by Mike McHugh
Take it from me. Newlyweds have no business hosting dinner on their first Thanksgiving together. In the first year of marriage, husbands are still learning that a kitchen is equipped with more than a refrigerator, and that a refrigerator can hold more than cold beer on the inside and a Domino’s menu on the outside. Likewise, wives are still trying to figure out where to store the coffee mugs amid the five fondue sets they’d received as wedding presents.
So, it’s no time to be tackling something as complicated as Thanksgiving dinner. It’s like a high school freshman attempting a nuclear fusion reaction in chemistry lab.
My wife, Susan, and I were among the clueless when our first Thanksgiving came along. We were new homeowners—yet to make a sizable dent in our credit line at Home Depot. Starry-eyed, with our first plumbing emergency still ahead of us, we were excited to host dinner for our families that year. Never mind that we’d just recently mastered the workings of our toaster.
We shared duties based on our respective talents. That meant Susan was in charge of the food, while my task was to figure out what channel carried the football game. And so early that morning, she assumed her station in the kitchen as I turned to take mine in the den.
“While you’re in here, can you take the turkey out of the freezer for me?” she asked. “It’s kind of heavy, and we ought to do it first thing so it’ll thaw.” She’d bought the largest one she could find to be sure there was enough to feed my sizable clan.
“Good thinking,” I answered, and retrieved the emu-sized carcass from its icy compartment, setting it on the kitchen counter.
A few hours later, I finally located the TV listings and returned to the kitchen to check on progress—that and to see if the beer was properly chilled.
I found Susan there, standing with her arms crossed, eyes fixed on the turkey. “It’s still frozen,” she said.
“Keep staring at it like that,” I answered. “Works every time when you’re trying to soften me up.”
“No, seriously, I’m afraid it’s not going to thaw out in time. I need to call my sister.” Whenever a crisis loomed, my wife’s first reaction was always to call her sister, Sharon. Susan trusted her to have all the answers, as if she were the product of a union between Heloise and the Maharishi. Yet in reality, Sharon worked in quality control at the Seagram’s plant. She tasted whiskey for a living.
My wife was in tears when she got off the phone.
“What did she say?” I asked.
“With a bird that size,” she sobbed, “she told me I should have taken it out around Labor Day. What does this mean?”
“I’ll tell you what it means,” I answered. “It means we’re going to need a bigger propane torch.”
She cried harder.
Attempting to defuse the situation, I told her, “Listen, babe. Everything’s going to be all right. I got the TV tuned into the game and plenty of beer on ice. By the time dinner comes, nobody will even notice if there’s no turkey on the table.”
Her eyes erupted.
Obviously, there would be no talking her into composure. The situation called for immediate action. So I hurried into the bathroom, filled the tub with lukewarm water, and plunged the glaciated bird into the bath. An hour or so later, it was oven-ready.
Later that night, my wife was beaming. “You saved the day!”
“Yeah, let’s see your whiskey-tasting sister beat that one,” was what I wanted to say back. But, novice husband though I was at the time, I knew enough to keep quiet.