Vile Bodies

Am I Thankful This Thanksgiving? Not Entirely

November 24, 2014

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Am I Thankful This Thanksgiving? Not Entirely

Nearly five hundred years ago, as the story goes, those sexually repressed Pilgrims—wearing tight religious apparel that restricted crucial blood flow to their genital regions—gathered one autumn day to thank Jehovah God for giving them sustenance.

After scarfing down their fire-roasted turkeys, they proceeded to wipe their chins clean before setting out to dominate, depopulate, and decimate the local Indian tribes—this, despite the fact that Squanto had taught them how to catch eel and grow corn. That’s the thanks that Squanto gets—none! I don’t frankly care much for either eel or corn, but had I known Squanto, I would have thanked him just for being named “Squanto.”

Hundreds of years later, for heaven knows what reason, a disturbing quotient of the Pilgrims’ descendants feel apologetic—rather than thankful—about winning those fundamental American turf wars. I mean, it’s not as if they’re going to invite these so-called “Native American” families into their houses for Thanksgiving, but it’s the thought that counts. They keep America’s indigenous people close to their hearts, and that’s what truly matters.

“Had I known Squanto, I would have thanked him just for being named ‘Squanto.’”

I know I’m in the minority with this, but I think the invading blue-eyed pale-skinned hordes made far better use of the American continent than the pre-Columbian indigenous yam-diggers were ever able to manage, despite their visually striking feathered headdresses and admittedly catchy war chants. There are plenty of worse places to live than the USA—so sure, yes, I’m here to declare that this Thanksgiving, I’m thankful I don’t live in any of those places.

I’m also thankful for Thanksgiving itself because it acts as a preparatory sensory salve for those dead winter months that I’ll wind up hating. Eating oneself into a languid, tryptophan-induced coma is a yearly American self-doping ritual, that rare collective ceremony in which I’m eager to take part. I’m grateful that such a potent triple cocktail of Big American Holidays is packed tightly together over the course of those dark five weeks—from Thanksgiving to New Year’s—when the weather really starts to turn shitty, bleak, and depressing. Driving west one late afternoon last week I was looking into a barely lit sunset, a specter so dismal that the little spots of clouds reminded me of cancer cells. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s serve as a triple injection of narcotics to numb the senses for the slo-mo nightmare that is that dead stretch of winter starting on New Year’s Day and mercilessly crawling along until the first flower blooms.

So no, I am not thankful we are descending into winter’s dark frozen bowels. As my own silent and very personal form of protest, I continue to buy and eat watermelon throughout the winter—no matter how costly or difficult to procure—so I can desperately clutch on to even a vague sense memory of Georgia’s gloriously humid summers. But these winters, even down here in Dixie, where we’ve already seen single digits in the morning and it’s not even Thanksgiving yet? No thank you, thank you very much for asking.

If there’s any group that shouldn’t be thankful for Thanksgiving, it’s the turkey community. I find it curious and even a trifle queer that in this unforgivably sensitive world where nary a day goes by when we don’t hear about slave ships and concentration camps, no one seems to care about the poor doomed turkeys themselves, who truly get the shit end of the Thanksgiving stick. Untold numbers of blacks and Jews eat turkey every Thanksgiving, yet you never hear of turkeys eating blacks or Jews. Have you ever stopped to think about why that is? If not, have you ever stopped to ask yourself why you never stopped to think about it? Makes you think.

The sad and shameful truth is that Thanksgiving is a holocaust for America’s educationally impoverished and economically disadvantaged turkey community, with an estimated 45 million turkeys—young, hopeful animals who had their own families, their own circles of friends, their own hobbies, and who likely harbored the same sort of dreams that you and I do—ending up dead and scorched on tackily adorned dining-room tables somewhere on the outskirts of Bluewaffle, Kansas. That’s forty-five million turkeys of all 56 genders who will never know what it’s like to celebrate Christmas. Forty-five million turkeys…every year, my friend.

Still, it’s almost impossible to argue that turkeys are good for much of anything besides being eaten by humans. And based on the numbers I just quoted, they’re great at that.

That’s why on Thursday I’ll be power-baking a proud and decidedly impenitent 23-pound turkey alongside a pair of shy and reserved Cornish hens. I’ll also be whipping up a bucket of cornbread stuffing speckled with celery and onions, a big tray of sweet potatoes with brown sugar and melted marshmallows, cranberry sauce with the whole berries, a jug of apple cider, perhaps even a jar of store-bought gravy—the whole schmear. I’ll even strategically place several kinda-gay scented candles around the dining area that will emanate the cozy, late-autumn aromas of such familiar family-friendly odors as “Golden Maple Waffles” and “Salted Pumpkin Espresso.” So when it comes to life’s basic necessities, I am thankful that I have the luxury of ritually stuffing my face to the point of vomiting in an agriculturally bounteous country that probably has far more food than it needs or even deserves.

Among a tiny group of select guests I will lovingly and meticulously create a warm and magical Thanksgiving environment, however fleeting, for which they will at least pretend to be temporarily grateful, the rest of ye be damned. In the end, I will end up even thanking myself for the Thanksgiving that I have so thoughtfully thrown myself and a handful of secret associates.

But despite the many things for which I will privately give thanks, I find myself generally ungrateful to the world in which I live. Since this is a public forum, I choose instead to complain.

I really need to get this off my chest, so here goes: I refuse to pay homage to a world that allows Kanye West and Kim Kardashian to be successful. Was that too harsh? What sinister confluence of doomsday indicators allowed this to happen—and to persist? I’m surely not the first to point out that there are three combined “Ks” in their names, but I may be the first self-described “journalist” to go on record saying I honestly believe that the creature known as “Kimye” may be more of a direct threat to the nation’s youth, black and white, than the Ku Klux Klan. Furthermore, I believe that this can be quantified, preferably using Microsoft Excel, assuming you can find me a bootlegged copy that doesn’t keep crashing on my laptop.


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