Basking under the lights, skin as brown and buttery as a ginger snap, the star of the layout sprawled across the centerfold like she had stock in staples.
“That’s the one I’ve always dreamed of.”
“Don’t drool on the recipe.”
It’s girls night out and we’re gathered around the table checking to see what the beautiful people are having for Thanksgiving dinner. Glossy pages are open to a shimmering feast. There’s not a fried onion ring or can of mushroom soup in sight. The turkey is as flirtatious as a '40’s pinup girl, wearing nothing but a brown sugar and paprika rub. It’s enough to make me want to be a Spice Girl.
Every diet that has ever been tested and tossed aside is represented by our group. Elizabeth is low carb. Kaitlyn is high protein. I represent the “high sugar raises your metabolism so you can eat Ho Ho’s for breakfast” school of thought. If the road to hell is paved with whole wheat good intentions, the highway to heaven is coated with brown sugar.
“I’m tempted to give this one a go,” I said, scanning the ingredients for potentially recognizable items. “I have a guy bringing me a fresh turkey and I want a fancy new recipe.”
The room got quieter than the fifth grade gym during ballroom dance week.
“You’re going to cook a fresh turkey?”
“Sure. How hard can it be?”
“Ever tried to put pantyhose on a squid?”
I pondered my history for possible matches. “I dressed a toddler as a noodle one Halloween.”
The day before Thanksgiving I stood in front of the sink. The turkey, whom I’ve named J.R. Ewing because it has the largest spread I’ve ever seen, is sprawled in the kitchen sink like a centerfold model. One drumstick is propped coyly on the hot water faucet, and the toe of the other is stuck in the spray nozzle. There are so many pin feathers left, it looks like it needs a shave.
A fresh turkey is different from a supermarket sale bird that has had its legs trussed together and frozen into shape. Left to its own devices, the bird in my sink could probably out cancan any Rockette at Radio City.
I was trying to wrestle the thing into position to tie the legs together when the Captain and his faithful companion, Bo a sleek, by which I mean obese, black dog, half Labrador and half Dalmatian sauntered into the kitchen.
“What’s up Master Chief? Can’t you get the bad guy under control?”
“I don’t know if I’m cooking this bird or doing the cha-cha with it. It could take the prize on Dancing With the Stars, drumsticks down.”
“Need a hand?”
“Sure. I’ll hogtie it and you smear on the rub.”
After a few minutes we paused for breath.
“You were supposed to smear it on the turkey.” I flicked brown sugar from an eyebrow.
“This thing fights back. Are you sure it’s a turkey and not a kangaroo with a grudge?”
We dove back into the fray, and emerged, basted in sweat, a half hour later.
If generations follow the Thanksgiving tradition we set that day, there will be Rockwellesque paintings hanging on future walls with a man, woman, and big black dog covered in brown sugar, eating snack cakes dripping with artificial flavoring.
Everybody is thankful for something. I’m grateful for a husband who doesn’t mind Ho Ho’s for holiday lunch.