by Mike McHugh
As Thanksgiving approached, my friend, Wanda suggested we all do something different this year. “I found a corn maze not too far from here,” she suggested.
A corn maze, huh? I’d heard about those. It’s when some farmer plants a field of corn, leaving some paths in it and charging people ten bucks apiece so they can go in and become forever lost. They’re very popular attractions for people who are in debt to the mob. Since my payments were up to date, I didn’t see the point in it.
“If we want to do something different this Thanksgiving, why don’t we just have shrimp for dinner?” I asked.
“Or skip the beer and football,” my wife chimed in.
“Okay, then, it’s settled,” I replied. “A corn maze it is.”
The idea of going through a corn maze didn’t intimidate me. As it happens, I have an excellent sense of direction. It’s my wife who should have been apprehensive. I recall that time she had me on the phone talking her through the route while she was driving to Galveston. I stayed on the line all the way until, in the middle of directing her to make a U-turn, the signal dies as the car sank into the Gulf of Mexico.
We arrived at the farm on a beautiful afternoon. We each paid our ten dollars and signed the release forms that absolved the farm of liability in the event that we got eaten by wild boars or fell into an anthill the size of the Superdome while in the maze. Then they gave us each a map showing the paths that are cut into the cornfield. The design was quite creative, with the paths tracing out forms of barnyard denizens such as a pig, a chicken, and a cow. There was even a Bible reference, “Joshua 24:15,” carved into the pattern.
“Never fear!” I exclaimed as I led our quartet—Wanda; her husband, Doug; my wife, and me—into the ‘J’ of Joshua. Armed with my GPS, map, and compass, I had full confidence that we would find the exit safely, hopefully before they turned the bulls loose to forage after the season closed.
It wasn’t long before I led us straight to a dead end.
“You were supposed to turn right back there,” my wife said.
“What do you mean?” I replied. “This is the ‘S’ here, and we’re supposed to turn left to get to the ‘H’”.
“No,” she said, “We already passed the ‘H.” We’re in the ‘U’ now, and we’re supposed to go right.”
“Don’t tell me that! I’m a writer, for Pete’s sake. I should know what letter I’m standing in!”
“We should ask someone.”
“Yeah, maybe there’s a gas station in the ‘A’ where we can stop,” Doug suggested.
It turned out my wife right, as I still apparently haven’t learned after all these years of marriage. We re-oriented ourselves and marched on, only later to find ourselves embroiled in a similar conference about whether we were in the stomach of a pig or a chicken.
Honestly, I don’t know how we ever made it out of there, but somehow we did. Wanda and my wife claimed credit for the success. Doug and I offered no argument, conceding that Columbus himself wouldn’t have been able to navigate that maze without his wife’s assistance.
I’ll admit; it was nice to do something different this Thanksgiving. I’d be up for another twist next year, but I think that bourbon and basketball is about as adventurous as I’d be willing to go.