Date: Tue, 19 Nov 2002 20:10:56 -0500
Sender: English Language Discussion Group <WORDS-L@LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
From: bonniev <bonniev@PANAX.COM>
Subject: stories for Doris

>That was interesting.
>We need more interesting
>stories on this service.
> - D. M.

O.k. I doubt I can top Alyce. But here's some mildly interesting stories about past Thanksgivings that Clyde and I spent with our friends Tom and Holly. Clyde and Tom were graduate students together 30+ years ago at the University of Wisconsin. All four of us are from Wisconsin. Clyde and I spent many years traveling up I-75 from Oak Ridge, Tennessee to Oxford, Ohio, where Tom is a zoology professor, to spend the holiday together.

One Thanksgiving, Tom and Clyde, at the invitation of their neighbor, cornered, caught, beheaded, and de-feathered a flock of domestic ducks that had been swimming on the neighbor's small pond.* Holly and I took Katie, their daughter, and left the premises. It was a blood bath. And Clyde was appalled at the lack of any common woodsmen skills possessed by Tom. Clyde had to take the ax from him so as to convey a swifter death to the poor fowl.

One year Tom invited his "colleague" (that's what he insists on calling Clyde) to join him in sawing down a dead tree on the property so as to make it into firewood. Sadly, it's is Tom who loves to think of himself as a pioneer living by his own skills off the fat of the land while it is Clyde, having been raised out in the countryside of Northern Wisconsin, who as the actual skills but no desire to work that hard because he had to do it to survive as a child. Tom was raised in the city. Well, that year Tom managed to get the chain saw tightly wedged in the tree. I can't remember if they ever got the tree down or not. Another year Tom managed to get a tractor deeply stuck in a muddy field, until a neighboring farmer took pity on him and pulled it out.

One year things were going slowly and Holly commented that there was nothing to write on the card that year. But on our way home from dinner at a nice Cincinnati restaurant, a car made a left turn right in front of Tom and Clyde ended up in the hospital for chest x-rays. Clyde had a bruised sternum and bruised ribs. The nurse told him that, as bad as he felt right then, he would feel worse the next day. And he did. Holly and I also had bruised ribs. Tom had the air bag and escaped the accident totally unscathed except for the great sympathy he felt for his "colleague". We had to stay longer that year because we weren't sure Clyde would be able to sit for five hours in the car. To pass the time, Holly and I went to see "Addam's Family Values" and laughed so hard that our ribs hurt even worse.

One year we headed home in gently falling snow, thinking that it would surely let up as we traveled south. But it got worse. By the time we got to Lexington, Kentucky there was talk of closing I-75 over the mountains on the KY/TN border. We spent the night in a Lexington Holiday Inn along with many other travelers. The restaurant ran out of food.

Another year Holly and I bought pretty new dresses and she made a reservation for dinner at Cincinnati's only Five Star restaurant, The Masionette. But, alas, there was a huge snow storm and there was no way to travel into the city. We ate at a small restaurant nearer to Oxford instead. Even at that Clyde and Tom got stuck in the baby-sitter's driveway when they took her home. Then the electricity went out and all five of us slept downstairs in front of the fireplace. Katie was in her play pen and was one of those toddlers who rocked the whole play pen, rhythmically through much of the night. Tom was supposed to add more wood to the fire in the night. But he got tired of the whole thing, grabbed a bunch of blankets, abandoned the rest of us, and went to sleep upstairs.

The holiday was often a marriage encounter weekend for Clyde and I because after we waved goodbye and backed out of their driveway we would look at each other and be so very, very glad that we were married to each other and not to one of them. We'd also compare notes about what we had learned on the side from either Tom and Holly. Often we were horrified at how much money they has spent on the latest home renovation: a detached double garage, a sun room addition, a partition of the master bedroom, a fireplace insert, a total kitchen redo, window quilts for the entire house, etc., etc.

But through the years, we were like family and remain good friends. They spent the 4th of July here in Maine with us this past year. We might go visit them at their cottage in northern Wisconsin next fall.

--bonniev


*Actually, the ducks were mallards, not domesticated ducks, who had found a
good home on the neighbor's pond. We herded them into the garage, then
retrieved and dispatched them---as Bonnie notes, with less than total
efficiency. One problem (over and above Tom's deficiencies as a headsman)
was that I had a fairly severe case of tendonitis in one shoulder, which
made any sudden or vigorous moves very tenable.

Further, Tom had set up his outdoor, propane-fired cooker to heat the water
so that we could scald and pluck the ducks. I don't remember why, but the
water never got hot enough--but we endeavored to pluck the ducks
anyway. The whole scene must have looked like a very bad remake of Texas
Chainsaw Massacre.

Ah, those were the days...

cwv