausage stuffing beckoning us to drive faster.
"Nope. No gasoline here!"
It's weird how quickly an angel can morph into your mother when a constant, unsubstantiated nagging emits from her lips.
"I'm serious, Tania, it smells like gasoline. You really don't smell it?" "I really don't smell it, because it's really nonexistent." Every 15 minutes her verbal tic spit out some new analysis of the phantom smell. "It's gas. I'm sure of it. Gasoline. It's in the car!"
Eventually, I pulled over, bought some incense and lit a match to fix the situation. "See. It's fine. Now it smells like cedar chips, not gasoline. Are you happy?"
How'd the story end? Find out after the jump.
We were late and getting later for our 24-hour Thanksgiving road trip.
The problem was that Jack gave us directions. As a welder for Phelps Dodge, my mother's new husband, Jack, spent most of his time avoiding sparks. So when asked for directions, he made sure to cover all the bases.
"Well, you see, when you get on the 191, you're gonna get off at Burro Alley. In about 13, nope, 14 miles, you're gonna get to a fork in the road by the old gas station that used to be a supermarket, when you get to THAT gas station, you'll wanna turn left, that's what I always wanna do, but that ain't right, you turn right and..."
Thank God they called it Map Quest and not Jack Quest.
We made it to my Mom's house, popped open the trunk, and a cloud of gasoline smacked me in the face! The trunk was drenched in gasoline. I could have killed us with cedar-chip incense! I apologized to my new love. "I am such an idiot, I'm sorry."
Her angel wings wrapped around me, we tongue-kissed, greeted my family, and called the car rental company.
It wasn't so much a knock on the front door as a thud and the sound of metal scraping across concrete. In a town of a thousand people, you don't ask who it is you just open the door. So Mom did.
He stood at about seven feet tall with every part of him overflowing. His beard, hair, belly. A rusted metal crowbar was his makeshift cane. "I'm with the towing company," he said flatly, as if getting his tow truck driving certification required him to impale his frontal lobe with a J-Hook.
My sister snuck out of the living room and stage-whispered for my brother, girlfriend and me to join her in the kitchen. "You guys, I saw HIM on America's most wanted! He killed his entire family!"
Mom yelled from the living room, "We have another guest for Thanksgiving! Will you guys please warm up a plate?!"
We sat in a circle, like a support group for any number of reasons: alarmists, pyromaniacs, lobotomy survivors. He ate, never looking down at his plate, maintaining perfect eye contact with each one of us, like the Mona Lisa, wherever our eyes moved, his followed. We asked him some questions to make him, and us, feel more at home.
Us: So, it must be hard working on Thanksgiving, huh?
Us: I'm sure your family is missing you tonight, right?
Him: Don't have any.
Us: You ever watch America's Most Wanted?
When questions failed, our family did what we do best: ignored him. We played Trivial Pursuit. After several hours of placing tiny plastic pie-wedges in our respective wheels of genius, we realized that HE was still there.
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Finally, he creaked out of his chair, grabbed his crowbar, and said, "You guys are...funny. Like, weird."
Joëlle's Moist Turkey Stuffing
2 packages of Pepperidge Farm stuffing, but not the corn one (follow instructions, but use less butter and add more water)
8 ounces (or more) of mushroom slices / pieces (fresh or canned)
2 chopped onions
3 to 4 shaved carrots
1 lb of turkey sausage (no casing) that has been sautéed, drained and crumbled
2 tsp curry powder
1 package of chestnuts (optional)