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November 23rd, 2006

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04:19 pm - Thanksgiving Day: Act II, Scene I
At this time, I was talking to my brother on Mom's cell phone while she drove me to a doctor's appointment.

"What about the Gold and Silver?" Mom prodded from the driver's seat, "They always have such a nice Thanksgiving special."

I relayed this to Nick. "Um, I don't really like the Gold and Silver at all," he told me.

Hm. Okay, that was two places that the three of us liked, but Nick didn't. I was starting to feel a bit on edge, as I told Mom that Nick didn't approve of that choice either.

"What about the Nugget?" I offered. "A friend of mine and his wife went there for Thanksgiving once, and they said it was fantastic."

"Sure, the Nugget sounds okay," my brother agreed.

"Except I don't think you can make reservations," I pointed out.

"NO LINES," my mother piped up. "I am absolutely not up to standing in any lines."

Well, for that matter, neither was I, nor, I suspected, was Dad. I relayed that to my brother then mentioned that I was all out of ideas. We agreed to think about it and try to figure something out later.

"Call your father," Mom ordered after I'd hung up the cell. "Maybe he'll have some ideas."

Dutifully, I called Dad.

"Hey, it's your daughter," I greeted him.

"Hey, there."

"Hey, um, Nick doesn't like Mimi's or the Gold and Silver, and he wouldn't mind the Nugget, but none of us are in any shape to stand in line for the buffet or whatever," I told him.

"Tell him to see if he can think of anything, and have him call your brother," Mom told me.

"Mom wants you to call Nick and see if you can figure something out," I told Dad.

"All right, I'll do that."

"Okay, talk to you later, Dad."


The rest of the trip was peaceful. I saw the doctor, was confirmed in my suspicion that I was, in fact, sick, and we left with a handful of prescriptions and instructions.

"See if your Dad has talked to Nick yet," said Mom as we drove towards home.

I rang Dad.

"Hey, it's your daughter."

"Hey, there."

"Hey, Mom wants to know if you talked to Nick."

"Well, yes, I talked to him," Dad said. "He really doesn't want to go to Mimi's or the Gold and Silver."

I relayed this to Mom.

"Ask him if he can be persuaded," said Mom.

"What was that?" asked Dad.

"Mom says to ask you if Nick can be persuaded," I said.

There was silence for a moment.

"Um ... " Dad hesitated a bit. "Tell her that if we did go to Mimi's or Gold and Silver, we might as well just go whole hog and go to the Sundowner."

The Sundowner. Holy frijoles. That was a word that carried the weight of ancient evil and terror. Just mentioning The Sundowner was enough to send a shudder through anyone in my immediate family. The Sundowner stood for so many things that were dark and horrifying. It was a name to conjure with.

Of course, as with so many things, The Sundowner was not always an image of evil. On the contrary, at one time, it was just another casino with just another buffet restaurant. Until, one Mother's Day when Nick and I were teenagers, Mom and Dad decided (for some reason) to go to The Sundowner's buffet for Mother's Day brunch.

Now, when you take two annoying, sniping, bickering, and snotty teenagers (as, I'm sorry to relate, my brother and I were), and you go to a casino buffet that is less than stellar (cold, runny scrambled eggs, orange juice that had been sitting a day or two too long, bacon as crisp as a sautéed lettuce leaf, sausage as tender as a dead oak branch), you are not really going to have a good time.

When I say "not really going to have a good time," that does not at all convey the sheer ugliness of that Mother's Day brunch. I don't want to go into too much detail, because thankfully, many of my memories of that day have been locked up and stuffed down in the very deepest darkest part of my mind where they belong. However, suffice it to say that the entire brunch experience from beginning to end was a cacophony of sheer horror and evil that has scarred us all with a trauma that remains to this day.

"Well, what did he say?" prompted Mom, bringing me back to reality.

"Um ... he said 'One word: Sundowner'," I told her.

The temperature in the car dropped a few degrees. Oh yes. Mom knew what THAT word meant!

"You know, I was thinking," interrupted Dad, "I have a coupon for a turkey breast from Honey Baked Hams. Maybe we could just run down there and get one and just eat at home. You know, not do all the trimmings, but just have a kind of quiet Thanksgiving here."

God bless him, Dad may have saved the day again. I told Mom about this new idea, and while she still seemed a bit irritated over the whole thing, she agreed that it would be all right. I breathed a sigh of relief. Dad reminded me that he and Mom were supposed to go out to dinner together tonight, so I mentioned that to Mom.

She groaned. "Oh, I just feel so awful," she said. "It'll have to be fast food."

"Fine with me," said Dad, and we hung up.

After a few minutes, Mom started telling me about how she had always loved making a big production of Thanksgiving dinner -- using the nice china and silver, preparing the meal and the trimmings. It was always one of her favorite days of the year, and she loved putting it together.

"After your Dad and I were divorced, though," she said, "I just didn't have the heart for it anymore."

It saddened me, and I didn't know what to say, so I said nothing. Mom and I drove the rest of the way home in silence.

When we got there, we transferred to Dad's car (Mom's car being temporarily a two-seater), and headed out to Honey Baked Hams and thence to fast food.

"How you doing?" Dad asked Mom.

"Oh, I'm just not feeling well, and I'm a little irritated with Nick for not wanting to go where the rest of us wanted to go," she replied.

"Well, he's not feeling well either," Dad said mildly, "he'd probably be willing to make do if he hadn't been so sick."

Mom "hmphed" a bit. As we drove along, we tried to figure out where to go for dinner. Dad suggested Quizno's, but Mom wasn't in the mood for a sandwich. We went through a few other suggestions, until finally I said, "Mom, what do YOU want?"

"What I want," she said with a loud sniffle, "is to go back to my car and go home and maybe get myself a burger on the way."

Dad and I were a bit taken aback.

"Well, we can do that," said Dad. "Are you sure you don't want to grab something now?"

"No, I just want to go home," said Mom. "I'm tired, I don't feel well, and I'm in a very bad mood. I have had enough for one day."

"All right," said Dad gently, and pulled into the left lane to make a U-turn and head back home. We dropped Mom off at her car, and I stopped Dad as he was about to pull out.

"Wait until she gets her car started," I told Dad.

He looked at me, puzzled. "Why, has she been having problems with her car?" he asked, concerned.

"No, not that I know of," I said, as I turned to look at Mom, "it's just been that kind of a day."

"Ah," said Dad in complete understanding, and we watched as she pulled away.

"So, on to Honey Baked Hams?" I asked.

"Sure," said Dad, and we were off.

At this point, the problem had somewhat been solved. We'd found a place to eat, and stuff to eat, and we'd all be together as a family. Ordinarily, this is where everything would turn out to the good. But this time, it was a little scary.

See, happy, healthy, contented people, when faced with a Thanksgiving that is not what they really want, are fine with that and just take what it is and enjoy the family's company. Ill and grumpy people are another story. A pre-baked sliced Turkey breast and Stove-Top(tm) Stuffing was not exactly anyone's dream Thanksgiving.

After all this, were we headed for another Sundowner after all?

[to be continued here]

(15 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:November 24th, 2006 01:30 am (UTC)
I'm reminded that on the TV soap opera "General Hospital" there was a tradition of their planned Thanksgiving meal running into some sort of disaster, so they always ended up ordering in pizza.

It's been years since I watched, so I don't know if this is still the case, but your Thanksgiving adventures made me think of it!
[User Picture]
Date:November 24th, 2006 05:00 am (UTC)
Hahaha! It almost came to ordering pizza! In fact, that was mentioned at some point today.
[User Picture]
Date:November 24th, 2006 02:01 am (UTC)
Oh man, I feel for you.

On the upside, I can't believe you have divorced parents who speak to each other! And eat together! My mom pretends my dad doesn't exist, but if forced to consider his existence, pretty much hates him with the white-hot venom of the fires of moria.
[User Picture]
Date:November 24th, 2006 04:59 am (UTC)
Oh, Mom and Dad are best friends. They hang out together all the time, take care of each other when they're sick, all that kind of stuff. They actually have a better and stronger relationship now than when they were married, I think. They just don't live in the same house. :-)

Makes things a lot easier for me and my brother, let me tell you.
[User Picture]
Date:November 24th, 2006 07:36 pm (UTC)
How ... civilized and healthy! That's almost not human. Are you sure they're from this planet? Maybe some sort of advanced alien race?
[User Picture]
Date:November 27th, 2006 12:12 am (UTC)
Well, one time, the Weekly World News had a checklist for "How to tell if your husband is a Space Alien" and Dad fulfilled almost all the requirements. Plus, Mom is allergic to nearly everything on the planet, occasionally making us think that perhaps she was intended for a different one.

So ... no. I'm not entirely sure, now that you mention it.

Mom refers to the divorce as something like, "We worked hard at it for 38 years, and it was time to retire."
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
Date:November 24th, 2006 04:57 am (UTC)
Dude. That's only the tip of the iceberg of the Sundowner incident. Seriously.
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
Date:November 24th, 2006 07:26 pm (UTC)
Oooh, have you told this one?
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
Date:November 25th, 2006 06:38 am (UTC)
Well then?

*taps foot impatiently*
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
Date:November 26th, 2006 12:57 am (UTC)
No fair.

No FAIR, I say!
[User Picture]
Date:November 24th, 2006 07:03 am (UTC)
I think we have the makings of a C&W ballad here.
"Don't let Sundown catch you in the Sundowner,
Or you will rue it 'till the day you di-i-ie...!"
[User Picture]
Date:November 24th, 2006 07:21 am (UTC)
or maybe roux..
[User Picture]
Date:November 24th, 2006 07:29 pm (UTC)

Oh yeah.

"Them runny aiiiiiiigs, and the rancid ba-CON!
Will break yer heaaaart, make ya run to Ma-CON!
(Georgia, that is.)"

I think it could be a big, big hit.

Much bigger than "Achy Breaky Heart."

As a side note, when Johnny Cash sang, "I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die," he must have just had Mother's Day brunch at the Sundowner.
Date:November 24th, 2006 08:30 am (UTC)
Hmm... by the sound of it, I've had quite a few 'Sundowner's' with my folks in the past.
[User Picture]
Date:November 24th, 2006 07:27 pm (UTC)
I think almost everyone has had at least one. :-)

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